Most – if not all – industries have their own trade associations, and members join for a number of reasons, including networking opportunities. But when it comes to improving the way that its members actually do business, most trade associations fall flat.
The Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) wants to be the exception to the rule. The association, founded in February 2018, focuses exclusively on mortgage brokers and employees of mortgage brokers, which Anthony Casa, founder of AIME and president of Garden State Home Loans, says is more than 35,000 people and makes up almost 15% of the overall mortgage market share.
“It’s really focused on how do we as a community grow our businesses and also take our market share to over 20% over the next couple of years,” he said.
In practice, that works in two different ways. First, AIME wants to unite the mortgage broker community and encourage its members to learn from each other. Members, Casa said, don’t want yet another type of trade expo, where people have booths, do the whole “dog and pony show,” and no one really gets any new or particularly useful information. Instead, he said, AIME wants to facilitate more education and training in the form of peer-to-peer type learning, something for which the association has already received a lot of positive feedback. Originators want to learn from each other, not constantly listen to sponsors of an event. And giving members the space and opportunity to ask questions and share business practices with each other is key to AIME’s mission.
“I want this to be is very different than what any trade association has ever been in this space, which is: we want to literally be the resource, we want to be the training facility, we want to be the negotiator of terms between brokers and their lenders on improving the terms of their broker agreements,” Casa said. “We want to be more than just the legislative voice we want to be within the industry, that resource that helps educate our loan originators that are within the channel on how to improve their business, we also want to be part of a rebranding effort that we’re working on rolling out later this year.”
That rebranding effort will help originators grow their business on a larger scale; AIME seeks to rebrand the profession and retell the story of the mortgage broker – not only to clients, but to important referral partners such as realtors. As realtors are the biggest referral partner that top originators have, this can go a long way in getting them to refer more business.
“A lot of people think of mortgage brokers in a negative light when they think of them because of the housing crash, so we’re really focused on communicating with the National Association of Realtors and all their state chapters on retelling that story in a very positive light that mortgage brokers are not only a very, very good resource, but they’re the best resource because they get consumers the lowest rates, they get the lowest fees, and at the end of the day, they’re closing and getting loans cleared to close better than any of the big banks or non-banks,” Casa said. “Even though we don’t control the money and we’re not the ones lending the money, we deliver the best service and we’re always going to meet all your deadlines.”
AIME also wants to remove the transactional nature from the mortgage broker role and help consumers understand that the relationship doesn’t just exist for getting their current mortgage, but for anything they need down the road. Top originators have already been doing this with their clients on an individual level, and reinforcing it on a large scale will only help the absorption of the idea.
Casa says that he also notices that originators and loan officers who work for big, national brand companies, share have this same antiquated view of brokers, and many of those loan originators are inquiring about becoming a broker.
“You’re going to start to see this huge, huge migration from that model to brokers because of the fact that brokers work at substantially lower margins and they do have the ability to deliver, and because there’s this information and education that’s going on out there,” Casa said.
Between that and the peer-to-peer learning opportunities, AIME could prove to be the strongest ally you have as an originator in growing your business and making it better.