Originator Jack Flynn moves from mortgage to military (and back again)

by Kimberly Greene29 Aug 2018

From doing surveillance at the U.S.-Mexico border to being a combat advisor in Afghanistan, Jack Flynn has an extremely wide range of experience dealing with different people in different situations.

Flynn got his start in the mortgage industry right out of high school, although he eventually left to join the army. When he returned to the mortgage industry full-time in 2015, he tried to build his business by buying online leads. He recognized, however, that for his business model, they weren’t cost effective and his success lay in the people in his local area. Other things were drastically different, such as the prevalence of digital options and financial technology.

Some things, however, were the same, and probably will always be so.

“There’s no silver bullet to old-fashioned business. And when I say that, I’m talking about getting out there, seeing realtors, going to events, having a genuine interest in people and making a for real connection, like a natural fit with somebody. That’s always been in this industry, that hasn’t changed, and if you as an originator can’t identify with that, then you’re either a) probably in the wrong business or you’re just not going to make it,” Flynn said.

Flynn started his mortgage career by manning phones as a telemarketer for a regional investment bank. He trained as a loan officer in the mid-90s at a small, family-run business and then moved onto FEC Mortgage Corporation. He calls FEC a “phenomenal” company, and it was where he added mixed use lending to his knowledge of residential mortgage products.

“It was this old school kind of lending where, if you had an unconventional project or an unusual property, you get to have some input; when you interview that borrower, take that application, and you would take the information to a loan committee, where it was the president of the company there and you would explain the benefits of the loan,” Flynn said. “That was kind of cool, and it was a very collegial, collaborative environment.”

He moved around to a couple of other employers, such as Countrywide, and meanwhile, in 1992 he joined the Rhode Island Army National Guard. His father had been with the 19th Special Forces, and he wanted to serve the United States in an airborne unit as well. Things continued much the same until 2006, when the army enlisted his sales training and made him a recruiter for the Army National Guard.

“I tried doing the mortgage business part-time but you can’t serve two masters, you can’t have that focus.”

And so he shifted his focus; he went into recruiting full-time until he was deployed in ’07 as a combat advisor to the Afghan National Army. When he returned Stateside in 2008, he returned to the National Guard, eventually becoming a senior recruiter and working in his local area. He also developed a physical fitness program a local high school and trained hundreds upon hundreds of students. And after being in the military for close to a decade, he reconnected with the civilian side of life.

“I loved the outside experience of, talking to people, being out on the street, going to functions, going to events, there was no difference in army recruiting as it is in what I do today. I’m on the street, I’m in the community, I’m talking to families about what’s important to them and what their goals are. And that’s it. It’s that simple,” Flynn said.

So, back to the mortgage industry he went, ultimately ending up at a large national lender through an acquisition. He had been with Mortgage Master, a top-10 lender in Massachusetts where he was in constant contact with the heads of operations, and the big decision-makers. Within a few months, it had been bought by loanDepot, one of the top lenders in the country. Being at a company during a transition was eye-opening; corporate headquarters went from being up the road to across the country, and Flynn no longer had access to key decision makers, and the shift away from the local level to a national focus.

One of the reasons why Flynn is so happy and successful at Mortgage Network might be some of the similarities that he sees between the company and the modern military.

“The modern military now is learning to fight with leaders being able to make decisions on the battlefield over major objectives at a smaller level. The same thing happens here; we have key leaders in place that are allowed to execute and make decisions and it’s a very unusual company but I have found a home that’s just a really good fit. And it’s a good fit for me at my local level, and I love it, and I think it’s felt throughout the whole entire company at everyone else’s local level.”

And that translates to the loan process. Flynn says that Mortgage Network’s loan process is “ridiculously” fast, but it’s not because the company is overstaffed, it’s because things don’t have to get elevated; people can make command decisions at local levels in their area or their specialty, whether it’s underwriting or appraisals. This keeps operations lean, efficient, and profitable.

As for what keeps Flynn lean, efficient, and profitable, he knows what he does and does it well.

“It’s that simple. It’s not a secret. Learn to make a system, you have to have a system. One of the greatest things that you have to remember is, one of the things in life that we’re not making is more time. So you really need to structure your time. I feel fortunate because Jesse Kenner and Jonathan Salinger, in my office, they’re showing me how to be a true professional in the local, organic market, my national sales trainer, Jeff Gable, is showing me how to be an expert at budgeting and managing my time. So the support that I have at that level is something that folks should look at as well.”

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