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The journey from rookie loan officer to top producer may seem like a long road, but Mortgage Loan Originator Cynthia Lewis speaks to OVM Financial’s contribution to her continued growth and success. Here’s her story:

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Your production levels have grown over the years. Are you comfortable sharing a ballpark number of where you are now?

Cynthia: I’d say for the first few years I probably averaged about 500K to 750K a month. Right before I made the leap of faith and came to OVM, I was doing about 750K on a great month and maybe hitting a million. I was told that was great, and I should be happy with that, but I wanted more. I had visions and goals. When I first started, I would probably say I averaged about a million to a million and five by utilizing some of the resources available at OVM. They help me land more solid referral business. And so, that boosted me up to that 1.5-1.8 range. I’d say my first year here, I think I closed 11 million. After that, I think I did 15 million. I lost track in between, but what I can say, last year, we closed about 23 million as a team, and we’ve already done that year to date this year.

My point to all of this is, since I’ve come to OVM with the tools that I’ve been given, with the management support that’s here, and with the support from the owners, my production has only increased, and just not by a little bit. I mean it’s increased drastically.

What brought you to OVM? Where does OVM fit in to the equation?

Cynthia: I was right in that place where I knew enough to do business, and I was surviving, but my business wasn’t growing. I wasn’t reaching new levels. I wasn’t retaining my referral sources. One of the owners of the company now, Matt Beckwith, and I kind of ran in the same circles and knew some of the same agents. He reached out to me, and I went to hear what he had to say. One of the first things I said to him is, “I’m not interested in making a lateral move because oftentimes that’s what happens in this business. You go from one company to the other, you bring your book of business, and then that’s it. I want to work with a company who’s going to help me get to the next level.”

From there, Matt arranged a meeting for me to meet owners, George Temple and Chip Simkins. My biggest hurdle at the time was that I had an assistant, and I didn’t know how to best utilize her time. Before I left that meeting, I had three different perspectives (from each owner) of how they best utilize their assistants and their teams. Before I even said “Yes, I’m interested or no, thank you,” I knew that this company had a foundation where people would give you information just to help you succeed. Coming to OVM, was me aligning myself with the people that could help me take things to the next level.

What about the behind the scenes action?

Cynthia: Absolutely, I’ve worked with a big lender, I’ve worked at a bank, I’ve worked for a broker, and I’ve worked at a direct lender, such as, OVM. I can honestly say, (not just because I’m employed here) OVM has been the easiest place, as far as, operations are concerned. There’s nothing better than to be able to e-mail your underwriting manager if you have a question, and she legitimately will respond in a reasonable amount of time.

On top of that, it’s not a two to three-day response time it’s literally a few minutes. To be able to ask your processing manager for support, or even in extreme cases, to be able to knock on your CEO’s door and say “Hey, I really need your help with something” is so valuable. From what I’ve experienced, operation-wise OVM has probably one of the best support systems.

At most companies, it is always operations versus sales, but I think we have a nice marriage of the two. You never feel like one is against the other. We always feel like we work together, and I think that’s what helps to make for any smooth process.

You know, it’s very rare that your underwriter and your processor understand that this is not a file, but there is a person attached to this, and there’s a person that you’re attached to, attached to this file. They work very hard to make sure that you’re able to do what you said you were going to do: Get that borrower in that home and close that loan in a timely fashion. I really appreciate the operations department and the culture of the operations department here.

We’ll start with an easy question: How did you begin working in the mortgage industry?

Cynthia: I started working in the mortgage industry shortly after I graduated college in 2003. My father encouraged me to begin working in the business. I wanted to be a real estate agent, but he didn’t think that was the best path for me. So, I made some calls, and I bumped into another loan officer that works here now, Russell Kesterson. At the time, he was working at Countrywide. I gave him my resume, went in for an interview, and it was history after that.

Nice, and what did the first year look like when you were ramping up your business? Walk us through that time period.

Cynthia: Absolutely, my personal story is a little different. When I started working in the mortgage business, I came in during the boom, and then I came into a subprime refinance market. So, my first couple years were phenomenal. I’m clearly a facade to what the industry really is like. It was simply answer the phone a few times and you were going to get a deal. So initially it was great, and then of course, the crash happened and that is where the rubber really met the road in my personal career.

That’s when I basically rebranded myself, and even though I knew how to do mortgages, I had to learn this business all over. I came out of a refinance market and went into a purchase market. It went from just answering the phone to making calls, talking to agents, and getting them to utilize me. That required me to be able to effectively communicate my service offerings and explain what made me different from the competition. To me, that’s when my real career started. Those first few years were kind of tough. I didn’t have a mentorship program. I really didn’t have anyone saying go left, or go right, don’t do this…So everything for me was trial and error, but I don’t regret it because it made me a stronger loan officer.