Winning in the New World of Origination

Patricia Sherlock

Recently, McKinsey & Co. interviewed Larry Fink, CEO and founder of BlackRock regarding how to succeed in a low-interest and trust-deficit financial services sector. BlackRock as you know is one of the world’s most powerful asset-management firms with $3.5 trillion under management. Their clients range from individuals and corporations to governments and other investors.

The reason why I am mentioning this interview is because much of what Larry says applies to mortgage origination and our industry. Following are some excerpts from the interview that I found especially pertinent:

1. What is the skill set needed to rebuilt trust in the financial sector?

LF: The skill set each firm needs is consistency of message surrounded by a very strong, deep culture. I think culture is even more important than ever before. Culture and the principles surrounding a culture start with leadership. It is about having a purpose, trying to make sure your purpose is to help your clients … solve difficult issues. Customers today won’t go to a firm that they don’t trust.

2. What does this particular challenge look like to you?

LF: We need to ensure that the message conveyed throughout our footprint looks the same. We need to deliver in a consistent way in terms of the client’s view of BlackRock. And we are not talking about a product in a box or something that is the same thing everywhere. We are delivering people, who in turn deliver information or try to deliver products that meet our clients’ needs. This is much more difficult to execute.

3. What’s your personal approach to leadership?

LF. I am still a student. I am still learning today as much as I was learning 36 years ago. So that means you have to be current. So whether you’re in HR, legal, operations or technology, if you don’t understand the world and the markets, you can’t serve your clients. That’s the most important thing I have learned by watching other firms. They actually forget that their job has to evolve and change all the time, and that what worked in the past may not work in the future. If you are not a student, you’re probably going backward.

It is easy to say ‘I promise you I’ll do this—it is easy to have dreams. The ratio of dreams to success stories is very skewed. And the reason is that success is about consistency and living up to the dream by being comprehensive in how you execute.

These are wise words from an industry leader. I agree with Larry that our industry is not about who has the best technology, but who has the best people and can deliver a consistent message of value to their clients. Now is a good time to review your hiring and training process for 2013 to ensure that you are recruiting the best sales professionals and helping them to reach their highest potential.

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