Triton Funding is the largest residential mortgage brokerage in San Francisco and the sixth largest for the Bay Area. Now in its tenth year, Triton Funding is an employer with a solid reputation within the brokering industry. With a staff of around eighty people, including over thirty actual mortgage brokers, they are still planning on increasing their number of employees. George Rosenfield, President and Co-owner, answers questions about working at Triton and the mortgage industry as a whole.
Describe your current staff and how you see it changing in the next few years.
We currently have eighty employees in two locations, San Francisco and Sonoma. We were a new company about ten years ago and we have grown consistently every year since then. In the near future I anticipate primarily larger growth, mostly because of consolidation. Smaller companies who can no longer compete present a great opportunity for those of us who have an established base. The next three to five years look pretty good, we will probably have a staff size of about a hundred to a hundred and twenty people.
What type of background do most people in this industry have?
Our employees come from a lot of different backgrounds. This isn’t an industry where you say ‘I want to be a mortgage broker’, people come to it for lots of different reasons. Most of our employees are independent loan officers. We just provide a space for them to do that successfully. Many of our employees come to us via word of mouth. This is a very relationship-type business and as we continue to be a force in the industry more people will hear about us. High-end recruiters haven’t been as successful since they don’t know the business. While we do advertise and find people in the online jobsites, these days we have more people coming to us as opposed to us looking for them.
This is a pretty specialized industry. You really have to be a technician and be in the know. It takes practice dealing with a client who has never bought a piece of property and needs you to sit down with them and walk them through all the different steps right through to closing.
What impact did the dotcom downfall have on the mortgage industry?
After the dotcom bust we didn’t see a lot of crossover with people from the IT sector. They often wanted to be making the huge salaries and this really is one of the industries where you apprentice. You’ll start at the bottom and pay your dues. One nice side effect was we were able to get really nice office space downtown since so many failed dotcoms went out of business.
Describe the biggest influences on the hiring trends at Triton Funding?
A large part of our market is the purchase market, so if there are fewer properties for sale there are fewer loans. What is happening now is that some of the lesser qualified sales people are being pushed out. Many of them entered the field during the re-fi boom and they didn’t have strategic relationships or a vision for their sales plan. Those who have a big book of business will be able to stay in the industry.
We have pretty low turnover. We have been very fortunate. People like it here. Really the only people that leave are ones that aren’t producing what they need in order to stay. The San Francisco Business Times listed us as one of the top places to work in the Bay Area. The ranking is based on employee input so that is good feedback.
What type of skills does a person need to be successful in this industry?
There is a lot of opportunity for a self-motivated person who is good at working on their own. It obviously helps if you have a finance background, but if you have sales skills that you can morph into this field you can be a success. The nuts and bolts side of it is only one part of the job. Two of our most successful employees previously worked in wireless sales and for the perfume company Chanel. Obviously that is quite a departure from financial services, but they use the same skills here that they did previously. You have to be able to set your own goals and create your own vision for what you want to achieve.
What is the current job outlook within mortgage brokering?
It is still very healthy market. It is all about building strategic relationships. It looks like this year is going to be our best year ever. We have just started a new group devoted solely to new condo developments and we have one just for new home loans. The Bay Area has a lot of activity in the real estate sector.