What is the reason for slow adoption of family-friendly policies in home lending?
Many mortgage companies have made their policies more family-friendly. However, former employees and current employees say that the benefits are much worse than other industries. Lenders are often more concerned with shifting business priorities than employee benefits due to the boom and bust cycles in the industry. They also point out that the mortgage industry has been dominated historically by older workers who may not be motivated or able to create new family-centric policies. Family-friendly policies may not be universally accepted due to differences in gender and age in the mortgage industry. Zippia estimates that only 32.5% of mortgage brokers in the country are women and 67.5% are men. Younger workers are more likely to push for changes in company policies, while older workers are more likely to be in senior positions, making them less inclined to change internal practices. Estelle Norvell, president at Mattamy Home Funding, stated that “when you sit down and look around the office you see that the average age of employees is a little older so you have to think about what priorities you have to prioritize.” It’s possible that policies such as maternity leave won’t be changed or improved “because it’s only a small portion [of workers]” who benefit from them. However, the Best Mortgage Companies to Work For ranking this year shows that flexible work schedules are becoming more popular. At least half of the 48 lenders included in the ranking, including Atlantic Bay Mortgage and NewFi Lending, reported that they offer paid or full parental leave to their employees. The survey found that at least 29 of 48 lenders provide lactation facilities for breastfeeding mothers. 45 of 48 lenders offer family-friendly benefits such as flexible hours to accommodate school events or taking a family member to see the doctor. “The good thing is that we are starting to see more youth insertion in the industry overall, which is important. These types of things are brought to the forefront more than they might have been,” Norvell stated. Mattamy Home Funding offers paternity and maternal leave options to its employees, which allows for greater flexibility for a family unit. Mothers can take a few weeks off, and then the father may take it off in different amounts. Norvell stated that this option can be broken down “within six months.” Hindman said that family-first companies put their energy into finding out what people want to stay. These policies are not available to lenders. Many lenders only care about your body count. They will first ask you how much production you have and not your childcare preferences. NewFi Lending’s senior vice president, Amit Pall, said that his company follows the state-to-state regulations for maternity and paternity leaves. However, employees have additional flexibility if they want to spend more time with their families. Flexible working hours are offered by the lender for life events such as hospital visits, recitals, and so on. Patell stated that, aside from having a formal policy, it is crucial to make sure employees understand that spending time with their families is important. These are important milestones and employees should be able to spend time with their families. We will 100% support them. Rehab Financial Group in Pennsylvania, which is ranked among the Best Companies, recently implemented paternity and maternity leave policies. People’s Mortgage in Arizona, however, offers flexibility to its employees and has a nurse room. However, it doesn’t have a paternity or maternal leave policy. “I can honestly say that we didn’t have one until last year. That’s bad for me,” stated Susan Naftulin (president and co-founder, Rehab Financial Group). These types of initiatives are often pushed to the bottom of a company’s priority list due to the cyclical nature of the mortgage business. Kryczkowski said, “Our business is so cycled and I’m sure that [family friendly policies] are not on the forefront of executives” and added that rates are continuing to fluctuate and that origination volume is low, many executives have made the decision to downsize, close origination channels or to sell their businesses. “I think about the cyclical nature and the fact that [executives] of companies are not sure how much they can pinch in really difficult times like right now. This stuff is put on the backburner.”