Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Although some consider it gauche to talk about one's own pay, something happened last week that I feel deserves mentioning. I don't intend to laud my own actions nor that of the company I work for, instead this story demonstrates how when you do the right thing, sometimes the universe looks after you.

First the bad part. In my division, if you originate a loan that has a pricing discount on it that has not been signed off on by corporate, you get paid maybe 1/10th of the ordinary commission. Given that the bonus part of my monthly check is by far the lion's share, an unauthorized pricing exception can devastate a month. Worse yet, the branch you work for gets hit with a huge penalty, drawing the ire of the boss. There are some systems in place to spot pricing exceptions in time to get them authorized, but the reports and such are flawed in that they don't indicate precisely what the nature of the discrepancy is. Even if the pricing is authorized, if there is even the slightest error in the extensive form by which one requests an authorization, the loan officer takes the hit. In one way, it is an understandable policy to prevent wild discounts, but still, given that one could lose a very substantial chink of pay each month, I think it's overly punitive.

In October, I originated 5 loans, and had the credit for a 6th given to me for winning an internal contest. Of those six, I thought everything was fine and and authorized. They had funded, and I was expecting the biggest check I've received so far. The boss comes out last week, and announces that of those 6 loans, 2 were showing unauthorized pricing exceptions. One of them was on the one that I had been given; I had no role in how that loan was handled. On the other, I was sure my pricing was right. 3 or 4 times I had checked it. Yeah, my pricing was correct, but on the form under which I had I received my authorization, there was one little error. The margin was off by .25%. The rate points and terms were correct, just a miniscule little difference in an aspect that won't even effect how the company makes a profit. The borrower will likely refinance during the fixed period, and the margin won't ever even kick in. The other error on my gift loan was a small discrepancy in the property type. I any case, I stood to lose 1/3 of my paycheck.

Another loan officer was facing the same situation, and she really went off. Threatening to quit, writing missives to the regional vice president, she challenged the policy, and it was said "we'll see what can be done." Well, it got done, My boss and the VP did their thing and I found out yesterday I still get paid. But that's not the point of the story...

After we found out about the unauthorized pricing exception, but before I found for sure if I'd still get paid, I noticed on my commission report that I was being overpayed on another loan. I was receiving extra commission because of an error on the company's part in how they looked at the loan. On that particular loan, I was making $1200 too much. Nice chunk of change, but still a lot less than what I was losing because of the other issue. Still, given that the boss was trying to do something for me, I couldn't just sit there are not report the error. I walked it in to her office, pointed out the mistake, and left the branch to go out into the field.

A few hours later when I return, the boss calls me into her office with "big news". She read me her e-mail thread where she had reported the overpay. Senior VPs in HR were part of the conversation, and when it was all said and done, they rewarded me for my honesty by letting me keep the extra $1200 that I was overpaid.... and again I don't get hit for the penalty on the other loans. Nice.

That being said, don't think the loan business is some gold mine. In November, I have originated 1 loan for a whopping $300 commission, and that's going to be my whole check.

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