Invaluable Investment

Citing people as the company's greatest asset, United Wholesale Mortgage earns the top spot on the 2021 Training Top 100.

Training doesn’t just matter at United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM), says Vice President and Training Leader Matthew Boschi, “it’s literally part of our daily DNA that our 7,000 team members live and breathe every day.”

Two of the lender’s core values—“People Are Our Greatest Asset” and “Continuous Improvement Is Essential for Long-Term Success”—are focused on people and making them better through training and coaching. “Training helps us win,” Boschi explains—indeed, in addition to netting the top spot on the Training Top 100, UWM is now eligible for induction into the Training Top 100 Hall of Fame in 2022 after earning rankings in the Top 10 for four consecutive years. “In our industry, everyone has similar products, customer service platforms, and technologies; however, the great differentiator is our culture and our people. We’ve created a culture that genuinely puts the development of our people first and truly cares about our people getting a little bit better each day.”

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT

Continuous Improvement (CI) Training and Coaching plays a big role in that culture. It is conducted daily in all areas of the company between 1 and 2 p.m., 2 and 3 p.m., and 3 and 4 p.m. in half-hour or one-hour increments as determined by the business areas (available remotely and in-person prior to COVID-19). CI Training and Coaching is not conducted on an “as-needed basis”—the training is required/mandatory in all areas of the company each day, and participation/completion is reported weekly to senior leadership. All team members must complete a minimum of three hours of CI Training each month.

Each business unit Training team collaborates with business leaders within that unit to create specific learning objectives for each area to improve knowledge, skills, and behaviors within the specific business lane (i.e., Sales, Underwriting, Operations, IT, Support, Leadership, and Corporate). The business unit Training team then creates, designs, tests/ pilots, schedules, conducts, and delivers CI Training and Coaching to their team members in their business unit/lane during the specified time blocks. CI Training is scheduled throughout the company one week in advance, and topics vary based on business unit needs, skill gaps by role, or industry trends.

By embedding Continuous Improvement Training into its company culture, UWM:

  • Incentivizes the completion of CI Training companywide. Completion of CI Training hours is tied directly to all career and promotion paths.
  • Reinforces companywide training participation/ completion by tying CI Training completion to annualized goals and leader bonus/compensation packages.
  • Socializes learning and makes it fun, using the completion of CI Training hours as benchmarks for team, area, and companywide contests.

As a result of CI Training and Coaching, Boschi says, 7,000-plus team members received 419,833 hours of CI Training in 2020—a 128 percent increase over 2019 totals—which has resulted in significant on-the-job behavior changes throughout the company, most notably as they pertain to sales and service. “For example, because of CI Training and Coaching, our account executives (AEs) are providing better guidance/service to our clients,” he notes. “Loan submissions were up by 77 percent over 2019. Loan errors and defects decreased by 0.07 percent, and client requests (CRs) were resolved in 90 minutes or less 81 percent of the time in 2020. We were 6 percent more efficient/faster than we were in 2019.”

UWM’s Client Service and Call Scoring Teams monitor and score calls AEs have with clients after the training. “This ensures service protocols are being adhered to and key performance indicators covered in AE CI training are applied to interactions with our clients,” Boschi says. “This equates to higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Last year, UWM’s Client Service and Call Scoring Team scored 432,005 calls by 720 account executives. The call score average for AEs in 2020 was 98.5 percent—8.5 percent above the company’s 90 percent standard and a 1 percent increase over 2019.”

Overall, CI Training has helped UWM increase closed loan origination volume by 85 percent to $186 billion in 2020 and close 588,959 home loans in 2020 alone (exceeding the goal of 400,000 closed loans by 77 percent).

A POWERFUL PARTNERSHIP

Boschi credits UWM’s unique culture to the partnership between its senior leadership team and its Training professionals, who set company goals together. One goal they set in 2020 was to increase retention to 90 percent by engaging team members. As a result of the CI Training program, UWM improved company retention by 4 percent to 91 percent in 2020. Additionally, 636 UWM team members earned promotions last year alone, a 42 percent increase over 2019.

“Training played a huge role in helping the company accomplish our goals last year, particularly in the face of the pandemic” Boschi notes. “The fact that our company was still hiring, onboarding, and able to train people through the pandemic was extraordinary.” Almost overnight, he says, “we hired, onboarded, and trained more people than ever last year—2,432 new team members, a 55 percent increase over 2019.”

Most companies onboard people once a month or sometimes every couple of weeks, but UWM literally onboards new team members every week. All new team members go through “New Hire Experience” (NHE), a five-day orientation and onboarding process (total of 40 hours) with company trainers and leaders—including UWM’s CEO, Chief Risk and Operations Officer, Chief People Officer, and Vice President of Training—to indoctrinate them to the company’s values, set behavior/performance expectations, teach them industry basic skills, and prepare them for their initial role-specific training.

“Our capacity to onboard and develop new talent during 2020 gave us an edge on the competition, helping us achieve a 12 percent market share gain because we had more hands on deck to serve the broker community,” Boschi notes. “We expect to onboard another 1,500 hires in first and second quarter 2021.”

BIG INVESTMENTS

UWM made significant investments in training last year—from increasing the size of its Training teams to 210 full-time Training team members from 141, to implementing and expanding technologies to make training more accessible to team members.

“I’d say that besides the investment in our people, the biggest investment we made last year was partnering with a new learning management system (LMS) vendor, Cornerstone OnDemand, and expanding our authoring tools, WalkMe and Vyond, to put training at the fingertips of our internal clients (team members) and external clients (the broker community),” Boschi says.

As a result, UWM increased by 67 percent the number of virtual instructor-led training (VILT) courses offered to team members and broker clients. “We also delivered 5,304 computer-based training (CBT) modules last year, an increase of!2 percent,” Boschi says.

As UWM employees started to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Training team saw it as an opportunity to both continue and improve virtual training company wide. “Our aim was to train 100 percent of our people as they started to work from home and to increase our virtual/ online training capacity by 10 percent,” Boschi says. “Over several weeks, our Training teams transformed 85 percent of our instructor-led trainings (ILT) into VILT courses and CBT modules.”

Boschi explains that the teams achieved this by:

  • Converting 27 of 32 ILT programs into VILT Webinars through Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
  • Integrating Zoom, Kahoot, and WalkMe (guided tutorials) into the new LMS to make remote training more user friendly and accessible.
  • Creating 754 VILT/CBT modules in Captivate/ WalkMe to increase virtual/online training capacity by 15 percent.
  • Modifying Cornerstone and WalkMe to schedule “boosts” (quizzes/automated tutorials) to improve post-training knowledge/skill retention.
  • Reimagining 496 instructor-led learning activities into 321 new remote learning activities.

“We’re a lot more fluid and mobile now because of the pandemic,” Boschi admits. “Before, almost everything we did was instructor-led. Now, though, the majority of our training is being done remotely while our team members mostly work from home. It has made our Training teams more creative as they had to revisit instructional activities and find ways to make them work in online environments.”

To help people adopt usage of Microsoft Teams, Kahoot, Vyond Videos, and Cornerstone, UWM engineered and mandated a 30-day work-from-home (WFH) competition from mid-April to mid-May 2020 that pitted six company business areas against one another to see which area could enroll and complete the most CI Training modules. At a minimum, every day, Corporate Training enrolled each UWM team member into one half-hour Company CI Training module that was required to be completed by all team members (including leaders). Business units were empowered to create and enroll their units in additional daily CI Training to “win” the contest, so long as the training was delivered via the LMS. All subject matter had to be business specific to the company or business area.

The winning business unit was crowned and recognized as the Virtual P5 Training Champion for 2020 (this program earned a 2021 Training Top 100 Outstanding Training Initiative Award; see p. 70).

The contest saw 137,570 CI Training enrollments, with 132,580 completed remotely by UWM team members (96 percent). During the Virtual P5 Training Blitz, 6,000-plus team members received/completed 125,840 hours of CI Training (30 percent of the 2020 total), all from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

BOLDLY GO AND DEVELOP

Looking ahead, one of the biggest trends Boschi sees continuing to grow is that companies will trust and empower team members more, and let them have more ownership over their own development. “We need to provide the tools and get out of our learners’ way,” he says. “It’s a Google/YouTube learning type of world now. People want their learning small, specific, and targeted to what they need—not what others assume they’ll need.”

Boschi says one big reason UWM upgraded its LMS was to start utilizing artificial intelligence (AI). “The fact that AI can serve up training to team members based on their interest is going to be huge for our team members and clients,” he believes. “We’re also exploring interactive coaching platforms using virtual reality for leadership training.”

Peering ahead to the next decade, Boschi is thinking Star Trek. “I’d like to see virtual reality (VR) rooms like holodecks where people can boldly go and develop like they’ve never developed before. We’re already building immersive escape room scenarios—why not a room populated by avatars people can role-play conversation with based on their job function or role?”

He believes that could be the norm by 2031. “Look how far we’ve come in the last decade,” Boschi says. “Ten years ago, you still needed computers, had to download/copy music files, use spreadsheets.. .now all you need is a phone or an iWatch or other piece of wearable technology that streams. I think we’re just getting started on the streaming of interactive virtual activities. Maybe team member employment bands will have embedded hologram mentors who appear at the push of a button. What’s to say learners can’t have a heads-up display (HUD) for all training and employment needs or purposes?”

All in all, Boschi predicts learning and development (L&D) is going to get faster, better, smaller, and more mobile. “L&D professionals can’t relax,” he warns. “We have to put training at people’s fingertips—and it has to be fast and provide a powerful impact. If our learners aren’t able to continuously improve all the time—when they want and when they need to—then we’re already behind.”

With that, he says, “if L&D organizations stay diverse in thought, remain fast and flexible, and continue to hire passionate people who are dedicated to developing greatness in others all the time.. .well, the future’s so bright, we’ll all have to wear shades!”

TRAINING ROI

United Wholesale Mortgage’s Continuous Improvement Training and Coaching Program contributed to significant business results, including:

  • Loan submissions were up by 77 percent over 2019.
  • Closed loan origination volume increased by 85 percent to $186 billion in 2020.
  • Loan errors and defects decreased by 0.07 percent.
  • Client requests (CRs) were resolved in 90 minutes or less 81 percent of the time in 2020.
  • Employee retention increased by 4 percent to 91 percent in 2020.
  • Some 636 UWM team members earned promotions, a 42 percent increase over 2019.
  • UWM hired, onboarded, and trained 2,432 new team members in 2020—55 percent more than in 2019— helping it achieve a 12 percent market share gain.

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