Differentiating in a changing landscape has become a big priority as the startup, after a record-breaking two-year refinancing spree, has taken a hit. During a recent panel discussion at the Fuse Conference, the annual gathering of members of the Association of Independent Mortgage Professionals, brokers talked about the importance of standing out in an increasingly challenging market. It’s a personal form of marketing in itself, the panelists agreed.

It can start with the look of its brand. Darius James, president and CEO of Porch Point Mortgage, said his fashion choices helped set him apart from the crowd. Personal branding, “a nice shiny suit,” he says, makes the first impression on the way he dresses. He strode confidently into the crowd at a Paris hotel and casino, flanked by his equally gorgeously dressed wife and trusted assistant.

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Mike Cox noted that his identity is rooted in education, especially given his role as Vice President of Education for AIME. He is also not ashamed to describe himself as crazy. with outstanding brand awareness that has made its Mortgage Nerds all household names in some quarters. Cox has been in the wholesale channel for over a year and is the brokerage owner of Mortgage Nerds after years in the retail channel at GSF Corp.

Acknowledging the power of its own branding, Cox emphasized that a consistent dynamic should be reflected in the company’s mission statement; “Not what your sales pitch is,” he said. “For our company, we spent money and time trying to figure out why we do what we do. Our mission is to make the mortgage experience the best part of buying a home. Everything comes with a vision,” he noted, adding that his borrowers can count on his company’s leadership and experience. “Everything comes from your vision, your values,” he said. In the absence of such faith, one cannot endure, he suggested. “You cannot build a long-term business without them.”

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