With signs emerging of a recovery in the mortgage market, lending technology vendors that may have made staffing cuts last year are looking to hire again, especially in upper management and sales.
For example, Overture Technologies Corp. of Bethesda, Md., last week hired Russ Carlson as its chief executive, taking over from the company's founder, Bill Kelvie, who has become its chairman. Carlson came from Blackboard Inc., where he was the president of its academic technology business in North America.
"In both of my two prior jobs I was at those companies when they went from a niche solution to a full industry platform, which is where I feel Overture is right now," Carlson said in an interview.
"Now both markets that we at Overture serve — mortgage and education funding — are in need. The company has all the right assets in place. I bring the expertise to manage dynamic growth. Companies go through stages of growth. At every stage along that progression, you have to do certain things around your product strategy and your sales strategy."
Carlson said one of his early goals at Overture is to further increase its head count.
"We will be hiring additional people. We've invested heavily in the product itself and now we're going into a delivery mode. So, we'll certainly look at beefing up the sales force," he said.
"We see our two largest business opportunities in the mortgage servicing area. We've identified five business areas for future growth and the two top ones are related to servicing."
Mortgage consultant Michael Hammond, the president of NexLevel Advisors, said technology vendors that are hiring are focused on increasing their sales and revenue.
"When the mortgage industry started taking a nosedive in 2008, many companies started slashing costs," he said.
"One of the first areas hit was marketing and sales. What some companies are now realizing is that in a tough market, sales and marketing are critical to sustainability. Without new sales coming in the door, a tough situation will likely get worse."
"The other aspect of sales that companies are beginning to seriously question is the quality of their salespeople," Hammond continued. "In a soft market, many salespeople only chased the easy deals, had more leads than they knew what to do with and for the most part were really only order takers.
But the market now is very different, and requires different sals skills, he said.
"In a tough market, those people simply don't cut it. For salespeople to be successful in a tough market, they really need to understand why prospects buy and how their product can help that specific organization," Hammond said. "They need to excel in the details that many average salespeople have never developed."
Other vendors are also hiring people who are hoping to expand their operations.
LendingSpace Inc., a provider of online loan origination software, this month hired Jeffrey Osheka as its president.
Osheka has more than 20 years of experience in the lending technology market; before joining LendingSpace he was senior vice president for national sales and business development at Lydian Technology Group and Lydian Data Services.
"LendingSpace is a unique opportunity," Osheka said. "The company is mature. It's been around for a decade and nobody knows who we are."
He said one of his primary tasks is to parlay his experience to increase his new employer's name recognition. "I've originated FHA loans and I've serviced loans. I think that will help us navigate and steer this company. I also understand technology as well as the mortgage business," he said.
This is the right time to hire more people, Osheka said.
LendingSpace will "have hiring opportunities on the business development and project management side," he said. "It's paramount that we become more known. We want to get more into the marketplace."