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Lenders, Liars and Losers – Observations of a Humorist

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I don’t know about you, but I am on the verge of a breakdown. Why? Because I am so frustrated with the lending institutions that I have developed a drool, a twitch, and a wicked rash. I truly think the lending institutions are hindering our economic recovery. The bailout money is not translating into increased sales as far as I can see. What I do see is a lot of bank execs with spray on tans, new hair weaves, and fake-tooth smiles that gleam like tombstones in the California sun. Due to the drop in home values, refinancing odds are worse than the odds that Ms. Lohan will drop off the radar, keep her clothes on,  and join a nunnery. And modifications are as challenging as navigating the L.A. freeways on a skateboard while wearing a blindfold. 

I have observed that there is double speak in all bank dealings. Thus, I think it would be helpful to have a translation guide to understand the dubious promises being made daily by these Not-Lending institutions. Does anyone remember Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Live (“I slept with Morgan Fairchild)?  Well, Jon, I’d believe your imaginative claim before I’d believe some of the following promises (all of which I have actually heard):

For Those Just Off the Turnip Truck 

  1. “Qualified buyers can still get a loan.” (Translation: “Don’t forget to rip out your kidney and staple it to your application.”)
  2. “After you submit your loan mod package, we will reply in 30 days.” (Translation: “We will mutter, ‘Hell, No, Dude’ to a donut somewhere on the opposite coast, and then we will use your file as a foot stool. You have about as much chance of hearing from us as from Amelia Earhart.”)
  3. “We have your client’s application in our files.” (Translation: “We threw your paperwork into Modification Missy’s trunk. She’s on her way to Vegas, but she’ll get to it soon. Oh wait, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’…and so will Missy. She’s not coming back…and neither is your file. Next!”)
  4. “We require a complete modification or short sale package.” (Translation: “We require three packages –  one for the shredder, another one to be left on a desk so someone can steal your pathetic identity, and one to be erroneously sent to the Foreclosure Department.”)
  5. “We are the fastest in turnaround when your buyers need a loan.” (Translation:  “Underwriter Earl (Missy’s cubicle mate) will slip into his sparkling red pumps, click them together, turn around three times, and squeal, ‘There’s no place like home…and your client sure as hell ain’t gettin’ one, honey!”)
  6. “We sympathize with your client’s situation.” (Translation: “HaHaHaHaHa. Tell him to grow a set.”)
  7. “Your client’s file is in the hands of experts who have experience in navigating rough waters.” (Translation: “Our trained negotiators were formally pirates in the Carribbean, and your client’s ship is about to be seized.”)
  8. “This short sale will close about thirty days after approval.” (Translation: “This short sale will close about thirty days after Peter Minuit returns Manhattan Island to the Indians.”)

What Happens in Banking Stays in Banking

  1. “All we need is one more document to complete the file.” (Translation:  “All we need is your remaining kidney. We lost the first one. It was last seen in Missy’s trunk.”)
  2. “We are here to help those who are struggling to pay their mortgages.” (Translation: “Files of those who have stopped paying will be expedited because our values are backasswards. Thus, we encourage all applicants to blow their credit ratings. It’s trendy! By the way, didya notice my sparkling new chompers?”)
  3. “Your client has a chance to get his loan modified, but he cannot miss one trial payment.” (Translation: “Although he cannot pay, we will string him along for as much time as we can in order to get his savings and retirement money before seizing his home and kicking grandma to the curb. Incidentally, does Granny still have her kidneys?”)
  4. “Trial Payments are for a maximum of three months.” (Translation: “Then we call them “String” payments, because we string you along until you are ready to string yourself from a tree limb. In the meantime, we will be doing the limbo to see how low we can go.”)
  5. “The computer has given us a loan approval based on the appraisal.” (Translation: “Of course, Appraisal Reviewer Rita may lower the value of the appraisal even if it comes it at value, because she must account for dismal market conditions – for which we were largely responsible and continue to be largely responsible – and because Rita must cover her arse to keep her job because she just purchased your unemployed, disabled neighbor’s foreclosed home while the neighbor’s sobbing children clung to her fat ankles.”)
  6.  “In order to complete this short sale, your client needs to contribute cash.” (Translation: “Although the guy is losing his 20% down payment, has lost his job and has no money at all, why can’t he rip the braces off his kids’ teeth and sell them for scrap metal? C’mon – work with us here!”)
  7. “I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” (Translation: “You’ll never find me again. If you call back, you’ll just get someone else who has been working here for five minutes. You will have to start all over again. You will have to tell your story to fifty more screeners and submit three more short sale packages. You will develop another tick before this is all over…and maybe even Tourette syndrome. Now excuse me, I’m on my way to Vegas with Missy, Earl and Rita…and one of your kidneys.”)

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Agent for Movoto

    January 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve got to hand it to you, Gwen. this is about the funniest thing i’ve ever read about one of the least funniest things happening right now. well done.

  2. BawldGuy

    January 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    You’re far too polite, Gwen.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    January 29, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Wow Gwen… Bank of America is gonna be pissed that your posted their internal memos’ on Agent Genius!

  4. Gwen Banta

    January 29, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Thanks, y’all. And Matthew, B of A is going to be even more pissed when they see me pull up out front driving a flatbed loaded with cartons of rotten eggs. Is anybody with me here???

  5. Joe Loomer

    January 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

    What Mathew said 😉

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Katie Ruffino

    February 7, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I am reading this in our sales meeting in the morning….. Great stuff, thank u

  7. Gwen Banta

    February 25, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    This great comment from Paul Donoghue was sent to my personal email, and I thought it was well worth posting:

    “Gwen, loved your post and your sense of humor. As a banker with 30+ years in the business, I’m embarrassed at the state of our residential lending industry.

    Speaking from the perspective of new originations, the regulations put forth from Washington are insane, and too few lenders are capable of providing applicants a complete list of needed documentation at the time of application … Most applicants will reluctantly give you their left kidney, but hate being asked for a lung, bladder, and liver three days before closing! ;D

    My recommendation is find an experienced lender, who knows the importance of VOC (Voice of the Customer) with a back office that is the antithesis of bureaucracy, likely a community banker or seasoned boutique mortgage banker/broker.

    As for short sales and modifications … what a mess. Small banks work, but the large banks and servicers are nothing but factories, and often without the financial incentive (they usually do not own the underlying loan). My recommendation would be to get to the executives that run these divisions and build a relationship … and you seem like the kind of person that’s capable of doing so. For those institutions that prove to be stubborn, I’d connect with a litigious advocate, who has the expertise and cares about his/her clients.

    I’d enjoy hearing what, if anything, you’ve found that works.”

    Paul lives in Cape Cod where he is in charge of business development, and is a mortgage specialist for North Easton Savings Bank.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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