[I am away from the computer and my access to e-mail is sporadic and not timely. In my place are daily commentaries from a series of very knowledgeable mortgage industry people with different backgrounds, and they have been given very little direction about what to write about - the latest is below. Our views may or may not coincide, but I thank them for their time in volunteering and helping out.]

Today's contribution comes from:

Brad Nease
COO/Capital Markets, Correspondent Lending
Icon Residential

Meeting Agendas & Itinerary Guidelines

Though not specific to the mortgage industry, I believe we all have been participants in meetings where the 'leader' of the meeting really didn't have their act together.  As we all know, this is a waste of everyone's time and based on the amount of people in the meeting, can be an extreme waste of monetary resources.  I am not purporting to be a wizard of the successful meeting, but I have found some things that I've used that have contributed to successful meeting outcomes.  As the leader of a meeting, the more efficient we are in this environment, the more efficient and successful the attendees can be in their job and will contribute to the overall success of the organization.

1. Start on time and end on time.  I am a stickler for this and it needs to be said; whether for me or one of my managers when they read this.  I feel it is disrespectful of other peoples' time if you say a meeting is going to start and end at a certain time and you start it late.  You are disrespecting the people who are there on time.  People's schedules are packed.  You are jamming up other parts of their schedule for your selfishness.

2. Have an agenda/expect an agenda.  What I mean is that the meeting should have specific and expected outcomes and deliverables.  You are going to accomplish very specific things and the attendees are going to leave with deliverables.  In addition, the meeting agenda should be distributed prior to the meeting with enough time given to the attendees so they can prepare.  They will then come to the meeting with their 'agenda' that will contribute to the meetings accomplishments and deliverables.

a. If this is a regular meeting, like a weekly staff meeting, an agenda may not be appropriate.  But, as the leader, you will have agenda items to discuss.  Once you've conducted a few staff meetings in a row, your staff will understand the process and what is expected of them.  The business/department leaders in attendance will be expected to have specific items/issues that they need to discuss; specifics like:  issues/bumps in the process that requires a resolution, kudos/compliments for jobs well done in the past week, what's going well and what isn't.

3. The agenda that is distributed prior to the meeting should state the desired outcome.  If you are the leader of the meeting, you should re-state the desired outcome when the meeting starts.  This keeps the meeting and its participants on task.  It will also contribute to item 1 in our list and that is to end on time!

4. Keep minutes or a log of the meeting.  This will provide a list of the people who leave the meeting with deliverables so you, as the leader, can follow up with those individuals to check on their progress.  In addition, if there are decisions made about operational issues or procedures, you are documenting the changes.

5. Some people like to talk, some people don't.  As the leader of the meeting, when someone begins a soliloquy, it is your responsibility to reel that person in and keep the meeting on point.  In addition, all of the attendees are there for a reason.  They are there to contribute to the outcome/s.  If a person is there that doesn't like to talk in this type of a forum, it is your responsibility to draw them out and draw on their expertise/opinion.

6. Meetings can and will feel like 'work'.  Whether you have a gift for levity or just highlighting a recent success within the department/company, provide your attendees with the opportunity to laugh or smile.  It goes a long way to helping them feel positive about the process and will contribute to the productivity within the meeting environment.

As the leader, it is your responsibility to make the meeting work.  Everyone is different and will run the meeting in a different way.  There will be times where, as the leader, you'll need to take a step back and evaluate whether there might be adjustments needed to increase the value of the meeting to all of its participants.  Hopefully, this will provide some guidelines not yet thought about or just a good reminder.

(Attributions/Contributions:  Michael Hyatt - Thomas Nelson Publishers, Raymond Gleason - Building Champions)

Editor's note:

Fun facts? As Greece goes to privatize some of its sovereign real estate holdings in order to raise capital, it finds itself the only country in Europe without a centralized registry of deeds. About 40% of properties are currently in dispute and lack clear title. Why does this sound vaguely familiar? And it is believed that ancient Rome was the only city in history to go from a population of more than 1 million to a population of less than 1 million. That is, up until Detroit did it recently.

Susquehanna Bancshares ($14B, PA) will buy Tower Bancorp ($2.6B, PA) for 1.5x tangible book (in stock & cash). In a related, but unrelated, topic, Mountain Heritage Bank, Clayton, Georgia, was closed on Friday by the Georgia Department of Banking and Finance, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver, which in turn entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First American Bank and Trust Company, Athens, Georgia, to assume all of its deposits.

A story in the NY Times focused on the plight in Britain, "For Many in Britain, Being a Homeowner Is a Fading Dream" - "With tighter banking lending and higher rents, first-time buyers in Britain are finding it much harder to save money and purchase a home." I wonder if English papers are saying the identical thing about ownership here in the States?  READ MORE

How is your profitability? The MBA came out with its measures, showing a drop in profit per loan, industry-wide. If you bucked the trend, good for you. The source of the report can be found HERE

For economic news this week, it is kind of an average week. We start off Monday with Personal Income & Consumption, on Tuesday we have the usually-depressing Case Shiller 20-city housing price index along with Consumer Confidence, Wednesday we have Pending Home Sales, and on Thursday Jobless Claims & the Chicago PMI. Should any of them move interest rates more than what is happening with the debt structure of entire countries?

Lenders such as Guild and Mountain West got the word out to clients that, for approved CalHFA lenders, for all new reservations on or after June 30, 2011 CalHFA has raised its minimum representative credit score requirement from 620 to 640 for all qualifying borrowers on the CalHFA FHA Loan Program. Additional borrower(s) or co-borrower(s) with no credit score may be eligible as long as the borrowers with credit scores meet the 640 minimum representative credit score requirement. An approved/eligible finding obtained through DU utilizing the FHA TOTAL Scorecard is also required.

For its brokers Genworth Financial Home Equity Access, Inc. rolled out its Closed Loan Program, which "gives reverse mortgage brokers the ability to increase their participation in the loan process without the expense of becoming a full correspondent. CLP participants act as Sellers (with GFHEA as the Purchaser) in the transaction. As Sellers, participants will continue their existing broker responsibilities while adding the responsibility for closing and funding their own loans. GFHEA will continue to underwrite, draw loan documents (in the Seller's name) and submit the loans for FHA insurance."