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Comparing Compensation Structures

November 15, 2023 | 6 minute read

We’ve all heard the idiom, ‘fitting a square peg into a round hole’ and that can be applicable to loan origination compensation models if we don’t match the model to the person. Each model has its place or ideal ‘fit’ depending on whether you are a Non-Producing Manager, Expense Management Branch Manager, or a Retail Branch Manager. You may be thinking, ‘I didn’t know there were options!’; that’s not uncommon as not all lenders offer compensation options. So let’s discuss the options.  

If you’re reading this, you’re probably in the lending business so you likely already know that Independent Mortgage Banking (IMB) companies play a crucial role in the home financing industry, and the success of these organizations heavily relies on the effectiveness of their Branch Managers. Within these companies, there are different types of Branch Managers, each with distinct roles and responsibilities. This article will compare the compensation structures for Non-Producing Branch Managers, Expense Management Branch Managers, and Retail Branch Managers in IMBs. 

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Let’s start with Non-Producing Branch Managers leveraging a Profit & Loss compensation model. 

Being a Non-Producing Branch Manager is comparable to being a franchisee or a small business owner, as these managers wield significant pricing power, enabling them to vary branch revenue based on the products they offer. Unlike Loan Originators (LOs), they are not subject to the same compensation laws, as their role involves overseeing branch operations and mentoring their team rather than directly participating in loan origination. While they are responsible for managing both branch expenses and loan profitability, they must adhere to company policies and procedures, facing heightened scrutiny regarding fair lending and steering practices. The compensation framework for non-producing branch managers frequently includes the following components: 

  1. Profit-Based Compensation: Compensation is determined by the overall success of the branch, where an agreed-upon portion of the branch’s profits serves as the Branch Manager’s compensation. This aligns the manager’s interests with the branch’s prosperity.
  2. Performance Bonuses: These bonuses are frequently tied to branch-level metrics, such as loan production, profitability, and customer satisfaction. They may be structured as quarterly or annual incentives and can significantly augment a manager’s overall compensation. 
  3. Benefits: Non-producing branch managers typically enjoy a comprehensive benefits package, which includes health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. These benefits contribute to their overall compensation package. 

Expense Management Branch Managers 

Expense management branch managers specialize in cost optimization management and operational efficiency within their branches. Their duties include mentoring their team, overseeing branch level expenses, streamlining processes, and ensuring adherence to company policies. These managers operate under LO comp laws and receive a fixed revenue credit for the branch, with operational costs deducted from this fixed amount. Unlike a producing branch manager, they do not incur loan-level profit or loss. 

While a producing branch manager may have slightly less pricing power compared to a non-producer, they still possess significant entrepreneurial autonomy. They can exercise authority in adding support and services essential for operating the branch according to their envisioned strategy. 

The compensation structure and income sources for expense management branch managers is as follows: 

Structure: Income is generated by deducting branch-level expenses, which include funds moved to a reserve account for managing variations in origination volume over time, from the fixed income credit allocated to the branch. The resulting sum serves as compensation for the Branch Manager or can be reinvested in the branch. This reinvestment empowers the Branch Manager with the flexibility to design a market strategy, acquire necessary resources, and implement initiatives for branch expansion. 

Income Sources: 

  1. Commission-Based Compensation: The Expense Branch Manager remains actively involved in loan origination and typically earns commissions on the loans they generate. While these commissions are typically smaller than those of a rank-and-file Loan Originator (LO), the Expense Branch Manager’s primary focus and main source of income come from effectively managing the overall success of the branch and receives residual income generated from Loan Originator’s loan production after the Loan Originators receive their commissions.  
  2. Performance Bonuses: These bonuses are frequently tied to branch-level metrics, such as loan production, quality control and customer satisfaction. They may be structured as quarterly or annual incentives and can significantly augment a manager’s overall compensation. 
  3. Benefits: They also receive comprehensive benefits, similar to non-producing branch managers, ensuring a well-rounded compensation package. 

Retail Branch Managers 

Retail branch managers are primarily responsible for loan origination, sales, and customer relationship management. They lead a team of loan officers and processors, actively generating revenue for the branch. The compensation structure for retail branch managers is often more performance-driven and may include: 

  1. Commission-Based Compensation: Retail branch managers typically earn commissions on the loans they generate and an override on the loans generated by the Loan Originator under their mentorship. This commission is the main portion of their total compensation.
  2. Base Salary: Retail branch managers may also receive a base salary that serves as a safety net in case of fluctuations in loan production. 
  3. Performance-Based Bonuses: Bonuses may be tied to individual and team performance metrics, such as loan volume, quality control, conversion rates, and customer satisfaction scores. 
  4. Benefits: Retail branch managers receive standard benefits, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off. 


In Independent Mortgage Banking, compensation structures for Non-Producing Branch Managers, Expense Management Branch Managers, and Retail Branch Managers vary based on their roles and responsibilities. Non-Producing and Expense Management Branch Managers heavily depend on branch performance. Non-Producing Branch Managers’ compensation is linked to the profitability of loans originated, emphasizing financial outcomes, while Expense Management Branch Managers’ compensation is intricately connected to the efficiencies of branch operations in generating business, underscoring the importance of streamlined and effective processes. These compensation models are intricately tied to market conditions and the overall success of the branches managed by these individuals, presenting the potential for substantial earnings in a thriving market but also the risk of limited compensation during challenging times. 

In contrast, the Retail Branch Manager’s compensation is only linked to the origination volume generated by the branch and is independent of the resources used to generate or produce the loan. This model is less risky for the individual’s income because it solely relies on top-line revenue, providing a more stable compensation structure. 

The choice between these roles and their respective compensation structures ultimately depends on an individual’s career goals, skill set, and preferences. IMBs such as Summit Mortgage Corporation, offer various opportunities for career advancement and financial rewards, catering to the diverse needs and aspirations of their branch managers. 

Want to learn more? Reach out for further discussions to determine the right fit for your career.  

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