Getting uncomfortable and making the decision to commit to a better career and family life has its rewards.

Changed my Life!

“Being reminded of how Southeast Mortgage helps leverage talented people makes my day. Our experience with newly hired Mortgage Originators is their production increases 30% on average due to our operations methodology, media, and sales support. Make the most of your career.” Cal Haupt

“I am completely astonished how my business has changed, for the better! We are taking 10-15 more PQ’s a week. We took 12 just today!! Beyond that, the culture you have created is truly remarkable. Thank you for taking a chance on me and for changing my life!”  Jeffrey Hawks

Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for something.

The other day I had someone ask me what my passion was.  I have always been a believer in letting my actions state my beliefs and or intentions.  A good person does not have to state they are a good, their actions should speak louder than words and the difference they make in someone’s life is the measure.

As I reflected on what I am passionate about, I realized passion evolves with one’s life cycle and is not mutually exclusive.

As a kid, my passion was bicycles and motorcycles or anything else I could go fast on with little concern for safety.

In high school, my passion was football and having fun with my friends.  Football opened the door to attend Georgia Tech; however, staying there was another more important evolution that had to be undertaken.

In college, my passion shifted from football to academics.  I realized that the rest of my life depended on doing well in college and making it through Georgia Tech with the limited funds I had saved was a tenuous pursuit.  Passion gets real when you will either sleep under a bridge or a roof.  My path would be determined based on focus and my ability to obtain my degree.  Reinventing myself from jock to a scholar was not easy; however, I always believed I could accomplish anything I set my mind to.

After graduating College, I learned valuable lessons about respect, team work, and how the economy works.  Being the best was my passion after college.   No matter what I was doing, I wanted to win with a singular focus like playing football.  This mentality gave me glory; however, it created unintended collateral damage.  As I matured and was provided some timely advice from my mentors, I realized sometimes you have to allow everyone around you to win before you can win in a sustained manner.  Winning in business requires a team focus and slowing down before the finish line to help your teammates make it across the line with you.  This creates a more robust win that builds a winning foundation instead of personal glory.  A team win is by far the best glory and satisfaction I have experienced.

Shareholders of Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc.

After a successful banking career and all the lessons both good and bad, my passion turned to Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc., SEM.  At first it was to show the Banking Industry and consumers there was a better mortgage origination business model that could be created between a Broker and BankAll the knowledge I acquired at Georgia Tech and the Banks helped form a stable and effective production platform that disrupts competitors today.  As my teammates from the banks began to join us at SEM, my passion evolved to proving my bank teammates made a great choice.  I wanted to ensure SEM was a rewarding career and would be the last place they would have to work.  They deserved to enjoy the benefits of ownership and secure their families future.  Our days were normally 12 hours+ and many of us worked weekends. When we started to get a Sunday off, we thought that was incredible.  For 15 years this was the routine, and we had a blast creating and evolving SEM into what it is today.  I even enjoyed mowing our lawn at Club Drive until the shareholders said I was embarrassing them.

For the past 5 years, my passion is still focused on accomplishing the promise to my Shareholders.  The evolution of my passion was bifurcated when my life was blessed with three little heart beats that will carry the Haupt name forward.  They changed the way I view the world and simply made me a better person, manager, and friend.

Technology and my talented leadership team allows me to balance my two passions today.  After I accomplish my shareholder’s objectives, my full attention will be on mentoring my kids to be good humans that are kind, considerate, and have the experiences needed to understand the diversity of our civilization and prosper in it. 

Embrace evolution and enjoy the ride!

Innovation or Cost Cutting are the two paths a Mortgage Company can take when volume slows or the economy creates a headwind.

The current recovery period after the Great Recession is now 10+ years.  The average historical recession is 7-8 months.

In 2008 and 2009, most mortgage companies both Bank, Non-Bank, and Broker cut costs dramatically in an attempt to save their balance sheet and company.  Banks lost the ability to use mortgages as tier one capital thus they moved away from the product line and cut thousands of jobs.  Broker and Non-Bank LLCs (Limited Liability Companies with a few partners) kept what ever cash they had for themselves and closed.  Brokers could not find product because the bank correspondents shut down wholesale.  As a result, we all saw the Implode List literally explode with the names of the companies many thought were safe and well run.

Will this happen again? Yes. When? that is the unknown. I look at data and study patterns. Patterns repeat prior to recessions with some trigger that comes out of the blue.

The innovators and those that did follow the herd mentality cutting cost (good loyal people with families) survived the Great Recession and evolved to be a better company while filling the void left by imploded companies.

Cost cutters and those lowering rates to unsustainable levels just for volume all became an entry in the implode list. Today, we have companies following the same flawed strategies as those prior to 2008.  The good news for the shareholders is a few banks have started to sell; however, cost cutting is inevitable with merger overlap and a lot of good people will be forced to evolve versus making their own choice to evolve.

The mortgage industry has a specific sweet spot that is key to longevity and profitabilityI found there are three key elements that must exist to grow in recoveries and recessions.

1. Take care of your clients and put them in a product that meets their needs not your strategy.
2. Know your costs, know how to calculate proper pricing, and understand production regression analysis.
3. Add value to your Partners and help them grow their business. Monetary payments do not grow sales for the mortgage lender nor the Partner. Increase their social media presence and you increase their sales which increases the mortgage company’s application flow. Win-Win.

If you look at the history of any industry, complacency always costs good people their jobs.  Because complacency feels safe and takes little effort, this short sighted view creates opportunity for others who are willing to take a new path and innovate.  As one goes bye bye, another innovator emerges as the leader and fills the void.  AOL – Google, Sears – Amazon, Blackberry – Apple, Magnovox – Samsung, Blockbuster – Netflix.

Quality Matters – Quality Lasts

We are always innovating and evolving to stay relevant for our clients and partners. This is the only path for long term success whether from a company perspective or as an individual.  Evolution is not easy and learning new ways requires getting uncomfortable and taking charge of your career not what others want you to do!  Do you.



I am not a big fan of canned quotes; however, this popped up and it resonated with me.  It conveys a belief of mine and was the focal point of several conversations I had last week.  I believe people should have the opportunity to grow their career and earnings each day they work rather than remaining status quo for years and decades due to complacency.  “Without better soil, you will become pot bound and never growth no matter what you may be told.  Great Talent Deserves Great Media to Grow.”  Cal Haupt

Talented People Deserve Great Media to Grow

Everyone talks about top Producers?  Focusing on Top Earners would be a better ranking criteria for Mortgage Professionals. 

People always ask me what SEM’s production is and I proudly tell them our Shareholders own the best margined business in the industry.  Frankly, production does not pay the bills. 

A Company’s ability to convert production to Revenue to Net Income is sustainability.  No Debt and Vertical integration of services and functionality creates incredible efficiency so you can pay your team well and still post impressive earnings.  Many Mortgage companies use bolt on services and non-direct secondary access which is expensive and wastes revenue. 

If your margins are too tight and you fail to balance revenue to expense, your company will have to sell or close their doors as we continue to see.  The key and art is to price at market and competitively adjust to earn your Partner’s business.

Over my 26 years, I have heard “my pay will blow your socks off”, “I make a lot”, etc.  If you only play pick up basketball in your neighborhood and there was no TV or Internet, you would not realize there is an NBA. 

Focus on what pays your bills.  Trophies and Trips will not pay your bills.  Earn and grow your business.  Buy your own better travel experiences with better production to pay conversion.  I know from personal experience none of the Bank Trips I won were half as cool as the travel I enjoy today.

Mortgage Originator’s are realizing they have to make changes with respect to what is the most beneficial goal for them.  As our Originator population ages, preparing for a secure retirement has become a call to action.  

Cal Haupt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc.

Volume – Pay Shift

Have you ever heard the phrase, “change your zip code”? This means if your current actions create the same outcome time and time again, you have to change your zip code to get a different outcome.

I learned many lessons from my mentors during my Banking Career.  One of the most valuable lessons was the Bank always does what is in the best interest of its Shareholders.  It is the fundamental responsibility of a Corporation.  Early in my Bank career my mentor granted me stock based on performance and I quickly understood the generous recognition to be a Shareholder.  The wealth created by the sale of that stock was life changing and an experience and dynamic I wanted at the core of Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc.

One person cannot build a company, it takes a Village.  The Village should benefit.  This belief is part of your culture or not.  If it’s not, what is your longer term outcome?

Banks can sell many products if mortgage origination is determined not to be in the Shareholders best interest.  Read the News, it’s the trend.  Southeast Mortgage sells one product and evolves with media and technology.  We originate mortgages only and are all in and have been for 25 years.  Your career deserves a company that is all in on what your income is dependent on.Over the past 25 years, I have seen a lot of Mortgage Operations go out of business and a few sell.  Poor judgment, poorly conceived plans, and unsustainable strategies were the cause and cost good employees their jobs and the valuable time they spent away from their family growing the company.  When it comes to taking care of your family or planning for retirement, you need proven leadership that can help you accomplish your goals long term and provide equality.  Change your zip code for a path to retirement.

When your Bank or Non-Bank sells and asks you to stay with the company they sold, who’s best interest is it?  Yours or the New Shareholders?  You basically accept a new job (sometimes with pay cuts) without an interview and without comparing other opportunities.  The company being bought and the reasons you worked there ended with the purchase.  The new Bank or Non-Bank will do what is in their Shareholder’s best interest in the manner they believe maximizes their Shareholder’s value.  Its important to understand your new leadership works for their Shareholders not as your fiduciary.  Change your zip code and take a chance on a path to be a Shareholder.

When a Bank or Non-Bank sells you only hear about a few people that got a big check.  Search GoogleSearch Google2, Search Google3, SEC filings are public knowledge and show how many shares and how much each made on the sale and where the expense cuts come from to create efficiencies.  Mergers rely on expense cuts to leverage combined revenue into a higher net income for Shareholders.  IMO the Hundreds of Millions of Dollars from the sale should also benefit the employees that created the value.  The reality? The employees who created the Hundreds of Millions of Dollars in value do not share equitably in the sale.  After the close of the sale, employees at the company being bought have to find a new job or hope the new company they were sold to continues in a manner that allows them to make the same income.  No Bank operates the same nor has the same strategy.  There is a reason one Bank buys another and it is usually about Deposits and cutting non-interest expense to create a higher net income.  Expense is always cut from the company being bought.  Bank sales are SEC regulated and public knowledge.  Read the agreement.

Loyalty is a two-way street.  If you are loyal, you should be rewarded when good things happen.  If your leader just moves you from company to company 2 – 3 times with the same outcome, turn the page (Change your zip code) and try a better path.  You only have a few opportunities in life to make a better path.  Change your zip code to a path that makes you the owner.

What do your Shareholder’s look like?  Do they represent you?  Do you have a path to become an owner?  Have you ever met your Shareholders or Board Members?

2019 Shareholders of Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc. Since 1993

We work side by side daily.  At Southeast Mortgage of Georgia, Inc., our shareholders are our Processors, Underwriters, Closers, Originators, and Administration.  Four of our Shareholders have retired comfortably.

This is what our SEM shareholders looks like.  Every year we add those that help us grow.  From 2 shareholders to 41 is equitable distribution of our success.

They all changed their zip code at some point in their career to make a better path for themselves and their family.

With change comes an opportunity for a better outcome.