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50 Best Workplaces of the Year 2021

Dean Harrington, CEO of Shamrock Home Loans, on Employees’ Fiduciary Obligation: ‘We’re Building the Next Generation of Mortgage Leaders’

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“At Shamrock, what we expect of one another makes all the difference.”

Shamrock Home Loans, a technology leader, specializes in mortgage financing, home purchase and refinancing. It operates within the United States.

The company was established over 30 years ago and is based in Rumford, Rhode Island.

To highlight and further understand what Shamrock Home Loans stands for and seeks to explore in this segment, I sat down with Dean Harrington, who serves as the company’s Chief Executive Officer.

Below is an excerpt.

Q. Shamrock Home Loans has survived the recessions of 1991, 1997, 2001, and 2008. Even though the housing market was sharply collapsing, the company continued its operations after each plunge. How did your company continue to adapt?

Let’s not forget the market dislocation of 2020. There are two things a company needs to survive; they have to be healthy and smart. Many in the industry stopped at “smart” and weren’t willing to make the difficult decisions that would keep their company healthy. Shamrock has never been afraid to make those choices. We hire and fire based on our core values. That is what keeps us healthy. As a result, we didn’t just survive these brutal years, we were able to thrive in them.

Q. ‘We keep your mortgage experience simple.’ How do you interpret this further?

When we do our best work, we close our clients with the same level of excitement they had when they first fell in love with their house and received their contract. Each of Shamrock’s employees is focused on eliminating the fear within the home buying process by communicating with each client personally and frequently.

Q. That’s not all Shamrock Home Loans does. What are its other focus areas?

Shamrock is focused on building the next generation of mortgage leaders. For over 30 years, we have thrived on being willing to bring people in from outside of the industry and teach them. Intellectual curiosity and resourcefulness are at the heart of every single staff member we have.

Additionally, we’re dedicated to serving our community. Shamrock has identified six Rhode Island-based charity causes, which are close to our hearts. A portion of our closings goes to support these causes in addition to a dollar-for-dollar match of employee contributions.

Q. Could you describe your typical management style and the type of employee that works well with you?

We know exactly who belongs on our bus at Shamrock. Our core values drive our culture. It’s what we expect of one another. At Shamrock we have five core values:

1) Consistent Daily Demeanor – Be approachable

2) Positive Influence – Make those around you better

3) Intellectually Curious – Love to learn

4) Heart for People – Eager to listen, willing to share

5) Resourceful – Be able to defend the work you’ve done before using someone else’s time.

Q. How would you describe your company’s culture?

People over profit! At Shamrock, we believe that culture makes a difference. It is the main thing that allows us to be as efficient as possible – our staff supports and is willing to do anything for each other and our clients. Genuinely caring about everybody inside the building is our biggest asset.

Q. Can you provide us with one or two success stories describing the challenges your clients faced and how your solutions helped them overcome those challenges?

At Shamrock, we believe that everyone deserves to live in a home they love but they don’t always know how to make that dream a reality. All our loan officers and staff are hyper-focused on helping their clients achieve this dream. From not getting offers accepted to having to navigate poor credit, there are many challenges that clients face along their home-buying journey. Here is an example of how one of our past clients recalled their experience:

“Where I come from, credit is not something that we talked about growing up. My mother was a single mom, and every paycheck she had to make the same hard decision: pay a bill or put food on the table. Obviously, food on the table always won. Finances were never discussed in my family. They were considered taboo subjects — the only thing we as kids ever needed to know was that there was food on the table and the lights were on. As a result, when I became a young parent myself, I found myself completely lost in the world of ‘adulting’ and made some major mistakes with my credit.” This is a quote from one of our clients laying out his biggest fear about buying a home: years of misunderstanding and ultimately mishandling credit meant he could never become a homeowner.

When this client was first introduced to Shamrock, he was married with children. Due to credit issues, they were overpaying to live in an apartment that wasn’t insulated, with heat that would not turn on, and hot water that rarely worked. The landlord’s philosophy was “cheap and easy.”

Thankfully they didn’t let the fear of being told “No” paralyze them from the action. Through courage and word of mouth from a good friend, they connected with one of our loan officers, Meghan, who worked with them for two years working on a credit plan all while dealing with illness, loss of income, and more. Sometimes their calls were less about credit repair and more about commiserating and looking for comfort. They stayed passionate about their goal to buy a home for their family and did what they could when they could. With this diligence, they were able to finally close on their first home in December of 2017.

After this first experience with Shamrock, they were able to find the financial freedom to continue to chase their dreams. In 2020, they leaped to start a new build, and in August of this year, settled into their forever home. After this second transaction, the family recalled their experiences saying, “We will never forget the expertise, patience, compassion and care that Meg and the whole team at Shamrock Home Loans showed us. In a world where everyone is out for themselves (or so it seems sometimes), and there is so much mystery around the entire home buying and credit repair process, finding a company and crew of people who are as dedicated, honest, and passionate as they are, was truly a blessing.”

Q. From your perspective, how is the industry you serve currently evolving? And what are the trends in the different categories?

The industry has become more digital. To make an analogy, it’s more about streaming than going to the movie theatre — far closer to the Uber experience for so many in our market. At Shamrock, we still believe in the hospitality of the movie theater and the professionalism of a limo driver. There is always going to be a market for ‘our’ people, especially in the first-time homebuyer space, which we serve with passion and distinction. Apps, remote signing, paperless delivery, and video enhancements are all wonderful developments for our clients, partners, and staff. As long as they don’t turn us into driverless cars, the industry will continue to be relational and nicely avoid the stain of being solely a transactional experience for our audience.

Q. What plans for transformation are you pursuing to remain relevant now and in the future?

Shamrock Home Loans is a technology leader. From our App to our mortgage process, we are focused on ensuring that we not only stay up-to-date in the industry, but remain ahead of the curve. We became paperless in 2018 which allowed us to quickly pivot in March 2020 and close a record-breaking number of loans in 2020. Also, in 2020, we launched a growth plan to invest in staff, referral partners, homebuyers, and vendors across the country. Since then, we have expanded our national footprint to a total of 23 states.

Q. About the future, where do you see Shamrock Home Loans a couple of years from now?

Growing our footprint, our staff, and our community influence so we can successfully help build the next generation of mortgage leaders and transform lives as we do it. Our eventual aim is to be in 35 states by the first quarter of 2023.

Dean Harrington | CEO

More commonly known as ‘Chief Repentance Officer,’ Dean Harrington is the founder and current CEO of Shamrock Home Loans. 

Dean has spent over four decades in the consumer finance industry working on everything from account collections to loan approvals and a little bit of everything in between. Under his leadership Shamrock has grown from a ‘small broker shop’ focused on direct marketing to a regional lender committed to the home purchase market through a strong network of referrals. 

His role is to exemplify the company’s five core values and to set a vision and strategy for the staff to inspire and engage. It’s all about ‘loving your neighbor’ — a principle continually taught and practiced by Dean.

When Dean isn’t walking through the halls of Shamrock, he enjoys reading, traveling, prayer time, church, podcasts, working out, and all things Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots, and PC Basketball.

“At Shamrock, we believe that culture makes a difference. It is the main thing that allows us to be as efficient as possible – our staff supports and is willing to do anything for each other and our clients. Genuinely caring about everybody inside the building is our biggest asset.”