Russell Morris
Managing Director – Head of Credit Underwriting

In the dynamic world of commercial banking, the role of underwriters is critical to ensuring the success and stability of the financial industry. Commercial underwriters assess the risk associated with lending to businesses, making them vital players in the economic landscape. However, finding qualified candidates for these roles has become a significant challenge, exacerbated by the transition to remote work.

The Challenge of Finding Qualified Commercial Underwriting Candidates
One of the primary challenges facing commercial banks today is identifying and attracting highly qualified underwriting candidates. Baby boomers who have held these positions for decades are retiring, leaving an experience gap that is not easily filled and is certainly not inexpensive. The younger workforce lacks industry expertise, financial analysis and risk assessment skills. As such, the talent pool is limited, making recruitment a challenging endeavor.

The transition to remote work further complicates recruiting qualified underwriters. Historically, commercial underwriting has been an in-office job that benefited from in-person collaboration and mentorship. The shift toward remote work has forced banks to rethink their hiring strategies. The lack of face-to-face interaction hinders vital communication and collaboration, making it harder to impart institutional knowledge and foster the growth of junior underwriters who require consistent guidance and supervision.

When hiring inexperienced underwriting candidates, training is already a substantial challenge. The learning curve is steep, and it can take years for new associates to become proficient underwriters. Moreover, training programs must be thorough and rigorous, as underwriting involves analyzing a vast array of financial data, understanding complex regulations and staying up to date with industry trends.

The remote work environment exacerbates this challenge. Traditional on-the-job training and mentorship opportunities have become limited. Training new associates remotely demands not only effective learning resources but also innovative ways to engage and monitor their progress.

Solutions to These Challenges
Commercial banks recognize the urgency of finding and training qualified underwriting candidates in a remote work environment. To address these challenges, they are implementing several innovative solutions.

1. Skills Assessment
Banks can implement a comprehensive skills assessment process during the recruitment phase to gauge candidates’ abilities in areas such as financial analysis, problem-solving and data interpretation, ensuring that the individuals they hire possess the core competencies required for underwriting roles.

2. Frequent Communication
Implementing daily stand-up meetings and checkouts can help monitor the performance of new underwriters and create a space to discuss challenges. These virtual meetings provide an opportunity for underwriters to share their progress, seek assistance with any obstacles they face and maintain a sense of connection within the remote work environment. Commitment, as well as achievement-focused meetings, facilitate development and accountability.

3. Embracing Technology
The digital age has given rise to a wide range of sophisticated tools that can enhance remote underwriting processes. Automation and data analytics are being utilized to streamline the assessment of financial documents, reducing manual work and human error. This technology not only expedites the underwriting process but also allows underwriters to focus on complex cases that require human judgment.

Moreover, video conferencing and collaboration platforms have become indispensable for maintaining communication and connection among underwriting teams. Regular virtual meetings, discussions and mentorship sessions help create a sense of community even in a remote environment.

4. Outsourcing
To combat the talent shortage, banks are increasingly exploring outsourcing options. Some third-party companies specialize in providing underwriting services, providing banks access to experienced underwriters when they need additional resources. Outsourcing not only helps banks meet their underwriting demands but also exposes new associates to experienced professionals, aiding their development. These services are often a fraction of the cost of hiring full-time employees and still maintain quality standards.

5. Emphasizing Professional Development
Banks are increasingly investing in the professional development of underwriters. By offering online courses, certifications, and access to industry resources, they can empower their associates to stay updated on regulations and industry trends. Professional development not only helps underwriters remain effective in their roles but also boosts their job satisfaction and retention rates.

Remote work amplified the challenges of finding qualified commercial underwriting candidates. However, with the right innovative solutions, banks can navigate these challenges and continue to thrive in an ever-evolving landscape.


Russell Morris

Managing Director – Head of Credit Underwriting

Russell Morris is managing director – head of credit underwriting at Lender’s Cooperative. He is a seasoned banker with over 20 years of commercial credit risk management experience. Russell has served in both relationship management and credit risk management and has expertise underwriting C&I and CRE transactions.