A loan officer is an employee of a financial institution who reviews applications for loans and makes the ultimate determination of whether or not the loan will be approved. Computer systems have streamlined the loan application process, so the field is not experiencing much growth. Typical places of employment include banks and credit unions, and many of them travel as part of their jobs.
In addition to reviewing loan paperwork, a loan officer also helps to recruit and educate clients. Most banks promote their lending programs to encourage customers who are already using the bank to take advantage of more services. In a consultation with an officer, clients can learn about home loans, business loans, and other options designed to help people put children through college, purchase new cars, or deal with unexpected expenses.
As part of the consulting side of the job, this employee is extremely knowledge about loan options. A good one will refer a client to another institution if the client will not be well served by the bank. In either case, a loan officer will talk with a client about options for loans and will help him or her understand the terms of a loan. For example, a client may need to offer collateral, a guarantee that a loan will be repaid, if he or she has a poor credit history.
Once a customer decides to apply for a loan, the officer gives the loan applicant paperwork to fill out. Next, he or she processes the application, going through the paperwork to ensure that there is no missing information and checking the references on the application. Using a computer is crucial here, as computerized databases can provide the customer's credit history, and other relevant information which will help the officer make a decision. If supplemental information is required, he or she will contact the client.
If a loan is approved, the client will be informed and the money will be transferred. The loan officer will often remain in touch with the client to deal with any problems that may arise. These individuals can help clients who are having trouble making payments by setting up a graduated payment plan, for example. They may also assist customers who need to make arrangements to service a loan while away from home.
Most places have no specific regulations pertaining to loan officers. A bachelor's degree in an economics related field is helpful, as is experience in banking and lending. This person must also be highly computer literate and should be willing to travel to various sites around the region as part of the job. In addition, he or she should be friendly, helpful, and committed to customer service and sales. Good natured employees help ensure repeat business and referrals.