Corporate partners can be reticent when it comes to compensation. Those that strongly discourage talk of pay and profit outside of designated meetings do so by design. When businesses don’t have frank internal discussions about profits, they can get away with not paying top producers what they’re worth. How best to even the playing field?
You’ve likely heard that talking about compensation with coworkers is not only impolite, but often vehemently discouraged by employers. In reality, it isn’t a matter of politeness. The practice of banning pay talk is designed to prevent top producers from knowing how their income compares to others within their company and their industry. The lack of these conversations benefits the employer — and makes it even more challenging for employees to negotiate equitable pay.
To ensure you’re being paid fairly for your contributions, you should discuss compensation with your colleagues, peers, and — especially — an experienced mortgage industry talent agent who can provide an objective, data-based view. Pay close attention to who is making more or less than others. If there’s a pattern, bring that knowledge to the negotiation table.
It’s not uncommon to be unsure of what your total monetary contribution is to the company you work with, and with good reason. Corporate partners often obfuscate this data, making it harder for employees to argue that their contributions are undervalued. It’s difficult to prove you aren’t being paid fairly if you don’t have access to exactly how much you are earning the company.
A proactive approach is the best approach. Keep a careful log of the accounts you contribute to, as well as the nature and value of your contribution. When your corporate partner praises or emphasizes the success of any of the accounts, take note — literally and figuratively. If the information you need to negotiate compensation is not shared freely, the onus is on you to take charge of your compensation destiny.
Obscurity leads to a lack of trust between top producers and corporate partners, which is very difficult to overcome once it’s established. The only way a corporate partner can assuage suspicion is through consistent and ongoing transparency.
Radical transparency lifts the veil of mystery around profits, allowing top producers to know exactly what their contributions are worth. This approach benefits the employer as well as the employee: Producers know their pay is fair, and corporate partners spend less time in pay conversations and negotiations. If a corporate partner is excessively wary of transparency, it may be a sign they are purposely undercompensating producers.
The relationship between top producers and corporate partners can be fraught with secrecy and distrust — a negative environment benefiting no one. While open communication between peers and careful logging of contributions can address part of the issue, they don’t solve the core problem. Only radical transparency by corporate partners builds a true foundation of communication and trust with top producers.