WE ARE FAMILY: Assurance Financial is all about the home, whether its putting clients in a new house or letting employees prioritize family over work. (Photo by Collin Richie)
Whether considering the 70-person team at its Jefferson Highway headquarters, or its 216 employees companywide, Assurance Financial embodies the word “family” in many respects.
After all, they’re in the business of putting people in homes, says Courtney Henson, human resources manager for the mortgage lending company. And it helps that COO Steve Ward and owner Kenny Hodges allow their employees to prioritize their own families over work.
“They support you if you have to leave work to attend your child’s soccer game,” Henson says. “That goes a long way with people—they appreciate a company where family always comes first.”
Established in 2001, Assurance Financial is a mortgage lender that aims to help people obtain new home loans and refinance existing mortgages, billing its staff as the home loan experts in Baton Rouge. Last year, it was ranked the second-best place to work in the Small and Medium-Sized category in the Best Places to Work issue.
While the company has several branches in the Baton Rouge area—aside from its headquarters, there’s one each on Bluebonnet, near Highland, in Denham Springs and Prairieville—each location is given a great deal of autonomy, with loan officers and branch managers feeling empowered to do their jobs free of micromanagement from leadership. Most importantly, though, everyone feels their input is valued.
Henson remembers when she walked into Hodges’ office to suggest offering employees more paid time off.
“I said, ‘I feel like our PTO is not enough,’ and he said, ‘If that’s what you feel, then that’s what we’ll do,’” she says. “Now we offer a lot more than we ever have, and it’s been very well received.”
As a professional unit, the team “works hard and plays hard,” Henson says, and the latter doesn’t necessarily come with a high price tag. The human resources department aims to organize events with a “high impact, low cost” mentality, with get-togethers like impromptu popsicles or hot dogs served outside.
“It’s rare that our employees get to take hour-long lunch breaks, so we have to bring the fun to them sometimes,” says Henson, who has been with the company the past five-and-a-half years.
The company also began a partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital next March, starting a drive for employees to donate to the hospital and helping the organization with its Dream Home initiative. Now, Assurance Financial donates a certain amount of money in accordance with every application it accepts for a mortgage. One employee who is also an author is donating the proceeds from his most recent book to St. Jude, as well.
Over the past six months, they’ve raised $20,000 for the organization. It was also the first year ever that St. Jude sold out of tickets in both Baton Rouge and Lafayette for its Dream Home event, Henson notes.
At the root of the company’s impact, she says, is its hardworking, community-minded employees.
“At the heart of it, what we do here is hire good people,” Henson says. “You can teach about mortgages and you can teach people how to sell, but you can’t teach someone how to be a good person who wants to come to work every day.”