NMP's Mortgage Professional of the Month

Sales of single-family existing homes in Florida totaled 25,518 in May, a 4.5 percent year-over-year increase, according to new data from Florida Realtors
Gino Moro, First Vice President of the Broward Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP)Gino Moro is the first vice president of the Broward Chapter of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals (FAMP); he had previously served in the capacity of president in the 2010-2011 term. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with this trade group.
 
How and why did you get involved in FAMP? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role within your chapter?
Initially, I joined FAMP because I had just moved to Florida, and I was looking for a way to network and make connections with other people in our industry. It was such a great decision! Not only was I able to meet the kind people I was looking for, but a lot of those connections that I made years ago are now great friends and people I continue to do business with today.
 
I never missed an FAMP meeting, whether it be an education class, a general meeting or just a networking event. Eventually, I decided to volunteer my time and become more involved with FAMP. In those years, I used to teach the Florida Mortgage Broker 24-Hour Pre-Licensing Class, so I thought it would a great idea to participate on the FAMP Education Committee. The other reason I chose that committee was because back then, reverse mortgages were just starting to become popular and FAMP really didn’t pay much attention to them or offer any education on the subject. It was a niche product, and since I was doing so many reverse mortgage loans, I thought I could give a voice to a great product that a lot of folks didn’t know much about.
 
Eventually, I moved through different committees and was asked to serve as president-elect. Well, I never did hold that position. Our president-elect at that time was unable to fill the position of president, so I took her place. What an eye-opener! When you put so much work into an association as important as FAMP is to our industry, you can never really walk away from that. Our board of directors is comprised of a variety of true professions from all the different parts of the mortgage industry, and I am extremely proud to be part of such an amazing group of people.
 
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join FAMP?
Our industry has been ever-changing, and with change, we need to have a unanimous voice so we can make sure our input is heard and considered when decisions are made. Mortgage professionals absolutely must join our association to help protect this incredible industry. As members, they can also take advantage of top tier education and networking events. It is such a small investment with such a huge return.
 
What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We are very fortunate because FAMP has a very good relationship with the Office of Financial Regulation. We are able to communicate effectively and work together because of the professionalism on both sides. There is a mutual respect that comes from experience, and our association has been working at this for more than 55 years.
 
In addition, all of FAMP’s chapters get together once a year and head to Tallahassee to meet and speak with our legislators about current issues. If you’ve never done this before, I would invite you to join us and see what a big difference we can all make together. Each chapter also maintains relationships with their local legislators throughout the year.
 
What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
We support each other, and I can tell you first-hand that absolutely nothing happens because of one single person. I have been part of the FAMP Broward Chapter since my first day of membership, and I am very proud of our chapter. Am I biased? Absolutely, but come to our Trade Show and see what our board and volunteers have accomplished together. The FAMP Broward Chapter Trade Show is right in the middle of the highest number of licensees within the state, and we always have a great turnout with lots of relevant education for our members.
 
What is the synergy that exists between FAMP and NAMB?
I truly believe we need each other to effectively represent our industry. While we are very successful at working with our legislators, we only represent a single state. Having the ability to join forces with all the states and come together with one voice is very powerful and necessary. In fact, some of our current and past FAMP leaders have roles in the NAMB today.
 
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Over-regulation is obviously an obstacle and makes it difficult for a novice licensee to know how to get started. The education requirements for licensing have absolutely nothing to do with the real world—and while we are trained and tested on regulations, there really is no hands-on step-by-step training that we are required to do. That comes from experience and from mentoring from more seasoned mortgage professionals. We need to have more education available specifically for these new licensees.
 
How would you define the state of the Florida housing market?
Florida has such a diverse housing market. One neighborhood can include low-income housing and a few blocks away, you may find multi-million dollar condos and homes. Condos and co-ops have large footprints in South Florida, and with our beautiful coastlines, we attract many retirees, investors and foreign nationals. We really have a unique market, and frankly, we need to offer more loan products and loan types because of this.
 
Our housing market is very active and many areas have already surpassed the affordability thresholds for residents. That makes our jobs more important than ever, and when you think about it, we are the solution that makes homeownership achievable. How can you not love doing what we do?
 


Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

Mark Harmon is the mortgage retail division manager at Birmingham, Ala.-based Renasant Bank and president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Alabama (MBAA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with him regarding his work with his state’s mortgage trade group.

How and why did you get involved in the Mortgage Bankers Association of Alabama (MBAA)? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role?
I began my career in the wholesale/correspondent space and initially got involved in our state association as an account executive looking to make business connections. Alabama is fortunate to have one of the strongest state associations in the country, and I was honored to be nominated to participate in our Future Leaders program for the 2010/2011 year. It’s a tremendous program that invests in three to four candidates each year and exposes them to the framework of MBAA service and leadership. Very often, we select committee chairs and board directors from these graduating classes. I began service on the board in 2012 and have progressed up to the president of our association for the 2016/2017 term.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join MBAA?
I’m very passionate about the value proposition MBAA adds to its members. We commit to engaging our members through value-added networking, thoughtful and relevant education, and forums to discuss topics affecting all aspects of the industry. We regularly have nearly 100 attendees at our monthly education seminars and luncheons, and nearly 400 at our annual convention, and those numbers are growing as the economy improves.

What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
One goal of my term as president was to “Tell Our Story” to our members, consumers and legislators. We still have to battle a reputational hurdle stemming from the financial crisis and our position on legislative and regulatory issues is relevant and needs to be shared. We send delegates to Washington, D.C., to meet with our legislators each year during our National Advocacy Conference and we are creating a state version of this in the 2017 legislative session. I’m really excited to help see this initiative through next year during my tenure and support it as an ongoing initiative of the MBAA.

What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I’ve worked hard on our branding, to provide mediums for internal and external marketing of who we are and what we represent. The updated logo can be seen on our new Web site at MBAAL.org, and in campaigns we use in various forums. We partnered with a local company, State Traditions, to promote our brand through apparel and it has created a lot of positive momentum and pride within our association.

We are also exploring new formats for education to expand our participation base (Web-based, roundtables with past presidents) and I think that was overdue. I’m extremely proud of our engagement to attract youth to our industry as well as our Legislative Day initiative in Montgomery.

I’m very proud of the officers, board members and committees we have put together—they are passionate, engaged, active and committed to our objectives, and that makes my job of service a very enjoyable one.

What is the MBAA's relationship with the national Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and with other trade groups?
We are very active with the national MBA and try to honor the “One Voice” initiative when communicating internally and externally. David Stevens, MBA president and CEO, has done such a tremendous job with his team in D.C. and we leverage those resources. We cooperate regularly with the Alabama Realtors, Alabama Home Builders and other state associations to try to partner together on education and legislative agenda items.

In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
A second initiative of my term as president is to “Build our Bench.” The average age of the work force in our industry is over documented, but relevant. As an association, we are looking to bring youth into our industry though a few key initiatives. One is our Internship Program—last year in our pilot year, we placed 12 employees on paid two-month internships with companies in our association. We partnered with state universities, marketed our program and our industry, accepted applicants and placed them. Many of these interns were hired on at the end of the internship, and we have great momentum heading into a second year.

We also partnered this program with our long-standing scholarship program, where we give cash donations to selected candidates with hopes of encouraging them to remain in our industry. Finally, we have created a CMB Society of Alabama, with a goal to partner candidates with mentors to expand the number of mortgage bankers who earn the premier educational designation of our industry. I am currently sponsoring four candidates in the program.

How would you define your state's housing market?
Competitive, but healthy. With the recent run-up in rates in the post-election period, purchase money transactions will be a bulk of the activity in the first quarter of 2017, so I believe that all of our members are observing that closely to see how we perform. Values are increasing, housing starts are up in both markets, but long-term economic growth is really the solution to sustained activity in housing.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

falseRob Arthur is president of the Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association (VMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with the state’s trade group.

How did you become involved with the Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association?
I became involved because I felt that mortgage professionals needed an advocacy force to ward off threats to our industry. My term began in October and it runs for one year. Before that, I was president-elect, vice president and a general board member.

Why should mortgage professionals in your state join VMLA?
They need to protect their turf. Look at how the Realtors get through their advocacy efforts—they’re strong because they have a huge, huge voice on Capitol Hill. We need that on a more micro-level in the Virginia General Assembly. We need more active members—those who don’t participate are eating from the table without doing any of the cooking.

What is VMLA’s level of outreach on a state and federal level?
We are not in front of the state legislators as much as we need to be. We do a “Day on the Hill” event, but we need to get our members to see their legislators throughout the year, so they know what we’re dealing with at a street level.

At the moment, there are no pressing matters on a state level. In terms of federal lobbying, I have not gone to Capitol Hill yet, though I plan to go this year with the Mortgage Bankers Association. I feel that, in terms of regulation, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. Yes, we were too lax in what we did [prior to 2008] in getting people a loan. But now, it is nuts. A lot of people are saying we’re in the compliance business while doing mortgages on the side.

What do you see as your most satisfying accomplishments with the VMLA?
Our convention set a record number for attendance the last two years, averaging 250 to 260 people. Our vendors tell us it is one of the best conventions they attend. We are also involved in a lot of educational outreach. We’ve had people from affiliated industries, including appraisers and home builders, at our panel discussions.

falseWhat is the VMLA doing to build its membership base?
We are not the Virginia Mortgage Bankers Association. We are the Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association. I would like to strengthen our relationship with the brokers and have more of their input. We are looking for new members across our industry. Because of bank mergers and acquisitions our industry is shrinking. Compounding the problem; not many new banks or mortgage lenders are coming online. We would love to have the brokers join our group and work with us in order to help them be successful.

In your professional opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
That might be the biggest challenge we face. It is a constant discussion because not a lot of people are coming into the industry. The average age for a loan officer is 56- or 57-years-old. It is tough to get young people to become a commissioned loan officer if they are carrying student loan debt.

I believe that our industry needs to start thinking differently. There are few people coming out of college that say, “I want to be a mortgage lender.” We need to do a better job communicating with Millennials about career paths in our industry. And mortgage lending is not for the faint of heart … it can be cyclical. A lot of people look at what top loan officers make and are intrigued, but the top 10 percent of loan officers are making 90 percent of the money. Many enter the industry and leave in relatively short periods of time.

What is the state of housing in Virginia?
We don’t have the final statistics in yet, but I can say that it was a good year. Of course, all real estate is local, so it depends on the market you are looking at. Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Southwest Virginia and central Virginia all have different economic drivers. Generally speaking, we had excess inventory at the height of the recession, but now in some areas where the economy is growing there is a shortage of homes available for sale. In addition, the lack of affordable housing, especially related to new construction, for the first-time homebuyers continues to be a problem.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@MortgageNewsNetwork.com.

 

Kevin Jornlin is regional manager for Supreme Lending in Wilmington, Del., and is president of the Delaware Mortgage Bankers Association (DMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke to him regarding his trade association activities.

How and why did you get involved in the DMBA?
I have been in the mortgage business for more than 30 years and can say that over these past few years, I have never seen such a seismic change in our industry along all facets of the business including regulatory, underwriting, technology and the list goes on and on. After speaking with other local industry leaders, there was a clear consensus that we needed a voice in the industry, a venue to exchange information and a community that could leverage all the great ideas and energy, as we work to deliver for all our customers and real estate partners.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join your association?
It is clear that given the market conditions and regulatory environment, our members felt that it is just makes a lot of sense to work together as sort of a "local industry village" as opposed to being on an island and trying to navigate through all this on your own. I think that plus the ability to pool together to have a voice as we work with legislators and other real estate associations.

What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We have been making headway into navigating through the legislative contacts. Most recently, we have been working with a few legislators on a house bill that was attempting to change how liens are handled for past due homeowners’ associations dues. While the intent of the legislation was to help these associations with collecting their monies, the DMBA and our national partner in Washington, D.C., had some serious concerns about unintended consequences with how the bill would lien the property and could potentially extinguish the first mortgage. Of course, this would have resulted in many restrictions on lending which would have adversely affected homeowners and lenders alike. We were successful in seeing the bill tabled and hope to work with the co-sponsors to re-craft a more workable bill in the next session.

What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
I would say that we had many accomplishments, not the least of which was completing the ramp up of our association including all the corporation set up work, bylaws, Web site, etc. But as it relates to accomplishments which supported our membership and the real estate community at large, I would say there are two fairly significant accomplishments. The first was the result of our work with the Delaware State Housing Authority (DSHA) and it was to streamline their program and make it more accessible and user-friendly for the lenders which, in turn, will allow more lenders to participate in their programs which lend to low- to moderate-income families in Delaware. After a lot of due diligence at the DSHA and with collaboration from the DMBA, they were able to introduce a new Master Servicer to handle the program and we all feel this new partnership will foster a more streamlined experience for the delivery of our loans which in turn will entice more lenders to participate in these programs. They were also able to offer a new financial structure for the lenders which will also open up participation.

The second accomplishment was in our work with the state legislature on HB 254. In conjunction with the national MBA, we worked with the co-sponsors of this bill to educate them on some of the major flaws with it and with some of the unintended consequences that occurred in other states in which similar legislation was passed. We were successful in our effort as they tabled the bill and invited us to serve on a roundtable which would help in re-crafting a new bill for the upcoming session.

What is the DMBA's relationship with the national MBA?
We are a member of the national MBA and many of our board attend meetings/calls with their various committees. We also have encouraged all our members to join their Mortgage Action Alliance (MAA), a grassroots organization which serves to inform and mobilize its members on important federal and state issues which could impact us. We also partnered with the MBA to provide our members with a DMBA Education Store, which provides valuable industry training programs for discounted rates to our members.

In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
It seems like there is a big disconnect between our industry and colleges/universities in that there is limited exposure to the field of real estate finance, both in the classroom and in career centers. We need to better align ourselves with these institutions in order to provide an opportunity for Millennials to learn about the business and the vast opportunities within it.

How would you define your state's housing market?
Home prices are stable and inventory has been fairly low for the last few months in the state of Delaware.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

J.D. Mechem is a loan originator with the Anchorage office of Residential Mortgage LLC and president of the Alaska Mortgage Bankers Association (AMBA)

J.D. Mechem is a loan originator with the Anchorage office of Residential Mortgage LLC and president of the Alaska Mortgage Bankers Association (AMBA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him regarding his work with his state’s trade group.

How and why did you get involved in the AMBA? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role?
I got involved because I participated in a few meetings and felt I had an opportunity to give back to my industry–especially after 2010, when all the changes that took place. At the time, I felt there was not much representation of the mortgage industry in D.C. or at the state level. My term as AMBA president began in May, and it is a one-year term. I was previously vice president and secretary.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state should join your association?
The Alaska Mortgage Bankers Association offers mortgage professionals a great opportunity to learn from each other, and learn from industry speakers that we have brought in for conferences. I feel it is also important for mortgage professionals to contribute back to the industry. I’ve been in my career for 22 years, and if I did not participate in this group, I would not have the opportunity have a voice in the control over our industry.

What role does your association play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environments?
Other than go to national MBA meetings and try to be active participant there, we have not done a whole lot. We have some influence on state issues, most recently, in regard to super priority liens. But, on the whole, we are a pretty small organization.

How small is the organization?
We have about 31 members, but the members are companies–we don’t give out individual memberships.

Looking back on your work with AMBA, what do you see as your most significant accomplishments?
It would mostly be on the administration aspect. When I first got involved, the Alaska organization was almost extinct–there was a lot of apathy. My primary focus was on getting us up to speed so we are an active and vital organization. I am working to try to get our membership more active again. 

What is the AMBA's relationship with the national MBA?
We are affiliated with the MBA, and we have gone to their legislative conference and the national convention. I went to the legislative conference in April and our vice president was at the October convention in Boston. We would like to attend more of their events–we’re trying very hard to get Alaska’s voice heard within the MBA.

In a lot of states, there has been a problem in attracting young people into mortgage careers. Is that a problem in Alaska?
I don’t think we have a problem because we have a pretty young population. There are very few seniors who stay in Alaska–it’s a cold place to live. Most of those living up here are under the age of 40.

How would you categorize Alaska’s housing market?
Last year has been very good, though there is a chance it could slow down because of oil prices–we’re directly tied to that, but we have not seen that yet.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

​GSF Mortgage has announced the addition of Scott Finklea as branch manager in Mandeville, La.

Keith Delatte is president of Lafayette, La.-based InterTrust Mortgage LLC and president-elect of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with Keith regarding his work with his state’s trade group.

How and why did you get involved in the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA)? Can you share the track within the association that led to your leadership role?
If memory serves me correctly, I joined LMLA as a member sometime in 2000 or 2001. In late 2005, I received a phone call from a friend of mine who was serving on the board and she flat out told me that I must become a board member … so I did.

The “Why” I joined is simple. As a Scout Master with the Boy Scouts of America, it was all about “Service to Others.” So I guess it was my turn to step up and serve others. I served as governor of LMLA from 2006-2008. I stayed on the board and served as recording secretary for 2009 and 2010. I was off the board for a four-year span, and came back as a board member in 2015. I was nominated and accepted the position of president-elect in 2016, which means that in 2017, I will serve as LMLA president.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join your association?
Every mortgage professional should be a member of their state association. Being a member makes the individual much greater than the sum of their parts. Basically, there is strength in numbers and the more members in the association, the greater the voice we have. In Louisiana, it’s sad to say, but many mortgage professionals are not members. To the mortgage professionals out there who are not members, I ask you to get off the sidelines and get into the game … we need your help.

What role does LMLA play in the state legislative and regulatory environment?
Our association has a Legislative Chair member who is responsible for communicating new rules and regulations being introduced that will impact our industry. Our association reaches out to our membership. We gather thoughts, ideas and concerns on these issues, and then pass our comments to NAMB.

What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with LMLA?
Two things come to mind. First, before Dodd-Frank and the CFPB came into existence, our association met quite often with Commissioner John Ducrest with the Office of Financial Institutions. Our association gave valuable insight and input into proposed rules and regulations affecting our industry. That has now shifted as the CFPB is ultimately in charge, but our long-term and valued relationship with OFI Commissioner Ducrest remains.

Second, the value of LMLA’s Annual Education Conference & Trade Show. Attendees receive eight hours of outstanding education from David Luna of Mortgage Educators and Compliance. The Trade Show typically has 25-plus industry participants introducing the latest and greatest products to the conference attendees. And did I mention the Conference is held in New Orleans? Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler … Let The Good Times Roll!

As Louisiana’s state affiliate for NAMB, what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
As a state affiliate of NAMB, we lend our support and voice to the collective whole. Simply stated: Strength in numbers. NAMB represents our industry in so many ways: Education, working with the CFPB, and even testifying before Congress. A quick check indicates the National Association of Realtors has over one million members. If we could get to that size, we would have one powerful voice.

In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into careers in the mortgage profession?
I live in Lafayette, La. and I’ve seen a good increase in younger people choosing a mortgage career. The key to keeping them in our industry is training, education and time.

What is the state of the housing market in Louisiana?
Louisiana is fairly diverse, but we are more of an oil and gas state than anything else. The state’s housing market has increased steadily over the last several years, until the price of oil tumbled to $27 per barrel in early 2016. As a result, certain areas in the state have idled back a bit. But, overall, our housing market is still strong.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

Michelle Goldberg is a wholesale and correspondent account executive for Stonegate Mortgage and is the past president of the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals (CTAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with her regarding her work with this association.

How and why did you get involved with the Central Texas Association of Mortgage Professionals (CTAMP)? Can you share the track within the association that led to your leadership role?
I have been involved with the association for approximately 18 years. I have been on the board of directors for about seven or eight years, and fulfilled a number of different roles, including director of membership, director of education, secretary, vice president and president. My term as president ended Sept. 30, 2016.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join CTAMP?
There is strength in numbers. We see that in other industry associations, including the National Association of Realtors (NAR). Being directly under NAMB, which does lobbying for mortgage professionals nationwide, we are connected and have a voice on Capitol Hill.

What role does CTAMP play in the federal and state legislative and regulatory environment, and are there any items on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
We have been fortunate enough to send members to lobby in Washington each year. This past spring, we sent three members to attend the NAMB Legislative & Regulatory Conference and lobby on Capitol Hill. For me, it was very important to have that experience, both on a personal and a professional level.

In Austin, we have not done much locally for a few years. There hasn’t been a state mortgage professionals association for several years. There is a new state association in the process of being formed that will enable us to do more in Texas.

What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
My most significant accomplishment has been in connection with our Partner Program, which brings together more of our affiliates—including title companies, lenders, appraisers—which broadens our audience for loan originators. This has cast a wider net across the industry, and the program has taken off.

As the state affiliate for NAMB what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda of the mortgage profession nationwide?
When major issues come into play, NAMB is at the forefront … they are the voice for loan originators, small business owners and brokers. Being an NAMB member gives you a direct link to communications and education that impacts our industry.

In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
For our part, we have brought in some younger board members who are actively involved in other associations to cross-pollinate and help us get the word out. These associations include the National Association of Professional Mortgage Women (NAPMW), the Austin Mortgage Bankers Association (AMBA), the Women’s Council of Realtors and the Austin Young Real Estate Professionals (AYREP).

How would you define your state's housing market?
We have not experienced many of the challenges that other states have faced, so our market remains strong and vibrant. The big challenge is inventory—houses sell very quickly, and a lot of people are moving to Austin. I wouldn’t want to be in any other place.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.

Flagstar Bank has announced the addition of Heather Slapak as a first vice president in Warehouse Lending

Brian Vieaux joined Troy, Mich.-based Flagstar Bank in 2012 as senior vice president and head of the retail mortgage origination channels. Three years later, he was named national sales director for wholesale lending.

This year marks Vieaux’s 25th year in the mortgage profession. Before joining Flagstar, he held senior management positions with IndyMac Bank and CitiMortgage. In 2005, he attained the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) industry designation of Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB).

National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with Vieaux about his work in the mortgage world.

How did you first get involved with mortgage banking? Was this your original career path?
It was a job I fell into. After I graduated from college, I got married and was working for a home builder I had worked for through school. I was a laborer and didn’t have any benefits—I didn’t even know what they were. After I got back from my honeymoon, my new father-in-law asked me how my benefits were. I said, “Benefits? What are they?” He said, “You married my daughter, and she needs to get off my plan.” So I circulated my resume and ended up with a job—with benefits—at Fireman’s Fund Mortgage, which became Source One and was eventually sold to CitiMortgage. I’ve now been in the business 25 years.

How did you first become associated with Flagstar?
I knew Flagstar as a competitor and as a customer of the company I worked for. I knew the people and thought highly of the company as a formidable competitor.

In your opinion, what makes Flagstar stand out from the competition?
We’ve been around since 1987 and have managed through every conceivable business cycle. Not a many companies can say that. Customers sense that we’ll always be there for them, and that’s important. We have technology that’s consistent and reliable. In fact, many of our customers have built their internal processes around Flagstar’s technology, and that’s important, too.

I spend a lot of time with customers, and they tell me, “I can call my account executive at 10:00 p.m. on a Friday, and he or she answers my call.” That’s most important of all. It’s the people that really set us apart.

How do you see the current state of the mortgage market?
We’re coming off a period of many years where our industry has been under fire. We don’t know what the new [presidential] administration will mean from a regulatory perspective. Sure, regulatory relief would be welcome. But if relief doesn’t come, Flagstar is fine. We know how to operate in the current environment and have the regulatory and compliance infrastructure to handle whatever comes our way.

How has Flagstar been able to keep on top of the many regulatory changes that have taken place in recent years?
Internally, we have people who are experts in fair lending, HMDA, as well as the newer TRID regulations. Externally, we leverage relationships with our peers, other lenders, correspondent investors, as well as involvement with industry groups such as the MBA to stay abreast of regulatory changes.

In your opinion, what can the industry do to encourage young people to pursue careers in mortgage banking?
I’ve seen statistics showing the average age of loan officers at about 54-years-old and of appraisers at about 58. So, the industry does need to do things to attract younger people. I think it gets down to companies building processes for college grads to come in and learn and train.

Flagstar has a summer intern program for the major areas of the bank, including mortgages. Last summer, we had about 60 interns, so we are definitely giving exposure to career opportunities in the field. The MBA recognizes the need to attract and grow talent and has an excellent future leaders program. We need to continue to support programs like these.

What do you look for when hiring new recruits for your company?
We tend to look for a track record of success—people who have an established book of relationships. But that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t take a chance on someone with no experience who has the right skills to manage major relationships.

Looking back on your work in the industry, what do you see as your greatest accomplishments?
It gets back to people, to seeing people I’ve recruited or hired be successful. Some are CEOs and CFOs in our industry. Others manage national sales teams or are responsible for credit or risk units. Some are customers and some are competitors. It’s been really rewarding to see all of their success.

What do you see as the near-term future for the housing market?
It’s a seller’s market with a shortage of inventory nationally. It’s hard to believe that rates could go much lower, so at some point, they are going to rise. That should lead to a more normalized market with closer to 70 percent purchase and 30 percent refi, instead of the inverse that we’ve been living with. The agencies seem pretty bullish on housing starts in 2016 and 2017, so in the near term, things look good.

On the technology side, I think the industry as a whole needs to continue to find ways to speed up the loan process and put more knowledge, information and control with consumers. But even in a more automated environment, I think there’s a role for loan officers. The knowledge and counseling that a professional loan officer provides consumers—coupled with technology and automation—is still the best recipe for customer satisfaction.

Outside of work, how do you spend your leisure time?
My oldest son was recently drafted as a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, so my wife and I have spent time following him and watching him play. Also, we are season ticket holders for the Michigan State Spartans and try to take in as many games as we can. And when I have time, I enjoy helping out coaching my local high school football team.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.



This article originally appeared in the November 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.

Nine years ago, Rob Saunders achieved his first career milestone when he became a branch manager at Aegis Wholesale Corporation at the age of 28. He was in the right place, to be certain, but not at the right time—Saunders’ star was ascending just as the housing market was beginning to collapse.

Fast-forward to today. The agitation that Saunders felt when his career carpet was pulled out from under him has long since vanished. Today, he is divisional vice president with Caliber Home Loans Inc. for southern California. National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with him about his roller-coaster career ride, and the triumphs and challenges he currently faces.

How did you first get involved with mortgage banking? Was this your original career path?
The mortgage profession was not my original career path. When I was a child, my mother was a real estate agent. I’d go to work with her and I liked that environment. After college, I bartended for a while, and then I got my real estate license, but I found the work scary. I’ve never been a salesperson. I wanted a wage-paying job when breaking into the workforce.

I entered the mortgage industry as a funding assistant. That was 17 years ago. My duties were photocopying funding packages and I spent the first year in the photocopy room. Eventually, I moved up the ranks becoming an operations manager and then a branch manager at Aegis Wholesale when I was 28-years-old. And at that point, the market crashed and Aegis ceased operations.

After that, Plaza Home Mortgage called and recruited me and my whole Aegis team. We were there for five years–from 2007 to 2011. Then I was recruited by Phil Shoemaker, executive vice president of Wholesale Lending at Caliber, and came to Caliber in July of 2011. The company offered a culture that I wanted to work in. It was a great move!

In your opinion, what makes Caliber stand out from the competition?
Hands down, it has to be our culture. Caliber Home Loans is a service-based lender. We always strive to do the right thing—we’re methodical and take care of each other … always with the borrower’s best interests in mind.

How do you see the current state of the southern California housing market?
It’s extremely competitive and a definitely a sellers’ market, but there is also a low inventory.

What can be done to boost the inventory?
New construction got off to a rocky start after the recession. We are seeing more builders come out, but not a ton of builders like in the 2000s.

There has been much attention recently on the lack of affordable homeownership options in the California market. Is this still a problem?
Absolutely, especially near urban areas including Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego, where it’s extremely expensive. We have seen many people move out of these areas because they cannot afford them. But when even moving to the outskirts, the median home prices often hover around the $400,000 range.

How has Caliber Home Loans been able to keep on top of the many regulatory changes that have taken placed in recent years?
Our executive team devoted a large amount of resources to reviewing the rules and laws before they were implemented. For example, Caliber provided extensive training to agents on TRID before those rules took effect. Today, the company continues to allocate generous resources into continued training. It’s vital that we continue to make sure we understand its complexity.

Also, we need to be cognizant that change is a constant in our industry. Either we adhere to change and roll with it, or we will not be closing loans.

In your opinion, what can the industry do to encourage young people to pursue careers in mortgage banking?
I don’t really see young people getting into the business today and wanting to learn all of its intricacies. The industry used to take people with no experience and train them up through the ranks. Regulation and compliance demands have made things different today, of course. In order to encourage young people to pursue jobs in the mortgage field, lenders need to build an extensive training platform that will attract a younger generation to the business.

All lenders have a responsibility to encourage young people to come into the industry. Ideally, we should band together and come up with a standard strategy to achieve that goal.

Looking back on your work in the industry, what do you see as your greatest challenges and your greatest accomplishments?
As I mentioned earlier, the greatest challenge came when I was promoted to branch manager, only to then see the market crash. Thankfully, another lender came along to pull my team out of that. My greatest accomplishment was coming to Caliber and being able to bring my team along with me.

What do you see as your near-term goals?
My main goal is to keep everyone on my team employed. When I came to Caliber, I was thrilled to watch my team and salespeople thrive here.

What do you see as the near-term future for the mortgage banking industry?
Low inventory is the next big problem. I am not certain if this can continue for the next few years. Ultimately, I think, the economy will drive builders to build more.

Outside of work, how do you spend your leisure time?
I am happily married—we don’t have kids, but have a dog and a cat. I like to spend time with friends and family, and working on my home.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.



This article originally appeared in the July 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. 

Bill Bower is chief executive officer and chief business development office at Lancaster, Calif.-based Contemporary Information Corp. (CIC) and president of the National Consumer Reporting Association (NCRA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke Bill concerning his work with his industry’s trade group and on the state of credit reporting.

How did you get into the credit industry? Was this your original career choice?
Bill Bower:
There are probably very few young adults that dream of an exciting career in the credit reporting world whenever they grow up! My original career choice was to be an Army officer. As it turned out, I lived that career choice in the National Guard and later in the Army Reserve.

What is the story behind CIC?
During college, an associate and I were evaluating business opportunities within the financial services industry, and we landed on credit reporting. We did approximately 18 months of market research, and in 1986, we formed a partnership. After narrowing our market focus down even further, we incorporated in 1988 with the name Contemporary Information Corporation, with the intention that it would simply be known as “CIC.”

When did you first get involved with NCRA? What positions have you held in NCRA, and were your responsibilities?
I first got involved with NCRA back in 2001 just as a member. In 2009, I was asked to fill a Board of Directors seat that had been vacated mid-term. I served out the remainder of that term and was elected to successive terms on the Board. During that time, I served first as the chair of the new Tenant Screening Committee, then as the Board Liaison to that committee. I also was instrumental in the formation of the Resident Screening Advisory Board, a sort of tenant screening think tank made up of high level industry professionals serving the multifamily housing vertical. 

In 2015, I served as vice president of the association, and finally, as president in 2016.

What is the relationship like between NCRA and other mortgage professional trade groups, particularly NAMB?
NCRA has a strong relationship with other industry trade groups including NAMB within the mortgage space. Our close relationship allows us to help understand our customers’ needs and champion their regulatory challenges. Groups like NAMB help to disseminate educational opportunities to mortgage professionals and information about credit reporting and scoring to consumers.

In addition to relationships with trade groups within the mortgage professional space, NCRA also has a close working relationship with trade groups representing the multifamily side of the housing world such as the National Apartment Association (NAA) and its local and state affiliates. 

What impact—positive, negative or both—has the CFPB had on the credit industry?
Initially, the need for the CFPB’s oversight of the credit world was unclear. After years of Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) regulation under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the inclusion of credit reporting in Dodd-Frank seemed superfluous and unnecessary. The initial attempts at a comprehensive and effective consumer complaint database created confusion as complaints were often entered in multiple times and the requirement of participation by CRAs was unclear. There was also a considerable learning curve as the CFPB sent teams to the bureaus to both audit and to understand the business.

Without question, the CFPB has had an impact on the way the credit industry handles consumers and especially on the emphasis on security and regulation that translates through our industry down to the end users of the data. The CFPB is still emerging and changing and it is our hope that they will continue to engage industry trade organizations like NCRA as they develop the internal regulations that will govern the industry.

What is NCRA doing to tackle ongoing threats to credit safety, including cyber attacks and identity theft?
Information security is a constantly moving target and combatting cyber attacks, identity theft and data breaches now take on an ever-important operational priority of every CRA. NCRA facilitates our members with a number of tools including ongoing education (with an emphasis on the SAFC certification program), involvement of vendor members from the data security space, and information to help consumers with their own credit security concerns.

Do you believe that Americans are becoming more responsible in handling consumer credit?
Many consumers have grown up with credit and with a basic knowledge of how credit works. Certainly within the last decade, we’ve seen the bureaus, as well as industry trade associations like NCRA, come out with a plethora of consumer education initiatives. Those credit and score education programs have been supplemented with the efforts of both the FTC and the CFPB to both inform and protect consumers.  So there is a general awareness by most consumers about how credit works—but there is a lot of confusion as well.

The tighter restrictions on loans, coupled with the recent memory of the burst of the housing bubble, have forced consumers to become more responsible with their credit. However, as the memory of the pain of the recession fades and the terms for credit become once again more lax, many consumers will likely return to a more irresponsible handling of their financial affairs including their credit. That’s just a reality of the market.

In addition, there is a raft of misinformation concerning consumer credit out there. Many Americans don’t take the time and effort to research how the credit world works and how their personal credit and payment decisions impact their lives directly. Unfortunately for some, it takes a bad credit experience to cause them to take a closer look and educate themselves on how credit really works.

What are the challenges facing CIC in today's market?
Litigation remains an ongoing challenge both to CIC and to the credit reporting industry as a whole. A great many of these lawsuits are not based on actual consumer harm, but rather, on perceived technical violations in procedure. I’m hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Spokeo case will help stem the tide of frivolous litigation which will help to clear the courts for those consumers which have actually suffered damages.

Looking back on your career, what do you see as you greatest accomplishments?
When we started in 1986, most credit reports were delivered by phone, fax or mail. Developing systems that leveraged the best of technology, while maintaining a focus on data integrity, has always been a driving philosophy for me. I’m also very proud of many of the team of professionals that we’ve cultivated at CIC. While I’ve had many accomplishments along the way, my greatest accomplishments are always yet to come.

What professional goals do you have for the next 12 months?
I would have to say that continued transformation of existing systems, integration with larger platforms and distribution channels, and development of key staff within our organization are all high priorities.

Outside of work, how do you spend your leisure hours?
I enjoy Civil War and Revolutionary War history, hiking, and spending leisure time with my wife of 32 years and my family.



Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.



This article originally appeared in the September 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.