The Telephone Doctor: How to handle the foreign accent

The Telephone Doctor: How to handle the foreign accent

November 27, 2006

TMP Lender Spotlight on American Brokers ConduitMortgagePress.comAmerican Brokers Conduit, ABC Advisor Seminar Series
ABC's Elite Partner Program: Helping brokers build a
more profitable business
An interview with Robin Hawley of American Brokers
Conduit
Robin Hawley is a senior vice president of American Brokers
Conduit (ABC), the wholesale division of American Home Mortgage
Investment Corporation, a publicly held Real Estate Investment
Trust (REIT) headquartered in Melville, N.Y. The Mortgage
Press recently had the opportunity to sit down with Robin to
get an overview of ABC's Elite Partner Program. For more
information on ABC's Elite Partner Program or on ABC, visit www.abconduit.com.
The Mortgage Press: At this time, why does ABC consider
it important for brokers to become part of a preferred broker
program?
Robin Hawley: The residential mortgage lending market is
more competitive than ever, and by qualifying for ABC's Elite
Partner Program, mortgage brokers can gain significant operational
and cost efficiencies. The benefits ... This program will not only
shorten the loan process and result in a higher quality customer
experience, but also help mortgage brokers increase their close
rates and build a more profitable business. In addition, ABC
believes it is important to recognize its best brokers who deliver
quality business and consistent volume. These high-quality broker
partners understand ABC's programs, processes and guidelines, and
therefore, their loans can be processed, approved and closed more
quickly.
TMP: How does a broker qualify for ABC's Elite Partner
Program?
RH: ABC's Elite Partner Program is built on the foundation
of quality. First, a mortgage broker needs to deliver high-quality
loan packages that can be validated and closed to ABC's specific
lending guidelines. This action optimizes the lending value chain
by allowing a more rapid and cost-efficient loan process. In
addition, we require minimum pull-through, percentage of loans to
be approved on first underwrite, as well as other important quality
measures such as early payoffs, early payment defaults and no
fraud.
TMP: What tangible benefits can a broker expect to
receive from being part of ABC's Elite Partner Program?
RH: Some of the benefits an Elite Partner receives include
pricing benefits, priority underwriting and a plaque recognizing
their designation as an Elite Partner. An Elite Partner also has
access to ABC's senior management team via periodic roundtable or
task force meetings. ABC respects the opinions of our brokers, and
we reach out to them regularly for feedback. An intangible benefit
to the broker results from the development of a comfort level with
their lender. They do business with us regularly, know our products
and guidelines, and enjoy the higher likelihood that their loans
will be approved and closed without incident. Finally, we refer
customers looking to refinance back to their originating broker for
future financing.
TMP: What is the profile of a mortgage broker who would
benefit the most from being part of ABC's Elite Partner
Program?
RH: They are relationship driven and understand the
importance of delivering high-quality service to drive their
long-term success. In addition, they are focused on taking
ancillary cost and inefficiencies out of the mortgage process, and
are looking for wholesale lending partners with a shared vision and
goals. We are also finding that these brokers are actively taking
part in our training, both live at our nationwide Advisors Seminar
Series, and on our Web site via our Advisor Center where they can
access online and recorded training segments on demand. In
addition, they are prime players who sell not only agency and alt-A
loans, but who sell option ARMs and other niche portfolio type
products. Most of all, they know how to do business with ABC, and
submit high-quality, well packaged loans.
TMP: How important is it for mortgage brokers to
establish long-term relationships with key wholesale lenders by
participating in a preferred broker program?
RH: To continue to build their business, brokers need to
look beyond production volume trends and begin to identify cost and
time inefficiencies in their loan process to deliver excellent
service to their originating sources. By building long-term
relationships with a select group of high-quality wholesale
partners, a systematic loan process can develop, addressing both
time and cost inefficiencies that translate into quick turn times
and higher closing rates. These improvements will result from a
better understanding of the wholesale lenders' products and loan
process, significantly reducing the length of the loan cycle.
In addition, the mortgage business, and the real estate industry in
general, is relationship driven. Products change quickly,
underwriting guidelines vary just slightly from lender to lender,
and knowing these nuances is often the difference between a
submission that is approved and one that's rejected. Having a
relationship with your lender means you know who to call and get
answers from when you need them. It means you know the lenders'
guidelines as well as they do, and as a result, your borrower
receives the excellent level of service they deserve during the
purchase of their most significant asset.
TMP: To be successful, what should a broker look for in
a wholesale lending partner?
RH: We believe the answer should be based on how a
wholesale partner can help a broker build a sustainable and more
profitable business in a competitive market environment. The fact
is that many brokers have been in the mortgage business less than
five years and have never worked through the down-side of a cycle.
Therefore, besides offering a preferred program, ABC offers its
broker partners other important services and capabilities, such as
flexible products that are competitively priced, lending solutions
that meet both current and potential customers' needs,
best-in-class service with experienced real-time inside
professionals, user-friendly technology, online marketing
capabilities, and an ongoing commitment to online and in-person
educational opportunities. ABC also offers mortgage brokers the
chance to interact at no cost with leading mortgage professionals
such as Barry Habib and Jim McMahan through our Advisors Seminar
Series. We believe the key word in doing business with our mortgage
brokers is "partner" and the question we ask ourselves and our
mortgage broker partners is: "How can we help you become
successful?"
TMP: Regarding product portfolios, your parent, American
Home Mortgage, and ABC just introduced a few new products to the
industry. Can you explain the benefits of these products?
RH: Our new Power Fixed 5-Year ARM combines all of the
payment options of the popular MTA option ARMs, with the stability
of a fixed payment for the first five years. It appeals to a
borrower who is uncomfortable with the monthly payment change
currently associated with most option ARM products. Borrowers can
still choose how they want to pay their loan each month, but the
interest-only option and minimum payment option will be based on a
fixed-rate during the first five years of the loan. Fifteen- and
30-year fixed amortization payments can also be made. While
deferred interest may still result by making the minimum payment,
until this product was available, most option ARM minimum payment
or interest-only payment selections changed monthly.
ABC's new Progressive Payment Saver is similar to a two to one
buy-down, but with a new twist. It's an interest-only loan that
provides the borrower with a two percent lower rate and payment the
first year and one percent lower rate and payment the second year,
funded by a three percent-financed discount that is added to the
loan amount. The remainder of the term (third through 30th year)
will remain level, but will continue to be based on interest-only
for the remainder of the initial 10 years. Principle and interest
payments are fully amortized over the remaining final 20 years of
the loan. As the rate buy-down is financed, there is no
out-of-pocket cost to the borrower and no possible negative
amortization during the life of the loan. The borrower also
qualifies at the first year bought down I/O rate so qualifying is
simple.
TMP: What are the mortgage broker's needs that have to
be met in 2006 and beyond?
RH: Besides product, I think the availability of training
and marketing support is important. These are two components that
can become very costly to a broker, and require resources that a
small company may not have. Knowledge is power, and in an
increasingly competitive market, those brokers who are professional
and knowledgeable will appeal to consumers and origination
partnerships like financial planners and realtors. During the first
quarter, ABC introduced an online version of our successful
nationwide educational forum, the ABC Advisor Seminar Series. These
on-demand educational seminars are now available on ABC's Web site
at the new Advisor Center, where mortgage brokers are able to
participate and view top industry speakers as they provide original
growth strategies. Brokers are also able to access live seminar
archives, for viewing at their own convenience. In addition, the
Advisor Center offers the opportunity to learn about new loan
programs, product enhancements, and view scenarios illustrating how
a particular product could help a client.
ABC also recently launched an upgraded marketing Web engine on its
Web site called Brokers Marketing Center. This custom-built
application enables mortgage brokers to send communications, such
as newsletters, by mail and automatic e-mail, all of which can be
customized with their photo, logo and contact information. The
Broker Marketing Center puts marketing firepower into the hands of
every mortgage broker, allowing brokers to always stay in touch and
establish a brand in the marketplace.
TMP: How has the boom market of the past five years
impacted the industry?
RH: First of all, business came easily. The abundance of
refinance business created a false sense of security for everyone
in sales, especially for those loan officers who had never
experienced a down market. Compensation levels were at an all-time
high, and many loan officers are now struggling financially.
Secondly, because of the influx in business, there was little time
to train employees on the basics of sales or mortgage banking in
general. Now that everyone has more time, it's essential to refocus
the sales force on fundamental and strategic selling skills.
At ABC, we offer the Advisor Seminar Series, a free half-day
seminar about current products and sales tactics, hosted by
nationally-known speakers. Our Advisor Series has been hugely
successful. More than 10,000 brokers attended these nationwide
training seminars.
TMP: Are wholesale lenders putting too much emphasis on
technology?
RH: I am not sure that we have sold the true advantages of
technology to the brokers very well. Imagine giving your borrower
an approval at point-of-sale? Many times, brokers have to wait and
see if a loan will be able to be done by one wholesaler or another.
Will the deal need to be repriced or re-structured due to the
lender having to pull new credit? If a broker could avoid those
pitfalls by working with a lender that has the solution to those
issues, wouldn't it be worth a lot? ABC encourages brokers to use
technology to create an environment where time is money and we all
win! If a broker runs DU or CDU (customized findings for jumbo and
portfolio products), we will use their credit! No more
re-structuring loans ... that's just one of the many
advantages!
TMP: As one of the fastest growing wholesale lenders in
the country, what is ABC doing to continue the momentum?
RH: In late 2005, the senior management team established
its Vision for 2006 and Beyond. Everything we do at ABC supports
that vision ... to be a top wholesale lender, to outperform our
peer group, to increase market share, to be innovative in our
product development, to engage our employees in the decisions we
make, to incorporate critical functionality in our Web site, and to
engage and treat our broker partners with respect, and expect the
same in return.
TMP: What makes ABC different from the other lenders you
worked for?
RH: ABC lives by its tagline, Your Partner in Success.
While that tagline is part of our branding to our broker partners,
it also applies to our own employees. We want to help our brokers
be successful by allowing them to do business with us in a way that
fits their needs, as opposed to telling them there is only one way,
one system and one program. For example, we accept automated
findings through FNMA, LP, eMagic, AU central, etc. Additionally we
are embedded in Calyx Point, one of the most popular LOS engines
used by mortgage brokers today. We're just a click away in a
dropdown box!
TMP: What are some of the initiatives that ABC is
pursuing during this competitive marketplace of 2006?
RH: In addition to our Elite Partner Program and ongoing
product development to meet the ever-changing needs of the market,
we are continuing to improve our Web site with the goal of having
it be considered one of the best in the industry. Our CRM strategy
will allow our account executives to focus on brokers who are the
best fit for ABC and have the most potential for success with our
company.
TMP: What are your outside interests when you get away
from the office?
RH: I actually live in Pennsylvania and commute weekly to
New York. I have always traveled in my management positions, so the
arrangement is not unusual. On the weekends this summer, I have
started to compete in rated hunter/jumper horse shows in the
central Pennsylvania area. It's a sport that takes my mind off of
mortgage banking and requires complete concentration on what you're
doing! Aside from showing my thoroughbreds, I boat and ride jet
skis with my husband. I've also been know to drive a NASCAR at
Dover Downs and paraglide off mountains in France with my snow skis
on. I believe in seizing an opportunity to try something new
whenever I can!

Originations

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