Despite the terrorist attacks of the previous week, the Indiana Association of Mortgage Brokers pulled off their 11th Annual Conference and Trade Show, Sept. 19-21, with stellar results. More than 1,000 mortgage professionals made the trip to Indianapolis for the three-day conference, and approximately 70 of the industry's top companies and vendors displayed their latest product lines and services in the jam-packed Indianapolis Roof Ballroom.
Using the facilities of the Embassy Suites Hotel in the heart of downtown Indianapolis, the INAMB Board and staffers assembled three days chock-full of education, entertainment, golfing and networking, including a golden opportunity to "get rich quick" and walk away with $5,000 in cash from the Reverse Raffle.
INAMB's annual extravaganza launched on Wednesday, Sept. 21 to a mix of education and golf. Those wishing to fulfill their continuing educational requirements took to the books for a day of RESPA, TILA, commercial loan brokering, marketing and residential mortgage lending courses. Meanwhile, on the greens of the nearby Coffin Golf Club, conference attendees teed off at one of the state's finest courses in friendly competition. Day one concluded with a networking cocktail reception for exhibitors back at the hotel. Attendees took advantage of the two-plus hour reception to re-acquaint themselves with old friends and establish new business ties. Many partygoers used the cocktail reception as a springboard to a night in downtown Indianapolis, continuing well past the scheduled 9:00 p.m. conclusion.
Day two of the convention provided attendees with a "great bang" for their admission buck. Education was available all day long as INAMB faculty member all-star Bob Sweeney of Union Federal Bank delivered his second of three eight-hour residential mortgage lending classes. Over a three day span, approximately 50 mortgage professionals sharpened their basic industry skills with a full 24 hours of RML School. Other attendees took advantage of an informative session discussing business ethics and techniques to run a more professional operation.
As exhibitors began setting up their respective booths for the INAMB Exhibition and Trade Show, attendees had the option of participating in two outstanding and informative roundtable discussions. Tom Ward of Majestic Mortgage Corporation began the discussions with his "Permission Marketing Techniques" session. Mr. Ward stressed the importance of customer referrals and retention in today's active mortgage market and explained how mortgage professionals could maximize their individual marketing creativity. "The relationship to the consumer must equal the commitment you are asking for," explained Mr. Ward to his captive audience. Mr. Ward's presentation was especially relevant to Indiana mortgage professionals in light of the state's new telemarketing law. As of September, 2001, there were 200,000 Hoosiers currently on the state's "Do Not Call" list. When the law takes effect this January, anyone in violation will be subject to a $10,000 fine for a first-time offense and a $25,000 fine for second-time offenders. This session was definitely "required listening" for all Indiana mortgage professionals.
Back for a second consecutive year to expound on the importance of business ethics, was Dave DePodesta of Union Federal Bank with his roundtable discussion, "Cleaning Up the Industry/Eliminating Broker Fraud." Mr. DePodesta's usual co-presenter is Lee Ann Butts, also of Union Federal, but she was unable to make the event. Mr. DePodesta went solo and began his session by handing out a thick binder full of various types of fraud and the "red flag" warning signs of fraud in a mortgage transaction. Many of the examples described involved loan flipping and the doctoring of loan documents. A few notable facts presented included:
++20-25 percent of all residential foreclosures are fraud-related;
++most cases of fraud involve a number of industry-related professionals within the loan process, from the real estate agent, to the title company, to the broker, etc.;
++the term "con" derives from the word "confidence;" a con artist's first step is to gain the "confidence" of their target; and
++the fifth digit on 98 percent of all Social Security numbers is an even number, only two percent are odd integers.
These factors, among others, were followed by Mr. DePodesta's underlying statement, applicable to all steps of the mortgage process--"If it just doesn't make sense, then it's most likely a case of fraud."
The INAMB Exhibition and Trade Show began promptly at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20, featuring the mortgage industry's finest vendors and service providers. A strong sense of patriotism and American pride was in the air as exhibitors ornately decorated their booths with red, white and blue. INAMB Sponsors Bank One Home Loan Services, M&I Home Equity and Archer Land Title had prime exhibit space on the stage area in the Indiana Roof Ballroom as the aisles filled up throughout the exhibit hall.
Attendees meandered and made deals at Indiana's veritable mortgage flea market, where they viewed online opportunities at the @mortgage booth, picked up some free newspapers at The Mortgage Press Ltd. booth, viewed demonstrations of the latest loan origination software at the Byte booth, and contributed to the INAMB Political Action Committee fund at the INAMB PAC booth. Attendees had the opportunity to be automatically entered into drawings for the INAMB raffle by having their Trade Show Maps stamped by exhibitors. When an attendee visited every booth on their map, the completed product was then turned in to the INAMB PAC booth where it would hopefully be drawn later for prizes. The girls of Archer Land Title tirelessly baked fresh cookies all day long for attendees to snack on as deals were closed, and new business contacts were established and re-visited throughout the five-hour event.
Up and down the exhibit hall, INAMB PAC members, including the association's Executive Director Amanda O'Daniel and PAC Trustee Kathi LaPointe, sold Reverse Raffle tickets. For $20 per chance, attendees had an opportunity to win more than $7,500 in prizes at a drawing held at the INAMB Comedy Club later in the night. With the 12 in 500 odds, I liked my chances, so I splurged the $20 and bought ticket number 411. Unfortunately ticket number 411 wasn't among the 12 winners pulled by INAMB President Steven Clark later on, but Doug Howie was the owner of the 500th ticket pulled and earned the night's top dollar prize of $5,000. A special thanks to Steven Clark and INAMB Secretary Jim Parsons, two Reverse Raffle winners who turned around and donated their winnings to the INAMB PAC fund.
When the festivities in the exhibit hall began to wind down, it was time for the association to recognize a select few of its outstanding individual members for the year 2001. INAMB President-Elect A. Joseph Salpietra, along with co-emcees Steven Clark, INAMB Treasurer Margaret Huddleson and INAMB Immediate Past President/PAC Chair Chuck McLean, announced the winners from the stage area. INAMB honored Co-Brokers of the Year Robert Gregory and Rich Hall of Ace Mortgage for their accomplishments and contributions to the association. To a tremendous round of applause, the two accepted their trophies and thanked the association for the honor. Next up, INAMB had special plans for its Lender/Vendor of the Year, Clark Gramelspacher of CitiMortgage Inc. As Clark was announced as the winner, he was surprised by his parents, Rose Marie and Gene, and girlfriend Jeanette from Jasper, Ind., whom the association had picked up earlier in the day. Needless to say, Clark was completely shocked. After the accolades and thank-you-speeches, exhibitors brought forth their booth prizes to the stage area, including Palm Pilots, DVD players, golf bags and more, as Chuck McLean and Joseph Salpietra announced the more than 40 winners. Congratulations to all who did not go home empty-handed!
As attendees filed out of the exhibit hall, many took the opportunity to soak in a night of fun at the INAMB Comedy Club. Sponsored by Investor's Titlecorp, those in attendance snacked on hors d'oeuvres and laughed the night away as the Reverse Raffle winners were sporadically announced.
The event concluded Friday with another opportunity for mortgage professionals to gain continuing education credits. Courses offered on Friday included nation's fair lending, a primer in sub-prime origination and another opportunity to catch Bob Sweeney's residential mortgage lending school.
The success of the INAMB 11th Annual Conference and Trade Show was a surprise to many, with the shroud of sadness of the events the week earlier. All of the exhibitors were on hand with no cancellations, and with a crowd in excess of 1,000, it was "business as usual" for the Indiana mortgage industry.