Featured Industry Leader: Karen Bates, President-Elect, California Association of Mortgage Professionals – NMP Skip to main content

Featured Industry Leader: Karen Bates, President-Elect, California Association of Mortgage Professionals

Phil Hall
Oct 06, 2016
​Karen Bates is co-founder and sales manager at San Diego-based Military Home Loans and is the current president-elect of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP)

Karen Bates is co-founder and sales manager at San Diego-based Military Home Loans and is the current president-elect of the California Association of Mortgage Professionals (CAMP). National Mortgage Professional Magazine recently spoke with her regarding her work with the state’s trade group.

How and why did you get involved with CAMP? Can you share the track within your association that led to the leadership role?
I initially became involved to learn about the industry. The mortgage industry was my third career, after serving as an air traffic controller in the Navy for eight years and as a CPA for three years. The Navy taught me to understand the bigger mission and that what I did helps to ensure the mission was accomplished. My Masters in Taxation taught me to learn how the system worked, how tax laws were created and also regulated, so that I could do a better job in preparing tax returns. Understanding not only how tax law came about, but also how they were managed, ensured my decisions on income and deductions kept the intent of the law in mind, as well as the letter of the law. Both were necessary to make the best recommendations to my clients.

My track within the California Association of Mortgage Professionals started with joining the organization. As my business grew and became steady, I was able to join the board of directors at the local level. That led to becoming president of the San Diego Chapter in 2012-2013. One of my top five spiritual gifts is leadership, so I enjoy working with others, learning from each other, and working together to make an impact when many don’t believe it can be done.

I have seen CAMP prove over and over that a few working together for a greater cause can have a tremendous impact. This industry provides a great opportunity for us as individuals to serve those in our community to become homeowners and achieve the American dream. I feel responsible in giving back to an organization that was created to ensure that we do the best job possible for our community.

Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession in your state join the association?
That’s a good question. As with any 501(c)6 organization, membership is a primary focus. Our membership consists of the individual originator who may work alone, have a team or have a small business. So the reasons vary as much as individuals do.

What we offer is threefold. The first is the benefit of education and leadership opportunities for personal and professional development. I have personally experienced greater effectiveness in my own life by stepping into leadership opportunities and making a difference. Second, industry support through government affairs and industry updates is another reason we attract members. The abundance of new regulation created an atmosphere of fear in our industry and getting involved was the best way to tackle that head on. And finally, one of the most important benefits we offer is an opportunity to expand the mindset and sphere of influence of our members. We are an organization of the most dedicated, experienced and success-minded entrepreneurs in our industry. 

What role does your association play in the state legislative and regulatory environment?
We are the voice of consumer protection for our industry. Because we are home to the originators who personally meet with and advise homebuyers, we have the best opportunity to be the voice and bring awareness to harmful, unintentional consequences of the regulatory environment to those we serve. As an organization, we provide the best insight that homeowners have on the challenges and obstacles to homeownership.

What do you see as your most significant accomplishments with the association?
We have just created the CAMP Leadership and Success Institute (CLASI). As a Certified John Maxwell Coach, I believe everything rises and falls on leadership. Sadly, our political arena is a great example of the vacuum of strong leaders we are experiencing in America. So my focus is to intentionally develop leaders who develop other leaders for our industry. Strong leaders who value people will create the greatest impact at the chapter, state and national levels for consumers and industry professionals alike.

In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
What I see as the barrier to entry is twofold. One is awareness of the industry opportunity. It is not necessarily a career mentioned in college like accounting, engineering, and finance. Yet, I believe my accounting and taxation degrees have been huge contributors to my success in this industry.

The second barrier we need to overcome is creating opportunities where new industry professionals can both learn and earn. I would love to bring more military veterans into the industry, just like my husband and myself. But after earning a steady paycheck for four to 20-plus years in the military, how do you transition into an industry where there is no paycheck until you build industry knowledge, skills and your personal community (your database) to serve? In my opinion, this takes a minimum of six to 12 months to do well.

How would you define your state's housing market?
Dynamic! My market is a perfect example of this. At Military Home Loans, we serve the military community. California is home to the largest number of veterans, but we rank 34th in VA usage. Some communities like Yuba County have more than 22 percent usage of VA amongst veterans. Others, like San Francisco County, have less than one percent VA usage. And then there is everything in between. Our market is as diverse and dynamic as our terrain—mountains, valleys, coastal regions and desert!

Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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