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Allen Beydoun is executive vice president of sales at Troy, Mich.-based United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM). Allen recently sat down with National Mortgage Professional Magazine regarding his career and his outlook for the industry in the months to come.
How did you first get involved with mortgage banking? Was this your original career path?
No, mortgage banking wasn’t my original career path. Originally, I was the branch manager for a bank in Southeast Michigan, and we had a working relationship with a mortgage company. Our goal was to pass on leads to mortgage originators that worked inside of our branch offices and I was personally referring five to seven clients to an originator in my office.
I started doing some research and realized that mortgage originating could be a successful field to be in, with flexible hours and an opportunity to make a great living. Once I was able to gain a better understanding of the industry, I started to work for a small broker shop and also worked a little bit in retail. I found that being a broker was more rewarding than working for a retailer.
I was able to give my clients more options and provided them with a higher level of client service. I loved what I was doing, I was passionate about it. Knowing that you are helping someone make one of the biggest financial decisions in their life was a feeling of accomplishment in itself. My goal became to consciously connect people with the right products that they could afford.
How did you first become associated with United Wholesale Mortgage?
Someone from UWM noticed my resume online and asked me to come in for an interview. They obviously knew of my experience as a loan originator, but wanted to gauge my interest in working on the wholesale side of the business. At that time, in 2007, this was a much smaller company—there were maybe a handful of people working for UWM, and the office was what used to be a small store.
For my interview, I spoke with this young guy named Mat Ishbia, current president and CEO of UWM. Mat spoke about how UWM was going to be the number one wholesale lender, and at the time, I wasn’t sure if he was kidding or not. He promised me that UWM was going to be something special, so I knew I had to give it a shot. We were on the ground floor at the time–and look where we have come! I still consider us on the ground floor because the broker business is only going to continue to grow.
In your opinion, what makes UWM stand out from the competition?
It is definitely our people. You can have the best systems and the best technology, but if you don’t have good people, it just doesn’t work. I do a lot of traveling, so I’m on the road talking to brokers and going to trade shows, speaking with some of our competitors.
If you take a look at the team we have here at UWM, all under one roof, no other company or competitor has that kind of structure and culture in one place. Most companies have different locations and fulfillment centers throughout the country. With all of us working in this single location, we’re all on the same page, running the same play, and we all know what our goals are.
We are all rowing the boat the same way, working towards a common goal, and that's to make sure our brokers are successful. If we were to be spread out throughout the country, we would lose out on building a strong culture and would see a drop-off in our consistency, transparency and communication.
How do you see the current state of the wholesale market?
The wholesale market is growing. The best place for a consumer to get a loan is through the mortgage broker channel. Brokers present borrowers with more options and multiple lenders to choose from.
I think wholesale is going to play an important role for many years to come. Traditional banks aren’t specifically focused on mortgages like brokers are. When you’re working with a mortgage broker, they’re more open to providing a higher level of client service … they’re nimble. I see a lot of people in the industry going back into opening broker shops and originating. The wholesale market is going to continue to thrive.
How has UWM been able to keep on top of the many regulatory changes that have taken place in recent years?
We stay at the forefront of compliance and regulatory changes. We always want to do what’s right by the consumer, and stay alert so we know what kind of changes are coming. We’re proactive in terms of developing technology and processes that help our clients succeed right away, rather than sitting back and being reactionary. We do what’s best from a regulatory standpoint and from a client standpoint. We’re focused on protecting consumers, our brokers and ourselves.
Regulatory changes will always be a part of this business, that’s just a fact. It comes down to how you handle it. Are you going to be negative or be positive and find ways to adapt your business so you can excel. We look at regulatory changes as opportunities to gain a competitive advantage, and do everything internally from a technology standpoint. All of our technology is built in-house, so we are able to make appropriate changes more easily. It also helps us maintain great synergy among teams. For example, there is transparency between IT, sales, and our compliance teams when developing different tools and products. When you make decisions or changes, it’s important to collaborate with all teams involved that will be affected.
In your opinion, what can the industry do to encourage young people to pursue careers in mortgage banking?
I don’t think many people have their minds made up in high school or college that they want to be a mortgage broker or loan originator. The field can be very rewarding, but you’ve got to have a strong work ethic and the discipline to put in the time to needed to become successful.
In order to attract Millennials, the mortgage industry needs to stay at the forefront of technology. When your technology works for you, you’re going to attract the entrepreneurial-minded young professionals because they are interested in innovation and being in control of their business. For younger people who aspire to run their own book of business as a mortgage broker or loan originator, the mortgage industry allows them to be in control of their own success, but it’s also important that they’re go-getters and have a strong work ethic and positive attitude.
Looking back on your work in the industry, what do you see as your greatest challenges and your greatest accomplishments?
My greatest challenge came in the early stages of my career at UWM when I was starting out as an account executive and our clients had never heard of UWM. That challenge was maintaining my mental toughness and drive when we were starting to grow our business. It can be easy to just give up in those situations, but I made a commitment to UWM and myself to stay competitive and persistent.
Being in the weeds and constantly working at my craft gave me the confidence I needed to be effective on the phones and help bring UWM to where it is now. That strong mindset is a major reason why I was able to take my business to the next level back then and continues to do the same today.
Being a part of our team here at UWM has been my greatest accomplishment. Our team is on the same page and rowing the boat in the same direction—everybody is in tune with the exact same vision and goals. I value the process it took to become the number one wholesale lender in the nation, as well as the process it takes to maintain that spot. To me, the true accomplishment is when our team of 1,600-plus shares the same vision, passion and excitement, and provides the same type of value and service.
What do you see as the near-term future for the mortgage banking industry?
Technology is going to play a major role in the near future. You’re going to see lenders that don’t have the right technology or infrastructure suffer a little bit, while the lenders that invest in their IT teams are going to distinguish themselves and grow their business.
We’re also seeing a good number of loan originators leaving banks and retail shops to open up their own mortgage broker shops, so the entrepreneurial spirit in the mortgage industry is on the rise. More loan originators are going into broker shops as well because they have more options.
Outside of work, how do you spend your leisure time?
When I’m not at work, I am with my family. It’s great to have that work/life balance. I have three boys who are heavily involved in sports. So when I am not in the office, you can typically find me at the football, soccer or baseball field with my wife and kids.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the August 2016 print edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.