Throughout the years, many have talked about making the mortgage industry more accessible to women and minorities. Patty Arvielo, however, has committed her career to getting it done.
A first generation Latina, Patty grew up learning the true meaning of hard work by helping her mother, a proud Mexican immigrant, to clean real estate offices and eventually own her own cleaning business. She also drew inspiration from her grandmother, a single mother who struggled, but persevered, to support her own family in Tijuana, Mexico.
“Hard work is in my DNA,” said Arvielo. “In the Latino culture, the only option is to be self-made.”
At 16-years-old (and still in high school), Arvielo landed a clerical position at TransUnion, where she input mortgage credit reports. At 18, she got a job with a mortgage company as a clerical loan opener and receptionist and eventually climbed the career ladder all the way to branch manager and assistant vice president.
“I was young, and I chased the almighty dollar every chance I had with the attitude of “I can do that—and even better than anyone else,” said Arvielo. “It was will over skill. I always had the will and I was able to teach myself the skills because it was all on-the-job training.”
Arvielo would go on to lead the operations unit of an independent broker shop where she pursued the underserved Spanish-speaking markets well before they were a popular and sought-after demographic.
“When business was slow, I went to Spanish-speaking areas where I could talk to real estate agents about how we could serve the community, and our business doubled,” said Arvielo. “Back then, it was a largely untapped market.”
In 2003, Patty and her husband, Rick, a successful entrepreneur with a plan to build a mortgage company around time-saving software, launched New American Funding
. Initially, a 40-employee refinance call center, the company leveraged Patty’s strengths to bring the entire loan process in-house—from origination to funding.
With Patty as president and Rick as CEO, the couple was focused on recruiting passionate employees who had the will and could be taught the skills. This bold “with risk comes reward” mentality paid off with a highly-diverse, highly-motivated workforce that grew the company year after year to eventually a top 30 national lender (based on 2019 origination volume). Of the company’s current staff of 3,200 nationwide employees, 58 percent are women (with about 59 percent holding C-Suite level positions), 36 percent are Millennials, 42 percent are minorities and 26 percent are of Hispanic descent, with many holding key positions within the company.
“Our strategy has always been to hire remarkable people at every level of our organization,” said Arvielo. “Being a Latina, I understand the importance of building a supportive and inclusive workplace that empowers women and minorities to do their best and to be supported in advancing their careers.”
Training to transform
New American Funding has welcomed its diverse staff with a state-of-the-art training program to enable their professional development. Through its Specialized Training Empowering People (STEP), aspiring professionals can have minimal to no background in the industry and still be comprehensively prepared for a career in mortgage lending. This initial and on-going training keeps employees educated about their jobs and the industry with a series of rigorous online and on-site training courses.
Once their training is complete, New American Funding loan agents, processors, underwriters and production assistants can access the company’s GoGo LO mobile app, which offers an easy, on-the-go version of the company’s proprietary CRM software for a virtual office experience.
With more and more borrowers going online for their loans, the company has provided its Loan Originators with access to live phone transfers from potential online borrowers. To maximize their loan conversion, loan originators are geographically connected to leads with local borrowers, while building their business at a sustainable pace.
“Our loan originators can take these calls to supplement their business as often as they like,” said Arvielo. “Our borrowers can benefit from the expertise of a local loan agent who knows and understands their community. It’s an opportunity for Latinos to be helping Latinos and women to be helping women—that’s a win-win.”
The role of mentoring
To help her staff (who Arvielo fondly refers to as “Family”) reach their full potential, Arvielo implemented her mentorship program, “If You Want to Grow, We Want to Know.” As an advocate for mentorship and eliminating glass ceilings, she developed the program as a way to provide her diverse staff with the resources they need for career growth.
Regardless of their current position, each participating employee is provided the opportunity to express their career goals and then to be put on a training plan in order to accomplish their objective.
“It’s not enough to give someone an opportunity,” said Arvielo. “You have to give them a role model and show them a pathway to success. Through my own personal story, I am able to communicate what it takes to succeed in this business, especially as a Latina. I want them to say, ‘I can be her.’”
To expand the opportunities for professional growth and leadership, Arvielo developed her “Thrive and Lead” program. This provides the internal staff and external mortgage professionals intensive mentoring for a three-month period from Patty herself.
“My message is to not hold yourself back. You can exceed your limitations. The sky’s the limit,” said Arvielo. “Minorities and women are looking to get involved in technology like anyone else. They are starving for leadership that resonates with them through real-life experiences of hard work and success.”
Serving the underserved
From the start, Patty’s goal has been to make sure that the underserved are now fully served. To this end, she has undertaken the unprecedented Latino Focus initiative. Its mission is to identify and address the challenges of Hispanic consumers in their pursuit of homeownership and to enhance the quality of their lending experience. Past Latino Focus events have focused on opportunities for attendees to learn more about the needs of Hispanic millennial consumers, or as the company likes to call them, “Hispennials,” who represent 23.6 million potential new homebuyers.
To date, 22.2 percent of New American Funding’s loan volume has been to the Hispanic sector (versus the most recently published national numbers of 9.4 percent). The company also has marketing materials and a website, smartstarthomebuyer.com, which are fully translated into Spanish and are dedicated to supporting new homebuyers navigating the homebuying process.
To further the company’s deepening commitment to African-American borrowers, Arvielo has also spearheaded the company’s New American Dream initiative. This emphasis on improving the home-lending experiences of African-American homebuyers has paid off with 10 percent of current New American Funding loans originating with African-American borrowers (versus the most recently published national numbers of 5.6 percent).
Representation with results
With 38 years in the mortgage industry and counting, Patty has exercised her expertise and influence on numerous committees, including currently on the Housing Counseling Federal Advisory Committee (HCFAC) and formerly on the Fannie Mae Affordable Housing Advisory Council and both Freddie Mac’s Community Lender Advisory Board and Affordable Housing Council.
“Homeownership is the number one key to creating generational wealth in this country,” said Arvielo. “That’s why we have committed to lending $25 billion to Hispanics over the next five years.”
Arvielo also devotes time as a keynote speaker for mortgage events across the nation and frequents Washington, D.C to lobby on behalf of the mortgage industry and homeowners.
“Our industry can be a powerful force for homeownership,” said Arvielo. “Together we can work toward making the American dream accessible and obtainable for every group, every day.”