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Wednesday's episode of the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series featured Katherine Gardner, executive vice president and chief production officer at Arc Home. Gardner and series' host Andrew Berman, head of engagement and outreach for National Mortgage Professional magazine, discussed how Arc Home adapted to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges she faced as a woman in the mortgage industry and much more.
Gardner’s hands-on approach to running third-party originations comes from her roots as a mortgage broker before spending over two decades as a mortgage banking executive. Gardner shared an important message about being a woman in the mortgage industry and also discussed how she and her team at Arc, pivoted to accommodate the market changes due to COVID-19.
Highlights From The Interview:
- “For me, there were some situations where I definitely felt there were barriers,” said Gardner when asked if being a female presented any barriers to her moving forward in the mortgage industry. “Oftentimes I’m one of two women in a large conference room with all men. There are cultures that I have been in where I felt what I brought to the table was very valued and the results were very valued. Then, there were some cultures that I spent some time in that were not that way. I did feel very much identified as a woman and that was an obstacle and I did feel some uncomfortable situations that were inappropriate.”
- Her advice to women who finds themselves in that situation is to “take your skills and find another place … Your time spent in those environments, you don’t really realize until your gone, that it lowers your self-confidence, it actually lowers your skillset because you’re distracted by that and you’re not learning everything you could be learning. So, take your skills and find a place where your skills and what you bring to the table, are highly valued no matter what your sex, color, race, creed and any of those things are. Don’t stay, there is so much opportunity in this business and there are so many places that want talented people regardless of their sex.”
- “For Arc, we were blessed in that we built the organization to be balanced between a prime A paper platform with a strong technology presence, coupled with high-touch service, the lifeblood being non-QM and the development of that. During the pandemic, right at the beginning, there became instability in the non-QM market and we had to make that quick transition. So, we transitioned all of our non-QM operations staff and opened up the world of prime to them,” said Gardner.
- They needed to quickly transition to a mobile workplace. In four days, they went from folks on-site at two offices to a completely remote workforce.
- While Gardner said they worried about productivity falling off, she revealed that productivity stayed high. Gardner believes engagement and staying in touch as a team helped, as well as the increase in volume during the pandemic.
- Gardner says Arc is continuing to make new hires and believes it is important to continue to build during this time.
- “It’s times like these that prove how critical the mortgage broker is to our economy, not just to our industry, but to our overall economy. Because, mortgage brokers with their extreme flexibility and the diverse partnerships, protect the homebuyer and refinancer’s opportunity in markets like this. Credit is tightening and mortgage brokers, by virtue of the fact that they can look for the best options for customers and they’re very nimble, many of them skilled between working at a home office and a more centralized office, have just done an incredible job pushing the industry, along with mortgage bankers, into unprecedented levels of volume.”
Check out the full interview between Gardner and Berman below.
See all the interviews from the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series on its YouTube channel.