NMP’s 40 Under 40, 2021

The Faces Of Potential

NMP Magazine
Mosaic of NMP's 2021 40 under 40

In every profession, the future is written by the young. They bring fresh perspectives, new energy, innovative approaches and fiery passion that are critical to keeping business thriving. While those with more years on them may bring wisdom borne of experience, the young bring perspective unhindered by dogma, unconstrained by convention.

That’s why features such as this one, that peek at the promise of so many, are important. We need to step back, even if only once a year, and appreciate that there are up-and-comers across the mortgage world who are actively scanning the profession with fresh eyes and making it better, with enthusiasm.

In this issue, we highlight forty individual mortgage professionals under 40 years old who bring something special to their job each day, and in doing so help to elevate this industry for all of us. This isn’t a definitive list, it’s an emblematic one: for each of these achievers, there are many more like them, also propelling us forward. But in these stories, in these 40, we capture this year’s spirit of triumph.

All honorees are listed alphabetically by last name.

 


Gavin Ales, 39

Gavin Ales Headshot

Chief Compliance Officer
DocMagic, Inc.

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Integrity in business is huge for me. You need to practice integrity in everything you do. It’s best to deal with an issue head-on, accepting whatever consequences may come, and then make a plan to deal with whatever that issue may mean. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Always make sure you have adequate research to support whatever endeavor you’re pursuing. If you research your issue well before speaking or providing advice, it shows that your opinion holds true, which goes a long way. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Someone fairly experienced in mortgage software once told me, “If you can imagine it, there’s a way to build a technological solution to accomplish it.”  

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Full adoption of electronic closings, both legally and by investors. We’ve come a long way since DocMagic launched its fully paperless eClosing solution back in 2014. The pandemic helped with adoption, but there’s still more work to do.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
The industry has been trying hard to streamline the mortgage closing process with electronic and remote capabilities to continue to deliver its products and services to borrowers - in spite of the huge difficulties we have all faced in recent years. I would really like to see that vision completed, with electronic closings happening in all jurisdictions in the country. 

Back to top

Aru Anavekar, 39

Aru Anavekar Headshot

CEO
Botsplash

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Communication is critical for a smooth transaction, so for me, one of the most important values is attention to response time and ease of two-way engagement. Buying a home, refinancing or any other form of mortgage traction is a tedious process and getting quick responses is critical. Lenders and companies serving the borrower need to actively share information at every step so that they keep the business transaction moving smoothly and keep the borrower engaged so that they are not overwhelmed. Today is the Amazon, Zoom and Uber generation. Most services and product needs are available through a keyboard, phone, and are a click away. Seeing the mortgage industry shaped to be well suited for the current and the future metaverse generation is key and critical. 


What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Build your network and build it strong. From lender to lead buyer to SaaS entrepreneurs serving the industry, it is a circle of trusted associates working together to enhance the borrower experience. Familiarize yourself with the landscape, understand the process and explore the gaps. The gaps in customer engagement, experience, and lack of digital processes are opportunities to innovate platforms that improve customer interaction for the home buying and mortgage transaction process. Your network will keep you informed, up to date, and engaged throughout the industry.


What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Serve the customer in need. We must always keep the individuals that we work with in mind. We use terms like transactions, borrowers, or leads and they become metrics for marketers, sales, and companies. These are people with their own histories, stories, and needs. It’s our job to understand their needs and address them. 


What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Heavy adoption of digital interaction from lead to close. Lower the third-party involvement to incubate or nurture the leads, but take on strategies that put in place “Customer 360” evaluations and connect to a centralized CRM platform. This allows companies servicing the borrowers to have access to data and they can better service the prospective borrower.


What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Lack of solid engagement strategies for top-of-funnel prospect engagement. Very few lenders in the industry are putting effort to connect and engage with borrowers early in the process. Prospects today are likely to work with entities that are available to meet their schedule and also available in a channel that they most prefer. While this may be true, many lenders are unwilling or unable to nurture these people who are not ready to transact. Botsplash is an engagement platform that helps lenders communicate with their prospects and clients on the channels that their customers prefer.

Back to top

Katie Blake, 37

Katie Blake mortgage headshot

Senior Mortgage Loan Originator/Branch Manager
Movement Mortgage

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Use a CRM and track every single lead you receive. Create follow up systems for those leads. Study and do your homework!  Knowing the guidelines for all the different loan programs available creates a ton of value for your business and helps you structure a loan properly and effectively. Never stop learning.  Always be building your network of referral partners. Strive every day to remain disciplined and diligent in your efforts to become a preferred resource for your local real estate community. Listen and be respectful of people's concerns. Don’t tell people what they want to hear, tell them what they need to know!

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Setting proper expectations, being transparent, and having open lines of communication with your clients and referral partners is crucial in this business.  Also, take notes, use a CRM, and manage your database daily!

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
I think the customer experience, transparency, and honesty are truly undervalued, but essential. That’s especially true with the recent influx in call center and online “dialing for dollars” lending shops that create an assembly line experience of loans coming in and out. Educating future borrowers on the risks of chasing rates and how costly that can be when it doesn’t work out. Taking time to create fail-proof systems and processes ensures my borrowers and referral partners are receiving crucial updates and communication throughout the entire loan process. This results in a successful win for all parties and a seamless loan experience.

Back to top

Jamie Chapman, 39

Jamie Chapman 40 under 40 headshot

Sr. Director of Business Strategy 
Rocket Mortgage

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Be curious! Always ask, "Why?" Seeking to understand will enable you to create a better process, strategy and product as well as deepen relationships. Understand that feedback is a gift – seek it as much as you can to further your professional development. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
My mentor and friend Steven Luigi Piazza always said, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." When you live this, your clients, business partners and team members will appreciate that you're coming from a place of wanting to see them succeed. Building relationships on a foundation of sincerity is a valuable way to create trust and loyalty.

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
It’s important to utilize data appropriately to ensure clients have access to the best products available to set them on the path to financial success. Our client should be the focus of conversations where we as an industry ask what we can do to better service and lift up those who want to live the American dream of buying a home.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
It can be easy to view the client as a one-time transaction rather than a lifelong relationship built on strong communication and valuable services. It’s important to think of the client’s entire home buying journey. Clients are empowered with so many options, which means it’s vital to understand their communication preferences, the ways they like to transact, and what they need when they need it.

Back to top

Adam Chaudhary, 38

Adam Chaudhary 40 under 40 headshot

President
Fundingshield LLC

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Striving to be a client-centric, resourceful partner to our clients and their customers. Being a fintech solutions provider into the mortgage industry requires that we first understand our client’s pain points, their strategic goals and then deliver easy to use technology that drive ROIs for our client on a consistent and ongoing basis. By listening, understanding the problem and respecting the broader vision of a client we become part of their formula for success. This process and values are reflected in our product development and design so that we deliver client centric solutions that mitigate risk and fraud while saving our clients on operating costs. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Develop technical analysis skills and embrace technology.  This technical acumen will allow you to execute the duties of what the job requires but also focus on the broader picture in whatever role you are in. When doing this you will start to connect the dots on how the business works so that you can become more effective at your job leading to new opportunities.  Further there are so many external macro forces and industry changes taking place so keeping a broad view will help you understand how housing policy, global macro, inflation, technology, political administration goals, all the way down to how your firm is capitalized and funded impact the process, systems, loan programs we all are working on.  These factors all play a role in how we finance, fund, sell and service the asset. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Learn the origination process. I came into the industry from Wall Street where we would finance, securitize, re-securitize, trade portfolio’s, conduct valuations on the mortgage asset but I was a step removed from how the asset came to life.  My mentors and friends in the space helped me see that if I understood the origination process, I could leverage my experience in the capital markets and investment world to drive better outcomes. Knowing what I did not know and reaching out with a desire to listen and learn allowed me to open doors with newly formed friendships and relationships in this industry. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Increased focus on automation for back-office processes to drive more efficiencies, transparency, risk reduction, fraud prevention as the market is just starting to scratch the surface in this area in an impactful manner. Much of the automation and technology in the mortgage arena has been focused on customer acquisition and customer experience, the time has come to work on compliance, risk, processing and closing automation. The year ahead will require lenders to find and adopt solutions that make them more nimble and lower costs so their staff can execute their duties while compliance and risk requirements expand.  We are one part of this solution delivering these solutions directly and also partnering and integrating with our top-class peers to help our clients achieve these goals. 

Back to top

John D’Onofrio, 38

John D’Onofrio 40 under 40 Headshot

EVP, Retail Branching
American Financial Network, Inc.

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
It's important that mortgage professionals understand the gravity behind their role as advisors to their clients Each and every client relies on a mortgage professional for sound financial advice. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Benjamin Franklin said it best, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Mortgage professionals seeking a rewarding future must start by first identifying their "why." Whether your goal is financial freedom, work schedule independence or supporting your family, it must be identified and committed to. A business plan should be molded around your end-goal and reverse engineered into yearly, monthly, weekly and daily tasks. Don't be scared to dream big and remain disciplined to never accept mediocrity. Celebrate every small victory and embrace the challenge. Most importantly, go into your career knowing that failure is both inevitable and temporary.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Implementation of dynamic technology and wider acceptance of API integration to help streamline pre-approvals, mortgage applications, loan processing, underwriting, closing and post-loan compliance. Lenders should look for solutions that can eventually eliminate paper-intensive processes with data fed protocols. This will offer workflow efficiencies and ensure data accuracy and consistency.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Clear and concise communication can always be improved upon. Educating the consumer as well as managing expectations is vital. To ensure that we mastered the frequency of communication as well as the accuracy of information we're conveying, we've implemented dynamic technology to remove most of these arduous and often forgotten tasks from the mortgage professionals. 

Back to top

Scott Dubnoff, 33

Scott Dubnoff 40 under 40 headshot

Chief Technology Officer
American Financial Resources, Inc

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Simplification. The mortgage origination process is intrinsically complex. In this environment, with so many compounding requirements, things get complicated quickly. Customer-facing interfaces and communications need to remain simple and easy to understand, but given the amount of information that needs to be conveyed, it is no small feat. Even technology architectures can easily get overly complicated if not well maintained. Striving for simplicity is simply essential.

What advice would you give to those just getting started?
Learn the big picture. In a new job it is natural to focus on the functions needed to perform your role’s specific duties. While drilling in on those tasks is certainly important, it is equally important to quickly establish a broader knowledgebase that encompasses the whole mortgage process.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
One important piece of advice that I received early in my career, one that isn’t obvious, and may even seem far-fetched, is expect to spend a full three times the cost of deploying a new technology to maintain it over its first three years in production. I’ve found this to be resoundingly true, especially in the mortgage industry where technologies need to constantly evolve to keep pace with quickly shifting market-dependent business strategies, and the ever-changing compliance landscape.

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
The mortgage industry is very much wedded to traditional paper-based forms and associated workflows. I would like to see the industry move more quickly to update the existing antiquated regulations and processes so that they are medium-agnostic, and then finally develop digital-native solutions and go truly "paper-less."

Back to top

Nicolas Gaudino, 33

Nicholas Gaudino 40 under 40 Headshot

VP, UWM Sales
United Wholesale Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
One of my most important values is reliability. Being someone your borrowers, business partners and your team can rely on helps build trust and credibility through consistency that will build better relationships and grow your business.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
There are no wins and losses – you either win or you learn. When you are just starting, it is important to remember there will be a ton of opportunity to learn, get better and eventually see your hard work pay off. As long as you are willing to adapt quickly and execute efficiently, the lessons learned will only make you stronger.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
That you don’t have to be the most talented or knowledgeable. What you must have is an unbeatable work ethic and mindset. If you have these things, nothing can stop you. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I would like to see the wholesale channel continue to grow. This means more retail loan officers making the switch and more borrowers being educated on the benefits of working with independent mortgage brokers.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
There is still a lack of knowledge among borrowers on why brokers are better, how quickly they are able to close loans and how much they offer. At UWM, our team continuously works to find ways to help educate Realtors, consumers and retail LO’s the advantages of working with or becoming a mortgage broker.

Back to top

Mary Gill, 29

Mary Gill 40 under 40 headshot

Loan Originator
Key Mortgage Services

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Focus on the things you can control and not fixate on what you cannot. There are many moving parts and people throughout a transaction that it can be easy to get caught up in it. Instead of giving up in difficult situations, I have learned how to work as a team to problem solve and provide options. By taking ownership for my own actions and reactions, I can efficiently help my clients and my team have the best experience possible. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
 In 2022, I would like to see the mortgage industry change from a rate driven industry to an industry focused on educating and helping homeowners achieve their goals. Many times, buyers are so focused on the interest rate that they forget that the reason they are buying a home is not for a specific interest rate but is to create a sense of security and community for themselves and their family. If we shift our focus by encouraging our clients to identify their core values and goals, we can help more people achieve the goal of homeownership. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
One of the main problems is information overload through the Internet. The abundance of information is not necessarily the problem- more so the lack of information quality control. It can be misleading and overwhelming when a person does not have guidance on how to filter through the information. I encourage my clients to ask questions before going down the rabbit hole of the Internet!

Back to top

JoAnne Gonzalez

JoAnne Gonzalez 40 under 40 headshot

Vice President of Loan Administration
The Money Source

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Professional integrity is my most important core value. Integrity drives me to always do the right thing, even when no one is looking.  It is the foundation for trust, transparency, communication, and serves as the core for being able to provide exceptional service to our customers and clients. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Mortgage servicing is always changing, expect the change and embrace it. Never have the hubris that you know it all or that what you have learned will be absolute. Never be the hoarder of what you have learned. Share the information that you learn with others to help them strengthen and grow. You should surround yourself with, and support those that will support you. Finally, you must remain positive. There will be countless times in your career where remaining positive will be tough. If you carry the right attitude, then mortgage servicing can be a very rewarding and fulfilling career. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Two problems in the mortgage servicing industry are operational efficiencies and availability of qualified personnel. Due to the pandemic, the industry has been stretched to its capacity to meet the needs of millions of impacted customers and simultaneously implement the changing regulations. To help with these increased demands I have participated in industry wide collaboration that allowed the industry to discuss best practices. I have embraced remote work, which has allowed us to recruit nationwide. Also, more impactful is realizing the personnel we need is already here in our companies only needing to be taught the specifics.

Back to top

Stephanie Ham, 40

Stephanie Ham 40 under 40 headshot

Team Sales Manager
Caliber Home Loans

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
My most important value is integrity. Building my business around integrity creates strong relationships with colleagues and clients alike. This is a tough business and honesty is very important.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
The fortune is in the follow up. It is easy to over promise and under deliver; don't be that person. Have an organized system to keep track of your tasks to make sure you do not let things slip through the cracks. It is OK to say, "I don't know but I will find out and get back to you." You have a lot to learn and it is better to have the right answer than the fast answer. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have recieved since being in the mortgage industry?
The most valuable advice I have received is to pay myself first. We have an amazing opportunity for earnings in this field; however it does not come without risk. When the markets shift, you want to feel secure. I was so glad to have savings to ride in 2008 and 2009. I have seen so many in this business lose it all. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Despite the government's best attempt at mortgage reform legislation, there are still a lot of bad actors in the business. Clients send me solicitations that are deceptive in nature. These companies are stripping people of their equity by advertising rates that require paying thousands of dollars in points to obtain. Many consumers do not understand that they are spending money for the rate advertised. 

Back to top

John Hardesty, 29

John Hardesty 40 under 40 headshot

Inside Sales and Strategic Partnership Manager, Surefire
Black Knight

What his nominator had to say:
As inside sales and strategic partnership manager, John Hardesty is a brand ambassador and primary business partnership contact for Black Knight’s newest acquisition, Surefire CRM. During his tenure, Hardesty has enhanced the Surefire platform by facilitating partnerships with 29 companies including Lending Pad, BeSmartee and MBS Highway. He drives tremendous revenue growth by increasing sales and retention initiatives and helping lenders of all sizes supplement their tech stack with the best CRM for their needs.

John Hardesty is a talented sales and business development professional who is passionate about mortgage technology and scaling B2B startups. Hardesty got his start working for an award-winning education technology startup where he built revenue through strategic partnerships and frontline sales. Since joining Surefire, now a part of Black Knight, as the sole point of contact for its strategic partnerships division, Hardesty has facilitated dozens of partnerships and grown revenue.

Back to top

Landon Hoon, 27

Landon Hoon 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Vice President of Mortgage Lending
A and N Mortgage Services

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
For me, it's about transparency and being available when needed. Everyone I work with knows that I am available 24/7 and will help answer any questions they may have. Most importantly, making sure my borrowers are educated and understand the process is vital for all involved to ensure a smooth mortgage experience.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Networking is huge. Attend events, create relationships, start business social media accounts, and stay in front of your referral partners.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Always write handwritten cards as a follow-up "thank you." It is a nice, personal touch and is meaningful to the recipient.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Because of COVID, we saw more at-home closings than ever before. It would be proactive to become even more digital with greater automation and digitization, especially with the new wave of millennials looking into home buying. The mortgage world has come a long way in regards to technology, but to continue to adapt we need to make the loan process more customer-friendly.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Lack of information and communication is what most borrowers have had issues with. Talking through all options, presenting side-by-side comparisons, and answering any questions they may have is what makes for the best lender. I take pride in knowing that my borrowers are in great care and have the smoothest mortgage experience possible!

Back to top

Kristin Lee Jamieson, 38

Kristin Lee Jamieson 40 under 40 headshot

Mortgage Loan Consultant
Success Mortgage Partners

What advice would you give to those just getting started?

  1. Never make a promise you can't keep 
  2. Fake it until you make it 
  3. Get up, get dressed, and get out there 
  4. No one likes bad news but bad news delivered late is always worse

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
To stay physically involved but emotionally detached. We can't emotionally take on the burden of everyone else. No one is lucky in this world - luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. Always prepare, under promise and over deliver.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I wish we could get back to the basics. Meeting our clients in person, celebrating at the closing table, being visible and trusted are all things that we should strive to do. We really are helping families achieve the American dream and that should be celebrated and a little more personal than it has grown to be.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
It is currently a race to the consumer. We have adopted several technologies over the last couple of years to ensure we stay top of mind and in front our database. There are lots of big companies out there with lots of marketing dollars and AI technology so it is getting harder and harder to get to the consumer first. We are also in a rising interest rate environment coupled with housing shortages causing affordability to diminish in many of the market places. You have to be creative to sustain business and grow in this competitive marketplace.

Back to top

Brad Jones, 34

Brad Jones 40 under 40 headshot

Chief Marketing Officer
Newrez

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Innovation is one of the most important values in this industry. Staying agile and prioritizing innovation is key to creating new products, new processes, and new technology that better serves customers and enhances the way we work as mortgage professionals. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Always be prepared, but also be OK with knowing that you’ll never be fully prepared because the industry is always changing. Keep an open mind, ask questions, and make the time to talk to and ingest information from every individual that you interact with because there is no magic recipe for achieving success in this industry.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I’d like to see more diversity among leaders, especially more young and women leadership. As the market eventually turns, we will have to focus customer acquisition on a whole new generation of homebuyers. Younger leaders will have a first-hand perspective on how to best reach them as they will have grown up with that same technology, that culture of constant connectedness and social power. Also, mortgage historically has been a male-dominated field. While we see more and more women in mortgage leadership, I’d like to see a lot more.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Exceeding customer expectations and meeting them where they’re at. Through our marketing strategy, we’ve constructed specific processes to engage our customers and offer added value throughout their journey to homeownership. It’s taken a lot of research, vetting of vendors and monetary commitment to build the customer experience we’re marketing today.

Back to top

Pat Kinsel, 37

Pat Kinsel 40 under 40 headshot

CEO and Founder
Notarize

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Embrace the responsibility. Mortgage professionals have the honor of being involved in one of the most important transactions in someone's life. From the young people out of college to the families who have saved for years to make buying a home happen - it’s a huge deal, and I take that responsibility seriously. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started?
Two things: First, change takes staying power. I asked someone whom I admire greatly, “When will Notarize be taken seriously?” His response, “Year seven.” He was indirectly telling me to embrace the journey and the challenges and keep going. Some companies who promise to disrupt or improve the industry run out of gas too quickly and can’t make change happen overnight. Tenacity is everything. Notarize is now seven, and I’m so excited to use our momentum to change for good. 
Second, our business is a community. My most meaningful relationships have been built talking about kids, family, sports, you name it. Not about work. Ignore the advice to “always be selling” and be human instead.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I would love to see a more collaborative partner ecosystem. Too many vendors believe their responsibility is to deliver a complete solution to their lender customers. In reality, they’re promising more than they can deliver, confusing the market, delaying adoption, and delivering mediocre solutions at best. In other industries, customers and partners compile best-in-class solutions to deliver exceptional experiences. Vendors focus on what they’re best at. In addition, the industry should continue to strive for the full adoption of online notarization and online closings, as a further way to improve the mortgage experience. 

Back to top

Kimberly Kissane, 38

Kimberly Kissane 40 under 40 headshot

Loan Advisor/Broker Owner
Premier Choice Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Honesty and Education. Honesty is a huge core value and a must in the industry. It's important for my clients to be given honest information about the investment they are about to make. Education is important since our clients come to us as the expert and we should educate them on the options available for their individual profile. If we educate them on the options out there then they have all the tools to make the best decision for their loan.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Get a mentor, someone you can ask questions to and support you in the business. Learn your guidelines and programs so you are giving your clients the best advice.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Be available but also set boundaries so you have time to work on the business, in the business and away from the business. The time for all three is key to long-term success.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I would like more regulation on builders steering clients to mortgage companies they have ownership interest in. It is important for clients to be able to choose what company and option is best for their financial needs and not be penalized for doing so.

What are the main problems the industry is facing and what have you done to address them?
Education of newer loan advisors coming into the mortgage broker space. Offering to be a mentor and educating where they can find the resources to assist them growing.

Back to top

Katie Klauss, 38

Katie Klauss 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Vice President of Operations
Peoples Mortgage Company

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Adaptability. Change is constant in the mortgage industry, and while change traditionally comes through new rules and regulations or cyclical volume periods, 2020 was the catalyst behind finally automating the actual loan process. So many people don’t embrace change for what it can be, an opportunity. It’s important to me to always find a way to grow and adapt in order to continue being successful.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
There is a person behind every transaction. I have passed this advice along countless times and it always helps refocus people back to what’s important. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Fannie and Freddie recently announced they will include timely rent payments into the assessment of homebuyer credit and they are encouraging properties to report on-time rental payments to the credit bureaus. I would love to see that become common practice in 2022. It would allow first-time homebuyers, from low- to moderate-income households who are penalized under the traditional credit scoring model to build their credit worthiness. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
I think two major problems our industry is facing today are inventory shortages and affordability. The inventory issue is one that will take time to resolve but I have been getting involved with various affordable housing committees, sitting on round tables and providing public comment when it's requested. To assist with affordability, our company offers a wide range of products and DPA programs that provide assistance to first-time homebuyers. 

Back to top

Boris Kogan, 37

Boris Kogan 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Vice President, Legal
ICE Mortgage Technology

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
The mortgage industry is a relatively small and tight knit business community. Treating everyone with respect is critical to not only achieving short-term business goals but also to developing long-term relationships that will benefit you and your company in unexpected ways in the future.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
I was new to the industry myself when I joined ICE Mortgage Technology (then Ellie Mae) in 2015. I spent a lot of time asking questions of my coworkers in an attempt to learn the industry and understand the context behind the work that I was doing and how to best advocate for the company. So my advice is to ask questions from industry veterans and establish a firm foundation of knowledge on which to build your own expertise and skills.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have recieved since being in the mortgage industry?
This advice is not specific to the industry, but my first boss at ICE Mortgage Technology, who was incredibly successful in his own right, told me his success was mostly a factor of partnering with people and establishing good relationships, rather than any substantive legal brilliance on his part. He gained the trust of the management team and that, coupled with his own abilities, led him to be successful.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I would like to see the industry continue to embrace technology and innovation. The mortgage industry is particularly well positioned to convert manual processes to automated ones. These types of changes could save invaluable time and resources.

Back to top

Andria Lightfoot, 39

Andria Lightfoot 40 under 40 headshot

Chief Customer Officer
SimpleNexus

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Learn the whole loan manufacturing life cycle. Also avoid getting stuck in a silo too early in your career. Understanding capital markets and post-closing delivery is just as important as sales and technology platforms. Be a champion of the idea that quality should be baked into every step of the loan process.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Remember you are always selling. Regardless of your title, you are part of selling your company brand. And a central part of that should be the trust that is established with customers at every level of the process. I once saw a funder in a closing team turn around an unhappy customer with exceptional service. Everyone at the company is part of the sale!

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I want widespread adoption of a true digital mortgage! Meaningful digital transformation requires adopting eNote and eVault technology and Remote Online Notarization (RON) technologies. An online application alone is not a truly digital experience. I won’t be satisfied until we no longer take paper applications and spend hours with a massive stack of paper at a closing table. The future is digital.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
We are far from extending the dream of homeownership to all hard-working Americans. The focus at SimpleNexus is to provide a product that overcomes the digital divide. As demographics shift for new household formation, our approach to reaching out and meeting the borrower where they are in the process is table stakes.

Back to top

Listy Limon, 36

Listy Limon 40 under 40 headshot

VP of National Production
Homespire Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
As a big believer in servant leadership, helping employees succeed in navigating their own personal paths and obtain their goals is a passion and priority for me. The opportunity to guide people in their careers, helping them hit that next level of success, is an important responsibility.

What advice would you give to those just getting started?
My top personal mottos are – lead by example, never stop learning, and knowledge is power. Essentially, combined these will help guide those getting started to build out their plan. It’s crucial for success (especially on the selling side) to ask - what does my Year One look like? Year Five? Year 10? Learning is another important piece. Learn everything, all aspects of the role. Frequently signing up for training and education opportunities will help you become an expert of your craft.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Use your unique skills to achieve your victories. Understanding your personal qualities and applying them to your purpose is going to help you succeed big. Often people try to mimic the styles of their peers, and that is not always the best move (or their best quality). Finding out what fits you best will also show what makes you special and standout.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
With the market shifts of 2021 driven by the pandemic, last year saw a lot of newer, younger recruits given more opportunities. However, now that the markets are somewhat stabilizing, it’s uncertain if that will continue for 2022. The industry needs the next generation to thrive.

Back to top

Travis Lindblom, 29

Travis Lindblom 40 under 40 headshot

Vice President, Fulfillment Operations
Planet Home Lending

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Work at a multichannel business, like the Planet Financial Group family of companies. You can move across channels to gain industry knowledge. During my career, I’ve worked in correspondent, post-closing, sales and retention. I learned lessons that continue to help me in my current position in retention operations. I understand why we need to follow specific policies and procedures and how work relates to what happens before and after files flow through my department.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have recieved since being in the mortgage industry?
Connect with people. Get to know the people you work with and for as people. Learn about what they like, their interests, and seek to really connect with them. Seeing the whole person goes a long way in helping employees feel comfortable and valued at work. You can also relay information to people via their interests. I use football and baseball examples all the time. If an employee is not into sports, l seek other ways to connect.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
There’s a shortage of experienced operations professionals. We bring on junior processors who learn to become processors. They have the opportunity to become underwriters or move into training as subject matter experts or grow into team leaders and move into management positions.
I’ve learned from the best here at Planet Home Lending’s Irving, Texas hub. I’m paying that back by helping operations people move up and across the career lattice. We’re creating the employees we need today and tomorrow and giving people opportunities to advance their careers.

Back to top

Whit McCarthy, 33

Whit McCarthy 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Vice President, Correspondent Lending
CIVIC Financial Services

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Hands down, it’s being a great partner — extending yourself to go further beyond the mere minimum requirement of things, having a servant attitude, and doing your part in a way that makes a client, partner, or team member feel grateful to work with you. For our counterparties in the correspondent channel, being a great partner means interfacing with our lenders and being a source of capital for them to trust and rely on. Living out this value, not just in business but in my personal life as well, is something I strive for every day.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Find your grit and lean into it. As with anything there will be ups and downs, but having grit and determination is an absolute prerequisite to this industry. It carries you through a growth cycle to become better and better with time. Also, while the industry is large, it’s also a small world, so be sure to balance your grit and determination with a sound reputation. Relationships are incredibly important in this industry, so how you present yourself, how you carry yourself, and how you treat others matters. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
In the context of the business purpose loan (BPL) environment, I’d love to see lenders opening up their minds to new products for real estate investors that were otherwise never before in their wheelhouse. This includes BPL solutions like fix-and-flip, bridge, rental, and construction loans for investor clients. This means creating viable opportunities to scale - taking your business (and the industry) to new heights.

Back to top

Grant McFarland, 32

Grant McFarland 40 under 40 headshot

Vice President of Operations
Churchill Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Curiosity. In this business, we are constantly learning from others. You have to be deeply curious about the process, people and departments around you. Asking questions and seeking answers provided insights into departments I would have never known about. Curiosity also plays a major role in process improvement and uncovering new ways to do things. Never settle for “That’s the way we’ve always done it.” Be curious enough to ask questions and see if another way exists. People gravitate to this type of thinking. Over time you can develop a culture of curious problem solvers.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Listen first, then speak. People will know how much you care not because you can solve their problems, but because you actually heard them and responded with intention. Active listening births wise words and is a skill that doesn’t go unnoticed.

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
Continued development around automation. There are many vendors exploring automation, but few, if any, that are clearly in the lead. Vendors need to be focused on how to bring end-to-end solutions to lenders instead of point solutions. The industry has been relatively slow to change in regards to digitization and it’ll be crucial for vendors to take advantage of this opportunity to become the frontrunner. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
There is a lot of automation and technology out there with very little implementation. It’s important to bring the most tech-forward mortgage origination processes possible to your sales staff and clients. 

Back to top

Justin Messer, 38

Justin Messer 40 under 40 headshot

Chief Operating Officer
Prosperity Home Mortgage, LLC

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
While integrity is far and away the most important value in finance, accountability is a close second. Driving accountability throughout an organization is critical not only to creating empowered employees, but also to building a team of purpose-driven individuals who feel part of something larger and more inclusive. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Be obsessed with finding a better way. On my first day in the mortgage industry, even though my job was a relatively minor one, I was challenged to dig into every process, keyboard stroke, and mouse click I performed and ask a simple question: “Is there a better way?” I've internalized this simple concept and I try to impart the same challenge to every team member. It's an empowering notion to believe every team member can impact positive change, but to achieve this, the organization first must be committed to acknowledging, vetting, and implementing team member suggestions. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
With home prices appreciating at a blistering pace, the wealth gap continues to accelerate. As an example, the homeownership gap between Non-Hispanic White and Black Americans was 3% wider in the third quarter of 2021 than it was 25 years ago. We need to treat the growing wealth gap as we would any other business problem. At Prosperity Home Mortgage, we have launched local Community Outreach Centers to focus on financial literacy and education, grown our teams of community-focused loan officers, and piloted innovative loan programs that couple homebuyer education with down payment assistance and lower cost loans.

Back to top

Michael Middleman, 35

Michael Middleman 40 under 40 headshot

Executive Vice President
Freedom Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
To ensure I fuel a culture that is fun and meaningful. I want my employees at Freedom Mortgage to see opportunities for their career growth and give back to their local communities in meaningful ways. When my employees are happy, they will focus on our customers and provide value to them. It’s crucial to understand your customers inside and out and align the organization to deliver the best customer experience while staying informed and agile. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
One of the most valuable pieces of advice I received is knowing what is happening at the ground level, especially with employees who service your customers. When you understand their daily activities and their challenges it’s easy for you to quickly make changes to improve processes or enhance the customer experience. Far too often executives are in the ivory tower, far removed from their frontline employees and there’s a major disconnect which will not help your bottom-line.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
Next year, I’d like to see the GSE and government help increase homeownership by offering programs that provide credit to the less credit worthy consumers. Owning a home is a fundamental aspect of building wealth, which eludes many in the lower and middle income brackets.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
One of the main problems is fragmentation in our processes. We need to enhance our technology infrastructure to run more efficiently and further improve customer service, especially at the self-serve level. 

Back to top

Olivia Nicholson, 31

Olivia Nicholson 40 under 40 headshot

Director, BI & Analytics
Richey May

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Client service has always been a top priority. My entire career in mortgage has been in an advisory role working directly with mortgage companies to help them better their business. In this role, it is important to me that my clients feel taken care of and know that I have their backs.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
It was really helpful for me when I started to take some time to find my niche. I would tell someone to start small and really understand their role and how it fits into the bigger picture, then expand from there.

What is the most important advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
It’s OK to ask questions. The industry is so complex, and I suspect that there are many people near the end of decades-long careers who still feel like there is more to learn. It has been valuable for me to be reminded along the way that nobody expects anyone to know everything, so it is okay to just ask the question. The great thing about the industry is that there are so many intelligent people with a deep expertise in their field, many of whom I've been lucky enough to work with, and they are always willing to help teach someone who is eager to learn.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I would love to see the momentum continue towards more innovation and adoption of technology. I have seen the power that better technology can have on operational efficiencies, borrower satisfaction, employee engagement, and overall profitability.

Back to top

Nancy Obando, 39

Nancy Obando 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Vice President 
Mountain West Financial, Inc.

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Integrity and professionalism. Leaders with principles are less likely to get pushed around because they can draw clear lines in the sand. The temptations and pressures of the outside world often conspire to pull you away from your values. I have frequently disagreed with those who I have worked with and turned away business because the ask did not align with my values. Although there may have been a short-term loss of business, long term this kept me as a trusted advisor and advanced my career. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started?
There is no replacement for hard work and dedication. Keep learning and fine tuning your craft. It is important to have a mentor and join organizations that can guide you throughout your business and career. Be adaptable because in our business and life the only thing that is constant is change. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken and don't forget to pass the torch as you excel. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
I want us to continue the conversation of equity and inclusion. I think we are in a time where we are awakening and becoming more aware of others but there is more work to be done. There are still barriers for minority homeownership that we have to solve for.    

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Breaking the cycle of generational renters. That cycle is high particularly in Black and Latino homeownership. I am tasked to create solutions to eliminate these barriers as senior vice president overseeing strategic products.

Back to top

Robert Padron, 38

Robert Padron 40 under 40 headshot

Branch Manager
1st Financial Inc

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Helping people and families achieve the American dream of owning a home. This brings joy to my job and makes me the most happiest about my career.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
It’s a long and bumpy road but it will be well worth it.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have recieved since being in the mortgage industry?
Communication is key. Good or bad news keep the consumers and parties involved well communicated.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
We are in uncharted waters for 2022 but the change I most would like to see is higher loan amounts to compliment the hot housing market. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
I believe the closing disclosure can be more simplified as the HUD1 was. I’m currently on a board for of the Florida Association of Mortgage Professionals and work with other industry leaders to help my fellow colleagues.

What Robert’s nominator had to say.
Robert is a seasoned veteran of the mortgage industry with specialization in unique loan programs. He has almost 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry. He is also known as a local and state advocate for mortgage professionals. 
Among his contributions to the industry are: past president of the FAMP Miami Chapter 2018, currently running for 2022 presidency; NMP Most Connected Mortgage Professionals 2017 and 2020; Top Agent Magazine feature June 2018 NMP Featured industry Leader January 2018; and, Latin Builder Associations Mortgage Lender of the Year 2018

Back to top

Dustin Pfluger, 40

Dustin Pfluger 40 under 40 headshot

Partner, Mortgage Banking Practice
CWDL

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Build authentic relationships with everyone. Anybody can become competent in his or her job, but developing and maintaining real relationships is the key to having a long, successful career in this industry.  

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
A former boss was phenomenal at building and keeping relationships. It was less about what he said and more about the way he modeled treating people with respect, being genuinely curious about them, and understanding that long-term relationships take time and attention. You need to focus on how you can support and benefit each other in the long run, not what they can for you in the short term.

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
We need to hire younger, more diverse people. Our industry is aging, and we haven’t traditionally done a great job at recruiting younger professionals - or helping them develop into our future leaders. We also have to be open to the new ideas and approaches that younger generations will have in order to retain them.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Again, an aging workforce and finding talented and motivated young people to join the industry. Programs like MBAs future leaders program are one great way to address this issue. At the TMBA, I’m the chair of our young leadership program and it definitely makes a difference in attracting and retaining professionals who might not otherwise stay in our industry. I’ve also seen companies develop programs to find new employees in creative ways and support their growth.

Back to top

Joe Puthur, 38

Joe Puthur 40 under 40 headshot

President
Mortgage Coach

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
The most important value I bring is the deep understanding I have between the origination process and the technology innovation of today. Knowing what it takes to bridge that gap is what's allowed me to create technology that has delivered measurable ROI for lenders, and continues to allow me to innovate as those gaps persist. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
The opportunity to expand homeownership in underserved and niche markets is extraordinary. These markets are filled with qualified buyers and fundable opportunities that are being overlooked by the majority of our industry. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Always prioritize the needs of consumers and keep in mind that homeownership is central to their near- and long-term financial wellness. Focusing on serving homebuyers will enable you to thrive whether it’s a purchase or refinance.

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
I would like a consolidation of regulatory certainty. We are overdue for federal legislation on remote online notarization (RON). Also, I see opportunity for affordable homeownership initiatives, driven by state organizations to have more national capabilities. Legislation can create profits for lenders and opportunities for homeowners. The lack of uniformity between affordability initiatives from state to state make it more challenging for lenders to finance low-income borrowers. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
A fundamental challenge is that many borrowers initiate the housing finance process with little or no understanding of mortgage loans and how they can be structured to attain more broad financial goals.

Back to top

Josip Rupena, 37

Josip Rupena 40 under 40 headshot

Founder and CEO
Milo

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Understanding and fairness - having the ability to expand credit and give the opportunity of homeownership to more people. There are many people around that world that want to participate in the stability of our economy and we are giving them that opportunity.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
It's important to put yourself in your clients shoes and be understanding that very few of them know the mortgage process as well as you do. This may be the first time they are buying a home and helping guide them is an important part of the overall experience.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
There are many moving parts to getting a loan closed. It can only be done with teamwork and perseverance.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?

  1. Adoption of eNotes to create efficiency and improve the post-close process.
  2. Acceptance of BPO's and alternatives to full appraisals.
  3. Helping to increase the number of appraisers by removing barriers to entry.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
The industry has been slow to adopt technology and many of the needed solutions are concentrated by a few players. Many of the platforms are not API driven and we have had to build our technology to change the customer experience. 
I hope that as new players come into the market they will launch solutions with technology to improve the process and ultimately benefit all consumers.

Back to top

David Spektor, 33

David Spektor 40 under 40 headshot

CTO
LodeStar Software Solutions

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Never settle for the status quo. We’ve built LodeStar on the concept that technology should be easy to use; simple to implement; even easier to integrate with your tech stack and, improve the user experience. The mortgage industry has come a long way when it comes to technology, but we still have plenty of room for improvement.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Strive for continuous improvement. The industry accepted the status quo far too long because of heavy regulation and disparate demands from clients and regulators. Yet, in the past few years, we’ve seen significant advances by people willing to challenge the way we’ve done things.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Dream big. The mortgage industry is somewhat entrenched in an old “it works” mentality. However, in the last couple of years there has been an explosion of innovation. We need to keep pushing this trend. 

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
The title/escrow process is a black box for first-time home buyers and ripe for them to be taken advantage of. Technology can be leveraged to inform borrowers about the more esoteric aspects of the mortgage process.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Especially when it comes to process and communications, we still operate in way too many silos. Instead of trying to build a master technology that dominates all elements of the transaction, we need to function more as a community in our development.

Back to top

Nick Tague, 37

Nick Tague 40 under 40 headshot

Senior Director, Business Performance
Homepoint

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Never be content with the status quo. The mortgage industry is constantly evolving and creating more products, regulations, etc. Being a challenger of convention and leading to help embrace data and analytics has helped me identify trends and opportunities to drive positive change.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Never be afraid to ask why. The deeper you understand how a process works and why it was set up that way, you can develop a better understanding of how everything interconnects and how things may impact others’ involvement. Too many times I have seen where having the right intentions has been detrimental to those who didn't fully understand the secondary impacts their decisions lead to, and how their attempt to improve led to an overall inefficiency because they didn't take the time to ask all the questions up front and fully understand the potential impacts.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
In my first position out of school, my boss told me never to be afraid to not know the answer, but always be the first one to volunteer to find out. Having the ability to show you can find the person who does have the answer to your question helps to build trust and relationships with subject matter experts.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
With the raising rate environment, the focus on the purchase market is paramount. As competition increases, having the ability to scale with process improvement, technology to provide greater efficiencies is going to be vital as margins compress. 

Back to top

Craig Ungaro, 40

Craig Ungaro 40 under 40 headshot

Chief Operating Officer
AnnieMac Home Mortgage

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Integrity is one of the most important values as a mortgage professional because we are all advisors, in some capacity, for our consumers' most important financial asset. Even for those that it's not the case, homeownership plays such a critical role in the overall economy.  Any compromise of integrity can have a ripple affect that impacts more than one person or one organization.   

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Be prepared to reinvent yourself several times during your career. This is not a Monday to Friday, 9-5 job and the way you do business today may not be the way you do business tomorrow. If you're willing to adapt you'll have a job you love. If that's not you, I would recommend a different industry.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
The most valuable advice I received was surround yourself with the best people possible. Systems, processes and technology are all important but this is still a people business. From the borrower experience through fulfillment to capital marketing to servicing, it's a personal transaction. This is a financial services business whose services are provided by people.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Rising costs are a problem. This will be magnified as rates rise and margins compress. There will be some major contraction over the next few years and those that can manage costs will prevail.  There is too much dependency on individual performance within operations and not enough transparency, which will keep costs down and improve customer experience.

Back to top

Ying Wang, 31

Ying Wang 40 under 40 headshot

Senior User Experience Designer 
ServiceLink

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Systematic thinking is the most important value. It is crucial to analyze the service offerings systematically so that we can better pinpoint gaps, align goals and deliver a transparent and seamless lending experience. 

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Don't view the mortgage process as a combination of numbers and paperwork only. Look beyond the tactical steps in the process and think about the end consumer interacting with it. I love what my manager once said to me: "You don't see a 30-year relationship very often. It's either your mortgage or your marriage." There's a lot of emotions and expectations attached to a mortgage. Before I work on something, I always ask myself: “Who will it impact and what else can I do to help them?” These questions can often help me visualize the influence, stay passionate and push myself a bit further.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
My mentor gave me this advice: "Don't prepare for what you want to say, prepare for what your audience may want to know." Since receiving this advice, I have been focused on honing my empathy and listening skills. It has also helped me identify the core problem before working on solutions.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
Technology should not replace humans but rather, empower them. I have been working as a message interpreter and collaboration facilitator that connects industry domain experts, technology professionals and end-users. I believe co-creation is the best way to access greater creativity and avoid silos and biases.

Back to top

John Warmus, 35

John Warmus 40 under 40 headshot

Director || Mid Markets
matchbox llc

What is one of your most important values as a mortgage professional? Why?
Honesty and dedication. Dedication to your clients, whether your “clients” are actual borrowers, or the professional or company working directly with the borrowers. You have to be dedicated to their success. Honesty is a close second: letting people know what you can and cannot do upfront will save everyone time, energy, and effort. Honesty is paramount to gaining the trust of the client.

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Learn as much as you can. This is a massive industry with many wonderful opportunities. Try to get hands-on experience in as many areas as you can: processing, originating, secondary markets, technology, customer service, even borrowing. The goal should be to become as well rounded as you can. This will not only make you better at what you do, but it will expose areas where you can grow and that is equally important. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
One of the main problems is fatigue. It has been a crazy two years, both in our industry and the world. My fear is we get tired, lose focus, and become stagnant in our service and our growth. At matchbox we are constantly pushing ourselves to not only create updated content and products but to make sure that this updated content better serves our clients. One of the ways we do this is by shutting down twice a year for team summits. We bring the team together and spend that time brainstorming and developing items for our clients based on feedback and experiences we’ve had in the field.

Back to top

Ashley Wood, 33

Ashely Wood 40 under 40 headshot

VP, Mortgage Verification Services
Equifax

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
Develop and focus on the skill of being adaptable. This need to be adaptable is driven by consumer expectations. Now, more than ever, lenders have the opportunity and technology to revamp the way they do business by embracing a digital lending journey, and leveraging this to be agile to  quickly navigate changes in the volatile marketplace with growing competition and shifting demands.

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
Adopt a consumer-first mindset. Consumers are demanding a faster, more efficient mortgage loan approval process. To fully embrace this, all mortgage professionals must broaden their approach when determining creditworthiness to better serve more consumers. As we look to stay competitive, manage costs, and adapt to changes, we can benefit from adopting practices and technologies that empower flexibility and new and improved ways of working.

What significant changes would you like to see from the mortgage industry in 2022?
The mortgage industry must continue to adapt to best serve the needs of a broader range of consumers. Streamlining and reevaluating processes for efficiencies to be gained is key to staying competitive. Many mortgage professionals are already doing this, but I’d like to see a wide adoption of a “consumer- first” mindset.

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
The main problem the industry faces today is the volatile market. Despite industry and economists predictions, we can only make assumptions about what may happen and when. Flexibility, broadening customer base, avoiding unproductive downtime, and preventing the misuse of fraudulent employment information are important factors lenders need to accommodate for.

Back to top

Monica Zhang, 31

Monica Zhang 40 under 40 headshot

Founder/CEO
Central Group Mortgage LLC

What advice would you give to those just getting started in the mortgage industry?
To keep a learning mentality at all times. We are in an industry where things are constantly changing. In order to better assist our clients, we need to stay up to date with news regarding the economy, global relations, industry guideline updates, and even weather. Maintaining a habit of learning will help us sustain in this business. 

What is the most important or valuable advice that you have received since being in the mortgage industry?
The most valuable advice I have received is to set proper expectations. A lot can happen during a home purchase and there are so many people involved in a transaction. What our clients and business partners want from us are very simple, to know what is going on, and to know what will happen next. I think setting proper expectations includes creating a prioritized to do list for ourselves and communicating task completion date with our team members. It can make our own lives a little easier. 

What significant changes would you like to see in 2022?
I would like to see more alternative ways to assist self-employed borrowers with their financing needs. Lenders typically view self employed individuals as a high risk group and have more strict guidelines when determining their income stability. I do hope that we can find alternative guidelines opening up for entrepreneurs. 

What are the main problems the industry is facing today and what have you done to address or resolve them?
At Central Group Mortgage, we focus on assisting the minority communities and self employed borrowers. We equipped our loan officers to enhance income calculation analysis process of self-employed borrowers and our bilingual loan officers break down language barriers.

Back to top

Brian Zitin, 27

Brian Zitin 40 under 40 headshot

Co-founder and CEO
Reggora

What his nominator had to say:
Brian Zitin founded Reggora to automate real estate appraisal and has since led Reggora to be at the forefront of appraisal innovation with a modern, two-sided platform for mortgage lenders and appraisal vendors. Not only is Brian modernizing the experience for many stakeholders in the appraisal process; Reggora’s technology is also designed to reduce turn times and help the industry get closer to a one-day mortgage reality at a crucial time in the industry’s history. 

During his senior year at Boston University, Brian Zitin, along with co-founder Will Denslow, skipped class to work on a brokerage firm that used algorithms to source deals, selling $5 million in real estate total. 
Hyped by that success and having identified inefficiencies in the homebuying process, they founded Reggora to automate real estate appraisal. Under his stewardship, Reggora essentially tripled in size over the last 12 months in regards to employee headcount and lender customers.

Back to top

 

This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine December 2021 issue.
NMP Magazine
Published on
Dec 10, 2021
More from NMP Magazine
NMP MAGAZINE
Leading LOs 2022

National Mortgage Professional magazine celebrates the accomplishments of the top originators.

NMP Magazine
NMP MAGAZINE
Be An Amigo To Latinos

Embrace the family, be nurturing, and understand the cash mentality

Andy Insua
NMP MAGAZINE
Fear The Ghost Of ‘Might-Have-Been’

All things come to the person who goes after them.

Harvey Mackay
NMP MAGAZINE
The Power Of Appreciation

Companies with above-average customer experience perform better financially

Mary Kay Scully
NMP MAGAZINE
Retaining Gen Z Employees

They seek mentorship, flexibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion

NMP MAGAZINE
A Little Spring Cleaning

A look back at past stories with some current responses

Lew Sichelman
Connect with your local mortgage community.

Meet your your colleagues, both national and local, by attending an event in your area.

Become a subscriber.

Discover the story of your success. Subscribe to the nation’s longest running mortgage magazine.