Q: You have just been appointed as The StoneHill Group’s national director of sales and marketing. What are your immediate and long-term goals in this new position?
Wade Hamby: The mortgage industry’s biggest challenge right now is meeting a constantly changing set of regulations and requirements. Nobody likes to change, and yet everybody has to. Our mission is to make these changes as easy and painless for our clients as possible. We do that by leveraging our nearly 20 years of expertise delivering quality control and fulfillment services to help companies meet all of their loan review and auditing requirements.
Personally, my goals are to enhance The StoneHill Group customer experience for our current clients and find opportunities for new clients to have the same experience. To achieve these goals, I’ll be building a more robust team to make sure clients and non-clients know about our services and are getting all the help they need in the current regulatory climate. The next step will be to introduce new technology that will greatly improve the auditing process for our clients. The mission there is to provide lenders with flexibility when it comes to QC, so they can reduce their time-in-file costs tremendously.
Q: How do you view the state of today’s mortgage banking industry?
Wade Hamby: It’s an exhilarating time for our industry. It’s a much more open market and there are more opportunities for mortgage lenders than we’ve seen in decades. There are no companies left that truly dominate the market. It’s a very diverse playing field, so as volumes return to more normal levels, I think we have the makings of a very robust recovery.
Will we ever see a large, dominating player like a Wells Fargo, Countrywide or Bank of America again? Given what has happened to the big banks in recent years, I don’t think so—not in my lifetime, at least. I don’t think the market can sustain that type of dominance, and I don’t think many companies want it.
I would also add that, to a large extent, the industry is also much healthier because mortgage bankers are self-governing themselves and improving the origination, processing and servicing processes. Of course, having new rules to comply with have pushed things along. But I’ve seen a large amount of self-awareness and growing desire among mortgage bankers to originate quality loans. Our clients know they need to take a very proactive stance toward compliance. They seek stronger controls and better policies as much as they want more production.
Q: Do you think that mortgage banking companies, on the whole, are doing a good job in marketing themselves? And if not, where they can stand some improvement?
Wade Hamby: Judging from what our clients are doing, I think mortgage bankers are doing a great job at marketing themselves. Where improvement is still needed most is servicing, though. With the meltdown, the rise of the CFPB and the advent of new regulations over the past five years, we’ve seen a lot of progress. But we’re not done yet.
When you look at all the consumer complaints that have come out over the past several years and the failure of some very large companies, it’s evident that the industry still has room to improve. Inefficient processes can be costly for servicers, too. More servicers could benefit from servicing audits that include escrow analyses, collections, investor remittances, tax and insurance payments and more. The StoneHill Group provides these audits and they are a growing part of our business.
Q: Housing issues played a somewhat limited role in the 2012 elections. Do you think they will be given greater priority in the 2016 race?
Wade Hamby: I do see housing taking a more prominent role in the 2016 elections. There’s a deep divide between the executive and legislative branches over the future of the GSEs, which I think we’ll see play out during the next presidential election. But it’s anyone’s guess what will actually happen.
Q: Where do you see the greatest growth potential within the industry – with community banks, credit unions, independent mortgage banks or other entities?
Wade Hamby: All of the above, actually. With the decreasing numbers of large banking and deposit entities and mortgage brokers, we’re already seeing a huge shift of activity toward community banks, independent mortgage bankers and credit unions. I don’t see this trend reversing anytime soon.
When you look at the current landscape, there’s an abundance of credit for mortgage originations that did not exist three or four years ago. We’re seeing large community bankers buying loans from correspondent lenders, and growing independent mortgage bankers now developing relationships with the GSEs – Ginnie, in fact, is becoming very popular in this regard. At the same time, we’ve seen a steady weeding out of marginal mortgage players over the past five years. The entities that are left are in it for the long run. And since our company’s focus is on quality control and compliance, our job is to help these companies not only make it but to thrive.
The StoneHill Group is online at www.stonehillgroup.com.
Phil Hall has been (among other things) a United Nations-based radio journalist, the president of a public relations and marketing agency, a financial magazine editor, the author of six books and a horror movie actor. Also, as you will discover, he is not shy about stating his views.