Empowering Women

In January 2018, NEXT Mortgage Events broke the mortgage industry’s unspoken barriers that limit women’s access to competitive intel and networking-based information exchange, when it introduced NEXT, the mortgage technology summit for women. NEXT is a two-day, tech-focused symposium based on lenders sharing competitive intel with other lending executives. A boutique gathering, each NEXT event is limited to 200 attendees, and targets a select group of decision making executives. Roughly 85-90% of lender attendees hold a title of VP or higher and approximately 85% of attendees are women. NEXT is held twice a year, in winter and summer. Today their co-founders Jeri Yoshida (left) and Molly Dowdy sat down with us to offer up their take on the state of mortgage lending. Here’s what they said:

Q: How did you get involved in the mortgage industry?

MOLLY DOWDY:I started working for a real estate tech company. I have always done marketing inside technology companies. That makes me sound young, but my first assignment was to convince appraisers that it would be better to take photos with a digital camera because they were still using film and cutting out the pictures and taping them to a paper report. So, it was a long time ago. That’s where I got started.

JERI YOSHIDA:I started as an originator fresh out of undergrad. I didn’t have a finance background. I was so green. I got advice from guys in the business and they told me to just tell the customer that you’ll get back to them if you don’t know the answer to a question. So, that was my first year. Back then loan files were two inches thick. Everything was analog and we had files everywhere. We didn’t even have fax machines so I’m a dinosaur, but it was a good learning ground for me.


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Q: How has the industry changed?

JERI YOSHIDA:I was an originator for five years and I got out of the industry to do advertising and marketing. I ran into a woman in real estate and we were talking about tax returns. She said she hadn’t seen tax returns in years. I was shocked. We always saw tax returns. When I was an originator that wouldn’t happen. I asked her if she was just doing nonconforming loans? She said, no, nobody asks for them anymore. That was amazing to me. We saw what happened as a result of those practices and now we are trying to find that happy medium where you protect the investor, the lender and the borrower.

MOLLY DOWDY:The two big things that I noticed is that the available technology has progressed. The technology is so innovative and really provides a better experience. There is a big difference between what is possible and what is in use, but technology has advanced so much. Also, when I first started when I went to trade shows the only women that I saw were working in booths. People even called them booth babes. There were so few female executives. Now things have changed a lot. I see a lot more women executives. I see a lot more women offering thought leadership in this industry. There used to be underground groups where a bunch of women met to decompress, but you had to know where they were meeting. That part has changed a lot.


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Q: Why did you guys start NEXT?

MOLLY DOWDY:It was born out of that frustration. I knew Jeri for a long time and we would meet at these underground women meetings. It was grueling. We would talk about hearing complaints from the same people over and over again. We started thinking, well, if we did it how would we do it better. From there we started writing our ideas down and brainstorming and it went from there.

JERI YOSHIDA:We were dreaming about what our ideal conference would be. Having a women’s event doesn’t mean that we don’t like men. There is something special that goes on when you meet with another woman at your level. There is a level of comfort. NEXT feels like a gigantic dinner party. All the attendees know similar people. They all have similar education backgrounds and career paths. Nobody has to explain anything. As we started talking to other executive women they jumped onboard and they got it. When we got endorsements from really high-up women we know that we had something.


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Q: Talk to me about the NEXT advantage/differentiator?

MOLLY DOWDY:We want a small, intimate, repeat gathering. There are plenty of massive conferences. We want this to be a smaller conference with high-level executives. We are also very vigilant about finding lender executives sharing their experiences about things that they are doing. We want women in the thick of it sharing real stories. We also pick boutique hotels so everything is close, comfortable an lux. In terms of demographics, 89 to 90 percent are VPs or higher. Our gender demographic is about 15 percent men. That is radically different.

JERI YOSHIDA:The people really make all the difference. We court a certain demographic. The nice thing about it is that NEXT feels different. As a result, there is an openness. Traditionally it can be hard to walk into a room filled with people that you don’t know. Given the choice, I think people prefer a welcoming environment. They come to NEXT to meet executives at their level. We have had numerous people that didn’t come to the first or second NEXT and they came and said they had no idea that it was going to be this amazing. These executives are blown away because when we were creating it we built it brick by brick to see what was going to work the best. We don’t want people to walk away just saying that it was cool, they should say it is amazing. We hear over and over that this is their favorite conference. We’re excited, but that is all by design. We tried to create a conference that these executives deserve. We don’t want to let these ladies down. These women have been running the industry without getting recognized so we want to give back to them. For example, we used to have booths but thought that we could do better, so we created meeting lounges instead. It’s a warm/welcoming environment that is very inviting. The sponsors loved it and so did the attendees. It’s so much better to walk up to a lounge, sit down and talk instead of looking at a row of booths. You get to have a real conversation and that’s when the sale really happens, when you are just talking. That’s just one example of how we changed things up to create a wonderful experience.


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Q: NEXT has a strategic alliance with Housing Finance Strategies, a Washington, DC-based advisory firm led by renowned industry veteran and award winner Faith Schwartz, former executive director of HOPE NOW. Why is that significant?

MOLLY DOWDY:We’ve watched Faith and admired her forever. She has in depth relationships with what’s going on in DC. She has a deep understanding of how DC impacts our business. We asked her to do the kick off at the last NEXT.  It was very popular. People loved it. So, we started talking and really believe that this intel is lacking and it is important for women to have as they progress in their careers. Women should have this knowledge so they can be the go-to person at their company. Faith has a weekly newsletter that summarizes what’s going on in Washington. That was the first piece of the partnership that we launched. The next step was to launch a new event. The speaker lineup is an impressive list of the people that influence housing policy in DC.

JERI YOSHIDA:When Faith came to our event she was one of those people that was blown away. She has been to so many conferences, but our conference stands out to her to the point that she wanted to be involved. She saw the benefit of what we provide.

Q: What can we expect from NEXT in the future?

MOLLY DOWDY:We changed our approach to provide more engaging content like Faith’s weekly newsletter and we also do executive profiles. So we are providing more content about our speakers and the industry to give more visibility to women executives that are really killing it.

JERI YOSHIDA:We want to make more quality information available to the people that are doing amazing things. These women are succeeding and we want to help them do even more. The executives that we have on stage are diverse. They are reflective of what’s going on. We have women of all different ages, ethnicities and experiences. We want to recognize the women on stage. We want to keep focusing on the women that are doing amazing things.

MOLLY DOWDY:When we talk about innovation we have to reflect the community. When you get all different types of people together you spur innovation and that’s an important part of our mission.

Q: What does in mean to you to be named one of The Most Powerful Women in Fintech by PROGRESS in Lending?

JERI YOSHIDA:It’s very humbling. It’s an honor. It’s important to us to expand the platform for women to advance. Women are championing technology and they are giving their input to advance technology adoption. We want to help level the playing field.

MOLLY DOWDY:I feel really grateful. With this power it gives us more right to shine the light on women in this industry. This will help us continue our mission and expand. 

Q: What advice would you give women just starting out?

JERI YOSHIDA:Find your community where you are supported, where you can learn and there are people that can help you. These women have worked so hard and some did not intend to be in the c-suite, they just got there because they were innovative and smart and helped others. They tackled problems and progressed accordingly. There’s a lot of togetherness at NEXT. If you are a young executive find your tribe where you can learn and teach others.

MOLLY DOWDY:Step one is to find your tribe, which probably won’t be inside your company. A lot of the executives worked in their company and climbed the ladder but felt alone. Also, you have to speak up. A lot of new executives assume that others have already thought of their idea and dismissed it so they don’t speak up, but that is not the case. Speak up. Be heard.

INSIDER PROFILE

Molly Dowdy has nearly 20 years experience marketing in the mortgage technology space and is the co-founder of NEXT, the mortgage technology conference for women executives. Molly is also a member of the PROGRESS in Lending Association Executive Team. She can be reached at molly@Nextmortgageevents.com.

INSIDER PROFILE

Jeri Yoshida is co-founder of NEXT and a 20 year mortgage industry veteran with over 15 years of experience in mortgage public relations and communications. She has created visibility programs for dozens of companies and has crafted strategies for maximizing ROI from sponsorship, attendance and exhibition dollars at many of the mortgage industry’s national and regional events.

Today’s Data Intelligence

My kids and I were driving back from a school event, and Bella, my daughter asked me why I was excited about my job.  Bella is seventeen years old and Jorge is sixteen, and the only world they have ever known has the iPhone, with all the services, information and entertainment provided on demand through systems such as Uber, Netflix, and iTunes. Information and content are easily delivered in a couple of minutes. We’ve come a long way since the 90s in many industries. I have been in financial services since 1992, when the dial up Internet was our only source of internet and access was only provided to managers of the organization. Information on demand wasn’t available. I explained that now, 25 years later our industry is at last beginning to have access to rich data that can be leveraged to pull data from silos and bring it all together to create a better overview of customers and insights to previously unknown facts.  That’s when my daughter sensed my excitement about our industry and my role in it. She began to ask me questions. 

Our industry mostly relies on static historical data.  The residential loan application is a picture in time, not a video of a consumer’s journey up to the moment of truth: financing a new home. The same type of data is involved in the loan servicing space.  It’s a snapshot of prepayments and non-performing loans, not necessarily identifying the patterns and the financial journey of a borrower making mortgage payments each month.  I think the key data elements such as trending data, demographics and predictive analytics will provide information that is disruptive to the mortgage industry. 


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Trending Data:The information collectively gathered to identify and classify frequent characteristics into cohorts. For example, it’s not just whether the borrower is current on a mortgage.  When do they pay? Do they pay on the fifteenth of the month, the last day before a late fee?  Before the first of the month? What if they were paying on the first, but now they’re paying just before the fifteenth?  Is something happening with this borrower that a lender could help with?  Think of utilizing the information gathered about the borrower and the relationship value of a check-in with a borrower and helping mitigate a possible delinquency.  Maybe somebody is distressed, but if they’re paying, that person will likely still have a good credit score, but trouble is brewing.

This is the power of data. We need to be thinking about really acting in the borrower’s interest in a proactive way to mitigate losses as opposed to just say, ‘hey, you’re late, you’re now paying a late fee.’  That’s punitive, versus a touchpoint to deepen a relationship and truly assist borrower when unforeseen life events occur.


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Demographics:  We often think about millennials as not interested in owning a home, or that certain millennial cohorts are hard to approve for a mortgage because they have a ‘thin’ credit history.  Historically, lenders associated potential borrowers with higher income and assets correlated with thicker credit files and more credit usage (thick file consumers have three or more credit accounts reported and thin file consumers have two or fewer credit accounts). Lenders may view thin file consumers as riskier than those with thick files and thin file borrowers were often placed into the highest risk products (i.e. higher interest rates and modest loan limits).

Research shows that millennials with thin files – unlike any other generations before them – on average have income and asset levels consistent with their thick file counterparts.   Research shows even though these millennials are expected to be the largest generation by size, many millennials are averse to debt.  Many millennials have low numbers of active accounts. Paying down student loans and not applying for new credit is prudent credit behavior.


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Current underwriting might be penalizing millennials simply because that’s historically how thin file consumers have been treated. And it’s not just millennials, immigrants of any generation can exhibit the same behaviors.  So better credit scoring models might widen the credit box for creditworthy borrowers that may fall outside historical guidelines.

Predictive Analytics:Data provides visibility and a fact base. Visibility that we never had in the past. We can use data to help build these relationships, help people when they’re may be early in having trouble meeting their obligations. I find it interesting a restaurant can use data to ‘remember’ you, what you ordered on your last visit and make you feel so important. It makes you feel good. ‘Wow, they remembered me’. Data driven relationship building works for restaurants.  Think how powerful data driven relationship management is when a person is in time of need and looking for solutions. Disruption in the mortgage industry is not just finding technology solutions, it’s changing with the times and being creative with innovative products that fit borrower’s current needs. It’s servicers foreseeing issues and assisting with innovative solutions. It’s using data for common sense underwriting. 


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As an industry, we’re smart enough to use that data to get the visibility to foresee and forecasts what a borrower may need next. At the borrower level, its relationship building.

At the aggregated level, were talking risk management. Aggregated data can be used for portfolio management, looking for loans at risk of delinquency and default, as well as prepayment.  Delinquency and default produce losses.  How can one anticipate and prevent delinquency and prepayment?

I’ve seen so many lenders running their business on excel spreadsheets.   Excel is good for static analysis, but it’s not dynamic and it’s very hard to associate multiple data sources in a very visible way.  It’s hard to maintain data integrity.   In order to get visibility; one must use a dynamic system with the power to associate a lot of the different data sources and make it easy to navigate through all those data sources for as close to live data as possible. 

But it’s not just the system. It’s the user. It’s us! We are bound to old habits, and the inertia of a highly regulated industry that is slow to evolve, let alone jump into digital transformation.  We’re used to the way we’ve been doing it for the last 30 years or more. How easily do people adapt to change? Usually what I find is they want new technology, but they want it to fit their existing process. And that doesn’t work because the new technology was set up to give you a lift. So why are you just automating your old processes?   It’s not going to work. You’re just doing the same old thing. Just using new technology. It’s not going to give you the lift. You’re not using it the way it was set up and built to be used.

It’s hard to let go. Change is hard, it feels like you’re losing control. If we continue to do the same old thing, we’re going to get the same results.

So Here is My Challenge to the Readers: Think data, think big data.  As lenders, we have so much valuable data in our systems, we just can’t access it easily, nor fast enough.  Think about how to deploy data intelligence to generate profit, build relationships, and serve more borrowers.  Identify and help borrowers that may be experiencing financial stress then when the borrower starts thinking about refinancing or buying a new home, they can turn to the lender who helped them during their financial stress.

These are some of the challenges that we encourage everyone at Teraverde to ponder and it’s why we are so passionate about developing Coheus Profit Intelligence. Having the ability to navigate and grab data from multiple silos then providing mortgage bankers the access to explore data and do more than having a static report. With Coheus’ ability to demonstrate data, Executives begin to think- ‘What if’ with more data at their fingertips, the possibilities technology can create for lenders in this space are limitless –we’ve seen lenders jump profits by 20 basis points in the first quarter. 

Open yourself to thinking bigger, thinking differently.  Take the risk to become more data driven.  Ditch the spreadsheets.  Think about how to improve yourself because the power of data can be tremendous.  Promote change and innovative thinking within your team. Which is how the conversation with my daughter concluded when we arrived home.  She was excited about the possibilities of data and how she might use data in forensics, currently an interest of hers.  “I really didn’t think about this data stuff before.”  I hope she thinks about it a lot more.  How about you?

About The Author

5 Trends Changing Business Payments In 2019

Suddenly, business payments are hot. I’d say there’s a growing level of understanding of the space and a feeling that B2B payments are starting to come of age. That is good news for customers, considering decades have passed since there was innovation in this space. Here are 5 trends for business payments in 2019:

1.) B2B payments innovation has begun

Many of the people who wanted to meet me were venture capitalists and private equity partners. B2B payments are a very, very large market—36 trillion in payment volume—versus about three billion for consumer payments. Most business customers are still paying with checks. This has always been an interesting category because it’s so big, and so far behind in digitization. Now, as the consumer payments technology market is becoming saturated, B2B payments have captured the attention of the investment community. There are a lot of new investments happening, so look for offerings related to B2B payments in the next few years.


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2.) Payments as a backbone

Vendor payments are tied to a lot of other processes. Once you digitize payments, it opens up opportunities with procure to pay, dynamic discounting, supply chain financing, and lending to name a few. For example, we’ve already seen Uber experiment with making auto loans to its drivers and taking the loan payments directly out of their pay. Companies should look to digitize payments with an eye to efficiency and cost savings now, and as a springboard into other innovation opportunities down the road.


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3.) Full payments automation

The first wave of new entrants in B2B payments has already hit the market, and many of their value propositions sound the same, cloud, simple, automated. But, not all of them are really in the cloud, simple, or automating the whole process. B2B payments have long been plagued by partial automation, and that’s a big reason why so many businesses are still stuck on checks. Cards and ACH make the transfer of funds electronic, but they also introduce new manual processes for file preparation, reconciliation, and vendor enablement. New, truly automated solutions can handle every part of the process. The person in accounts payable should only have to select the bills they want to pay and click the “pay” button. Buyers need to look past the marketing language and check under the hood.


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4.) Banks embrace fintechs

Five years ago, the relationship between fintechs and banks was adversarial. There was a lot of talk about fintechs using technology to take over different aspects of banking and to do it faster, cheaper and better. Over the past 18 months or so, we’ve seen the conversation shift. There is a growing recognition that banks and fintechs have very different strengths and that they will be stronger together. Bank and fintech relationships are now starting to form. Examples include Bill.com‘s relationship with JPMorgan Chase. The idea is to bring Bill.com’s solution to small businesses through the bank channel. Chase’s recent acquisition of WePay provides an application for three-party payments for platforms such as ConstantContact and GoFundMe. This is just the tip of the iceberg; we will see many more partnerships and acquisitions in 2018.


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5.) Blockchain is still a technology to watch

Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins Bitcoin, is still very much part of the conversation. This is the only technology that truly has the potential to change banking and finance as we know it, providing a new set of instantaneous, decentralized, global payment rails. Banks and fintechs such as Ripple and Earthport are collaborating and getting traction, demonstrating they have a value proposition. But, if banks find ways to control it, it may end up being a better experience, but it won’t be any less expensive than current options.

All of these developments are great news for customers because the market is picking up speed and companies will have a lot more choices than in the past. B2B payments are far more complex than consumer payments, and there’s next to no technological innovation applied to them until very recently. Companies have lived with the status quo for decades. That is all about to change.

As fintechs encroach on core bank activities like lending and payments, banks are going to step up their game by either improving their own services or teaming up with the innovators.

About The Author

Can You Hear Me Now?

Clearly, there is no “Womens Guide to Banking” but if there was one, it would rule the world, we already know.  

In this feature, in the year of the “movement” and the continued focus that the world has given to women, who by and large and especially in our world, have been out numbered in the rankings of jobs at senior levels & upper sales ranks for many decades, we give pause to those incredible women who independently and collectively are moving the needle & redefining the future of the real estate finance world. 


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In fact, in the past year women who lead communities, causes, companies and change are truly making impressionable moves that are leaving marks & indelible change in the mortgage finance space and they are just getting started.   And let’s be honest, they didn’t ask to be put in this time, nor did they start this movement. In fact, they have all been surviving, overcoming, fighting and protecting their precious little turf and now they finally are gaining ground.  Still it takes a brave person, man or women to find their voice, to speak their words, to be willing to be the example or gracefully take the stage, share their stories and help hundreds and thousands of other women finally find the confidence they’ve been waiting their whole lives to free.   They are doing incredibly brave work.  

I look around and I see so many women who are working tirelessly, for a mutual cause to fan the flames of momentum right now while a small fire is burning.  And make no mistake, behind the scenes of years and years of in the trenches work, these women have faced every imaginable obstacle, challenge and adversity.  They have individually overcome their personal quests for leadership and risen out of the crumbling old school mentality and in fact are now “Thrivers” in a new world and now they are finally sharing their stories.   They are being bold, they are captivating a world and they have grabbed the microphones and the stages and collected posses of women behind them, the power has swung in their direction and they are stronger than they have ever been.  


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Yes, when I was seated in the audience at NAMMBA on the final convention day awaiting Marcia Davies, COO MBA & Founder of mPower, speech that morning, as excited as I was to hear her speak and deliver what I already knew was going to be a resounding speech, nothing prepared me for the video she ran on pay equality.  

As I sat there, tired on my 3rdday of convention and umpteen week of travel, I wasn’t ready to allow myself to face something that for so many years had been an angering process for me personally.   In this candid movie she would show several sets of children being given balls to pick up, the boys had blue ones and the girls had pink ones. They did their jobs filling glass jars and when the very last ball was picked up, of equal amounts, they were asked to close their eyes and put their hands out for their prizes.  The boy would be handed a cup running over with prizes and the girl one half full.   They then were told to open their eyes and they both would look, innocent minds…staring back at the inequity of their efforts, the inequity of reward and interestingly the girls would try to be polite but eventually speak up and ask why, the boys would try to be cordial and defend.  It is an incredibly powerful video entitled “Child Social Experiment Looks At Gender Equality.”


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The truth is, I could not contain my emotion that day.  I sat with my eyes welling up and my nose running.  I sat there and called upon every year I ever fought for pay. How angry I had felt and how hard it was for me to squash my self-worth and inner fight so not to raise bad light to myself.   Yes, I had to fight for my pay to be even close to even my lesser counterparts a few times.  I knew I had more responsibility  and nowhere near the pay of my male equal counterparts and so I realized sitting there that exactly how wrong it was and resigned to the idea that I will never get the fair pay in my lifetime until now when I became my own business owner.  No, like so many others, I will never be made right the wrongs done to me there. 

I realized sitting there that Marcia was doing far more than I ever imagined.  Yes, she was doing “it”.  She had let the proverbial cat right out of the bag and there would be no putting it back in.   As I collected my composure, I would recall being thrilled to hear her speak my name to the audience, in fact the seats were lined with post cards highlighting my webinar coming on the topic of Safety.  I felt so happy to realize I had finally found my own people and I would be recognized for my talents, rewarded in fact and I would be heard. 


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Yes, women are now no longer acting or speaking like they use to.  They are now addressing long silenced issues that have plagued them.  They are now finding their voices.  I will also point out that the difference between this generation of female leaders is they are at the right place, at the right time and they are the right women to truly make an impact.  The women below who have contributed to this article their words of wisdom to up and coming females truly are making a difference in a world that needs a difference to permanently be made and many of them were not given the same mentorship from female leaders or an out stretched hand like they are doing at incredible heights.   But that will now change forever starting with these women and so many more women who are now changing that evolution.  We applaud them for their work.

Advice for up and coming women professionals in the mortgage finance & real estate space. 

Marcia Davies, COO of the MBA & Founder of mPower, 

“I encourage women who want to advance in their careers to take a risk. It can be a big risk or small one.  By doing so, you move out of your comfort zone and expand your experience. Opportunities will follow.”

Marcia is right.  You must get out of your comfort zone.  I took this advice a year ago when I leaped into coaching recognizing a need and a void for female leadership coaches.  It was far scarier a first step than I ever imagined it would be.  But man, I am liberated.  What first step do you need to take to come out?  I believe that your greatest existence lay on the other side of that first step.

Marcia will go down in history as having created the largest movement in our business with her incredible, polished, poignant, timely and welcomed society of female professionals through mPower.  She has brought celebrities to her stages, elevated women and made moves that no other women have made by truly being the beacon that first shined it’s light calling upon all women who have been searching for leadership in ways never before seen by the likes of Marcia.  She has helped liberate a generation. 

Laura Brandao, President of AFR 

“Be true to yourself and follow your instincts”

I’ve watched Laura on stage this past year in many different places, all over the country, coast to coast and she has left people in aww in her wake.  Seriously, I have seen her speak and she literally will leave men and women inspired in her raw and authentic speaking, her keen knowledge of this industry and a clear and incredible passion & love for our business.  She is the real deal, earned every bit of her leadership spot in the senior rankings and is exactly the kind of woman I look up to, like so many women AND men.   She is right, you must forge forward following your instincts.   They will take you the distance.

Ginger Bell, Edumarketer & Industry Influencer, Speaker

“Be generous with your laughter, considerate with your reprimands, thoughtful with your praise and passionate about your work.  People will forget the work you’ve done but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

I have had the chance to see Ginger speak on many national platforms, including Gary Vaynerchuk Agent 2021 in January and she is the real deal voice of our future.  She has revolutionized our industry by creating a list of events that the entire industry follows, and she is on the edge of state-of-the-art social media and marketing techniques sought after by the elite.   Her word is a good one and she so poignantly speaks as an expert leading professional where this industry is going.  Listen up!

Chelsea Pietz, Social Media Coach, Podcaster & Industry Influencer

One of the most important pieces of advice I can share with anyone in today’s marketplace is to become very clear about your personal brand. Today’s consumer as well as your company will demand that your personal brand serve the needs of the end user. Start by defining your ‘UVP’ or Unique Value Proposition with this simple formula: I do what + for whom = that results in. Then, share it everywhere”

Chelsea is also a sought-after speaker and voice on many stages including Vaynerchuk Agent 2021 & Housing Wire ‘Engage’ recently to name only a couple.  Chelsea is on point, well-spoken and results driven.  She does not mince words and when she speaks, she comes from a place of pure experience but in areas we seek knowledge and need real advice, in this new world we find ourselves in.  So now more than ever people like Chelsea stand to help us all position ourselves for a future we only hoped to imagine long ago.   She will tell you, that time has come. 

Desiree Patno, CEO NAWRB, Industry Leading Executive

“Get ready for change. Industries, logistics, and our personal and professional lives are evolving faster than ever. While it is easy to be distracted by this, it is important for women leaders to focus on the fundamental problems that are inhibiting greater inclusion and social impact. 

We need to prioritize connecting with like-minded people in the industry, collaborate and share our resources, and act on these relationships to help create opportunities for future generations with a gender lens perspective.  “

Desiree has made a mark forever in the communities of women in the “real estate ecosystem” in so many fundamental ways.  By removing the silos and connecting industry leaders within their companies and departments, departments within agencies and providing a platform of professional development to know the rules of the game. And bygiving women a voice.  By giving women a place, a sense of community.  Through her recognition, women have been elevated & have receive awards that are incredible and long over-due.  She has brought reward to their incredible roles that quite frankly has not been doled out for most of these women’s careers.  No, most of these women have worked tirelessly without the accolades and especially at the heights of the executives she awards. That in and of itself is incredible. Desiree work, in a chartable and community sense has filled a void that existed prior to the inception of NAWRB. Her contributions are historical and will make a difference and leave an impression for generations of female professionals coming up!  

Jennifer Du Plessis, CEO of Jen Du Plessis LLC, Coach, Speaker, Podcaster, Industry Influencer

The shift from Success in business, after breaking through so many glass ceilings; to Significance in life, is personal for every women. 

Some of us want a quieter life to seek our life’s purpose, give back and make an impact in a more subtle manor; while others continue the pursuit of significance by joining Boards or changing lanes to solopreneural activities such as consulting. 
Either way, today’s woman is not finished yet! She is yearning for greater fulfillment after so many years of grinding to reach her own expectations for success, all the while   raising her family. It’s her time now to reach for the impactful fulfillment she so desires. You haven’t seen anything yet— watch her “roar!”

Jen is so right.  There are women coming out of every direction showing up in ways we have never seen. They are seeking their dreams and goals in ways that may vary but clearly represents a shift in success as she states to “Significance” in life and THAT is personal for every woman.   I think Jen makes a truly valuable point.  It is up to each of us to decide what that means and to know that whatever that fulfillment is, it’s about personal happiness first and by owning that, true happiness can be found independently.  

I have watched Jen for years, met her on the back side of Caesars palace stage in Atlantic City NJ about to walk on to speak, she was mesmerizing and every time since I have been equally as impressed.  She is so sharp, so experienced, so pointed in her ability to give professionals directions that truly make an impact and she has changed the lives of so many people it’s beyond measure.  She is still doing incredible work and I truly admire her, her family and her entire life as an example of what all of us hopes and aspires to have. Love, Happiness, Success & Legacy. 

Kristin Messerli, Chief Editor Mortgage Women Magazine, Founder Cultural Outreach

“My advice for women in 2019 is to find more ways to voice your perspective and bring leadership to your networks. There are many platforms today (publications, company meetings/events, social media, conferences, etc.) that need women’s leadership and are making it easier than ever to speak up. So, I encourage you to move beyond fear and share your message.”

Kristin Messerli may be the youngest of the women featured in this article, but she is a mega game changer with stature well past her tender age and represents power and leadership of incredible magnitudes.  She has turned her magazine, the first ever all woman dedicated monthly feature into an incredible success.  Her work in the trenches of our field with Cultural Outreach have been incredible.  She has used her own voice to free the voices of many others, fought personal public battles in doing so and arose the victor, shining a light on discriminations, liberations and helped thousands of women find their way.  Her work as a professional, a journalist, an editor and a thought leader is undeniably some of the most talented amongst her age group.   A leader amongst us all with the power to live long past her generations of women who she will one day succeed.   She is amongst us, young but powerful and in many ways showing us that we are heard, that we matter and that she won’t let the up and comers let go of our momentum.  

All of these women are incredible, I reflect on how fortunate I am in this past year to get so many incredible women in my network support and I could not feel more at home than I do today writing this article.  I joke to everyone that I have felt like Ray Ramone character in Ice Age 2 when he sees the other wooly mammoth for the first time and realizes he is not alone.   Yeah.  I feel like that.  No longer alone.   

There is power in this community and I would argue respect. Women are making a powerful difference. They are giving courage to more women to seek promotions, to seek more platforms to speak on and to seek more vital roles.  Due to the women like those I have quoted here in this article as a small sample of the incredible list of women leaders I am surrounded by, I can tell you that doors have swung open and other doors have closed, fires have been started and other fires extinguished.  Love has been spread, encouragement increased, confidence corralled, and voices heard.  

Yes, the truth is, this article doesn’t highlight the work these women do in banking or the collective work they’ve done in the trenches for decades as mortgage professionals, it simply tells you through their words what women should continue to do, their best advice and I believe the secret to catapulting the girls in banking over the proverbial hill to heights we have yet to see! 

Can you hear us now? 

About The Author

AI Implementation: Where Do We Go From Here?

The previous two articles published have attempted to raise awareness of what Artificial Intelligence (AI) is and isn’t as well as the associated risks and opportunities.    This third article describes how the implementation of these technologies can change the way we operate and how, from an operational perspective, using the tools and the benefits can expand business and reduce costs. 

Fluctuating and Growing

One fact that we have to acknowledge is that AI is in flux and will most likely continue that way for some time.  For example, a recent article I read claimed that RPA (robotic process automation) is dead. It doesn’t mean that this type of AI is no longer useful, but that when the individual types of AI such as expert systems, robotic automation for individual processes as well as the disintegration of siloed processes and programs is addressed, it will result in a comprehensive integrated program that utilizes the appropriate method for the task at hand.


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Another area that has come to the forefront of AI is what is known as IoT or the Internet of Things. In this instance, data on the internet can be incorporated into databases as needed, to complete tasks through the use of AI.  A step further in this approach is what is known as AIoT or artificial intelligence data of things.  In other words, if by using the internet to create data, that data then becomes available for others to use in their AI efforts we have effectively created an internet of AI “things”.   

Of course, this is not going to be the final product or program for the use of AI.  As we know from just listening to the news or reading articles on the technology, the future uses of AI are seen as unlimited. 

Roadblocks

Today the mortgage industry is trailing behind other industries in the use of AI in their workflow. While there are numerous reasons for this, one of the most basic is that organizations continue to run processes exactly as they were run 40 years ago.  There have been multitudes of new technology products that can be purchased and added to make the process cleaner with fewer errors, but the fundamental changes necessary to realize the intrinsic benefits of many have not been made.  


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Way back in 1979, loan applications were taken by Loan Officers and handed off to Processors, who put together the documentation that supported the application, including required regulatory disclosures, and handed it off to an Underwriter to evaluate for acceptability.  If approved the loan was handed off to a Closer, who made sure the title was acceptable and prepared the documents and funding.  Once the loan was closed, it was sent to Post-Closing, where it was reviewed, corrections made, documents sorted, MI filed, and the loan was then delivered to an investor. The technological support we have today was non-existent and management dealt with only people and processes. 

This linear process is still in place today although we now have multiple systems in these siloed functions to manage the data that was previously on paper. The process also has more documents and more people working on these tasks.  Despite these individual and in some cases co-joined systems, the process is still dependent on having people in place to connect the data and documentation.  Add to this the maintenance of system upkeep, the struggle to ensure the continuity of the data and process as well as the implementation of on-going updated systems and requirements and we get a view of the process  that can best be described as organized chaos and makes it near impossible to streamline the costs or effectively provide “quality” customer service.  

As a result of these Operational Risk issues (people, process & technology), the cost of producing a loan has now surged to around $8800, much of which involves manual reviews and rework.  Why?  A recent survey of the industry found that on average 62.5% or $5500 of the total $8800 is for personnel costs.  Another 11% or $1,000 covers general expenses and approximately the same amount is dedicated to secondary marketing expenses. Eight percent, or $704 is spent to support the technology used by the organization.  The remainder is spent on other various necessary expenditures.  In other words, we have not made any of the transformational transitions that have been promised by technology for years, just added more costs. This lack of vision and the resulting failure to redesign and manage effective change is definitely a roadblock to not only the use of AI, but the ability to run a profitable organization.


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Another roadblock we face is the inability to collect, comprehend and utilize data. Collectively data is the foundation of the products produced and the driver of the processes and people we employ.  The process begins with data collection and proceeds to add additional information throughout.  Yet the systems in use today do not allow us to utilize data from disparate programs to assist in the analytic process of acceptable loans and associated profitability. As I noted in an earlier article, in addition to each individual company’s data, the industry does not share any data.  This results in the inability to utilize comprehensive industry data to develop artificial intelligence.  While Fannie Mae frequently utilizes its data to develop “tools” for lenders, in reality it is only a very small piece of the total data set that could/should be used. Having a tool biased by the use of a segregated population of loans does not provide legitimate results to the total populations.  

Organizational culture can be a roadblock to success.  The culture of an organization actually holds back any company from improving their processes as management and staff adopt a “we have always done it this way” attitude. In fact, a survey of 590 G2000 leaders by HFS Research found that 51% of the highest performing enterprises see their cultures as holding them back in their technological transformation process.  From an Operational Risk perspective, the redesign of processes and corresponding people skills significantly lags technology implementation in organizations.  The only way to address this roadblock is by radically rethinking existing process which will ultimately drive the greatest benefits to the company.  The three pillars of operational performance (people, process, technology) no matter what form the tasks take are fundamental to the ability of the company to produce what has been promised. 

Mortgage Lending Redesign

A true transition of the lending process begins with understanding what AI technology can do. Once this awareness has taken place, a strong change management team needs to be identified and concepts, no matter how “off the wall” they seem, need to be identified.  This envisioning process must include not only how the process will be designed, but the necessary skill sets as well.  


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One of the most frequent questions asked when an AI discussion is held, is “Will I lose my job?” This fear of losing a job is one of the most pervasive concerns by the staff of all industries.  While skill sets will change, most individuals will continue to work in the same profession.  In other words, the tasks will change, but people will work. Recent studies have begun to reorganize common types of tasks performed and reorganized them into potential skill set requirements. 

One example is found in the book by Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson entitled Human + Machine, Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, where tasks are divided into three groups. Those that involve human-only activity include leadership, creative activities and evaluative or judging skills. Those skills seen as primarily using the AI technology involve transactions, iterations, predictions and adaptations. However, there are a series of hybrid tasks that involve both human and technology efforts.  The human efforts within this hybrid set include communicating with applicants and borrowers to explain and educate them, much as we do now.  There will also be the need for individuals who train the technology.  For example, newer flexible robotic systems that work along with humans need to be trained to handle different tasks, just as we do now when machine learning is required.  There will also be those who sustain the processes and programs by incorporating the company’s risk profile, such as setting limits or allowable override decisions on profitability or legal and ethical compliance.  They do this by ensuring the quality of the data, flag errors and poor machine results, design interfaces for the AI expanded workforce.  

Within each of these groupings are a variety of tasks and corresponding skill sets, but one important factor is that the individuals fulfilling these jobs must understand the when, where and how of every action included in the lending and servicing processes.  Currently, the knowledge and skills necessary to work within the industry are siloed similar to the processes.  For example, underwriters today have a far different knowledge base than those who began working in the industry prior to automated systems.  More experienced underwriters understand why something is required, what the impact is if not and whether or not there are potential ways to address any problems.  That knowledge is quickly being lost.  In addition, because we have bifurcated the origination and servicing processes, few individuals in the production area can explain what and how servicing does and would not be able to explain why a payment was not processed.  For future work within the industry, employees must understand it all. 

Another area that is critical to lenders is regulatory issues.  In November,2018, Lael Brainard of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System presented remarks on What Are We Learning about Artificial Intelligence in Financial Services.  In these remarks, he stated that “AI… is not immune from fair lending and other consumer protection risks…”  and alerted lenders to the challenges in the areas of opacity as well as the ability to explain how the system complies with these requirements.  Since this area is so critical to lenders it is important that there are individuals with the skill sets to provide this information if requested.   

The development and maintenance of credit policy is therefore critical to lenders, and in conjunction with affordable housing initiatives, artificial intelligence, through its data sets and analytics can provide more rationalization for lending parameters.  One chief executive of a financial services company recently stated that what artificial intelligence and machine learning allows is the ability to get much broader perspectives on consumers thanks to additional data, shedding light on their creditworthiness.  

Other processes in the business appear to be ripe for implementation of AI.  Two prominent ones that come to mind are quality control and post-closing.  Using expert systems and RPA, the post-closing review processes can be developed to scrub data, identify missing documents or those that need correction and notify the individual responsible.  Of course, staff will be needed to address those loans that fall outside the parameters of the review program. 

Today quality control consists of reviewing loans to identify errors in all facets of the loan process.  Using artificial intelligence tools such as expert systems, machine learning and electronic verifications ordered and controlled by the technology, QC could be done automatically throughout the origination process n 100% of the loans. Using collected data from other reviews, a more comprehensive analysis of the workflow can be conducted, and opportunities and risks identified.  Rather than the paper intensive manual process that we employ today, executives can have results as frequently as desired while significantly reducing or eliminating many of the costs included in the $8800 that is problematic today.  

The Bottom LineWhether or not the industry surges ahead with the adaption of artificial intelligence, it is coming.  For those lenders who eagerly take on the job of redesigning their people and processes in conjunction with its implementation, the opportunity to increase business while cutting excessive costs are unlimited. 

About The Author

A Better Way To Market

As you might’ve recently heard, people are paying a lot of attention to something called account-based marketing (ABM). According to the article “The Ultimate Guide to Account-Based Marketing” written by Braden Becker, more than 60% of companies plan to launch an ABM-based campaign in the next year.

And yet, it seems like account-based marketing is still a fairly new concept to many people. A big part of that has to do with a lagging alignment between marketing and sales within many organizations, while this number is almost double what it was four years ago, still just 22% of companies consider their sales and marketing departments well aligned around the same goals.


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But account-based marketing, and its success, is somewhat rooted in that very alignment between marketing and sales. And as you’ll see, it’s highly useable, if you know where to begin. That’s why we’re here to help.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a highly focused business strategy in which a marketing team treats an individual prospect or customer like its very own market. The marketing team can create content, events, and entire campaigns dedicated to the people associated with that account, rather than the industry as a whole.


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In the above context, ABM really just what it sounds like, marketing that’s based on a specific customer, existing or prospective. It’s a market of one. This practice is typically done by enterprise-level sales organizations, and is most beneficial to business-to-business (B2B) efforts.

Why is ABM so critical to B2B? Well, ABM is particularly useful for organizations with multiple buyers or stakeholders. Part of its goal, says Sam Balter, a senior marketing manager at HubSpot, “is to address the needs of an organization by connecting with all of the stakeholders within it. That’s one reason why it works so well in B2B, oftentimes you have to work with five or more stakeholders in a given sale.”


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That might seem a little tricky, especially, says HubSpot’s Senior Product Marketing Team Manager Jeff Russo, “from an execution standpoint.”

Account-based marketing shouldn’t take the place of your industry-level marketing practices. You should necessarily use ABM as a supplement to your larger digital strategy.

As Balter alluded to in the above section, ABM is particularly helpful when trying to reach multiple buyers at the same company, or perhaps your largest accounts, which are more likely to pose more business opportunities inside the organization that you haven’t tapped yet. When this is your goal, ABM has several benefits:


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1. It’s personalized to your audience.

Account-based marketing is dedicated to decision-makers all within the same organization. Therefore, it ensures your marketing campaigns are designed to resonate with these specific people.

It can be hard for marketing campaigns that cater to a wide audience to make each reader, viewer, or user feel that their individual needs are being met. And that’s okay; the bigger your audience, the more types of people you’re trying to help. ABM doesn’t give you a large audience to generate leads from, but in exchange, it allows you to personalize all of your messaging and content to an intimate cohort of people.

2. It’s easier to see potential return on investment.

One of the biggest challenges marketing departments face is attribution, being able to associate certain marketing campaigns with new revenue. But when you’re marketing to buyers, for a business you already have a relationship with, it’s much easier to attribute your marketing campaigns to the revenue it led to.

Let’s say, for example, you spent $500 on an industry-level marketing campaign for three months targeting small businesses in the greater Boston area. At the end of that three months, the sales department closed on eight new accounts, each worth $1,000, and two of them are businesses based in Boston.

Now, it stands to reason your $500 marketing campaign helped generate $2,000 in new business, but without the right attribution reports, there’s no way to know for sure. In ABM, you know exactly where your marketing dollars are going and the money you stand to gain at the end of the campaign. This gives the business more confidence in your marketing efforts, and can ultimately encourage them to provide you with more resources to do what you do best.

3. You spend less time on marketing campaigns that don’t yield new business.

ABM doesn’t just make sure all your marketing efforts have a return on investment; it also makes sure you’re not spending too much time or too many resources on projects with no clear business value.

By spending some of your marketing budget on ABM, you make your entire department more stable in case you have a slow quarter or seasonal decline in engagement from your wider audience. In other words, ABM is like an insurance policy for your marketing team.

4. It shortens the sales cycle.

A (huge) part of marketing is lead generation, and part of lead generation is handing sales some leads that simply won’t turn into customers. It’s up to the sales team to perform the prospecting that eliminates these leads from their pipeline when they don’t respond to their outreach. In ABM, salespeople don’t deal with thisnearlyas often.

ABM generates more qualified leads because the business is more likely to have folks who want to hear from you. This allows sales staff to cut back on the time they spend grooming leads that won’t become customers, and spend more time on the ones that will, shortening the time between first phone call and closed sale.

5. It fortifies your relationship with existing clients.

According to Small Business Trends, the average American business loses 15% of its customers each year. Customer retention is critically important to a business’s growth, and while your customer service team is at the forefront of this effort, ABM helps your marketing and sales teams become an equal part of it.

ABM might not expand your business with a particular client, but it does strengthen your relationship with this client. By networking with more people across the business, and delivering content that’s laser-focused on their needs, you can increase the chances that customer will renew their contract at the end of the year.

6. It easily aligns your sales and marketing teams.

The tension between sales and marketing teams is a tale as old as time: Sales wants better leads, and marketing wants more visibility to the customer so they can improve their strategy. With ABM, both sales and marketing are inherently aligned. Marketing knows exactly whom they’re marketing to, and sales gets the leads they hope for.

Account-based marketing really boils down to six essential steps, which we’ll flesh out and tie back to inbound marketing, because while they’re two different concepts, they can truly complement each other.

About The Author

Is There A Looming Wire & Identity Fraud Crisis?

Regina Lowrie, CMB, president and CEO of Dytrix, a provider of financial transaction security technology, discussed the growing problem of wire and identity fraud at the mortgage closing table. 


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“The mortgage industry right now is facing what I call a wire and identity fraud crisis of epic proportions–and it continues to get worse,” Lowrie told David Lykken, host of Lykken on Lending. “Our industry is at the heart of wire and identity fraud because we have so many parties involved in one real estate transaction.” 


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Citing FBI statistics, Lowrie said there were an estimated $90 billion in fraud attempts between 2016 and 2019 and a projected $18 billion in attempts so far in 2019. Yet despite these unrelenting attacks, coupled with significant reported losses, many companies are doing little to nothing to validate wire transfers between lenders, closing agents, consumers and other transaction parties, she said. 


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In the typical wire fraud scheme, Lowrie said, cybercriminals will hack into email communications between lenders, closing agents and consumers, following a real estate transaction up to the closing table. Then, before closing, criminals will send a deceptive email to the lender that looks like it comes from the closing agent, instructing the lender to wire closing funds to a bogus bank account. After the criminal receives the funds, they are immediately converted to bitcoin. The money then leaves the country and is rarely recovered.


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Making matters worse, Lowrie said, is the fact that lenders are not covered for sending loan proceeds to the wrong account under the Closing Protection Letter (CPL) or errors and omissions (E&O) insurance. What’s more, if the lender did have cybersecurity insurance, many companies don’t realize there is a provision in these policies that says that if their employee or other designated person authorizes a transaction based on improper or compromised data, that action voids the cybersecurity coverage. “So, it’s a total loss,” she said.

Lowrie, a former chair of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) with more than 40 years of executive leadership in the mortgage industry, launched Dytrix earlier this year to help lenders and closing agents leverage technology to manage closing agents and mitigate the risk of wire fraud. 

Dytrix provides financial institutions with a real-time SOC2-compliant web-accessed platform for wire/ACH transfer validation and closing agent management. The Dytrix platform enables the lender to fully manage all closing agent risks, including agent due diligence, as well as confirm routing and bank account numbers, email identity and other risk indicators. “When the consumer goes to the closing table and all the money isn’t there, they lose their down payment and lose the ability to complete the home purchase. It’s really a travesty,” Lowrie said. “I’m bound and determined to make a difference in our industry to protect both lenders and consumers.” 

About The Author

And The 2019 Winners Are …

In today’s hyper-connected world, organizations must constantly evolve to offer quick, convenient, and reliable service. The financial services industry is no exception. The rise of Innovative FinTech is a perfect example of how this new reality is reshaping the way we think. And women are playing a pivotal role. These women are not just influencers, they are leading the way. As such PROGRESS in Lending is honoring The Most Powerful Women in FinTech today. Here are the Top 30 women that are reshaping Financial Services FinTech today:

Susan Allen

Head of Product

Experian Mortgage

Susan is a mortgage innovator who has recently been named head of product for Experian Mortgage. Allen joined the company this year with 25 years’ experience as a risk management and product leader. She is recognized as an industry expert on mortgage data and analytics, property valuation, and risk management. In her role, Allen will be responsible for product strategy and execution of Experian’s suite of solutions for the mortgage industry.

“At Experian, we want to support a modern mortgage experience through data, analytics and empowered consumers,” said Michele Bodda, general manager Experian Mortgage. “We’re improving the current experience by reducing time from mortgage application to close, mitigating fraud and digitizing processes. I’m confident Susan’s leadership will be a tremendous asset to our team and our mission.”

Allen has previously worked with CoreLogic, JP Morgan Chase and General Motors Acceptance Corporation. She is a patented inventor who has launched award-winning risk and analytics solutions.

Christine L. Beckwith

President & Chief Operating Officer

20/20 Vision for Success Coaching & Consulting

Christine has been the senior executive leader of sales organizations, lastly AnnieMac Home Mortgage where she oversaw both the sales & the technical aspects of many financial tech platforms including but not exclusive to the CRM, POS & other Educational tech platforms used for training.

She is at the cutting edge of all things fintech in this industry, speaking and writing for the leaders who are also developing, promoting and managing new fintech.  Christine served on the Progress in Lending Fintech advisory in Washington DC and of course she is on the cutting edge of Social Media where Christine serves as an industry expert and has spoken this year for Gary Vaynerchuk, the MBA and Housing Wire on these topics.

Lisa Binkley

SVP, Business & Product Development

National Credit-reporting System, Inc.

Lisa Binkley is Senior Vice President at National Credit-reporting System, Inc. (NCS), where she is responsible for mortgage solutions and business development. With over 30 years in the mortgage space, Lisa understands all lending disciplines and mortgage processes from a practical user level. She is a well-known quality assurance and business technology expert with the knowledge that spans from origination and underwriting through quality control and risk. With small to midsize lenders in mind, her vision to craft a practical roadmap has led to streamlined loan manufacturing workflow, improved automated technologies, and efficient implementation that saves originators and investors both time and money.

Ms. Binkley starting her career in the mortgage industry in 1987. By 1994 she was working for a top 20 lender where she quickly achieved leadership status as a risk management expert. During that time, Lisa was instrumental in pioneering the country’s first pre-funding fraud investigation unit, effectively paving the way for pre-funding fraud and quality investigation long before it was required by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She was responsible for transitioning the investigative unit from a single account with manual selection processes to an online audit tool with backend databases, enabling real-time audit findings to be shared across 8 branches and 13 associates.

By 2006, she applied these visionary tactics with mortgage industry solution providers like Rapid Reporting (acquired by Equifax), IMARC, Platinum Data, and most recently, NCS. After 13 years of understanding the workflow process from a lender’s perspective, Binkley dedicated herself to developing automated tools for risk management that kept technology and humans working in synergy to render quality, risk-based decisions on all loans. Under Binkley’s tenure, these concepts helped to increase customer count and revenue exponentially by 900% within three years.

While at Rapid Reporting, Lisa played an essential part in the development and beta rollout with the IRS IVES program and automated SSA-89 program in 2007. After being acquired by Equifax, she also created its Wholesale Broker/Correspondent Network Tax Transcript Program. Before its implementation, originators and their upstream investors ordered separate tax transcripts. Her solution allowed the originator to order one tax transcript that could easily be transferred to their investor. This program saved originators days to closing, upstream investors extra product fees, and decreased overall approval time for closing/purchasing loans.

Suha Beidas Zehl

EVP, Technology Services and Chief Information Officer

Guidance Residential, LLC

In her 30+ years of experience, Suha has worked for several international and domestic companies in Education, Consulting and now Financial Services. She has experienced first-hand the evolution of technology (not just FinTech): from the early days of simple web-based platforms, to today’s highly scalable, extensible and fully integrated end-to-end digital mortgage solutions. Suha has been with Guidance Residential since its inception in 2002, with the exception of a two-year hiatus in 2015; and in those 17 years, Guidance has grown significantly, year over year (17,000%+), becoming the nation’s leading faith-based Islamic home finance provider for this niche market of underserved families in 33 states. Suha leads a small team of ten software and support engineers, making strategic decision, executing the company’s vision, and developing innovative solutions that engage and delight customers. Suha has built and led collaborative, cross-discipline teams focused on delivering enterprise solutions that streamline and automate workflows, bringing new features to an otherwise obsolete, and highly manual process.

To date, FinTech has helped modernize back office operations with solutions like automated data verification (data from the source). A mindset shift took hold in 2016 as organizations, like Guidance Residential, began to take a more customer-centric approach and applying FinTech methodology to their product design and innovation. FinTech has fundamentally transformed the industry and it will continue to disrupt and reshape this ecosystem as companies introduce more machine learning, artificial intelligence, blockchain, business intelligence, predictive analytics, and other innovations to differentiate themselves and gain the competitive advantage to attract, and retain, their customers for life.

Amy Brandt

President/CEO

Docutech

Amy Brandt is a highly accomplished entrepreneur and senior executive with a track record of over 20 years of success within the mortgage, software, tech, aerospace and financial services industries. Since joining the Docutech team in May 2017, Amy has driven the company’s strategic vision and leads its growth initiatives by adding new products, entering new market segments and seeking strategic acquisitions. She also provides leadership to all aspects of daily operations, including product development, sales, partner integrations, and customer satisfaction.

As president and CEO, Brandt spearheaded Docutech’s continued growth, playing an instrumental role in many areas, including the development of the company’s eClose product and strategic partnerships, the expansion of its operations into a Scottsdale, Arizona, office and further success in sales and customer support. In addition, Brandt implemented 27 new clients and grew revenue approximately 40% in a down market; expanded Docutech’s product reach from primarily mortgage into consumer lending, servicing and other types of documents; lead through the transition of the company from its founder and CEO of 25 years; built a high performing leadership team; and transformed the development teams to an Agile Methodology. 

Before joining Docutech, Brandt was the president of originations and corporate technology at New Penn Financial, where she oversaw all origination channels, including direct to consumer products, third party originations, retail and joint venture. Prior to that, Amy served as chief operating officer of Prospect Mortgage, where she enhanced day-to-day operations, resulting in a 40% reduction in operational costs. Before her time at Prospect, Amy was tenured as president and CEO at Vantium, where she was able to grow assets under management from $500 million to more than $4 billion while overseeing the acquisition of two companies.

Maylin Casanueva

Chief Operating Officer

Teraverde

Maylin saw the ability to improve the way data is managed and used. She noticed lenders have so much data but the technology to enable executives to make informed decisions wasn’t there. It’s more than just data, or loan officer volume. Lenders need to dig deeply to see the actual patterns. With her experience she found the metrics that matter for lenders and found a way to leverage data from multiple sources to enable Mortgage Bankers to easily make well-informed decisions in real-time. The ability to easily identify and eliminate performance problems, waste, and revenue leakage is crucial, especially in today’s challenging lending environment.   

Therefore, Maylin developed Teraverde’s Coheus profit intelligence platform for loan origination, operations, servicing, risk management and securitization, bringing together data from a variety of systems into a single, easy to use platform. In addition, she established a partner relationship with EllieMae to bring Coheus integrations to the EllieMae Encompass LOS, leveraging EllieMae’s API and DataConnect infrastructure.  

Her expertise has helped clients with $2 billion in private label securitization transactions in the past 12 months, using data management and data science to speed the securitization process, as well as improving profitability at over a dozen client business units.  She has provided capital markets and product development thought leadership to Quicken, Angel Oak Mortgage, TD Bank and other lenders.  Her command of technology and mortgage banking makes her a sought-after advisor in non-QM lending. 

Her expertise in business process assisted over two dozen lenders in the past 12 months, in areas of origination, servicing and capital markets activities.

Jody Collup

CMO & COO

Global DMS

With more than 25 years of sales, marketing, operations and management experience, Jody Collup has dedicated the bulk of her career to working in the technology space within the mortgage industry. Jody currently serves as both CMO and COO of Global DMS, a leading provider of cloud-based valuation management software. Since joining Global DMS in 2013 as VP of Marketing, under her leadership, the company has made a number of achievements, innovations, and reached milestones that Jody has been integral in making happen.

Prior to Global DMS, Jody headed the marketing strategy at Calyx Software, Inc. While at Calyx, she successfully aligned sales with marketing while operating in a hyper-growth environment, establishing brand consistency and positive industry awareness behind the company and its solutions, as well as navigating through the mortgage post-crash downturn and reaching business sustainability. She was also instrumental in merging the synergies of Loan-Score Decisioning Systems with Calyx after acquiring the vendor in 2010.

Previous to Calyx, Jody spent six years at the American Heart Association as the Product Development Marketing Manager, where she managed all aspects of the department’s product offering – including conceptualization, content development, creative development, production, and maintenance.

Throughout her career in mortgage technology, she has been involved with forming strategic alliances, facilitating game-changing integrations, introducing new technology innovations, driving solution adoption, and much more.

Molly Dowdy

Co-Founder

NEXT Mortgage Events

Molly has worked with fintech providers a la mode, Mercury Network and CoreLogic, and others focused on building effective marketing strategy and supporting business growth. She has been a Progress in Lending board member for the past six years, gaining exposure to a wide variety of fintech firms and technology solutions.

In 2018, Molly co-created NEXT Mortgage Events. NEXT is the only technology-focused conference for executive mortgage women. Each summit showcases multiple women technology experts as panelists and presents the latest solutions on the market. The events cater to women executives representing mortgage lenders of all kinds and sizes and attracts a diverse population of people aiming to change mortgage lending through financial technology. The objective of NEXT is to provide a reliable access point for gaining the knowledge and networks that yield limitless professional opportunities for women mortgage executives. NEXT was chosen as a winner of PROGRESS in Lending’s 2018 Innovations Award and has achieved widespread industry recognition as an influential event for executives in mortgage lending and technology.

Lorie Helms

Chief Information Officer

Covius Holdings

Lorie Helms has been in the FinTech industry for more than 13 years, providing technical solutions for lenders, servicers, investors and service providers. Throughout her career, she has managed the application development of loan origination systems, document generation systems, point of sale systems, rating and pricing engines, due diligence systems, vendor integrations and business intelligence platforms.  

In her current role as Chief Information Officer at Covius, a provider of tech-enabled services for financial institutions, Lorie oversees the development of the company’s internally developed systems including: document generation and management, due diligence, and loan modification.  She oversees the team that builds custom technology solutions for financial institutions using a proprietary low code platform and manages critical third party systems to provide additional services such as, settlement services. Throughout her tenure, Covius has grown significantly, both organically and through several acquisitions including WALZ, a provider of regulatory compliance solutions, full-cycle critical document fulfillment and Certified Mail® Automation; PHH, the nation’s largest private-label mortgage fulfillment provider; and ReQuire Holdings, a group of technology-enabled companies that provide compliance, quality assurance, lien release tracking and valuation solutions for both the residential and commercial real estate markets. Lorie played a crucial role both during diligence and post-acquisition of these companies in order to fully integrate resources, applications, infrastructure and data. 

Recently, Lorie’s team rebuilt one of the company’s legacy proprietary platforms, which processed hundreds of thousands of transactions daily. The platform was struggling to handle the transaction volume and had extremely high support costs. When Lorie came on board, she evaluated the cost of upgrading vs. the risks, benefits and long-term savings of rebuilding the platform. Lorie worked with company stakeholders and the board to prioritize the rebuild and today the new platform is live and has significantly improved employee productivity, as well as reduced support costs. To promote collaboration and tech enablement, Lorie created an architecture committee with senior technical representatives from each of the company’s divisions that regularly reviews critical projects that other divisions are working on to make sure that applications are designed in the most scalable and efficient way and that standardized design principals are in place. 

As a key member of the Covius executive leadership team, Lorie contributes significantly to the company’s mission, vision and values.. Lorie brings a culture of open communication and collaboration, both within the IT department and between IT and the rest of the company.  She created a standardized process for requests to be submitted into IT, prioritization committees that review and discuss the ROI of any requests, and standard reporting that provides transparency to the business about how IT’s time and funding is being spent.  This has ensured that resources are focused on the most critical projects to the organization as a whole.

Kelli Himebaugh

Director, National Sales

VirPack

Kelli began her career in the mortgage industry in 2003.  Prior to that, she worked in the modular homebuilding industry with two national factory homebuilders. She pivoted her work focus to the mortgage technology space in 2007 with a LOS vendor. In 2008 she joined Mortgage Builder Software. After two years in her sales role and increasing the customer base by 125%, she transitioned to a corporate role in Mortgage Builder’s Southfield, MI headquarters.  

Serving as Corporate Vice President, Kelli was responsible for carrying out the strategic plan of the Company and overseeing day-to-day operations including – performance of the management team within the company, Customer Relations, Product Roadmap, and Sales & Marketing. She was directly involved in developing corporate policy and communicating Mortgage Builder’s mission and initiatives to its employees and customers. Other responsibilities included competitive market research and comparison to the Mortgage Builder offering. She appraised new product ideas, analyzed product requirements, determined return on investment, release schedules, and pricing strategy.  Her responsibilities for customer success included organizing and hosting the company’s annual user conference, focus groups and customer visits for education and product roadmap strategy.   

In 2012 after playing a key role in increasing Mortgage Builders revenue by 46%, Kelli worked with Mortgage Builder’s owner to  perform due diligence and negotiation in the acquisition of two software companies (GCC Servicing and LoanXEngine). In 2014, Kelli then played a key executive role in the strategic acquisition transaction of Mortgage Builder by Altisource Solutions.  

In 2016, Kelli joined the team at VirPack. Today she serves as the Director of National Sales and is a member of the senior management team. She is focused on delivering the VirPack solution to lenders of all sizes and plays a key role in the company’s market strategy alongside VirPack’s COO and Directors.

Angela Hurst 

SVP Strategy & Development

RES.NET and US Real Estate Services

For more than three decades, Angela Hurst has approached the real estate and mortgage banking industries as a limitless pool of opportunity. With a combination of thoughtful leadership and diligent team building, Angela’s style as an executive has been one of inclusivity, providing her the chance to create a borderless environment and help not only herself, but also others around her from falling into stereotypical labeling that comes in banking and in technology. 

Building successful partnerships with vendors and fruitful relationships with clients has given Angela a unique perspective in understanding the challenges each face, and how best to solve them. She is an accomplished senior executive and thought leader with a lifetime of industry success under her belt. Angela has been able to leverage her extensive experience with business analysis, contract and vetting issues, and marketing and public relations as a valuable resource and asset for companies seeking guidance on technology, asset management, marketing and overall corporate strategy.   Being a generalist in mortgage banking has afforded clients a comprehensive perspective that is hard to find in the industry.

Her broad areas of expertise include strategic initiatives, contract negotiations, contract procurement, client relations, community outreach, development programs, pool/bulk sales, alternative disposition programs, vendor and business partner training programs, vendor management, negotiations, public/client relations, communications and conflict resolution. Throughout her professional career, Angela has held executive leadership positions with US Real Estate Services and RES.NET, Barrett Burke Wilson Castle Daffin & Frappier LLP, NDeX, Cendant Settlement Services Group (Burrow Closing Management), FreddieMac’s HomeSteps, and National Title Insurance companies.  In all of her experiences, she entered each organization at a time that workflow and customer to supplier facing technology were nearly non-existent.    As customer’s needs increased, she championed opportunities to partner with various industry leaders to combine resources and enhance their offerings, ultimately benefiting operations as well as the customers.  

In her current role as Senior Vice President of US Real Estate Services and RES.NET, Angela oversees the company’s strategic development initiatives and B2B relationships. She has been able to link customer requirements with the innovative solutions each customer needs, providing a thoughtful and creative environment for the relationship to thrive.  Her hand’s on operational experience lends a valuable hand in the development of technological resources and enhancements to support customer needs.  

Luca Jordan

Marketing Associate

PromonTech

Juggling sales and marketing responsibilities, Luca drives digital, design, content and core marketing strategies at FinTech startup PromonTech – a FinTech company developing innovative technology to transform the residential lending journey – and its sister and parent companies, Promontory Fulfillment Services and Promontory MortgagePath.  She works shifting traditional financial-services mindsets to pioneer the digital- and inbound marketing strategies building a distinct, recognizable and reliable brand. Luca also brings a keen understanding and appreciation for helping clients meet the expectations of a rapidly-changing customer base.

Luca drove the marketing strategy around PromonTech’s initial product Borrower Wallet™ – a digital point-of-sale for residential lending.  Since then, recent projects and focus areas include a brand architecture overhaul, rebranding and relaunch across all corporate websites, integrated product launches, content implementation and distribution and rebranded sales collateral portfolios – all highlighting the transformative, data-rich tech platforms PromonTech is building to redefine the lending experience and helping the company communicate its vision for a faster, simpler, more-inclusive mortgage process.

Elizabeth Karwowski

CEO

Get Credit Healthy, Inc. 

As a consultant in early stages of her career and having her own mortgage brokerage firm, she always knew that technology always played an important part in gaining efficiency and productivity. However, starting Get Credit Healthy and having vision and then embarking on the reality of creating a technology platform from scratch has been an eye opener for her.  

She has worked with the development team to build a platform that creates efficiency, productivity, and ease of use for consumers and lending institutions.  The platform is now used by thousands and helped lenders turn hundreds of millions from fall-out into funded loans.  

Elizabeth has been involved in endless drawings, strategy seasons, flow charts, etc. She says, “It’s great having a vision and a team that has the same drive to make things possible when people told me it’s impossible.  I have learned that building a technology platform has many layers.  Layers that many times you would not even think of.”

The project consisted of B2B communication & a B2B tool, B2C communication & a B2C tool, API, Interactive tools, system integrations, artificial intelligence, etc. Not only does it provide consumers with what is affecting their credit, but it also gives them direct and personalized guidance on steps they need to take to improve their credit & financial wealth.  The tool drills down to answer questions like: What’s affecting me (the consumer)? Why is it affecting me? What steps can I take to improve my situation? Elizabeth proves that technology, people and processes can improve the credit profile of consumers. 

Loretta Kirkwood

Vice President, Compliance

QuestSoft

For more than three decades, Loretta Kirkwood has been one of the leading women helping lenders navigate the constantly changing fair lending and compliance landscape. She has vast experience in both the lending and regulatory worlds, which she has used to build new compliance processes, educate the industry on fair lending best practices and work with regulators to revise rules to benefit both consumers and the industry. Today, she is using that experience to help build a fair lending compliance automation platform to help lenders better analyze and understand fair lending risks associated with lending performance, while maintaining focus on profitability.

For most of the past year, Loretta has been leveraging her three decades of experience and leadership in fair lending and compliance to help QuestSoft build a new fair lending platform that will help lenders build a stronger, more accurate and compliant fair lending program. While working on this project, which recently launched, Loretta has also continued to remain an active leader in the mortgage industry advocating for more comprehensive fair lending tools and education for lenders. 

In addition, Loretta has presented several educational webinars on topics ranging from the impact of expanded HMDA data on fair lending to why CRA data and analysis is more important than ever.

Throughout her expansive career, Loretta has assisted numerous financial institutions with enforcement action remediation, regulatory investigations, exam management, assessments of fair and responsible lending programs, HMDA and CRA process optimization, CRA performance evaluation, and leveraging technology to ensure integrity in data capture and process management.

Shelley Leonard

Chief Product and Digital Officer

Black Knight, Inc.

With more than 25 years of fintech experience, Shelley Leonard’s skilled leadership and bold vision have helped Black Knight deliver innovation and drive excellence in the mortgage industry through the integration of financial technology, data and analytics across the loan process. One of her major career accomplishments was overseeing the strategic direction of LoanSphere®, Black Knight’s premier, end-to-end platform of integrated technology, data and analytics. Rather than isolating distinct areas of lending, this integration of operational functions and data across the mortgage and home equity loan life cycle – from origination to servicing and default. Integrating these functions and data helps lenders and servicers better enhance profitability, improve efficiency and reduce risk.

Shelley has also been instrumentally involved in the research, planning and strategic direction of numerous innovative mortgage technology solutions. These offerings reflect her dedication, influence and leadership to work collaboratively with clients on transforming the mortgage industry – for the benefit of providers of all sizes, as well as consumers. Some of the most noteworthy solutions Shelley has contributed to include:

Integration of Home Equity Servicing with a First Mortgage Servicing Platform. The MSP® servicing system, used to service more first mortgages than any other servicing system, was enhanced to also service home equity loans and lines of credit. Managing all areas of servicing on a single, comprehensive platform offers servicers a strategic advantage by providing a clearer view of the opportunities and risks within each portfolio; improving operational performance; and better responding to frequent and complex regulatory changes and requirements.

As a result of Shelley’s efforts to create Black Knight’s Enterprise Product Strategy group from the ground up, the company now has a team responsible for setting long-term strategy, keeping employees informed about product direction; providing market research to our development and sales teams; and focusing on portfolio management, new market identification, strategic planning and corporate sustainability. 

To encourage the development of fintech’s next generation of employees, Shelley is actively involved in Black Knight’s Mentoring Program, and helped mentor employees before a formal mentorship program was established. She is also active in the MBA’s mPower group, which helps women in the real estate finance industry leverage their power and influence. To educate employees about the company’s product strategy roadmap or to help employees better understand new solutions that have been launched, Shelley hosts company-wide town halls and Black Knight University sessions. 

Suzy  Lindblom

Executive Vice President, National Operations

Planet Home Lending

Suzy Lindblom is a pioneering innovator who’s constructed and run operations platforms for some of the biggest brands in the industry.

In the past year alone, Lindblom redesigned Planet Home Lending’s operations platform to support the company’s expansion into distributed retail. The platform now incorporates Blend’s point-of-sale app and Fannie Mae’s Collateral Underwriter. By the end of the year, Lindblom will add DocuTech Solex eClosing. 

Lindblom’s technology upgrades helped cut turn times and loan fulfilment costs by 50%, even as Planet Home Lending’s retail origination volume quadrupled and new product introductions expanded to 11 programs a month. 

She has been a champion for technology innovations and instrumental in bringing new ideas to market, including piloting Fannie Mae’s Ask Poll.

Lauren Matheson

Product Owner

PromonTech

Lauren Matheson was one of the first employees at PromonTech – a FinTech company developing innovative technology to transform the residential lending journey. In the company’s infancy, Lauren played a leadership role in defining development operations, driving the overall agile software development approach. Over the past four years, Lauren has grown with the company, adopting a variety of critical roles significantly influencing product development and strategy. She has helped the company work toward achieving its vision for a faster, simpler, more-inclusive mortgage process driven by intuitive, data-rich, compliant technology. 

Lauren led the development of PromonTech’s initial product Borrower Wallet™ – a digital point-of-sale for residential lending – driving the product roadmap and overseeing the entire product lifecycle, from conception to production. She works closely with UX, engineering, industry experts, and clients to identify the mortgage industry’s most significant pain points, determine the best development approach, and deliver software solutions to solve for them. Lauren collaborates with PromonTech’s sister company, Promontory Fulfillment Services, to gain key insights from their seasoned mortgage experts leveraging Borrower Wallet and uses this information to inform ongoing product development. 

Another important component of Lauren’s FinTech experience is her leadership in guiding PromonTech’s feature prioritization. It’s exciting to think about the immense potential technology has to streamline processes, increase efficiencies, and even result in substantial cost savings. But it’s crucial to carefully construct a roadmap prioritizing product and feature development. Lauren identifies a key distinction in her approach to product development for the financial services industry: never approach an issue with a “quick fix” – address the underlying problematic process causing the issue with truly transformational technology. Today, Lauren continues to run ongoing development for Borrower Wallet as well as initiating and managing the development of PromonTech’s next product offerings.

Sara Nakae

Director of Marketing

FirstClose

Sara has over 15 years of experience in FinTech serving the financial services sector in realtor and agency marketing for banks and credit unions, and extensive experience in the mortgage industry working with banks, credit unions and mortgage companies to deliver award winning technology solutions and services. She has been a keynote presenter at leading industry events and conferences discussing FinTech and its impact on lenders businesses.  Sara has deep industry knowledge in the financial digital space.

Most recently she has worked on the development and launch of new Equity IQ Solution. EquityIQ is the first and only home equity lead generation tool and application management system fully integrated with industry leading LOS’s. The solution drives existing and new borrowers to lenders customized application pages; automatically identifies borrowers available home equity and estimated monthly payments; reduces internal resources by decreasing the time to review and filter qualified applicants; and is a lead generation tool, as EquityIQ™ will instantly submit all borrower information directly into leading LOS platforms.

Sara also worked on the development and launch of FirstClose ONE. What puts FirstClose ONE in a class of its own is the combination of world-class technology with their ability to mimic a lender’s underwriting guidelines to apply suitability logic, which takes the guesswork out, accelerating turn-times, and saving lenders time and money. By consolidating vendors and products on one platform, FirstClose ONE makes it easy to identify and repair the gaps where lender profits can be maximized. FirstClose ONE evaluates where vendors are underperforming and provides instant options that are a better fit. This allows lenders to speed up turn-times, reduce origination costs, and increase overall productivity. With the flexibility of the FirstClose ONE platform, coupled with the FirstClose Master Service Agreement, lenders can easily swap providers with a click of a button— no new vendor contract negotiations, no vetting, no minimums, and no hassles

Elaine M. Orsini

Underwriting Manager

Promontory Fulfillment Services LLC

Elaine manages processing and underwriting at Promontory Fulfillment Services LLC (PFS) – a company delivering technology-driven mortgage fulfillment services. PFS leverages innovative FinTech built by its sister company, PromonTech. Elaine collaborates closely with PromonTech’s product team to inform development. She helps identify pain points and time-consuming, tedious workflows in her team’s origination process and works with the PromonTech team to determine the best approach to engineering solutions. Elaine also provides input about PromonTech products currently being used in PFS’ origination process to guide enhancements and feature development.

Elaine has been managing mortgage operations throughout the entire loan journey – processing, underwriting, closing, and post-closing – for over 30 years. She has worked with a variety of FinTech solutions throughout her career. Elaine has extensive experience working in the loan origination systems, Encompass and Byte. During her time managing the second highest ranked Site out of six retail sites in the country in productivity and Customer Service at Wachovia Mortgage (NKA Wells Fargo), Elaine provided design and development input for their proprietary FinTech solution – Impact. She led her team in their transition from a DOS-based system to the new web-based system. Elaine managed the implementation of the new system, working closely with the product team and her own team – the end users – to ensure a seamless implementation and share constructive feedback for ongoing development.

Leora Ruzin

VP of Secondary Marketing

Guaranteed Rate, Inc.

In Leora’s 12 years in the mortgage industry, she has worked for companies that span every business channel. From IMB’s to a CUSO, a nationwide bank, and now with Guaranteed Rate, Leora has the unique experience of understanding how each channel has an important role in housing finance. While her pre-mortgage experience was in accounting and human resources, she gravitated towards the operations side of the house over the course of her career, finally landing in Secondary and Capital Markets. Throughout Leora’s career, however, she has always actively participated in the technical aspects of the mortgage manufacturing process.

Some of the projects she has worked on include helping develop a stand-alone LOS; successfully complete several LOS installations, integrations and conversions; convert companies to a centralized lock desk, including the integration of automated pricing engines; transition from a best efforts to mandatory delivery; and transition a company from papered documents to a fully automated paperless mortgage origination process (to include the implementation of eSign and eClosing processes).

Judy Ryan

Vice President of Corporate Sales

Credit Plus, Inc.

Judy previously worked for another third-party verifications provider where she developed customized risk mitigation tools and applied analytics to directly address specific client needs. She designed these robust solutions to be inherently easy to use wherein clients could order multiple verifications on a single platform – something that had not been available to lenders up to that point.

When Judy joined Credit Plus in October 2013, she was charged with developing the firm’s new, comprehensive fraud tool, FraudPlus. Judy has also led the company’s efforts to analyze fraud schemes and develop new features to ensure Credit Plus is offering the most up-to-date data solutions available. Judy works directly with Credit Plus’ clients to address the challenges that they face daily within their workflow. She remains a constant partner in preparing automated tools to help clients alleviate manual labor/pain points. Judy developed and implemented two new data solutions in 2018 that assist our clients in identifying previous foreclosures and to enhance their knowledge of an applicant’s property transaction behavior. By staying abreast of industry challenges and applying changes within our fraud tools, Judy has helped our clients keep repurchase demands at bay.

Judy continues to work on FraudPlus daily with the client base to make it the most robust product in the industry. 

Lisa Schreiber

Senior Vice President, Correspondent Lending

NewRez

Lisa is a true visionary. At NewRez Lisa facilitated the LoanScorecard external implementation, as well as launching Investor Connect and LoanNex as vendors to allow quick and easy access to NewRez, supporting an aggressive growth strategy.  At Sprout Mortgage Lisa was responsible for building a Non-QM origination platform leveraging many of the top tech vendors from LOS through loan sales. At Ellie Mae Lisa joined Ellie Mae to implement their national Total Quality Loan initiative. She successfully grew the sales and implementation team, resulting in usage with the majority of current Encompass clients. At NetMore America Lisa developed an internal intranet for wholesale/net branching as well as Ellie Mae’s first TPO portal (alongside Ellie developers as a beta).  At American Home, American Brokers Conduit Lisa led the development of the wholesale lending channel. At Bank of America, Wholesale Reinvention Lisa worked with consultants to develop new strategies for wholesale lending, including work with Lending Tree to develop new technologies.

Pamela Stahl

Director, Product Management

VirPack

Pamela began her career in the mortgage industry directly out of college in 2005 working for a regional bank where she gained hands on experience for what customers were desiring from the mortgage process. Over the next few years, she developed her skills and transitioned to a software company, MortgagebotLOS, that catered to retail banks and lenders. There she transitioned into Product Management and was mentored by the President and CEO. Eventually the company was acquired by Finastra where Pamela transitioned into VirPack in 2016. At VirPack, Pamela has been able to apply the lessons learned firsthand in loan origination and loan underwriting to the product development of VirPack. Moving from a software that had to abide by strict, cumbersome, and constantly evolving regulatory changes, Pamela enjoys the opportunity VirPack provides to be more innovative. In her previous experience, the companies under whom she served struggled to meet the compliance requirements, serve the needs of existing customers while also ideating new products. At VirPack, she can create more impactful product differentiators.

Pamela believes that the FinTech industry will be pivotal in changing legacy processes into data-driven transactions. Originally an industry mired in paper, dependent on physical wet ink authentication, this industry stands to change the way consumers share and validate their data.

She also believes that with FinTech, you should reshape financial services based on the desires of the customer. We must adjust how we present information and usability to meet their needs and their preferences. As we face a larger demographic of digital natives who soon will be buying homes and taking loans, it’s important, from her perspective, to offer a satisfying and simple exchange.

Lakshmi Stockham

Technology Executive, Retail Product and Customer Acquisition

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank

Lakshmi Stockham is a seasoned executive responsible for technology strategy and delivery for the Retail Consumer Bank at TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank® — one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., serving more than 9 million customers through a network of about 1,250 retail stores throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas, and Florida. 

As the “Unexpectedly Human” bank, TD Bank prioritizes modern convenience and customer centricity. As consumer expectations and preferences evolve, Lakshmi is at the forefront of enabling legendary customer experiences through the introduction of transformative capabilities. She spearheaded two lending-specific FinTech partnerships enabling TD Bank to respond quickly to changing customer expectations. 

Through a partnership with Roostify, Lakshmi launched a new digital mortgage experience for TD Bank, providing customers with an accelerated, low-stress path to home ownership. Consumers can: a) explore which loan products they qualify for from a highly intuitive experience; and b) apply for their chosen loan in minutes through a streamlined all-digital process that navigates the process through closing.

Rebecca B. Walzak

President

rjbWalzak Consulting, Inc

Rebecca has been involved with technology since the 1980s.  First as a user. Then in the 1980s, she served as a User Business Analyst for Prudential Home Mortgage in the development of leading-edge technology in the residential loan application process.  Beginning in the 1990s Rebecca worked for EBS/ARMCO, a FinTech company and helped develop new programs using Business Intelligence technology.  During these periods she focused heavily on how technology would/could reshape the processes that used the available technology.  Since founding her own company she has been involved with assisting companies in redesigning specific issues related to Operational Risk Management.  She also developed a risk model that correlates the defects found in loan file reviews with the probability of performance.  In addition,  Rebecca has taught Quality Control staff on the use of QC technology and helped them develop an understanding of statistical analysis to achieve more useful results from sampling programs.  She has written numerous articles and given speeches and presentation on the need for lenders to align their operational processes with their technology.

She believes that with the current advancement of artificial intelligence, it is apparent that this powerful tool can be utilized to redesign the way business is done today.  These programs will have a profound impact on all facets of loan production and servicing.  All operational processes will change to become more focused on the technology aspect of the process.  Job functions will change.  The development of credit parameters will move from a back-end function to a servicing operation. Secondary marketing will have the ability to customize pricing for all risks in the loan which will have an impact on government agencies that serve this function today.  Customer service for both production and servicing will become dependent on “bots” thereby relieving personnel to focus on critical operational issues.

Sarah White

SVP Marketing

Class Valuation

Sarah White serves as Senior Vice President of Marketing at Class Valuation, a leading provider of real estate asset valuation and appraisal management solutions. In this role, Sarah oversees all marketing efforts, strengthening brand identity through thought leadership, industry participation, and guerrilla marketing efforts. She began her mortgage technology and services career in 2008 at Mortgage Cadence. There, she spent nearly a decade leveraging evolving marketing tactics to take the company from a Denver-based startup to an industry-leading loan origination technology provider through both organic and inorganic growth. She has been recognized by industry publications for her efforts and has won Midas and MarCom awards for her brand work. Sarah earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Colorado.

She believes that the mortgage marketplace is constantly evolving. Just a few short years ago, “digital mortgage” had the industry abuzz. While FinTech is critical to expedite processes and ensure accuracy, a personalized approach is also important to success. It’s all about balance. Here at Class, she says, “We are committed to going the extra mile to serve our customers with personalized experiences while also becoming a platform-based service company for increased speed, accuracy, and control over our technology. 

“We’ve also seen an increasing number of acquisitions occur in the FinTech arena. This is not a bad thing. It means companies with valuable tools are now joining forces to grow bigger and better together,” Sarah concluded. “This ultimately benefits the lending community and the borrowers we serve. At Class, we are doing the same – acquiring industry leaders we see synergies with. Given the constant evolution of technology and ever-changing FinTech landscape, embracing the journey is critical. Those who can adapt and think outside the box will thrive in the years to come.”

 

Ginger Wilcox

Senior Vice President, Marketing

Capsilon

Ginger Wilcox is a startup veteran and recognized leader in the real estate, mortgage and FinTech industries. She’s plowed fresh ground with disruptive companies and new business models and is known for solving tough business problems with her innovative approach to marketing, strategic partnerships, and growth.

Ginger is currently Senior Vice President of Marketing at Capsilon, a leading provider of software for the mortgage industry. More than 160 of the mortgage industry’s most innovative companies use Capsilon’s enterprise SaaS solutions to transform their mortgage operations with artificial intelligence and data, including three of the ten largest U.S. residential mortgage companies.

At Capsilon, Ginger has been instrumental in helping launch innovative technology solutions that solve the biggest pain points for mortgage lenders, investors, and servicers. Since joining Capsilon in 2018, Ginger has launched two innovative solutions that have caught the industry’s attention: Capsilon IQ, the digital mortgage platform that captures, perfects and normalizes mortgage data from any source; and Capsilon Digital Underwriter, the industry’s first comprehensive suite of fully integrated cloud-based digital mortgage applications focused on automating the underwriting process.Prior to Capsilon, Ginger was part of the team that launched Sindeo, a consumer direct mortgage startup that raised $30 million-plus to reinvent the home loan experience. Before Sindeo, Ginger was an early employee at Trulia where she built and led the Industry Marketing & Relations Group. As a result of its dominance in the real estate industry, Trulia raised more than $35M, had a successful IPO (TRLA) in 2012, and was acquired by Zillow for $3.5B in 2014. 

Sue Woodard

Chief Customer Officer

Total Expert

Sue Woodard boasts nearly 30 years of financial services and mortgage industry experience and has been a strong advocate for driving the use of technology to improve the mortgage lending experience. 

In her position as Chief Customer Officer at Total Expert, a Marketing Operating System built for the mortgage and financial services industries, her focus is on helping customers achieve greater productivity and long-term success with the help of technology and innovative solutions. Total Expert has seen its customer base increase significantly during Woodard’s short tenure with the company. 

Woodard started her career at the ground level, became a top producer, then leveraged her knowledge to become a highly acclaimed industry speaker, subject matter expert and technology executive. And over the course of her career, she’s shattered the glass ceiling for hundreds if not thousands of people to achieve more with smart lending strategy. Her background spans C-suite leadership, training, public speaking and building expertise in originations and mortgage technology. Prior to Total Expert, she served as president and CEO of Vantage Production, VP and national sales trainer at CTX Mortgage and TCF Bank, and has taken home the top originator title in many of her previous lending roles (TCF Bank, CTX Mortgage, Hometown Mortgage and Countrywide Home Loans).

Jeri Yoshida

Co-Founder

NEXT Mortgage Events

Jeri has created communications programs and provided the full range of marketing and PR service to dozens of mortgage fintech companies, ranging from large organizations such as Ellie Mae and Altisource, to smaller organizations and startups such as Valligent Technologies, ARMCO and Appraisal Firewall.

In 2018, Jeri co-created NEXT, the only technology-focused conference for executive mortgage women. After three events, NEXT is recognized as a can’t-miss summit for lending executives, covering a wide range of technology topics with leading experts on everything from blockchain to servicing to national housing policy. NEXT was chosen as a winner of PROGRESS in Lending’s 2018 Innovations Award and has achieved widespread industry recognition as an influential event for executives in mortgage lending and technology.

Katya Zevallos

Executive Director

Starting Now Corp.

Katya has developed a process through using advanced technology with proven workflows that allows non-profit credit coaches to focus on the “coaching” aspect of working with their clients versus the tedious paperwork.

She works directly with a development team to design and implement the process of updating consumers credit profile with the credit reporting agencies and creditors through one technology platform.

Katya worked for Get Credit Healthy for over 9 years in assisting with the development of the technology for the credit coach process.  As a credit coach herself (FICO & FCRA certified), she understands the importance of  “hands on coaching” with the consumer.  This involves more time speaking to the consumer and less time on tedious repetitive tasks through the use of technology.  Knowing what the ultimate goal of what it meant to be a great credit coach, Katya helped facilitate the workflow process to the technical team to help implement a very robust program for all future nonprofit credit coaches.   

She helped thousands of clients herself and understands the importance of having technology track activities on each consumer file (transparency) and being able to use advanced technology to follow up with and help improve consumer credit profiles one individual at a time.

Optimal Blue: Rates Are Falling, Will It Continue?

With the 10-year treasury yield at 2% again, and the Federal Funds Rate (FFR) at 2.5%, it is natural for the rational mind to assume that this cannot go on for much longer. During normal market conditions, the treasury curve slopes upward; typically, short-term treasuries yield less than the long-term treasuries yield. In our current environment, the FFR is higher than a two-year treasury.


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The Federal Reserve (Fed) will eventually need to bend to the market and cut their FFR in order to align their policy stance with the dual mandate and market conditions. In fact, the Fed pivoted for a second time this year during July’s FOMC meeting. They essentially removed the “patience” approach and are considering rate cuts if economic data weakens further. The market is expecting a 50bp cut to the FFR by September’s FOMC meeting… will they get it?


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We do know that this rally to 2% will likely be short lived in the grand scheme of things. There will be some ups and downs, but the long-term trend is still bullish.


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If a recession is defined as two straight quarters of negative GDP, it’s a matter of time before we see much lower GDP and hints of a recession. In the short term, typically interest rates fall before a recession because investors seek risk-free returns. A quick reversal (50BP FFR cut) could reverse the economic slowdown.


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The only soft landing we have seen in the past 30 years occurred when the Fed, with Greenspan at the helm, realized that they overtightened so they cut FFR several times shortly after their last increase. On the opposite side, if nothing is done, we will see slower GDP, lower rates, and a much worse ending to the current business cycle.

Promoting Diversity And Inclusion

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) and Fannie Mae’s Future Housing Leaders program announced a new partnership to promote diversity and inclusion in the housing finance industry. The organizations will work together to increase awareness of career opportunities in housing and mortgage finance among college students and entry-level talent with diverse backgrounds.


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The partnership will connect Future Housing Leaders program participants with MBA member firms that are hiring for interns and entry-level positions. The collaboration will also enable Future Housing Leaders program participants to access industry education programs offered through MBA Education, and networking events hosted by MBA’s mPact network for young professionals in the mortgage finance industry.


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“Increasing diversity and inclusion in our industry isn’t just the right thing to do, it is imperative to the future of a safe and robust housing system,” said Lisa Haynes, MBA’s Senior Vice President, CFO and Chief Diversity Officer. “The demographics of the country are changing, and MBA’s member companies are committed to changing with it to ensure that they can effectively serve all their customers and the market at large. This partnership will provide more opportunities for students, interns, and those just beginning their careers in the industry. It will also grow a rich, diverse talent base that will evolve into the industry’s next generation of business leaders.”


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“While today’s homeowners and renters are more diverse than ever before, the housing industry is lagging behind, with fewer than 27 percent of its workforce identifying as a racial or ethnic minority,” said Nancy Jardini, Fannie Mae’s Senior Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer, and Chief Officer of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion (OMWI). “Recognizing that promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry will help ensure it has a variety of viewpoints to meet the needs of today’s homeowners and renters, Future Housing Leaders aims to build a more diverse applicant pipeline in housing. Our new partnership with MBA is an exciting opportunity to encourage more employers to reach their diversity and inclusion goals while providing entry-level talent an exceptional network and a curated set of educational material to help them succeed.”


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MBA will promote to its members how Future Housing Leaders can help support their business diversity and inclusion goals. The two groups will also co-sponsor events to create opportunities for students and entry-level talent to gain broader industry exposure and will cross-promote educational resources and training for students interested in a career in housing or mortgage finance.

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