Women Execs: A Key To Longevity And Profits

Hiring and promoting women isn’t the nice thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do. That is, if you’re interested in higher profits, greater longevity and a leg up on your competition.

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Women Executives Mean Higher Returns

Hiring female executives leads to a proven pay off. According to index and analytics provider MSCI, companies with a critical mass of women in leadership report up to 36% higher returns than firms without as many women in these positions. Investors want to partner with these businesses, and corporate boards, wanting the higher rate of return on investment, are mandating spends with them as well.

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Venture capital firm First Round Capital evaluated more than 300 companies and 600 founders and found that their higher performing investments tend to have at least one female founder, and companies with a female founder performed 63% better than those with all-male founding teams.

Women Friendly Workforces Grow Market Share

If lenders want to reach Millennials and Gen Y borrowers, they need a female-friendly workplace. Women are more likely to hold college degrees than men, so unless lenders create an environment that supports women, they’re essentially ignoring over 50 percent of the Millennial labor pool–which their competition could very well be courting.

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Think the correlation between production and women employees sounds like a stretch? Consider Quicken Loans, which was voted one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Women by Fortune magazine for the past two years. Quicken skyrocketed to become the second largest retail lender in the U.S. and–probably not coincidentally–has a workforce that is 45% female, with 42% of executive/manager positions filled by women.

Being a forward thinking, woman-friendly organization seems to result in better, fresher ideas that resonate with today’s borrower.

An Easy Way to Build a More Woman-Friendly Office  

Lenders don’t need to look far to find talented, accomplished women who have already proven their impact on their companies’ bottom lines. They network with each other, participate as members of associations and attend women’s events. By availing these resources to female employees–or using them as recruiting pools–lenders can build a much more forward thinking, woman-friendly office.

Here are some resources for finding women executives in mortgage lending.


January 2018: Hundreds of seasoned mortgage executives will gather in Dallas for the NEXT conference, the first technology conference for women in mortgage lending. Visit for details.

March 2018 and October 2018: MBA will host a women’s event at the MBA Technology Conference in Miami, and another large gathering for women MBA members at the MBA Annual Conference in 2019.

September 2018: The Five Star hosts the Women in Housing Leadership Forum alongside their largest annual conference, usually held in September. Find out more at

Networking Groups

The National Association of Professional Mortgage Women ( is an active community of professionals that’s been around for more than 50 years.

MBA’s MPower is a network designed to promote opportunities for women to extend their reach. The group has more than 1300 members and it’s free for any MBA member. Visit for more info on MPower.

Five Star’s American Mortgage Diversity Council hosts several events throughout the year and includes an active networking community through the website.

About The Author

Molly Dowdy

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

Explaining The Mortgage Process Of The Future

As executives discussed the state of mortgage lending at the Seventh Annual ENGAGE Event in Denver, Colo., a lot of hot-button topics came up. For example, the discussion around what the future lending process will look like was very insightful. Here’s what was said:

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“Looking back at my immediate family, my grandparents couldn’t afford to own a home. My parents were the first to buy a home and they worried about how they were going to pay their mortgage, but owning a house meant that they had arrived and could secure a future for their family,” shared Molly Dowdy, Co-Founder of NEXT, the mortgage technology conference for women. Molly has nearly 20 years experience marketing in the mortgage technology space. She is also a member of the PROGRESS in Lending Executive Team.

“My parents still live in that home today. My point in sharing this story is to say that we have the power to create a more inclusive and transparent mortgage process.”

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And most believe that begins at the point-of-sale. “We have to elevate the customer’s experience,” said Pamela Stahl, the Product Manager for VirPack, a leading provider of document management and delivery technology for the mortgage banking and financial services industries. Leveraging 6 years of mortgage lending secondary market management experience, she joined the mortgage technology industry in 2011 as a product manager for a leading Loan Operation System before joining VirPack in late 2016. With almost 12 years combined mortgage and mortgage technology experience, she has a proven history of producing and delivering innovative mortgage lending SaaS technologies.

“We as an industry have done a lot in recent years to embrace mobile technology. We’ve launched mobile apps and we send the consumer mobile alerts, but we don’t use this technology to really explain the process,” Stahl continued. “Improving the customer experience is not just about pushing out automated messages in real time, it’s about helping the consumer truly understand what’s going on at all times.”

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Everyone agrees that the borrower has to be more informed at the frontend, but what happens after that? “We’ve focused a lot on the beginning of the process and how we can make that better for the borrower, but we have forgotten about the backend of the process,” explained Matt Hydrew, SVP, Enterprise Solutions at Mortgage Cadence, an Accenture Company. Matt specializes in the execution of enterprise software solutions with Mortgage Cadence, which focuses on end-to-end, SaaS based residential lending technology in the United States market. Mortgage Cadence solutions manage the workflow process, imaging, document prep, secondary marketing and other important components to a true end to end digital mortgage platform.

“If lenders are not efficient and communicative of everything that goes on in the backend of the process, all that communication and explanation on the frontend amounts to just window dressing,” Hydrew notes. “We have to use technology to genuinely improve the whole mortgage process an fully communicate that to the borrow up to and including the closing of the loan.”

Why is this important? Data shows that 34% of the buying power rests with millennials and they want a better mortgage proces. “We have a lot of very slick applications in this industry, but without borrowers to feed into them we have no business,” explained Brandon Perry, President at TTP Enterprises. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP, which enhances the company’s ability to maintain it’s position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

“The mortgage process of the future has to reach people of all ages and backgrounds in a more meaningful way so buying a home doesn’t remain just a very long, complicated and stressful thing to go through,” concluded Perry.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at

True Leadership


Market conditions call for innovation. Now is not the time to retrench or recoil, now is the time to step up and improve this business. So, at the fourth annual ENGAGE Event held last year we invited four of the most dynamic women leaders in mortgage lending to speak on this topic. The conversation was so spirited and thoughtful, that we gathered these women again to discuss what a true mortgage leader should be doing now in order to thrive. Here’s what (pictured left to right) Kelly Purcell, Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing for eSignSystems; Lisa Binkley, Senior Vice President at Platinum Data Solutions; Lisa Springer, Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer at STRATMOR Group; and Molly Dowdy, the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Mercury Network; had to say:

Q: What does the industry need to do to develop the next generation of women mortgage leaders?  

KELLY PURCELL: The bottom line is that we need to encourage young women to get involved in professional mentoring groups, associations in the industry to get them to gather with each other and other industry leaders so they have a voice at the table.

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MOLLY DOWDY: I think the lack of women in management positions in the mortgage industry is a serious problem, but it will eventually correct itself regardless of what we do. The fact is, women control the majority of mortgage decisions in this country, and that rate will continue to rise. The companies strategically planning for success will pay attention to those trends and will put women in top positions to capitalize on more of that growing market. In this industry, I don’t think any metric is more compelling than bottom line revenue, and companies that recognize the importance of diversity will be far more profitable and competitive than those that don’t. Diverse companies that are squarely focused on their customers (more than half of which will be women, if they’re not already) will dominate the old fashioned companies that keep doing the same old things.

Of course, there are dozens of other compelling reasons to put women in leadership positions in our industry, but money talks. Firms in our industry that are interested in maximizing profits will undoubtedly hire women for key positions. Those that don’t will be passed by.

LISA BINKLEY: The mortgage industry has actually done a fairly good job of providing opportunity to women in middle management roles, quality assurance and underwriting. What they need to do is to provide more opportunity to women in and above the senior executive level. There are a number of women who have become very successful CEOs in this industry, but with the large players—like Citi, Chase, BoA, Wells, Equifax— the executive arena is still a white male-dominated field. The big players need to get women in leadership roles to drive the industry forward.

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LISA SPRINGER: The actions we need to take to bring up the next generation of women mortgage leaders equally applies to how we bring up all generations of leaders, male and female. In fact, while gender inequality has long been a critical issue for female leaders who are now of a certain age, I believe it will be much less of an issue for future generations of women. And that’s good, because we have plenty of other cross-generational issues to deal with right now.

Our industry must first focus on the differences between the various generations that are now working together in our companies. I would argue that the differences between these generational groups form much wider gaps than the differences between male and female co-workers within any of these groups. Each generation thinks and works so differently that building effective teams is becoming increasingly difficult. For instance, Baby Boomers focus on working harder, Gen Xers work to live versus live to work, and Gen Yers work for a “cause.” These divergent work philosophies pose a significant threat to companies today. According to, women leaders “demonstrate an inclusive, team-building leadership style of problem solving and decision making.” Lenders that recognize and leverage this quality in women leaders will improve their success as they strive to close these generational gaps.

Q: How would you define mortgage lending innovation these days?

LISA BINKLEY: Innovation for today would be a process for originating compliant, profitable loans in a cost-effective, efficient manner. Innovation means removing manual processes wherever possible, and implementing technology that differentiates between the processes where technology elevates compliance, quality and efficiency, and the exceptions that require human logic to resolve. A best-of-both-worlds innovation keeps humans as the decision-making entity but eliminates the box-checking, i-dotting and t-crossing from their process.

KELLY PURCELL: Innovation happens when you think creatively. When we look at the mortgage industry today, there is a lot of forward thinking, and out-of-the-box solutions coming out about how to improve the process. Most of this energy is all focused on the new Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure, but that will broaden after the August deadline. Out industry is innovating.

MOLLY DOWDY: For now, innovation needs to be focused on helping lenders and others understand and comply with all the new regulations. We’ve seen several instances lately of technology providers just continuing to trick out their own software offerings, without paying attention to what their customers really need. It sounds ridiculous to say out loud, but technology companies that serve the industry have to be in front of the latest requirements so their customers have at least the basics covered. Features on top of those that ensure a lender’s minimum compliance are icing on the cake, but can’t come first. It’s sort of like sending your kid to school on a snowy day with a really awesome new hat, but forgetting their coat.

LISA SPRINGER: Many would be tempted to answer this question by tying innovation directly to technology. I know I would have when I was working for mortgage technology vendors. Today, I believe that the innovation our industry most desperately needs isn’t about technology; it’s about the relationships we choose to value.

In the past, our “customers” were the next players in the chain that took the mortgage asset from origination through to the secondary market. Brokers served wholesale lenders, who served larger correspondent lenders or aggregators, who created securities for sale to other investors. The borrower wasn’t a customer so much as a work input. Today, our federal regulator would see that changed.

The consumer experience is where I expect to see future innovation in the mortgage space because failure here comes at very high cost. The government expects us to refocus our businesses on the consumer and is fining those who fail to do so. But beyond that, failure to meet the expectations of today’s consumers will result in a much greater negative impact than ever before due to their vast social networks. An unhappy consumer of 20 years ago may have only told a handful of people

Q: What key elements and/or technology do lenders need to implement to adapt to new regulatory change?

LISA BINKLEY: Appraisal quality technology. The collateral approval process must be standardized. Companies need to forcefully demonstrate that they are treating all appraisals in the same fashion, every single time, for every different consumer. Additionally, they need to leverage their own appraisal data for market and appraiser intelligence OUTSIDE of UCDP or the Agencies.

KELLY PURCELL: It’s all about going electronic or “e.” If you think about it, “e” will be key to compliance with TRID because there just is no other way. Lenders must use the same provider to produce the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure, so that the lender can compare that the data is the same. And that’s just one example of many that I can site where “e” is the answer.

LISA SPRINGER: I have two perspectives; one with a long-term view and one for 2015.

The long-term adaptation is a keen focus on measuring the customer experience. We need to develop methodologies, technologies and protocols to reliably measure our impact on the consumers we serve and then quickly repair mistakes while we capitalize on our successes. Some tools are available for this now and we expect to see more innovation here in the future.

In the short-term, for 2015, it’s all about the documents. The new integrated disclosures will go into effect in August and every lender should already be in testing mode, whether they are building their own docs, as some of the larger lenders are, or working with a 3rd party provider. This is a very big change for our industry and many are still not ready for it. Those that fail to have a tested solution in place will be in a very precarious position come August.

MOLLY DOWDY: The most important thing lenders need to do in my opinion, is make sure they have a very flexible technology infrastructure. With a solid foundation, they can plug in any technology solution they wish to use without overhauling their entire back end system. Trying new technology is critical to competitiveness, so a lender’s infrastructure has to be agile enough to allow them to choose the very best solutions available, and not just what works with an old legacy platform built in the 90s.

Q: What industry advances are needed over the next 12 months to ensure every lender’s future success?

MOLLY DOWDY: That’s a good question. I don’t think there are industry advances that can ensure every lender’s future success. But there are many advances that smart lenders can jump on to ensure their own success. A focus on the borrower’s overall experience is critical, and lenders with progressive views on this will gain market share over those that don’t change with the times.

LISA BINKLEY: Companies need to get beyond being “too busy to improve” and implement technology that promotes quality loan manufacturing. They must start promoting consistency and efficiency of process across the origination and funding of a loan. Lenders need to implement fool-proof disclosure processes and insert hard stops to ensure the disclosures and documents upon which the loan decision was made, are the same as the documents they will be delivering with the loan. Additionally, they must start using technology to approve their appraisals, and not rely on Collateral Underwriter—a technology that was designed to protect Fannie Mae, NOT lenders or AMCs—as their appraisal QC. Lenders, AMCs and appraisers all owe it to themselves to know more about the appraisal than Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac knows about the appraisal.

KELLY PURCELL: We need more and better education around key topics. For example, lenders need more education and understanding about the implications of non-compliance with TRID. Other concepts like eNotorization for one, need to be demystified. The possibilities for lenders to use these technologies and succeed are endless.

LISA SPRINGER: Ensuring every lender’s success is not a realistic objective. In any business, some fail each year. In our heavily regulated business, we’ve seen a great many failures and will surely see more. But if I had to choose a single area in which an advance could provide the most benefit to our industry, I would focus on corporate culture.

In many industries, executives often pay lip service to this concept, or they adopt a hands-off approach that usually sees their culture devolve into a “survival of the fittest” type of paradigm. Neither of these approaches will serve our industry well, not in an environment where lenders are held accountable for the actions of everyone within their organization as well as any 3rd party provider they choose to work with. We need to build strong corporate cultures that focus on rebuilding trust in our industry, ensure compliance with industry regulations, and adhere to each organization’s unique approach for success.


Lisa Binkley is Senior Vice President at Platinum Data Solutions. She is responsible for the mortgage services division including product development, project management, sales support and client consulting services. Lisa brings more than 25 years of mortgage industry experience to her position. Prior to joining Platinum, she was Senior Director, Product Design & Business Development with IMARC, Director, Product Solutions, Equifax and Executive Vice President with Rapid Reporting Verification Company.


Molly Dowdy is the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Mercury Network, the leading provider of technology and web solutions for lenders, AMCs, appraisers, agents, and inspectors. Molly has more than 15 years of experience in marketing to this industry, with specialized knowledge of marketing technology-based products and services. a la mode has twice received PROGRESS in Lending’s prestigious Innovations Award.


Kelly Purcell is Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing for eSignSystems, a division of DocMagic. eSignSystems is a provider of e-signature and e-vaulting solutions. She was co-founder of eSignSystems and has over 25 years of mortgage and technology experience. Kelly is recognized as an evangelist and advocate of e-signature and e-vaulting technology driving e-mortgage adoption. She held prior positions at GE Capital and Transamerica Financial Services.


Lisa Springer is Managing Director, Chief Operating Officer at STRATMOR Group. Lisa s charged with ensuring that the integrity and “boutique” nature of the STRATMOR Group remains intact while, at the same time, creating improved services offerings, intellectual expertise in the form of salable white papers, case studies, survey results and peer group analyses and instilling best practices across all lines of STRATMOR Group’s business.

A New Type Of Industry Event

On April 7th, in beautiful New Orleans, Mercury Network hosted the first Techlab@CRN in conjunction with the Collateral Risk Network’s quarterly meeting. Techlab@CRN was an interactive, invitation-only meeting amongst experts in the valuation vendor management industry, with the objective of gathering expert feedback on the design and function of the new tools Mercury Network is planning, well before they’re released to world.

Why is this event, and others like it, important to the industry at large? With market challenges and the onslaught of new regulations, we desperately need innovation that empowers mortgage lenders to maximize their profits and ensure compliance. We can do incredible things through technology, and help mortgage lenders gain market share and be more successful – but only if it’s technology they want to use.

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We’ve learned first-hand that labs like these, where you can get invaluable industry opinions on software designs early in their development, are critical to successful innovation.

Through our participation with PROGRESS in Lending Association’s Lender Advisory Panel, we’ve already seen the benefits. Every year at MBA Annual, PROGRESS offers the opportunity to sit down with their Lender Panel for a 90-minute meeting, to get their unfiltered opinions on anything we ask. The specific, concrete takeaways from those labs (we’ve done it three consecutive years now) are unbelievably valuable and have directly impacted Mercury Network’s success. That’s why we’re very excited to launch Techlab@CRN to open even more feedback channels.

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This focus on the customer’s opinions early in development doesn’t just work well for Mercury Network. Every technology company should be seeking early feedback on software design. Steve Blank has an article in Harvard Business Review that does a great job of explaining how the customer-focused methodology works, and how it will help companies successfully innovate rapidly to better serve their customers and become far more successful.

PROGRESS readers are probably already aware of the design revolution inside many of our industry’s technology companies. In our digital age, everyone knows that a technology company can’t just have great marketing and excellent sales people. Since anyone with an Internet connection can find out what their peers really think about various software solutions, the product has to speak for itself. Poor software design, no matter how powerful the tools behind it are, will break even the best façade built by marketing and sales, in a matter of seconds.

The good news is that customer-focused, well-designed software is already proving to outperform older methodologies across virtually all industries. Check out the recent Design in Tech Report published this month at SXSW.   Design-driven technology companies are surpassing others because they’re designing software that solves people’s problems, that real people want to use.

That’s our objective for Techlab@CRN. We’re excited to see what the experts at our inaugural meeting think about the appraisal management, quality control, and appraisal compliance tools we’re building. Rest assured, we’ll listen closely, implement their feedback, and continue to release powerful solutions that collateral risk managers want to use.

About The Author


Molly Dowdy

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

A Better Conference Experience

*A Better Conference Experience*
**By Molly Dowdy**

MollyD***I just returned from the Ellie Mae Encompass Experience, Ellie’s LOS user’s conference. I had never been to it, but I’ve always heard great things. We’ve just completed an integration between Encompass360 and Mercury Network, so we were a sponsor this year and took several people. From a marketing perspective, they did some innovative things that I think we could all consider for our own meetings and events.

****Unequivocally, it was one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended. The sessions were informative and energetic, the Wynn Las Vegas was really beautiful, and the service was amazing. The crowd was engaged and a lot of fun. It was an excellent event overall, but two of the tangential things they did really made an impression on me, and I think we could all use the ideas for smaller meetings or events you may host for your own customers.

****For the second year, they teamed with the Patrick Kelley Youth Foundation and held a “Build-a-Bike” challenge so attendees could take a quick break and help assemble bicycles for underprivileged and at-risk Las Vegas children. Last year, they built 90 bikes. This year, they did 150. The bike building station was set up for the entirety of the conference so attendees could take a few minutes during breaks to roll up their sleeves and give back. It was a really popular activity for a great cause, and the marketing benefit is seriously substantial. Those types of experiences mean a lot to people, and it’s a great way to really connect on a human level with your customers. A human connection is what makes life-long, loyal customers so it’s well worth the effort.

****Even for smaller meetings, I hope everyone will consider choosing a charity to support. Whether it’s a canned food drive at an MBA chapter meeting, or a Toys for Tots donation drive at your branch, it’s a win-win for everyone involved – your customers, your employees, and ultimately your bottom line.

****Another interesting activity from a marketing perspective was their User Experience Board and their Big Idea Board. The boards are huge interactive walls set up in the Expo Hall, designed to get customer feedback. User Experience (UI) designers and product managers staffed the area and encouraged attendees to answer quick questions about their biggest challenges and their technology ideas. People were eager to participate since all those colored Post-its looked intriguing, and reading the notes on the walls was interesting for everyone. Those boards were a great way to get feedback and learn more about their customers, and provide vital information for product development and marketing.

****We all need to think of creative ways like Ellie Mae’s idea boards to engage our customers. The best ideas come from your customers when you’re really listening. Find creative ways to ask for their ideas, and you’re proving that you care about their problems and their opinions. Trust me, people want to feel that connection from their technology providers. Mercury Network’s customer-driven reputation has served us very well in the market, and we hear from new customers every day that they switched from other platforms because we listen and build what they really want. Engaged, open communication with your customers is a critical component of any successful company.

****Every event has the potential to be memorable for all the right reasons. Planning an event that includes customer engagement in an unique way, along with a project that continues to positively impact the community long after the conference attendees have left town really made this experience stand out.

****Have you seen creative ideas like these at conferences and meetings? I’d love to hear what you’ve seen or tried, so drop me an e-mail at

Molly Dowdy

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

We’ve Got Some Big News To Share

*We’ve Got Some Big News To Share*
**By Tony Garritano**

TonyG***PROGRESS in Lending was formed to be a platform for industry thought leaders to share their ideas with their peers so we can all move the mortgage industry forward. As such, I asked a distinguished roster of industry experts to volunteer their time and join our Executive Team in addition to maintaining their day jobs. Our team includes Roger Gudobba of Compliance Systems, Michael Hammond of NexLevel Advisors, Kelly Purcell of eSignSystems, Gabe Minton of ServiceLink and Steven Horne of Wingspan Portfolio Advisors. Today I am proud to announce that we are expanding our board to include a new member. Please join me in welcoming the new Chief Marketing Officer of PROGRESS in Lending:

****Molly Dowdy is the Executive Vice President of Marketing for a la mode, the leading provider of technology and web solutions for lenders, AMCs, appraisers, agents, and inspectors. Molly has more than 15 years of experience in marketing to this industry, with specialized knowledge of marketing technology-based products and services. a la mode has twice received PROGRESS in Lending’s prestigious Innovations Award, the group’s top honor, for its work in 2011 and 2012.

Molly Dowdy

Molly Dowdy

****I am thrilled that Molly has accepted my invitation to join PROGRESS. Upon her entrance, I asked her: What’s the role of PROGRESS in Lending Association in the mortgage industry? The association is a network of knowledge, backed by industry professionals, Molly Dowdy affirms. “Having an organized way to exchange ideas about technology and innovation is critical. Sharing information and best practices is important in any industry, but especially in ours: it’s specialized and technical – but ultimately people-centered, so collaboration is key. PROGRESS is a great venue for collaborating with peers.”

****You’ll hear more about why Molly accepted the invitation to join PROGRESS and, more importantly, where she sees the mortgage industry going in the future as part of the July issue of Tomorrow’s Mortgage Executive magazine, which will be brought to you tomorrow. So, watch for that and join me in welcoming Molly to our ranks.

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at