Commercial And Multifamily Delinquencies Stay Low

Commercial and multifamily mortgage delinquencies remained low in the third quarter of 2019, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) latest Commercial/Multifamily Delinquency Report.

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“Loans financing commercial and multifamily properties continue to perform very well,” said Jamie Woodwell, MBA’s Vice President of Commercial Real Estate Research. “Delinquency rates are at or near record lows for nearly every capital source, with the rate for commercial mortgages held by banks at its lowest since the inception of the series 25 years ago. Solid property fundamentals, strong property values and low interest rates are all helping to keep delinquencies down.”

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MBA’s quarterly analysis looks at commercial/multifamily delinquency rates for five of the largest investor-groups: commercial banks and thrifts, commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS), life insurance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Together, these groups hold more than 80 percent of commercial/multifamily mortgage debt outstanding.

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Based on the unpaid principal balance (UPB) of loans, delinquency rates for each group at the end of the third quarter were as follows:

  • Banks and thrifts (90 or more days delinquent or in non-accrual): 0.45 percent, a decrease of 0.01 percentage points from the second quarter;
  • Life company portfolios (60 or more days delinquent): 0.03 percent, a decrease of 0.01 from the second quarter;
  • Fannie Mae (60 or more days delinquent): 0.06 percent, an increase of 0.01 percentage points from the second quarter;
  • Freddie Mac (60 or more days delinquent): 0.04 percent, an increase of 0.01 from the second quarter; and
  • CMBS (30 or more days delinquent or in REO): 2.29 percent, a decrease of 0.17 percentage points from the second quarter.

MBA’s analysis incorporates the measures used by each individual investor group to track the performance of their loans. Because each investor group tracks delinquencies in its own way, delinquency rates are not comparable from one group to another.

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Construction and development loans are generally not included in the numbers presented here, but are included in many regulatory definitions of ‘commercial real estate’ despite the fact they are often backed by single-family residential development projects rather than by office buildings, apartment buildings, shopping centers, or other income-producing properties. The FDIC delinquency rates for bank and thrift held mortgages reported here do include loans backed by owner-occupied commercial properties.

Report Will Help Lenders Get More Actionable Data Earlier In The Process

Finicity, a provider of real-time financial data access and insights, announced today the release of its new AssetReady Report that will rapidly identify a borrower’s assets using consumer-permissioned data during a lender’s pre-qualification process.  As a result, lenders will more easily qualify borrowers and generate a higher quality sales funnel for loan officers while enabling a seamless transition into other necessary asset, income, and employment verifications needed in the loan origination process.

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Lenders have the option to receive balances and other data without having to ask for or include consumer SSN or date of birth. Fast, high-value data with less friction on lower probability applicants can provide lenders with better insights on how to strategically move borrowers forward in the application process without asking for detailed verification reports.

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Once leads have been qualified, borrowers can seamlessly permission their data for Finicity’s other digital verification solutions like assets, income, and employment required for the origination process. This single-source solution model for verification optimizes lender workflows to maximize ROI.

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“Now lenders can receive more data earlier in the application process than ever before,” said Steve Smith, Finicity CEO. “This report will provide the opportunity for even more customization and better experiences for borrowers from their first interaction to close.”

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“Getting a verified snapshot of borrower assets during the pre-qualification stage is key to speeding up our business processes,” Bill Cosgrove, President & CEO of Union Home Mortgage, said. “Once a borrower has engaged with our digital pre-qualification solution the stage is set for a seamless transition into Finicity’s full suite of asset, income and employment verification tools.  A single-source solution provider is a great fit for our business model.”

The pre-qualification report includes current account balances and average balances over the previous two and six months, as well as the number of negative balances in the past six months and the most recent negative balance. The report also provides account owner and other account details.

Finicity is working with leading mortgage ecosystem platform providers to simplify lender access to the digital tools they need to improve the origination experience.

Ellie Mae To Acquire Capsilon To Speed Up The Delivery Of End-to-End Mortgage Automation

PROGRESS in Lending has learned that Ellie Mae has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Capsilon, a provider of AI-powered mortgage automation software for mortgage lenders, investors, and servicers. With the acquisition of Capsilon, Ellie Mae is accelerating the vision of offering a fully digital mortgage by combining Ellie Mae’s Encompass Digital Lending Platform with Capsilon’s AI-powered solutions to create a comprehensive end-to-end SaaS solution for companies in the mortgage industry.

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“With the delivery of our next generation lending platform, we are accelerating our mission to automate everything automatable for the residential mortgage market. This includes making strategic acquisitions of best-in-class solutions to bring more value to the platform and the ecosystem faster,” said Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae.

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“This is a significant day for the mortgage industry, as with the acquisition of Capsilon we are bringing together two market-leading companies and adding to our platform the pioneer of AI-powered intelligent automation leveraged by some of the largest lenders and servicers in the industry,” he continued. “As lenders and servicers continue to shift toward data-driven automation, we are excited to provide automated document recognition, classification and data extraction to further drive down costs and time of loan origination, acquisition and servicing.”

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The acquisition increases the productivity of mortgage lenders, investors and servicers by automating critical business processes to create massive efficiencies throughout the mortgage lifecycle. Capsilon’s best-of-breed platform, Capsilon IQ, is used by companies across the mortgage industry, including six of the top 10 originators and servicers, to automate manual work and power their businesses with trusted data.

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Additionally, the company recently introduced Capsilon Instant Underwriter, an autonomous underwriting engine that leverages artificial intelligence, data extraction and process automation to complete underwriting tasks in seconds, with greater consistency, accuracy and less risk.

“The team at Capsilon has built the leading AI-powered platform that is changing the economics of the industry by enabling mortgage lenders and servicers to significantly increase profitability on each loan,” said Sanjeev Malaney, CEO and Founder of Capsilon. “By joining forces with Ellie Mae, we are excited to extend our capabilities and deliver unprecedented functionality through deep integrations with the Encompass Digital Lending Platform.

“This will help lenders leverage automation from consumer engagement through investor delivery and servicing,” he continued. “We believe this combination will offer value to all of our customers and integration partners, regardless of LOS or servicing platform.”

Ellie Mae was advised by Sidley Austin LLP as its legal counsel. Capsilon was advised by Jefferies as its financial advisor and Kirkland & Ellis LLP as its legal counsel in connection with the transaction. No sale price was disclosed.

LOS Update Looks To Create A Superior Experience For Users And Boost Operational Efficiency For Lenders

 Wipro Gallagher Solutions (WGS), a Wipro Limited (NYSE: WIT, BSE: 507685, NSE: WIPRO) company and a provider of loan origination software solutions, has launched NetOxygen 6.2, the latest version of its NetOxygen loan origination solution platform, designed to meet lending challenges and borrower needs of the future.

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NetOxygen 6.2, will significantly boost operational efficiency for lenders, incorporate strategic integrations, meet new standards and regulatory compliance, and provide a better User Interface (UI) that will further improve borrower experience.

The following are the key features of NetOxygen 6.2: 

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Better Operational Efficiency:

Loan document management functionality that groups and sorts documents logically and indicates the ones used for decision-making—adding to the lenders capability to process loans with greater accuracy

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An enhanced MyTask Plugin that provides loan counts and color-coded visual indicators for tasks by SLA that directly improve lender efficiency

A workflow reassignment feature that alerts users to new tasks they can work on and reassign themselves as the loan contact, improving lender productivity

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A workflow archiving feature that significantly reduces the number of records in the workflow database allowing dashboards, loan selector and inbox queries to respond faster

Enhancements to the prequalification and preapproval feature to optimize the workflow and improve operational efficiency

Strategic Integrations: (structure of statements below is not consistent with the prior section)

NetOxygen 6.2 will also feature a new integration with middleware providers. This will allow lenders to seamlessly select from a wider array of interface vendors with easier implantation and additional national coverage

NetOxygen 6.2 is integrated with Capsilon’s document imaging solution, Capsilon IQ platform for enhanced imaging and data capture capability that lenders can use, to complete transactions faster and reduce origination expenses

Standards and Regulatory Compliance

Application screens to meet the requirements of Uniform Residential Loan Application (URLA), improving compliance and simplifying user experience

A Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO®) v3.4-aligned capability that lets users import or export a loan without losing the loan details mentioned in the Uniform Loan Application Dataset (ULAD)

These enhancements are in addition to a UI refresh and a host of other powerful features that expand the product’s coverage. With this release, Wipro Gallagher Solutions becomes the only provider to offer functionality across multiple asset classes (non-real estate, residential, commercial, wholesale, and equity loans).

“At the core of these enhancements is our deep understanding of automation technology. We have consciously leveraged automation to improve operational efficiency for lenders,” said Alok Bansal, Vice President and Head, Wipro Gallagher Solutions. “NetOxygen 6.2 is a demonstration of our understanding of the lending needs of the future and it uses technological innovation to keep our financial services customers at the forefront of the lending space.”

New End-To-End Mortgage Origination Platform Debuts

Origence, a provider of lending technology and solutions to the financial services industry, has announced the launch of the Origence mortgage lending platform. Designed from the ground up to handle all a company’s digital mortgage needs, the highly automated platform enables lenders to streamline the mortgage process, improve efficiency, increase sales opportunities and deliver a better borrower experience.

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One of very few new loan origination platforms built since 2010, the Origence platform is an end-to-end system that combines powerful point-of-sale and origination tools to accelerate a lender’s loan production and improve closing rates, while significantly reducing costs. The platform is highly automated, scalable and configurable to meet the evolving needs of any mortgage organization. 

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“For years, lenders have been searching for a new mortgage platform that is capable of doing much more than current loan origination system (LOS) offerings, most of which were created years ago,” said Roger Hull, president and chief product officer of Origence. “As a thriving fintech company with a team of hundreds, we’ve leveraged our considerable resources to create a platform that can power a lender’s business for years to come—one that delivers an optimal digital experience for both lenders and borrowers alike.” 

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By bringing digital automation front and center to the mortgage lending process, the Origence platform solves four common pain points lenders face – sub-optimal pull-through rates, decreased productivity, rising costs and increasing borrower demand for a better mortgage experience.

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The platform provides everything lenders need to accelerate and enhance their customer experience, including tools that automate the borrower’s application process and overall lending journey. As a true, end-to-end solution, the platform also provides point-of-sale and fulfilment tools that empower lenders to reduce friction in the mortgage process. It includes automated file assignment, conditioning and tasking, as well as an open application programming interface (API) and microservices architecture for smoother integrations with third-party technologies and services. Meanwhile, the platform’s best-in-class marketing automation tools empower lenders to increase their sales opportunities and improve pull-through rates. 

“The lenders we are talking to are excited about the Origence platform’s automation features, such as its ability to automate orders from third parties and retrieve both data and documents, which reduces the need to rekey information manually,” Hull said. 

“We’re also getting amazing feedback on how our highly configurable platform enables lenders to create their own workflows and improve business efficiency,” he added. “And because the platform is built with current technologies, our clients will be able to avoid the common hassles associated with older platforms, such as system downtime and the constant need for workarounds. We are confident we’ve created nothing less than the mortgage platform of the future.”

August New Home Purchase Apps Increase Year Over Year

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Builder Application Survey (BAS) data for August 2019 shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased 33 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to July 2019, applications decreased by 0.2 percent. This change does not include any adjustment for typical seasonal patterns.

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MBA estimates new single-family home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 785,000 units in August 2019, based on data from the BAS. The new home sales estimate is derived using mortgage application information from the BAS, as well as assumptions regarding market coverage and other factors.

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“New home purchase activity was robust in August, as both mortgage applications and estimated home sales increased from a year ago,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting. “Recent increases in new residential housing permits and housing starts, lower mortgage rates, and a still-strong job market all bode well for the new home sales outlook.” 

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The seasonally adjusted estimate for August is an increase of 4.1 percent from the July pace of 754,000 units. On an unadjusted basis, MBA estimates that there were 61,000 new home sales in August 2019, a decrease of 3.2 percent from 63,000 new home sales in July.

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By product type, conventional loans composed 69.3 percent of loan applications, FHA loans composed 18.1 percent, RHS/USDA loans composed 0.8 percent and VA loans composed 11.8 percent. The average loan size of new homes increased from $325,457 in July to $332,497 in August.

MBA’s Builder Application Survey tracks application volume from mortgage subsidiaries of home builders across the country. Utilizing this data, as well as data from other sources, MBA is able to provide an early estimate of new home sales volumes at the national, state, and metro level. This data also provides information regarding the types of loans used by new home buyers. Official new home sales estimates are conducted by the Census Bureau on a monthly basis. In that data, new home sales are recorded at contract signing, which is typically coincident with the mortgage application.

Companies Integrate To Streamline And Improve The Closing Process

Vantage Point Title (Vantage Point) has integrated the Collaboration Center solution from Mortgage Cadence, an Accenture (NYSE: ACN) company, to automate the exchange of information throughout the real-estate closing process for all Mortgage Cadence clients. 

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The Mortgage Cadence Collaboration Center helps to solve two critical issues within the closing process: the pervasive disconnect between lenders and title/settlement companies, and an industry-wide need for increased automation.

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Connecting all parties in the transaction — mortgage lenders, title and settlement agents, real estate professionals and others — the platform automates processes, facilitates the exchange of documents and data, and provides real-time messaging, all within a secure environment that all parties can trust. And by reducing the number of touch points required for each loan, the platform helps to shorten the time-to-close and drive down the cost-to-close — which has become increasingly important for lenders, borrowers and third-party providers.

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It also functions within Vantage Point’s native title production system via API integration, eliminating the need for Vantage Point to go off platform.

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“Collaboration Center is a competitive differentiator for us and for Mortgage Cadence clients,” said Robert Jackson, CEO at Vantage Point. “By putting all the necessary information in a title transaction in one place and automatically identifying version changes, it greatly reduces the amount of manual work required from our team, increases document accuracy, and helps us get the borrower to the closing table more quickly.”

Bryan Ireton, managing director for Mortgage Cadence, Accenture, said, “The industry has long needed a solution that securely connects, automates and simplifies the closing process. We’re pleased that Vantage Point recognized this need and chose to invest in our comprehensive solution.” 

And The 2019 Award Winners Are …

Sales, marketing and public relations executives are blazing a trail that is determining the biggest winners in financial services. On the sales side, research from the University of Pennsylvania shows that more than 50% of buyers still seek advice when making a purchase. As a result, educated and engaged sales associates who can meet buyers’ needs—especially who have knowledge about a specific product—ring up sales that on average bring in 69% more money. Similarly on the marketing side, a savvy business owner realizes that in order to grow, they need to make more people aware of their product or service. This means engaging with a marketing professional to help promote the business, bring in new clientele, and ensure that current customers are aware of all the products and services. Lastly, everyone wants to become the go-to organization in your field, right? For that to happen, you need to build your credibility and bring your expertise and knowledge into the limelight. That’s exactly what public relations executives bring to the table.

These executives work tirelessly to ensure their company/client is a true leader, but they themselves don’t always get recognized. That ends today. PROGRESS in Lending is recognizing the Top 20 Sales, Marketing and Public Relations Executives that are making the biggest impact.  Our winners in alphabetical order are:

Linda Aparo

National Director of Sales & Business Development

reQuire Real Estate Solutions, a Covius Solution

As National Director of Sales & Business Development at reQuire Real Estate Solutions, a Covius Solution, Linda is responsible for overseeing reQuire’s national sales and product development. Linda is a seasoned executive with a passion for developing new and inventive ways to make the industry more understandable and compliant. Linda has an outstanding record of success in identifying business opportunities, developing strategies and implementing actions to boost business performance.  

As the head of sales for reQuire over the past 5 years, Linda has played a crucial role in the growth and development of the company and its product suite. Since she has joined the company, reQuire has grown to be one the leading providers of lien releases nationwide and is used by more than a thousand leading title companies. 

Some of Linda’s recent accomplishments include:

>>The successful development and rollout of reQuire’s Release Tracking Plus product, that ensures more compliance around releases. Since its launch, the company has seen a steady increase of customers choosing the solution over their legacy release tracking system and are now using release tracking plus.

>>Development of reQuire’s Title Retrieval Program which is designed for lenders that are unable to resell loans on the secondary market due to outstanding trailing documents, one being the title insurance policy. The program obtains the outstanding title policies so they can be resold on the secondary market. 

Over the past 12 months, Linda has been working with the American Land Title Association (ALTA), educating their members on the impacts of lien defects. Today, about 15-20% of all payoffs have either a missing release or a defective release, and this is not a new problem. In 2005, ALTA reported that more than a third of all residential real estate transactions had title problems. For years, there has been a debate between lenders and the title industry as to whose responsibility it is to assure that a release is recorded on the land records. Linda, in conjunction with ALTA, has developed a playbook for the entire lending community to educate the industry and consumers on the lifecycle of a loan.

Craig Austin

SVP, Sales & Business Development


As senior vice president of sales and business development at ClosingCorp, Craig Austin is responsible for leading the sales organization, developing customer acquisition strategies, and building and maintaining relationships with leading loan origination systems, point-of-sale solutions, and industry settlement service portals.

Craig has played a pivotal role in helping ClosingCorp become the nation’s leading third-party fee provider. Since he joined the company in late 2016, ClosingCorp’s client base has increased 60 percent and the company’s volume has increased nearly 80 percent. Today, 19 of the top 25 lenders nationwide as well as 9 of the top 10 wholesale lenders use ClosingCorp technology.

Throughout the past year, Craig has closed more than a dozen high-impact deals with large lenders, including Freedom Mortgage Corporation, Movement Mortgage, Plaza Home Mortgage, Stearns Lending, Fifth Third, Union Bank and loanDepot. Those deals have resulted not only in 1.5 million purchase transactions going through ClosingCorp’s fee platform last year, but also increased efficiency and productivity for the entire mortgage ecosystem. By delivering a solution with accurate, real-time fee data, Craig helps lender partners streamline the loan estimate and closing disclosure generation process and confidently originate compliant loans. 

Prior to joining ClosingCorp, Craig was vice president of sales at RealEC® Technologies a division of Black Knight Financial Services, a provider of web-based technology solutions designed to support lenders’ loan quality programs, minimize loan repurchase risk and drive efficiencies in the mortgage transaction process. During his six-year tenure at RealEC, the company achieved its highest sales and client retention rate.

Rosalie Berg

President And CEO

Strategic Vantage

Over the past 12 months, Rosalie Berg, a nationally recognized marketing and public relations strategist with over 20 years of specialization in the mortgage industry, has led highly successful B2B and B2C campaigns that have helped over 30 companies in the mortgage industry gain recognition, recruit talented employees and grow their businesses. 

As the founder and CEO of Strategic Vantage, one of the nation’s largest marketing, public relations and social media agencies focused on the mortgage industry, Rosalie provides strategic direction and oversight in the creation and execution of all client marketing, public relations and social media campaigns, and is actively involved in all agency accounts. Since 2002, more than 100 companies have trusted Rosalie and her team to meet their needs, from lenders, service providers, technology companies, start-ups, and more.

Rosalie doesn’t believe in just going with the status quo. She seeks to help companies improve, do more and perform more cost-efficiently marketing, always seeking out the best way to reach their goals. Clients often come with challenges and their own ideas for solutions, and Rosalie often comes up with alternative, innovative ways to address those challenges—often in a way that is unexpected by clients.

Joe Bowerbank


Profundity Communications, Inc.

Joe Bowerbank possesses an extensive background in marketing communications, public relations and branding with a unique blend of experience working for multiple mortgage technology providers at an in-house marketing capacity and also as an outside consultant.He has a passion for helping launch technology companies, expand existing organizations, take new products to market, and create positive industry-wide awareness for enterprise-class fintech software solutions.
In the last year, Bowerbank has assisted in successfully rolling out and growing the mortgage industry’s first single-source LOS and POS digital mortgage solution with OpenClose; DocMagic’s end-to-end, fully paperless eClosing platform; MCT’s browser-based capital markets and digital loan trading software, Global DMS’ next-generation commercial valuation management system, and Quandis’ cloud-based default management technology services.  

Joe has more than 20 years of marketing, communications, branding, and strategy experience in the financial services and technology sectors helping grow organizations and build market share.  He is a company building marketing professional who understands what it takes to catapult companies to the next level and quickly increase revenue.

Joe established Profundity Communications, Inc. to utilize his experience and skill sets to help clients achieve above-and-beyond results.  He has successfully operated at an in-house marketing capacity where he managed functions such as marketing strategy, communications plans, go-to-market launches, public relations, branding, digital marketing, advertising, trade shows and events, corporate identity, websites, collateral, budgeting, competitive analysis, and essentially most facets of marketing.

Bob Brandt

VP of Marketing & Strategic Alliances

Optimal Blue

Bob Brandt has been fundamental in bridging the gap between sales, marketing, and strategic alliances at Optimal Blue.  With more than 20 years of experience leading successful, high-performing sales and marketing teams in the financial services industry, Bob has observed many of the pain points that lenders have experienced in the past.  He believes that a lack of collaboration and integration between mortgage technology vendors has historically held the industry back, leaving lenders in a difficult position as they tried to unsuccessfully maneuver and connect different components of their mortgage technology stack.  Bob’s leadership and experience brought a unique perspective to Optimal Blue, where he recognized the opportunity to leverage Optimal Blue, its content, and advanced technology to bring the modern mortgage tech stack together in an entirely new way.

Over the last two years, Bob has led the effort to establish a successful partner ecosystem that is based on real-time connections with the industry’s leading mortgage technology providers.  Today, more than 50 best-of-breed vendors are heavily integrated with Optimal Blue and millions of transactions are conducted across the platform through an advanced set of APIs.  Vendors from all disciplines of the mortgage loan process are participating today – from lead aggregation, realtor and MLS, CRM and marketing, consumer direct, point-of-sale, mobile, and beyond.

Dona DeZube

Director of Communications Strategy

Planet Home Lending

With three decades of experience in the mortgage industry, Dona gained tremendous knowledge and know-how as a communications specialist. During her career, she has helped some of the best-known industry, government, and trade association players strategically brand themselves through thought leadership communications. 

As Director of Communications Strategy for Planet Home Lending, she parlays that industry expertise and insight into company branding efforts. Over the past year, her valuable counsel raised personal and corporate brand recognition for Planet Home Lending and its leadership team. Dona’s strategies generated countless bylined articles, award nominations, and earned media quotes on trade and consumer websites and in publications. Her social media and website strategies supporting sales, recruiting, and corporate messaging led to significant increases in engagement and traffic.

Sam Garcia

Mortgage Media Specialist

Strategic Vantage

During the year since he transitioned from a mortgage news publisher to a public relations professional at Strategic Vantage, Sam Garcia has deepened his relationships with an extensive network of financial and real estate journalists, editors and producers — enabling his clients to reach a variety of news outlets. His success with media outreach on behalf of mortgage firms and service providers is his forte. With the knowledge gained in his two decades as an editor and publisher, Sam has helped clients deliver compelling stories that capture the interest of the editorial community.

The typical company Sam works with is a successful business with brilliant leaders who are often connected with an emerging process or technology. He doesn’t see that profile changing much even as real estate finance ebbs and flows. However, given current bond market volatility amid an ongoing trade war, a period with lower mortgage rates could see a greater number of companies self actualize. In addition, any reforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could create opportunities for a new sector of players to engage in raising their profiles.

Rick Grant


Gallardo Grant Corp. d/b/a RGA Public Relations

Rick developed the LinkedIn for Leaders program this year, through which he works with industry thought leaders to increase their visibility on the world’s no. 1 social media platform for business, LinkedIn. The program helps busy executives develop their most important stories, create an editorial calendar so they can be developed, posted and promoted effectively, and then works with the client’s marketing department to help create content that mirrors and extends the thought leadership coming down from the c-suite.

Rick believes firmly that sales, marketing and public relations are beginning to merge into a single set of disciplines. In response, companies are changing the way they manage these departments, with some large companies actually doing away with the Chief Marketing Officer position (if you can imagine that). This means that external support teams, whether they are advertising agencies, marketing or PR firms are being asked to create content that will work well for the company wherever it is used. PR firms are writing more marketing copy and marketing firms are relying heavily on content that was once only found in the PR or company’s advertising. We may be approaching a time when companies just hire a Communications Czar who has managers for the various disciplines but that handles the development of all key company stories from one centralized office

Michael Hammond

Founder & President

NexLevel Advisors

Before NexLevel Advisors, Hammond’s sole focus was applying his sales, marketing, and PR expertise to the one company for whom he was working. Now, he applies all of those lessons learned to the benefit of many tech companies that are looking to gain awareness and grow their companies. So while he might not be the person in the headlines getting the credit for driving growth for that one company, he receives much greater satisfaction knowing that he has added significant value to a host of mortgage providers. Hammond truly believes that has a much greater impact on the mortgage industry as a whole.

He helps these technology providers bring their innovative solutions to market by moving audiences, generating leads, driving sales and igniting brand stories.

By working with numerous providers he has the benefit of identifying trends earlier on, providing best practices, and strategies so that these companies can more successfully bring innovation to the housing market.

Hammond has helped numerous companies bring innovation to market within the housing market helping drive growth, increases in market share, position for capital infusion, or acquisition.  

“Michael Hammond is a results-driven professional executive who excels at making organizations stand out in the crowd. His vast knowledge, experience, and expertise to propel companies forward in all facets of the mortgage banking industry are unparalleled. I highly recommend any entity that is looking to make its mark in the industry both externally and internally for gained efficiencies of scale to engage Michael. The results are amazing.”  Kathleen Mantych Sr. Director, AsurityDocs, Asurity Technologies

Laila Khan

Marketing and Communications Lead

Guidance Residential, LLC

Over the past 12 months, Guidance Residential has been focused on one thing: improving the customer journey. Every initiative, every project, and every decision had to align with that goal. To better understand the customer journey and the value that Guidance Residential offers, it’s important to have an intrinsic comprehension of the customer engagement experience, complete understanding of our product suite and how we can server our customers, full awareness of our niche audience and diverse client base, and knowledge of our process from the operational to customer insight. 

Prior to May 2018, Laila Khan was the Preprocessing Lead and transitioned into an Account Manager. She was entrenched in day-to-day customer interactions and developed a deep understanding of the customer journey. In May 2018, Laila was selected by the company’s leadership to transition to the Marketing and Communications Lead role, given her roots in the community and the expertise she had amassed as an integral part of the Operations team.

Over the past 12 months, Laila Khan has been able to identify, and successfully implement strategic areas of improvement with regards to the company’s previous lack of brand awareness, within and outside its niche market. Her efforts have increased the company’s social media presence, successfully connected the organization with B2B industry leaders, dramatically improved the customer journey, and coordinated all efforts to get Guidance Residential recognized.

Riffat Lakhani

Vice President, Marketing

Guidance Residential, LLC

In order to provide outstanding communication to customers—the kind that makes them feel informed and treasured, and the kind that makes them seek out further engagement—you have to care about them, understand them and provide solutions to address their pain points. That is where Riffat Lakhani and her team come in and that’s how they’ve increased online leads an astonishing 33% YOY from 2018 to 2019, and 86% since Riffat’s leadership of the marketing department. Riffat is Vice President of Marketing at Guidance Residential, a specialty home financing organization that prides itself on providing top-notch service to a previously under-served segment of the market – those who need interest-free financing for faith-related reasons.

Riffat’s small but nimble team supports a growing nationwide sales team of more than 75 sales professionals while caring for customers in a more direct capacity online as well. 

Purchasing a home is a complicated process; add on top of that faith-based nuances and you are bound to lose even savvy homebuyers. Riffat’s team educates customers about our program and the home financing process through every avenue available – chat, text, email, webinars, social media, apps, and video. 

But producing material is not enough. According to Marketo, on average, 50% of leads in any system are not yet ready to buy. And almost 80% of new leads never become sales because of lack of lead nurturing (Marketing Sherpa). This past year, Riffat developed the strategy to nurture leads through an automated nurturing system that allows customers to receive timely and relevant information specific to their needs. The emails address issues that are preventing prospective homeowners from moving forward and guide them through the steps toward achieving their dream. 
The ultimate effect is a customer experience that stands out even among industry leaders. And the proof is in the numbers: Under Riffat’s leadership this past year, Guidance Residential increased its online leads by 33%.

Charlyne H. McWilliams

Account Supervisor/Regional Sales Director

William Mills Agency

Charlyne’s in depth knowledge of key industry issues and many of the game changing trends has made her the go-to source for mortgage and fintech information at the William Mills Agency. With more than 20 years of public relations experience on top of her 10-year career in business journalism, Charlyne is able to offer her multiple clients the counsel they need to successfully garner positive exposure for their company and their brand. 

She has worked with more than 50 agency clients touching all aspects of the industry. Herstrong communications skills enable her to bring innovative strategies for success to her clients. In the last year, she spearheaded a very effective campaign to help LERETA share the news of its new relationship with Black Knight. In addition to that campaign, she has successfully placed many feature articles (some of which she ghost wrote) in leading industry publications. She has crafted nominations that have resulted in several awards for her clients as well. She has become a trusted source and reliable counsel to all of her clients. 

Raj Menon

Chief Marketing Officer


Raj Menon is the Chief Marketing Officer for Tavant, a Silicon Valley-based provider of AI-powered digital lending technologies. In this position Menon leads the company’s efforts and innovation in marketing, branding and building alliances. He is known for developing world-class marketing teams that transform how a company showcases its offering and positions to the global market.

Menon has been instrumental in ensuring success through his comprehensive and big picture thinking in his work in the financial services, technology and corporate services industries. Prior to joining Tavant, Menon worked at Cognizant for nearly 14 years where he successfully increased sales, expanded marketing efforts and further streamlined operations for North America-based clients.

Most recently, Menon was charged with leading the Lending unit at Cognizant, which became an industry-leading practice under his vision and leadership. Additionally, Menon has worked at Tata AID as the Head of Information Technology and TCS in various leadership positions. He leverages his experience to implement complex business solutions and is skilled at advising organizations piloting transformation strategies or creating business and technology goals. 

Sara Nakae

Director of Marketing


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 their new platform, FirstClose ONE, as well as the product, SMART Select. These tools help lenders accelerate turn times and save money by using suitability logic to create efficiencies in the mortgage lending process.

Darcy Patch

VP Marketing, Enterprise Solutions

WEST, a Williston Financial Group company

Over a career spanning more than 20 years, Darcy Patch has led the marketing and communications efforts and implemented strategic marketing plans on behalf of many of the real estate industry’s largest and most innovative companies. But it is probably her efforts over the past 12 months that have earned Darcy recognition as one of the most dynamic, multi-talented and results-driven marketers working in the mortgage industry today.

For most of the past year, Darcy served as vice president of marketing for national technology and valuation services provider Veros Real Estate Solutions. There, she was responsible for building awareness and recognition of the Veros brand, generating new leads and upsell opportunities with existing clients and providing proactive, ongoing support for the company’s sales and product development teams. 

When she joined Veros in January 2018, however, Darcy had a very limited marketing budget—so her first instinct was to build exposure for the company by leveraging its existing products and data. For example, one of her first projects was increasing awareness of Veros’ quarterly market reports, VeroFORECASTs, which included projections about future home price appreciation and depreciation levels by individual market. These reports were being distributed yet not actively promoted, but Darcy quickly expanded their distribution by sharing them personally with industry reporters, as well as with local media in the markets covered by the reports.

In June of this year, Darcy joined WEST, a Williston Financial Group company, where she leads the marketing and communications strategies for WFG’s Enterprise Solutions group. She oversees marketing and publicity campaigns for WFG Lender Services, ValuTrust, WESTvm and DecisionPoint, as well as other enterprise solutions offerings. Today, Darcy is hard at work doing many of the same things she did throughout her career and more, increasing awareness of both WFG Enterprise Solutions and fellow Williston Financial Group company WEST as companies dedicated to improving real estate transactions and providing a better experience for Realtors, brokers, title companies, mortgage lenders and, above all, the consumers they serve. 

Currently, Darcy is helping WFG’s Enterprise Solutions group refine its branding message, implement internal and external communications plans, and helping to create a media engagement strategy that includes regularly contributed content and thought leadership articles. She’s also formalizing WEST’s online and social media strategy to get everyone in the organization on the same page. 

Brian Rieger

Principal & Founder

True Impact Communications

A number of the businesses approaching Brian and True Impact through the years to support them in their marketing were small-cap and mid-cap businesses with limited marketing resources and experience. Most were simply seeking to grow by “getting the message out there.” In many cases, the clients had good products and promising forecasts but limited marketing budgets. The trademark True Impact strategy involves an integrated approach, combining budget-friendly PR and social media messaging with home-grown but effective content marketing. Brian has always insisted upon authenticity and simplicity in messaging, which has resulted in high impact results (especially increased revenue and brand awareness) on shortened timelines.

Brian and True Impact were among the first marketing/PR firms in the mortgage industry to encourage clients to use content marketing to tell their stories. In combination with traditional public relations and direct marketing efforts, multiple True Impact clients used blogs, podcasts, webinars and video to share their messaging, while supporting it through social media, marketing and PR channels.

Zac Scalzi

Director of Sales


Floify has long been considered a leader in mortgage technology. This honor not only comes from the dedication of the company’s leadership and staff, but also the contributions Zac Scalzi has made to support Floify’s continued domination of the mortgage tech market. Over the past 12 months, Zac and his five-person sales team is well known for supporting many of the company’s major sales initiatives, including providing prospects with hands-on introductions to Floify’s industry-leading point-of-sale platform, their redesigned digital 1003, and dozens of the solution’s third-party integrations – all in an effort to simplify and streamline the lending workflows of mortgage pros around the world.

Zac’s strengths lie in his ability to find solutions to fit nearly every lender’s unique business need. And If Zac doesn’t feel Floify’s vast solution offerings are able to be customized to meet the complex demands of a prospect, Zac is willing to help them find alternatives, even if it means directing them to a competing solution – a rare approach to customer service, especially in today’s marketplace.

Equipped with Floify’s innovations that Zac has helped to promote, lenders are better able to fight margin compression, reduce workload, originate more loans faster, and dramatically improve borrower satisfaction with the entire home loan process. Zac’s customer-first mindset has added tremendous value to Floify’s efforts, which has ultimately supported the company’s massive growth over the last year, and will continue well into the future.

Michelle Shapiro

Product Marketing Manager, Financial Risk and Management Solutions


In her first 6 months at Fiserv, Michelle was appointed a member of the LoanComplete Management Team. In her short tenure at the company (less than 1 year), she has championed LoanComplete from Fiserv to receive industry recognition including the achievement of Fiserv’s first-time recognition as –

>>“Best Digital Mortgage Product” FinTech Breakthrough 2019

>>HW Tech100 Winner 2019

>>“Top 25 Company to Work For” by MReport, 12/2018

Michelle takes great pride and enjoyment in partnering with experts and leaders across the lending landscape, sitting on the LoanComplete management team, managing product launches, and developing content and thought leadership to reflect evolving market positioning as well as leading event and campaign management.

Stephen Sprayberry

Account Supervisor

William Mills Agency

Since joining William Mills Agency in 2011, Stephen has leveraged his public relations, journalism and marketing experience into substantial PR program and client contributions for leading organizations across the mortgage industry, including Docutech, FICS and QuestSoft. In his role as Account Supervisor, Stephen’s areas of focus span from research, content writing and campaign strategy to media relations, event management, executive media training and company rebranding. 

Over the past 12 months, Stephen has led the charge on overseeing the strategy, planning and execution of valuable public relations content for his clients, including, but not limited to, news releases, case studies, articles and company press kit elements, as well as assisting with the distribution and placement of these materials within the media for key decision makers in the mortgage space. Combining his experience in the PR field with the decades of industry expertise his clients hold, Stephen was able to successfully capitalize on many of the key trends generating buzz within the mortgage industry, such as eMortgage and the continued introduction of new and revised regulatory standards. 

As a result of these efforts, many of Stephen’s clients remain at the forefront of thought leadership in the industry and have gained added momentum as they strive to further improve the way both lenders and borrowers experience the mortgage process from beginning to end. In addition, these same clients have received dozens of industry awards from key mortgage publications and associations at both an organization and individual level further emphasizing the impact of their stance within the industry as a result of the PR efforts performed by Stephen and the talented team of PR practitioners he manages.

Tom Tough

VP of National Renovation/Construction Lending Division

Plaza Home Mortgage

As Vice President of Plaza Home Mortgage’s newly formed National Renovation / Construction Lending division, Tom leads a team of six—a Lending Manager, Construction Underwriter, three Renovation/Construction Specialists and a Construction Service Specialist—and is responsible for overseeing sales, operational efficiencies and product development. 

Over the past year, Tom has been instrumental to the development and rollout of several new renovation and construction lending programs, including: 

>>One-Time Close Construction-To-Permanent loan program. Streamlining the process that approves the borrower for both a construction loan and a permanent 30-year mortgage at the outset of the project—thus avoiding two closings and having the convenience and cost savings of two loans in one. 

>>VA Renovation loan program that allows qualified borrowers to purchase a home with no down payment requirement or refinance at 90% of the after completed value and include up to $50,000 in improvements all in one loan. 

>>Freddie Mac’s CHOICERenovationSM loan program that allows homebuyers to use one loan to purchase or refinance a home and also finance the cost of renovations.

Tom joined Plaza Home Mortgage more than 15 years ago to open its first Northwest Regional Office in Portland as the Northwest Regional Vice President where he was in charge of sales and operations for the entire region. Due to the success of Renovation lending in his region, Tom was given the opportunity to develop a renovation and construction lending division to further expand upon Plaza’s existing host of renovation products. 

Tom is a mortgage industry veteran with more than 40 years of experience in mortgage lending. Tom has had the opportunity to work with a variety of product lines including hard money loans, conventional, government, Jumbo, VA, FHA, USDA and now construction  and renovation loans in both the wholesale and retail channels.

Bryan Wilson

National Sales Director

WFG Lender Services

Over the past 12 months, Bryan Wilson has leveraged a busy real estate market, his years of sales expertise and Williston Financial Group’s expanding number of innovative products and services to achieve his best sales year in his 15-year career in the mortgage industry. 

Bryan, who joined WFG nearly 10 years ago, is the national sales director for WFG Lender Services, a national settlement services company that applies its superior technology and closing processes to help lenders remove time and costs from real estate transactions. His primary role is selling title insurance for mortgages, mortgage refinancing and home equity products, leveraging a wide arsenal of title products and services provided by WFG, the nation’s sixth largest underwriter of title insurance. 

Since the beginning of 2019, Bryan has personally billed more than $1 million in revenues per month. And not only has he been wildly successful at increasing current business with existing clients, he has also helped lenders solve their biggest challenges by hooking them up with WFG’s suite of technology, appraisal and other services.

As a national representative, Bryan also goes where the business is, which amounts to a ton of traveling. He estimates he spent about 75 nights over the past year on the road, flying from California to New York to Texas, and meeting with existing and prospective clients where they do business. But it’s the kind of work he enjoys, which is evident in his performance. “I love building relationships with my clients, whether it’s in the office or going out to visit them in person and getting to know them on a personal level,” Bryan says. “I’ve found the extra effort really seems to go a long way.” 

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. 


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. 

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