Mortgage Professional America spotlights the luminaries and trailblazers that have contributed significantly to the industry
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Methodology ................................................... 3 Housing Industry Icons 2021 ........................
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HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS 2021
TRANSFORMING THE INDUSTRY LANDSCAPE THE MORTGAGE industry is easy enough to break into, but carving out a viable longterm career is tough. The market shifts, margins fluctuate, financial crises happen – yet some industry professionals have thrived for decades. The cream of the crop is recognized in Mortgage Professional America’s inaugural Housing Industry Icons list. From mortgage tech trailblazers to real estate disruptors, the Housing Industry
“If you want to stick around in this business, you need to continually assess the needs of the housing market and respond” Laura Brandao, American Financial Resources
Icons report celebrates the men and women who have moved the industry forward and improved the home-buying and lending processes on every level.
HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS BY GENDER
What makes an industry icon?
Many would likely agree that mortgage is a lucrative career. But as the adage goes, “money is a good servant, but a bad master”. That’s why Laura Brandao, president and partner of American Financial Resources and one of this year’s Housing Industry Icons, remains vigilant about keeping her why in focus. “Our industry is not so much about what we do, but why we do it,” says Brandao. “It is vital that we continue to revisit what brought us here in the first place and remember the impact we make as an industry and the families we serve. I am determined to leave our industry better than when I arrived. This fundamental desire to
give back to the industry that has supported me and my family fuels my dedication to a number of organizations and initiatives beyond my work as president of AFR.” For Taylor Stork, chief operating officer of Developer’s Mortgage, success isn’t simply a matter of why or even what, but who. “I’m fortunate to have been influenced, developed and mentored by great people over the last 25 years,” he says. “From each one, I’ve acquired knowledge and skills, or somehow improved because they took the time to help me. It continues to this day, and I hope it never stops. Whatever value I have to offer is just the culmination of what others have put into helping me grow. And I believe it’s my obligation to continue the process forward with others.” In the past 25 years, Brandao and Stork have both been busy figuring out the needs
is easier said than done, Stork believes the key to thriving among market shifts starts with simply surviving them. “I think you need to always be looking at yourself and your business with a critical eye asking the hard questions: Where are you strong, where are you weak, and will you survive your worst-case scenario? You need to be sufficiently fortified and prepared to survive hard times so that you can be resilient when opportunity presents itself because they typically appear simultaneously. Then, when an opportunity presents itself, you can jump on it with laser-like focus and intensity.”
Winning strategies Stork’s strategy is similar to that of Bill Dallas, president of Finance of America Mortgage and also a Housing Industry Icon.
“My firms are built to grow in the dips. We don’t panic and move the deck chairs to the other side of the Titanic” Bill Dallas, Finance of America Mortgage
of the mortgage industry and tinkering with unique products to support the everchanging demands of the housing market. “If you want to stick around in this business, you need to continually assess the needs of the housing market and respond. You can’t shy away from new product development or integrating technology.” “Spend time actively listening to your clients and work to meet or even anticipate their needs as the landscape shifts. Adapt to the changing market or be left behind,” Brandao says. But at times when rolling with the waves
“My firms are built to grow in the dips. We build our business and stay focused on a robust yet simply stated strategy for the inevitable shift,” Dallas says. “We don’t panic and move the deck chairs to the other side of the Titanic.” Dallas has spent 20 years of his career establishing a company that offers proprietary non-agency products with its own guidelines so that it can help remove some of the roadblocks homebuyers face today, such as affordability and supply constraint issues. Mike Fierman, managing partner and co-CEO of Angel Oak Companies,
METHODOLOGY In June, exceptional mortgage executives with at least 10 years of experience were nominated by their industry peers for this year’s Housing Industry Icons list. Nominators were asked to provide details of their nominee’s standout professional achievements, along with their contributions to diversity and inclusion in the industry and how they’ve given back through volunteer roles and charity work. The MPAm team reviewed all nominations, examining how each individual had made a meaningful contribution to the industry, to narrow down the list to the final 27 Housing Industry Icons.
1st year of MPAm’s Housing Industry Icons showcase
10 Icons’ minimum number of years in the industry
Icons’ average number of years in the industry
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HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS 2021
market should be upwards of $200 billion per year. “Anyone not utilizing non-QM should do so to capitalize on the opportunity that exists right now,” he says.
HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS BY THEIR NICHE
22% mortgage technology
“I firmly believe that the niche areas will grow. The challenge is market liquidity, not opportunity” Taylor Stork, Developer’s Mortgage shares Dallas’s sentiment on niche products and how they can help fill the gaps where traditional agency finance is lacking. He says that non-qualified mortgage loans allow companies to write their own guidelines and continuously update accordingly with flexible requirements for affordability. “Specialized loan programs are needed for many reasons,” Fierman says. “There are increased bank lending restrictions today that shut more people out of the agency market. This is where non-QM comes in and
why Angel Oak is currently setting records in non-QM volume. The demand is there and always will be. “As far as housing supply constraints, again, our vertical integration with an asset management team is a benefit. As the end investor, we don’t have to go outside our company for third-party approval to do loans. When we say we can do a loan, we do it and get it closed quickly. We minimize delays, which is important in a competitive market with low inventory.” Fierman believes that a healthy non-QM
It’s unanimous: the Housing Industry Icons agree that the niche will swallow the whole, and it’s crucial for originators to have a wide variety of purchase products in their arsenal, including non-QM. ”I firmly believe that the niche areas will grow. The challenge is market liquidity, not opportunity,” Stork says. “I see non-QM lending growing exponentially, provided that the secondary market and warehouse lenders continue to support the space. I also think we’re going to see a significant increase in low- to moderate-income borrowers and tract mortgages. The various government agencies and regulators are pushing hard to increase access to credit. This will probably come in the forms of ‘home ready’ and ‘home possible’ programs.” “To be a leader in this market, you must securitize your own product with your own guidelines,” Dallas says. “We have dominated fix and flip, reverse, and home renovation and are turning our sights on agency.” “AFR has already established itself as a leading specialty lender, and I will continue to develop programming to help brokers enter the niche space and become experts. I want to continue to empower them to expand their offerings and become comfortable and confident in a large variety of programs, so they can expand their outreach to help realtors and a wider range of borrowers in their communities,” Brandao says. “I am personally committed to bringing new talent into the industry, growing diverse and capable leaders, and leaving the industry that I love better off.”
MORTGAGE Chad Jampedro President GO Mortgage
Robert Senko President ACC Mortgage
Email: email@example.com Website: gomortgage.com
Phone: (877) 349 0501 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: accmortgage.com
Dale Vermillion Founder and CEO Mortgage Champions Phone: (888) 824 3343 Email: email@example.com Website: dalevermillion.com Aaron Samples CEO and member of board of directors Bill Dallas President Finance of America Mortgage Brenda Rodriguez and Joe Rodriguez Owners Capstone Capital Dan Hanson Executive director in market retail loanDepot David Aach Chief operating officer Blue Sage Solutions Faith Schwartz Founder and CEO Housing Finance Strategies Gagan Sharma Chief executive officer BSI Financial and Bizzy Labs James Hedvall Chief capital markets officer Mann Mortgage Jay Promisco Chief production officer Sierra Pacific Mortgage
Rocky Foroutan Chief executive officer LenderHomePage Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: lender411.com
John W. Mallett President and broker Mainstreet Mortgage Laura Brandao President American Financial Resources Michael Cooksey Founder/Executive managing director of production The Cooksey Team/Mid America Mortgage Mike Fierman Co-chief executive officer Angel Oak Companies Richard Taylor Stork Chief operating officer Developers Mortgage Sean Cahan President Cornerstone First Mortgage Steve Jacobson CEO and founder Fairway Independent Mortgage Thomas Furey Co-founder and SVP of revenue and growth Neat Loans
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HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS 2021 INDUSTRY ICONS MORTGAGE TECHNOLOGY Brent Chandler Founder and CEO FormFree
Dominic Iannitti President and CEO DocMagic
Bryan DeShasier Chief administrative officer Promontory MortgagePath
JP Kelly President OpenClose
Christy Moss Head of sales and marketing FormFree
Mark Mackey VP and general manager International Document Services
ROCKY FOROUTAN CEO LenderHomePage
ur philosophy has always been ‘make it simple and easy to use,’” says Rocky Foroutan, CEO of LenderHomePage. “Homebuyers are already anxious because they’re making a big decision in their financial lives, so we make the technology easy and user-friendly so that it does not add to the complexity of the transaction. That has always been the central design objective for us.” Foroutan founded LenderHomePage from his small home office in 2003 by building turnkey websites for mortgage brokers and loan officers. Sixteen years later, the company has grown to serve nearly 3,000 clients with an innovative, multi-channel digital platform that helps customers enhance the borrowing experience while gaining efficiencies and saving cost. Prior to LenderHomePage, Foroutan spent 19 years as a software developer, and also worked in sales and marketing management in Fortune 5000 companies. Foroutan is quick to point out that LenderHomePage’s success – and his success personally – is directly attributable to the team he has assembled. “The most important aspect of our business has been putting the right people in the right seats,” he says, adding that it has helped his company to stay relevant in an industry that is constantly evolving. “We knew there’s a wave of digital transformation, so we caught onto that, we started talking to our clients, we started looking at the landscape, and we started to innovate and we answered our customers’ calls.”
CHAD JAMPEDRO President GO Mortgage
eing a mortgage originator was not what Chad Jampedro had in mind when he graduated from college in 2001. He had multiple opportunities ahead of him, including law school, but he put them on hold when GSF Mortgage founders Jim Guzanick and Phil Siebert recruited him to join their Illinois branch. It was a huge risk, but Jampedro decided to try it to gain work experience. What was supposed to be just a few years stretched to two decades, and his two mentors are now his partners. “I really didn’t know much about mortgages, and a few other opportunities paid more money at the time,” Jampedro says. “I wanted to be part of something where I had a real-world impact but also the opportunity to earn a high income. I felt the mortgage industry could be that opportunity, so I took a shot. Also, I grew up in Pittsburgh and moved to Chicago to join this company. I had no idea how hard it would be to build a business in a place
where I knew absolutely no one.” Over the years, Jampedro has held several positions at GSF (now GO Mortgage), working his way up the ranks. As a leader, he was instrumental in enhancing the company’s structure by implementing a new business strategy and adopting new technologies. Jampedro is currently the president of GO Mortgage and a 2021 Housing Industry Icon. Despite all he’s accomplished, Jampedro continues to take bold steps to improve and grow the company. He’s working on developing a people-first approach to team management and decision-making. With more of his team working from home full-time and part-time, he aims to improve their ability to connect and engage with one another. “Empathy and emotional intelligence are elements of business that are relatively recent,” he says. “A decade ago, these were not ideals that were part of the strategic approach of most companies. My goal is to create an environment where this type of engagement
and support governs the relationship with our team members. What it will look and feel like is a more progressive and productive work environment.” His vision and effective leadership have taken him far in the mortgage industry. But there is no finish line for the industry icon – only innovation and superior service. Jampedro’s advice for originators: “Meet the market where it is, not where you want it to be. Past success can become the very reason you may be struggling if it is clouding your judgment of the relevant market today. Sooner or later, you will need to begin again.” He adds that “it is our duty to serve our clients and partners at the highest level. Our job is to consistently improve and add value for the here and now. Now the race can be a relay. I have an amazing team that I can hand the baton to, and they continue the race – in many cases, much faster and more effectively than me.”
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HOUSING INDUSTRY ICONS 2021
DALE VERMILLION Founder and CEO Mortgage Champions
ale Vermillion never passes up on an opportunity to positively impact other people’s careers. A sought-after keynote speaker, Vermillion has helped a million mortgage professionals achieve their definition of success. Before he became the internationally recognized powerhouse he is today, Vermillion was at the helm of the mortgage firm Sears Consumer Finance back in 1992. Despite landing the top spot, he felt something crucial was missing, as he no longer had the time to do the sales training he enjoyed. So, Vermillion searched for an industry-specific sales training program, which was nonexistent at that time. With decades of sales and coaching experience behind him, Vermillion left the corporate arena and built his own consulting, training and speaking business: Vermillion Consulting. The key to his success, he says, is the drive to help mortgage lenders and professionals understand a system to improve
profitability, productivity and efficiencies – that and a powerful and ethical approach to sales, customer service and leadership. “We built our business and company on our OthersFirst philosophy, which is based on my favorite verse, Philippians 2:3-4: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in all things, with humility, value others above yourself, looking out for their interest and not your own.’ We apply this to our clients and their customers in everything we do,” he says. Since 1995, Vermillion has spoken at over 3,000 conferences and events across the US and is the official trainer for LendingTree University. Through his award-winning Mortgage Champions sales program, he’s trained more than a million mortgage professionals representing over 450 lenders. He is also the author of Navigating the Mortgage Maze (2009), an in-depth guide on how to obtain the best mortgage financing. Vermillion was forced to cancel events and quickly transition his business to digital during the pandemic. To his surprise, many
of his company’s services improved as a result. “I have assembled an incredible team of brilliant millennials who have helped to digitize our training and move our services to a more virtual world to meet the demands of the industry and today’s culture, as well as scale the business nationwide,” he says. Vermillion’s 10-year plan is simple: continue impacting companies and consumers on a large scale, while doing keynote speeches and national media spots, and coaching key executives. His advice for originators looking to boost their production? “Seek out as much knowledge as you can from individuals who have succeeded in the industry and from companies that teach proven best practices. Build a selling system based on those best practices, and make your customers’ best interest. Remember, success is about people. Network and build a database of everyone you work with to ensure long-term success.”
ROBERT SENKO President ACC Mortgage
f you want to boost production, seek out areas where you can provide a solution,” says Robert Senko, president of All Credit Considered Mortgage and one of MPA’s 2021 Housing Industry Icons. Senko is a firm believer in innovative problem solving. He’s built ACC Mortgage on the idea that it won’t just sell mortgage loans but deliver solutions. “During a refinance wave, you are selling a product where people come away spending less money each month, and that seems pretty easy to me,” he says. “But rates will go up, so you need to offer what I did early in my career, and that is selling solutions. Learning to be a problem solver makes you extremely valuable.” Senko’s commitment to underserved borrowers dates back to 1999, when the world was coming out of a long-term capital management financial crisis. A 26-year-old Senko, a loan officer at the time, made the self-employment leap to open a retail mortgage brokerage, Senko Financial Services.
“I was making great money and was not happy. I found the corporate world and particularly my direct boss to be stifling,” he says. “I wanted to be my own boss. So, two weeks before my 26th birthday, I tendered my resignation. I figured I was single, and if I failed by the time I hit 30, I would only set myself back and wouldn’t have to worry about a family.” Senko took all the lessons learned from his short career to grow his first business. A few years later, he sold the brokerage and started ACC Mortgage, which would open a door of opportunity for self-employed and creditchallenged borrowers. “Early in my career, I gravitated to the B&C products offered by companies like GE and Ford,” he says. “When conventional rates were around 6% to 8%, it was easy to sell those refinances, but some people could not qualify for those because of credit or some issue. I wanted to help those folks more. Finding solutions for people ignored by traditional banks and lenders, I found more satisfying.”
ACC Mortgage has never stopped lending nontraditional mortgage products. Even when the housing market crashed in 2007, Senko’s company was able to survive by remaining true to its DNA. “In January 2007, my primary purchaser of loans offered a very non-competitive bid on our loans,” Senko says. “After some haggling and discussion, I learned the markets were getting skittish. I sold these loans, deleveraged our balance sheet and six weeks later, the market imploded.” “In February 2020, while news of COVID was spreading, I made similar moves. By making these adjustments, I was able to not only keep ACC alive but continue to lend.” What’s next for ACC and the industry icon? Senko sees strong growth ahead for his company and more time to play golf. “ACC has continued to grow because we create solutions and a positive experience for the borrowers and brokers that others can’t replicate,” he says.
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