What moves are you most proud of that have allowed you to maintain your growth during the mortgage industry consolidation? What do you think the industry has done in order to properly survive over these past few years as regulations and underwriting standards have become more strict? At first, we started as a strictly referraltype business. Then, by aligning myself bringing in others with other platforms of the business, we were able to grow. Licensing in the mortgage industry has helped us find, create and hire better sales prospects. Also, hiring a very conservative underwriting team has created a workflow complete with several compliance checks and balances in each department to make sure that we are maintaining the highest level of loan quality. In terms of our operations at Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers, we have a full-time trainer coming on board. Education and training are the keys to making it in the mortgage business, as regulations and underwriting standards have tightened. All of our employees must take a five-day course. This business is ever-changing, as our salespeople are constantly training on new products and our investors are subjected to new regulations. In the end, open lines of communication are key.
Are there any regrets you have about the industry or any decisions you would have made differently? I regret not getting involved in the mortgage industry much sooner. I knew we’d have to start small and take baby steps. I feel we took all the necessary steps to get us where we are now. Of course I would have liked for the growth process of Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers to have gone faster, but we took things slow, aligned ourselves with the right partners and did things the right way, and I am very satisfied with where we are today. What do you feel separates a successful loan originator with a mediocre loan originator? A successful loan originator is one who must have a strong knowledge of the industry, not someone who is just a paper-pusher or someone who is consumed by making money. Marketing and networking are two factors that separate a top LO from an average LO. Our values are crystal clear at Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers—our communication, leadership, excellence, attitude and respect—if an LO believes in those values and works really hard, they are going to be very successful with us. How would you describe your management style, and do you feel any one person or book influenced your management style? I am very laid-back and trusting. I get out of the way so that successful LOs can be
successful, but I am here to offer my support to them whenever they need it. My father’s work ethic is what I’ve modeled myself after. My whole life has consisted of work. When I was 11-years-old on Dec. 23, I was working around the clock. My father would tell me not to tell other people because it was wrong, but at the end of the day, it was all about work. I learned values and wanted to thrive and succeed. I’m not that big into reading … I’m big on “doing!” How involved are you in your family life? On weekends now, I’m able to take my son to basketball games. We can go on quick vacations now as well. I was never able to really spend time with them until now. In running A&S Italian Marketplace, I just couldn’t leave to do things like that. Now, I have the flexibility to do work outside of my office. Up until I was 35-years-old, I had never been to a vacation spot like Montauk, N.Y. … I’d be behind the counter at A&S all night and then go home because I had to be in early the following day. Now, I’m at a point where I feel that we are still growing the company, but I have a life too with my family. What do you see in the future of the mortgage industry, and what are some of the big opportunities that are on the horizon? I feel a combination of call centers and the purchase business will come back continued on page 24
Looking at your career, are there any milestones and accomplishments that you are really proud of? I am very proud of the growth of Meadowbrook Financial Mortgage Bankers, both here in New York and our expansion into nine states. I am also proud of our investor involvement. Just a year ago, we had no tier investors, it took us a year or so to get approval with top investors. At Meadowbrook Financial, we have also gone completely paperless, from buying leads to shipping loans to the secondary market, it’s all done from center to center. I am proud of the expansion of our paperless system. I believe that will be a milestone that I can look back on in the future and say, “Thank God we did that!”
“I believe that trust is the most important aspect of business, especially when you’re dealing with someone’s finances. If a person can trust you, you have them for life.”
WISCONSIN MORTGAGE PROFESSIONAL MAGAZINE
What do you find more fulfilling, being a butcher or a mortgage banker? Being a mortgage banker is definitely more fulfilling. With my mortgage business, I wake up in the morning, put on a suit and tie and meet with clients, I feel
born again. My family fully supports me. So many people come and go in this industry, and I really have to believe in myself and what I can bring to my clients. It’s not just a case where I go into the back of the store and cut someone a steak … you really have to put in a huge effort to make sure that your clients are qualified the right way in order to get the application approved. I use the same fundamentals in my mortgage business as I did when working in the pork store.
good fit for me to change careers because they trusted me … it was a transfer of trust. There were other businesses up the block from A&S Italian Marketplace that would also give me their real estate and mortgage business. I would bring a change of clothes with me to A&S, and after working, I would make appointments to meet with them later in the day about mortgages, and then change again and go back to work at A&S. I did that for about six or seven months, and was only able to meet them nearby because I would always have to go back to the store. It was a hard push with a lot of sleepless nights, but it was to improve my quality of life with my family. Before this change of careers, I was never able to take vacation with my family—I had off one week a year—and it was never around holidays. When I first got my Broker’s License, I was afraid to leave A&S because it was “secure,” something I had done my entire life. With the urging of my father, he suggested I take six months off from the Italian market, and that I work on becoming a broker to see if I could cultivate and build my business to have a better life for my family. Within my first month, I had 10 or so deals I was working on—originating, processing and meeting investors in my basement. As I started getting busier, an old friend of mine heard that I was an approved mortgage broker and asked if I wanted to become partners, so we opened up a mortgage business. In 2005 when the economy began to take a turn for the worse, I decided to apply for my New York State Mortgage Bankers License. I realized it was a good time in the industry to make the transition from broker to banker, and changing careers was to improve my quality of life. I believe that trust is the most important aspect of business, especially when you’re dealing with someone’s finances. If a person can trust you, you have them for life. With all of my customers, I always have to meet them face to face. They need to know that I’m not just a telemarketer, I meet them face to face and get to know them personally. They begin to trust me so much that they ask me to help them with other aspects of their life. I would meet with them three or four times before I even got the mortgage, but what was important to me was how I built and established their trust.