Kathy Kraninger Narrowly Approved by Senate Banking Committee in Split Party Vote

In her journey to become the next Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Kathy Kraninger must win over the Senate. If the recent vote by the Senate Banking Committee is any indication of how that might go, it might end up in a narrow confirmation along party lines.

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Who is Freddie Mac Today?-NAWRB Conference 2018

Often in the industry, when we think of the forty-eight-year-old Government Sponsored Entity The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, otherwise known as Freddie Mac, we think: “I’d love to be an REO broker with them” or “I’d love to be in a vendor relationship with them.” However, as we discovered in our “Who is Freddie Mac Today?” presentation, the GSE is way more than meets the eye, staying on the young side of forty-eight with an eye toward innovation and staying current.   Continue reading

Elder Financial Abuse is on the Rise: Why This Matters to You

Over thirty billion dollars a year is estimated to be lost annually due to elder financial abuse, fraud or scams. Elder fraud is a growing problem, leaving destroyed relationships and economic destruction in its wake. This number is likely higher as according to the National Adult Protective Services Association, only one in about forty-four cases is reported. 

Words like “elder” or “elderly” conjure up images of a frail and delicate senior citizen benignly rocking away on the front porch. While it is true that seniors who are most physically vulnerable and who may have cognitive issues are mainly at risk, financial abuse can happen even to people on the younger side of senior: those who are successful, financially savvy and socially connected. 
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Unspoken Issues Impacting Women: Poverty, Health, Sexual Exploitation and Self-Confidence at NAWRB Conference 2018

From its title alone, you can tell this panel was a little different from the others. Wide-ranging in scope, yet narrow in its focus on issues that derail women from advancing in life, the conversations held on stage focused on topics people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about including sexual exploitation and poverty.

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mPower at NAWRB Conference 2018: Addressing Workplace Disruptors

For the first time at a NAWRB Conference, mPower (Mortgage Banker’s Association Promoting Opportunities for Women to Extend their Reach) presented a panel, kicking off our Year of Women with style and substance.

NAWRB President and CEO, Desirée Patno introduced MBA COO and Founder of mPower Marcia Davies noting “This is the first time we have had a collective group of women and men from all different industries and this panel is the first time we have had MBA be a part of us.”

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Submit to the 2018 NAWRB Top 50 WOSB Revenue Awards!

NAWRB is excited to launch the first and only earning recognition program for WOSBs within the housing ecosystem. As we celebrate these diverse sectors and merge industries into one list, we are raising awareness of leading women-owned small businesses and helping form profitable collaborations to propel women’s economic growth.

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mpowering you MBA’s Summit for Women in Real Estate Finance

Nothing says inspiring like 340 women in the real estate finance industry joining together at mPowering You! On October 21st in Denver, Colorado, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) presented mPowering You, an event that will go down in history for this powerful and great organization. “It has never happened at the MBA in our 104-year history,” stated Marcia Davies, COO of MBA. “It’s time to be empowered.”

The conversations and ideas generated within this space fostered networking and powerful narratives, and assisted in the creation of decisive branding and career advancements. Featuring sessions like Know and Grow Your Value and Gender and Generations: Driving New Forms of Leadership, the summit strengthened and showcased the value and power of women.

Attendees heard from successful women in the industry, including Mika Brzezinski, New York Times Best-Selling Author and Co-Host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and Ruth Sherman, Executive Speech Coach & Celebrity Media Trainer, who shared the importance of women knowing their value, mastering their message, owning each moment and unleashing their potential.
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The Gender Gap: Women as Mortgage Consumers

In the last 200 years, women’s voice and role in society has evolved quite substantially in the United States and around the world. The mortgage industry is no exception. As first-time homebuyers, women face patterns of discrimination. These discriminatory lending patterns, in violation of many regulations including those promulgated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), limit women from becoming homeowners and result in fair lending violations, regulatory actions and litigation against lenders.

As regulatory requirements in the mortgage industry have tightened, lenders are taking note that discrimination is having an adverse effect on the mortgage industry and our economy as a whole. In some cases, programs are being established to target specific categories of women in the market that are faced with discriminatory obstacles. Yet, there is much more that needs to be done.
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How I Reinvented my Career without Reinventing Myself

Baby Boomers are living longer, retiring later and, the truth is, we’re finding that one lifelong career just isn’t enough. Long gone are the days when a high school or college graduate finds a dream job, spends the next 30-35 years moving up the company ladder and retires with a pension at 62. In fact, graduates are changing jobs nearly three times, on average, within the first five years of graduation; a pace that has nearly doubled versus just 20 years ago, according to LinkedIn Economic Graph data.

Whether you’re a Millennial, Baby Boomer or somewhere in between, if you’ve spent any time in real estate or financial services over the past five to 10 years, chances are you’ve experienced long and lean times as a regular course of doing business. With the ongoing interest rate movement and uncertain times ahead, there is no better time than now to consider where you stand in your career, how much it fulfills you and what might lie ahead.

My own employment, some 30 years of trials and successes in financial services, has taken me over a lot of winding roads. I’ve had to make a number of adjustments to my career path—either preemptive or forced—most recently several years ago when my employer (a very large and well-established insurer in the mortgage banking ecosystem) descended into receivership.

As with twists and turns I’d experienced before, the writing had been on the wall. Banks were substantially cutting back from residential lending and servicing. The once robust non-agency market was anemic and unlikely to emerge as its former self. Warehouse lending, title services, mortgage insurance, appraisal services and others survived, but were (and are) very competitive commoditized value propositions that expand and contract based on market need.

Fortunately for me, I had diversified jobwise. Since 2005 I had been following a passion and teaching evening college classes in finance and macroeconomics. So while the sudden change stung, it didn’t sink me.

As both a student and professor, I’ve spent a lot of time studying employment trends. Virtually every generation has faced changes in both opportunity and employment requirements due to advances in technology. In real estate and mortgage lending, automation of workflow has been a driver of technology in loan originating, appraisal, loan processing, underwriting, servicing, brokerage services segments and much more. I had been exploring how to capitalize on my 30+ years of mortgage banking, structured finance and capital markets experience to refresh my career. My research led me to financial technology companies that were quietly making inroads into the space, but with improved value propositions.

Shortly after things went south with my employer, I accepted a position at a fintech company in San Francisco called Alight. It was a leap for me—I was a died-in-the-wool mortgage guy and while Alight was exciting, I have to admit to having a bit of trepidation about becoming a tech sales guy. But I was hooked from the start. Alight’s value proposition suited my expertise, my educational background and my view of where the mortgage industry needed to head. It was a win-win for me from day one to the end of my time at the company.

Back to you. Chances are your industry—your livelihood—is (or will be) undergoing substantive change, change that will likely affect the way things run. You need to be prepared for any surprises that may come your way. But where to start?

1. Do your research.
First, study the advancement of tech companies and the
inroads they made during periods of change. Tech advancements are the proverbial writing on the wall and typically herald significant change coming. Technology that enhances productivity may curb manpower needs, while technology that opens up new areas previously undiscovered may require additional manpower, so education and training—even just some self-study—may be necessary. Investigate the field you’re in now (if you’re satisfied), and some other industries where you can leverage your expertise and about which you think you can be excited.

2. Take the five-year plan and stay relevant.
Use your imagination to consider where the industry might be five years from now; it’s a reasonable and practical timeframe on which to base decisions. Read thought leaders and influencers, not only in your industry but also in related industries and broad, innovative areas like technology, sciences, economics. And then, instead of focusing on the job you would like to have five years from now, begin by considering what types of employment will be part of the future economy. Play to your strengths, your experience and your skillsets, and educate yourself in unfamiliar areas that have potential. Be sure to only pursue things that excite you and will be worth really working for.

3. Get in touch & stay in touch.
If you’ve been working in an industry for a while, you’ve likely accumulated a lot of contacts. Take the time to reconnect with old colleagues as those contacts will come in handy as you look for new opportunities. Begin to grow your network out beyond the borders of your industry, particularly into areas you are exploring. People like to refer and hire people they know.

4. Find your paper route.
Develop a hobby, passion, talent or value proposition into a business that is economically rewarding, convenient timewise and psychologically liberating. Start it as a paper route, something you do in your spare time that can add a second or third source of regular and predictable incremental income. Your paper route may start off small, but with time and energy you can grow it into a meaningful source of income. Get certified or licensed, and keep it active. When I first started teaching 12 years ago, what I made was laughable. I taught one class and earned $400 for an eight-week session, and today I am an adjunct professor. My teaching income is not inconsequential and the benefits are substantive. Best of all, I love teaching and it is something that I can do well into semi-retirement.

5. Develop an achieveable, but not too slow timeline.
Life is busy and there are a million things that can get in the way of making changes, particularly when it comes to revamping a career. It’s much easier to continue on the same trajectory than to change course. Take a breath and reevaluate. The things you start today, the things that require extra effort, the things that require a journey, are the very things that will contribute to your success sometime in the future. I once had a boss who always said to me, “Ralph, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.” Well, go ahead and take that first bite.

Expanding your career into a new area or converting a hobby into an income-producing enterprise requires a lot of care and feeding, a whole lot of discipline and some sacrifice. But, once you’ve done it, you won’t remember the pain, you’ll be basking in the rewards. Things like supplemental income, or a “side hustle,” as the Millennial demographic calls it, can turn into a meaningful addition to your personal bottom line. Money is fungible, $3,000 to $25,000 per year in extra cash can be very additive to lifestyle, savings or whatever you decide.

Start thinking about what may lie ahead for you—life’s big milestones—kids, houses, weddings, college, rainy days, retirement—and factor those into your plan first. Once you have those cornerstones laid, the only limits to what comes next are the ones you impose. Live your best life many times!

Ralph Armenta
Technology and Mortgage Banking Consultant & Adjunct Finance Marcoeconomics Professor

Increasing the Odds: Building the Female Executive

If you have had the privilege of meeting with senior managers at mortgage and finance companies, you will notice they are overwhelmingly filled with middle-aged, white men. According to Catalyst, women currently hold only 5.8 percent of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies. This tells us that despite all of the progress, women simply have not shattered the glass ceiling.

The fact remains, when it comes to hiring for executive-level positions, the pool of experienced and qualified candidates with relevant experience is predominantly male. This is not to say that women are not just as capable, but if 95 percent of the qualified applicant pool is male, the chances of hiring a female for that role are strikingly low, thus creating a perpetual cycle of hiring men.

To move more women into higher roles, companies need to foster an environment of promoting from within and effectively “break” this continuous cycle. Companies sometimes fail to see the proven talent right before them in their eagerness to bring in someone from the outside with a prior comparable title. Board members usually receive outside candidates with similar experience well because they seem like the right fit on paper. The reality is that after the initial announcement to the company and circulation in industry periodicals, no one ever remembers these prior titles and companies measure performance by innovation rather than a candidate’s prior job history.

The responsibility to foster an environment that promotes from within falls on each of our shoulders. We need to encourage growth from within our own companies, encourage hiring managers and those in decision-making positions to look within the company and allow capable, promising employees the chance to advance from within. To drive this growth, we need to prepare the next generation of executive women to challenge experienced male candidates.

To be a capable candidate for an executive role requires having a clear vision of your goals and career path. Planning will help you to avoid many costly detours along the way and improve your chances of arriving at your final destination.

Career goals are different from performance goals at work and they are certainly not a New Year’s Resolution, which is good, because hardly anyone achieves those! Unlike performance goals—which are usually SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound)—career goals should be HARD (Heartfelt, Animated, Required and Difficult). Goals need to be difficult enough to propel one forward, making traction toward the final destination.

It is important to remember that you will never achieve a goal you don’t set, yet the majority of the population does not have written goals. The mere act of writing down goals will set you apart from peers. However, setting the goal is just part of the battle.

According to statistics from Workboard, 93 percent of the workforce cannot translate their goals into actions, and only 7 percent of people know what they need to do to execute a goal. Similar statistics from Inc. indicate only 8 percent of the population can achieve a goal they set annually—this does not even speak to goals that span the course of decades.

How can women best position themselves to reach their career goals? In addition to their HARD career goals, they must select the right mentor. Sharing goals with a mentor can help maintain focus and develop the roadmap needed to execute your vision. The right mentor is vital to developing the skills needed to translate goals into action and continue career growth, particularly for women who are at a disadvantage.

In identifying a mentor, it is arguable that women are far more successful when mentored by other women. Women are known for their ability to relate to an audience. It is important to have a mentor who can help you grow to find your own voice and present ideas in a way that is confident, persuasive and natural. Women mentored by other women can better find a delivery method that is their own because they share common strengths and understandings. Bottom line: women need to find their own voice and they will not find it if trying to sound like a man.

My advice to women is not to let life pass by. Take control and propel forward into that dream job with confidence and the necessary skills. When doing so, do not forget that you would not be as strong without a community of supportive women, each of which have a duty help mentor the next generation.

Thank you,

Robyn Markow
AVP Client Relations
Quality Claims Management Corp.