Category Archives: Lending

Trump reportedly considering former OneWest CEO to lead OCC

President Donald Trump is reportedly close to installing another former top OneWest Bank official in a significant role in the government, CNBC reported Tuesday.

According to the report, the Trump administration is “expected to name” Joseph Otting to serve as the Comptroller of the Currency, one of the country’s top financial regulators.

Otting served as the CEO of OneWest from 2010 until 2015, working alongside Steven Mnuchin, the recently installed Secretary of the Department of the Treasury and the bank’s former chairman.

Otting would replace Thomas Curry, whose term as the Comptroller of the Currency expires next month.

Here’s more from CNBC:

The White House is expected to name former OneWest executive Joseph Otting as comptroller of the currency, according to two people with direct knowledge of the selection process, installing a close colleague of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in a key regulatory role.

The sources said Otting has undergone formal vetting. One person with direct knowledge said he has received a thumbs up from Mnuchin, with whom he worked closely at OneWest, the California bank that the Treasury secretary purchased in 2009. Another said that Otting has gained the approval of President Donald Trump.

The CNBC article notes that Otting was fired by the bank after merging with CIT Group in 2015.

To serve as Comptroller of the Currency, Otting would need to be confirmed by the Senate, and Senate Democrats would likely hold OneWest’s foreclosure practices against him, as was the case with Mnuchin.

Again from CNBC:

Otting joined OneWest as chief executive in 2010. At the time, Mnuchin cited Otting’s knowledge of the market, client relationships and leadership capabilities. He was a visible defender of the bank during community protests accusing it of aggressively foreclosing on homeowners, and during the bank’s merger with CIT. However, Otting was fired after the acquisition occurred.

Democrats frequently criticized Mnuchin during his confirmation process over OneWest’s lending and servicing activities.

Democrats began calling Mnuchin the “foreclosure king” in an attempt to use OneWest’s foreclosure practices against him.

Senate Democrats attempted to dent Mnuchin’s nomination during his confirmation hearing, even going to so far as pushing to allow some of OneWest’s supposed foreclosure victims to testify before the Senate Finance Committee.

Then Democrats took their fight against Mnuchin a step further by boycotting the committee’s vote, but the Republicans on the committee overrode that.

Despite the Democrats’ efforts, Mnuchin was confirmed in a partisan vote of 53-47.

The CNBC also notes that the Trump administration is considering Thomas Vartanian, who “advised Bank of America on its purchase of the troubled mortgage lender Countrywide during the financial crisis,” to replace Daniel Tarullo, who recently announced his resignation from the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Tarullo is also the Fed’s vice chairman of supervision, a position considered to be among the most powerful in banking.

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Maxine Waters accuses Wells Fargo execs of dodging fake account inquiries

Wells Fargo executives are dodging additional Congressional inquiries into the bank’s massive fake accounts scandal, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Financial Services Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said last week in a letter sent to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan.

In the letter, Waters says that several Wells Fargo execs, including Sloan, sat for “unrecorded interviews” in December with the Republican staff of the House Financial Services Committee, but have not done the same with the Democrats’ staff despite repeated requests.

According to Waters’ letter, Sloan, John Shrewsberry, Wells Fargo’s chief financial officer; James Strother, Wells Fargo’s general counsel; and Michael Loughlin, Wells Fargo’s chief risk officer, were interviewed over three consecutive days in early December by the committee’s Republican staff.

Waters states that her staff sent repeated emails to Wells Fargo’s attorneys with Gibson, Dunn Crutcher to request similar unrecorded interviews, to no avail.

“These emails were sent on Dec. 21, 2016, Jan. 4, 2017, Jan. 11, 2017, Feb. 6, 2017 and March 3, 2017,” Waters writes. “My staff has been repeatedly told that your attorneys are ‘working on getting [us] an answer.’”

Waters then goes on to personally accuse Sloan of being disingenuous with her about the fake account inquiry requests.

“Additionally, in a recent conversation in which you called to inform me of Wells Fargo’s commitment to increasing homeownership rates among African Americans, I expressed my dissatisfaction with your failure to respond to my staff’s request for unrecorded interviews,” Waters writes. “You personally assured me that you would look into the matter. My staff again followed up with your attorneys after our call and was again told that they ‘did not have an answer.’”

As the letter continues, Waters suggests that Wells Fargo’s treatment of the Democrats’ inquiry is on par with how Wells Fargo treats its customers – a comparison that is not meant to flatter.

“If this is indicative of how Wells Fargo responds to its customers, I can understand why so many of them are upset with their treatment.” Waters writes.

Waters then adds that she has no intention of ending her investigation into how 5,000 of the bank’s former employees opened as many as 2 million accounts without authorization in order to get sales bonuses.

“While I recognize that Wells Fargo may have settled with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Los Angeles City Attorney, the countless revelations in the press of Wells Fargo’s egregious behavior and your failure to agree to participate in interviews with Democratic staff tell me that this Committee’s investigation is far from over,” Waters writes.

Waters concludes by asking again for the opportunity to interview Wells Fargo execs about the fake accounts.

“As such, I reiterate my request that Wells Fargo provide Democratic Committee staff the same opportunity it provided to Republican Committee staff to meet with the aforementioned executives for unrecorded interviews,” Waters concludes. “Scheduling these interviews would be a small step in reassuring me and my staff that Wells Fargo is sincere when it says it wants to ‘make things right’ for its customers.”

Waters asks Wells Fargo to respond to her no later than March 30, 2017.

When contacted by HousingWire about the contents of Waters’ letter, Wells Fargo said that the bank is working with Congress on its inquiry and plans to continue to do so.

“Wells Fargo is committed to building a better bank and restoring the trust of our stakeholders,” Wells Fargo said in a statement provided to HousingWire.

“We have fully cooperated with the House Financial Services Committee’s investigation, including by voluntarily participating in the September 2016 hearing, producing over 140,000 pages of documents, answering more than 50 written and numerous oral questions, and making our most senior leadership available for interviews,” Wells Fargo’s statement continued. “We are committed to providing the Committee what it needs to conduct its inquiry and to responding appropriately to Committee requests.”

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What lenders are missing when it comes to mobile technology

The majority of homebuyers, especially Millennials, do extensive research online and on their mobile devices before making any purchase — especially for something as large as a home. According to the National Association of Realtors, 89% of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research.

While many lenders are jumping on the trend to incorporate new and better technology into their customer experience, they are often ignoring the key reasons why the technology is important and therefore missing the mark in implementation.

While many assume mobile technology is all about efficiency, it’s also about building a relationship. Millennials (and all buyers) hope to deepen connections with their mortgage advisors and improve their knowledge about their purchase through the use of mobile apps and technology-based communication.

Here are five reasons why mobile technology should be key to every lender’s strategy:

1. Buyers want personalization.

As an industry-leading study by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) points out, personalization is the most important influencer of customers having a positive interaction with loan officers (42%), with strong communication (26%) and knowledgeable (18%) being important aspects of their experience. Personalization during the buying process means engaging with customers in preferred ways (i.e. digitally) and by reaching out and making the customer feel special (closing gifts, cards).

In an interview with Kelly Zitlow, a branch manager at Cherry Creek Mortgage, she states “[females] in particular like to have accessible information that is responsive and can be communicated in different ways…” Understanding how to personalize to your audience is important to establishing trust. Often, that personalization can occur efficiently and effectively through the use of technology or simply communicating digitally in the formats your customers prefer. Loan officers should be aware of how they can best communicate their message in a way that connects personally with their customers.

2. Buyers want relationship.

PwC summarized the engagement needs during various touchpoints in the buying process well, noting that all customers “want the convenience of digital at different stages, but when complexities arise, they want someone by their side.” Loan officers should remind themselves that their customers will remember the people they work with during the buying process, and the personal connections they build, much more so than any rate or mortgage product.

Ultimately, people do business with people. Despite the false narrative that Millennials only want technology, lenders will remain competitive over the next few years if they focus on strategies to build and sustain long-term relationships with today’s young and diverse buyers. Consumers want technology to enhance the relationship and improve the communication experience, not to get rid of either.

For example, in an interview with Sean Herrero from Commerce Home Mortgage, he states that he uses video to improve his relationships and build trust with borrowers. He was hesitant like most to begin using video, as it can be difficult to watch yourself on-screen, but he explains that it’s well worth the effort. Borrowers want to feel good about who they are working with — whether that is an individual or a brand. Getting personal and authentic is key to winning business with young buyers. Using video not only engages your audience, but Herrero shares “people can connect with who I am.” (Full interview here)

3. Buyers want education.

Millennial consumers are heavy researchers, and they expect their loan officers to be their guides through the purchasing process. PwC identified that customers “expect mortgage education (through webcasts, in-person events, and the lender website) to be a part of their experience.” Lenders can better utilize technology, social media, and various vendor solutions to leverage their expertise to build a strong reputation and bring in leads.

Top producer Chong Yi, of Apex Home Loans, focuses his borrower experience and brand on financial literacy. He says that many people, especially Millennials and diverse segments, view debt as a bad thing, but Yi views his role as their advisor to help his customers understand and evaluate the investment. Loan officers would benefit greatly from focusing their marketing and branding efforts around building a reputation as a trusted advisor.

4. Buyers want transparency and options.

Today’s borrowers want to make informed and empowered decisions. According to an HBR article, the key to gaining a sale in today’s marketplace is making decisions simple and helping buyers “confidently navigate the purchase journey.” Buyers want to easily navigate and understand information about the company or product, they want to know whether or not they can trust the information, and lastly, they want to easily weigh their options.

Top producer Dan Keller follows this exact formula for success with his clients. In an interview with Dave Savage. Keller explains how he walks his prospects through a simple and consistent path to understanding the mortgage process and their options every time. First, he has an educational blog where he hosts a simple packet of information that serves as a guide through the process and their work with him, including where he sources his information/expertise. Secondly, he builds trust through education and third-party reviews. Keller states that 27% of his business last year came from his blog and Yelp. Finally, when he meets with his customers, they trust his data when he explains their options through a total cost analysis.

5. Buyers want convenience.

Simply put, buyers are shopping on their mobile devices and want their lenders to be there too. According to PwC, 49% of customers are curious about how mobile apps can assist them in streamlining the mortgage process, and three out of five would like their lender to offer a mobile app. Lenders have an opportunity to leverage technology to improve efficiency, convenience and customer service for consumers. As an added benefit to lenders, mobile technology and communication improves productivity significantly, often saving time and resources.

We recently released the industry’s first comprehensive report of all the top mobile apps for homebuyers at every stage of the purchasing process, so that lenders can know how to communicate with buyers using leading apps and make strong recommendations for improving the consumer experience through mobile technology (from finding the right home to making smart financial decisions). Download the free report here.

In an interview with Rick Sharga, chief marketing officer of Ten-X, formerly, he shares his perspective on companies who are successful in today’s environment, stating “[Millennials] would like to do a transaction any time they’d like, anywhere they happen to be, on any computing device they happen to prefer… Companies who successfully service this audience in the future will have to enable Millennials to get to your products and services online, on-demand.”  (Watch interview clip here).

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