I honestly have spent the past several years trying to avoid dinners like these. The dress ups, the “networking,” the drinking and partying like a bunch of hillbillies, only in nicer suits. There really is no difference between construction workers and lenders, at least over the past 20 years, only the clothing worn is different. There are still way too many egos and way too many people trying to impress the who-knows-what out of the next guy or gal. Lots of flirting, lots of schmoozing, and generally these events serve as a big waste of time.
The mortgage industry has gone through some changes…that’s putting it lightly. The mortgage industry has been beat up worse
than the licks Batman gives to the Joker’s team of masked rent-a-thugs. Wham! Blammo! Pow! Banks and lenders of all kinds have been taking a beating from every possible segment of our society. Berating and bullying have been coming from regular citizens as well as all the way up to our current administration living on Pennsylvania Avenue. And the hits keep on coming…
The other night, I attended one of these schmooze-a-thons at one of Seattle’s great golf and country clubs, an SMBA (Seattle Mortgage Banking Association) event at the Broadmoor. I was intrigued about this night. After all, the Guild Mortgage Company CEO would be speaking, and well, she is a woman, and frankly was the only woman on the 4 person panel of experts in the industry on that night. Lets just say this, I was impressed. I was impressed with the entire panel, but I was especially impressed with Mary Ann McGarry, the short in stature, but mighty in spirit CEO of one of the largest mortgage lenders on the West Coasts. With over 100 branches, and over 600 loan officers, Mary Ann has led this company through some of the most intense scrutiny and regulation in banking history in the US.
Guild has been lending money since 1960 when a San Diego builder started the company to fund his own home building efforts. Over 50 years later, Guild has not only lasted while many larger banks have gone by the wayside, but has actually grown by over 400% just since the “bubble” (approximately late 2007)!
There were several takeaways form the panel of speakers but I was especially encouraged to hear a couple of things shared by Mary Ann. First, she maintained that at Guild, and frankly the same goes for other lenders, there was a need to focus on rebuilding the image of mortgage lending. With this target on our backs, there are many who are rooting against the industry to fail. So between community involvement, and by continuing to strive to provide a better customer service experience for each prospective homeowner, we can rebuild that beat up image, one relationship and one community at a time.
The second comment actually went beyond words. As some on the audience were mumbling about the mud and muck the mortgage industry experience has been mired in, Mary Ann responded with her usual energy and spitfire that she was actually looking forward to the work ahead and leading her company through this mess…she even added that it was going to actually be fun! This brought the house to clap enthusiastically. The energy was more than encouraging, it was the 5 Hour energy pop we all needed!
The lending climate is different. There are more rules for lenders, and each American dreaming of home ownership must go through a little more to qualify for that dream than the “good old days.” It takes a leader to lead. Those that draw back, will not win. That is the bottom line. Mary Ann McGarry, and her executive team, in an industry still crawling with member of the “good old boys” club, has provided leadership, vision, and growth. I am excited to be a part of this team, and help invest my time and talents into this great company.