May/June 2019 Edition

All Arrows Point in This Direction!

As I have this bird’s eye view from convention hopping to where the industry is heading, I am hearing, through objective listening several things. First, everyone has solidified, through discussions, that the mortgage industry is heading to a more digital world and that evolution is carrying people to new places.  

Every major 2019 convention to date has confirmed that to be true, in fact more time has been spent confirming and debating that “yup things are changing” than discussing the destinations that lie ahead for all of us.  

I have listened to statistics that are undeniable. More millennial job entry, more mobile application adaption, more technology, more social media, more Non-QM, more Niche-ing and just more of what we all have seen predicted. And as I have said…the train has left the station.    

So, we know where it’s headed, we know ultimately the mortgage industry’s social media buzz is a replica of the country’s political divide, but in our industry the great divide is “tech or no tech” and we also know that Mortgage Loan Originators are paying attention to where the arrow is pointing. If not because of the buzz, but because of their thinning wallets.   

Margin compression, inventory issues, seasonal decline and rising interest rates have given way to “more work for less money” which is nobodies idea of a motivational plan. That said, MLO’s will always survive, that is what they do in the many ways they solve to these problems. In this world of angst and uncertainty, the leaders in our industry are tested, the business developers and recruiters need to be on point and all hands are called to the deck.   

 So, allow me now to create organization from all this chaos. I have resisted but eventually waded into some social media discussions and had a few flailing hands hit me in the head, but held my own on the topics confirming technology evolution to all the naysayers, so trying to do my part. Also defensive of the same naysayers that seeming throw cold water on every great idea that puts the old school mentality in some form of discomfort, but too bad. We must be agents of change now. The world is changing, not just the mortgage industry. 

What I think is happening truly is not up to debate and much like political debates I also don’t think opinions are driving the direction of this. I don’t think sharp-tongued speakers will convince loyalists of a new direction. However, I do think those thin wallets might make people take note to their surroundings. That is why the victors of this year’s mortgage industry will be those who remain steadfast and sharply focused on their businesses and not all the shiny objects flashing in their peripheral. I think they need to go get educated. If you are an MLO in this industry and you have not signed up or committed to attending a conference, then do it. The one thing all these awesome convention hosts have in common is bringing real and diverse voices to their platforms with an ability for originators to engage, ask questions and walk away more informed. 


So, one such conference just occurred pulling 1,000 MLO’s all the way to the sunny state of CA in Irvine for the AIME Workshop, Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME). That is an amazing level of attendance really for an association that is under 1 year old. At the helm of this organization, Anthony Casa, who I sat down and interviewed, as well as several media that attended for an unbiased opinion so that I could tell all of you avid readers of TME, where to truly focus on getting informed this year.   

I should note that prior to sitting with Anthony, we had not personally ever spoken one on one. Obviously we were very aware of one another in the mortgage industry, we had no mutual cause of monetary affect (I feel the need to say) other than a shared love for the mortgage industry and finding ourselves on similar personal trajectories in our careers, both having left the helms of our prior companies, forsaking the literal work for leadership and the cause. Over the years, I had heard “things” about Anthony, like he is “controversial” or “broker only focused” and that was completely untrue of both my personal experience in talking to him and by the repeated perception of those objective media representatives. We will get to them.  

Search Parties! 

Yes, I could tell early on, Anthony Casa is not in need of having to say things for popularity however I found him to be very authentic and honest, a genuine person. He is also polite, professional, clearly experienced and poised. He is most of all believable. As a sales leader, or as sales people go, we aren’t easily “sold”. Like most leaders I suspect in his authenticity he has said unpopular things, albeit true. I asked the hard questions, what he stood to monetarily gain by developing the AIME convention and in his own words: “Honestly, I hit my financial goals in life at some point and now I am leading with cause and know the money will follow”. He cited a lack of industry leadership and a true need for culture.  

As AIME’s popularity has grown and its following increased, Anthony finds himself in a place where his average post is getting 30,000 views so clearly, the haters and the admirers both are listening. When you get that kind of attention, you are holding a microphone that surely will continue to attract and more over you are doing and saying a lot of things people want to hear. I think in asking endless questions he clearly does understand his position and his responsibility of this mentorship. 

AIME’s Irvine Workshop was made up of 80% broker mortgage originators and 20% lender MLO’s.  That means the platform is attracting more than folks from his personal background running a thriving brokerage. Josh Pitts, Founder of Shred Media attended with his colleagues from the ‘Industry Syndicate’ team, Jason Frazier Podcast company that now leads the mortgage industry in the most syndicated independent mortgage podcasters under one roof, also two people who spoke at Agent 2021 of Gary Vaynerchuk in Miami, who go where the wind is blowing. These guys are showing up where the buzz is at and covering these events. On hand in Irvine for AIME, when I asked Josh Pitts, he said what stood out for him was the sheer sense of “community and culture”. When asked for an honest review Josh said he believed it was “One of the most powerful gatherings of Mortgage Loan Originators” that he had ever been a part of. By sheer numbers I could see from thousands of miles away how the quantity of this gathering would heed respect to its collaborators. Jason Frazier the Industry Syndicate Founder told me when I asked about AIME, “There is a true professional community being built where competitors are coming together to share tips, tricks, and tactics. The energy and excitement are unlike anything I have ever experienced at mainstream mortgage industry events.”

Culture Counts!

Anthony in fact touted “culture” as the thing most eroding in our industry right now right in front of our eyes in this “imperfect time in history” he sighted originators are seeing culture erosion as margins thin with owners unwilling to sacrifice their own margins for exposing “fraudulent cultures. “A statement probably very unpopular but also very true. Of course, we could argue the costs and overhead of companies trying to right size in this market are showing reluctance for out of job preservation of its own teams. More obvious is that the originator who holds the sales reigns to these companies are sharply focused on where that wind always blows. Anthony is right, in this case, serving to the front line of the mortgage industry, there is a tail wind of independence that need not be ignored.   

I am not easily swayed by people, I will add. I owe nothing to Anthony Casa, in fact, I have worn a different teams colors for the better part of my career, still we speak the same language and I believe he truly is trying to help originators find their way in a world where leadership is certainly called upon. A person who might have once found himself on the heels of this industries opinions, he was pleasantly un-defensive. Funny thing that happens when your primary focus truly goes to leadership and honest mentoring. HIs belief is “ if you work really hard and pour yourself into your work that money and opportunities will follow, it will all work itself out in the end, but it is not my current focus. “ 

The 911 

For information purposes for readers, I offer that AIME Fuse Conferenceconvention will be held in Las Vegas on October 12ththis year with some heavy hitter speakers on the venue and maybe someone with the initials GV in tow, there stands to be a lot of attention. Workshops including the Fort Lauderdale FLA being held on April 17thalso stand to pull in local and east coast originators wanting to again sit down and learn more for themselves and the directions they all need to focus on. 

I spoke to Clayton Collins, CEO of HousingWire and asked him for a statement on AIME, where he had attended to spend time with industry leaders and clients. Clayton said, “The most interesting theme occurring in the housing industry today is happening where loan originators, real estate agents and homeowners intersect. I have massive respect for originators proactively collaborating to build their businesses and help the homeowner. There’s a level of collaboration going on in the AIME community that is truly unique and that extends beyond the mortgage broker. Consumer direct leaders, technology entrepreneurs and retail lenders were sitting side-by-side with wholesale lenders talking about the future of loan origination. At the end of the day attendees walked out of Hotel Irvine with new relationships and ideas, but more importantly, they appeared energized and hungry to get back to work serving homeowners and their referral partners.” 

Where is YOUR arrow pointing?

In ending I will leave you with a quote I chose that seems relevant to this topic, from a book Anthony Casa quoted as a great read, that I surely will be picking up.  ‘Relentless’ by Tim Grover, “Ask yourself where you are now. And where you want to be instead. Now ask yourself: What are you willing to do to get there?”    There in lies the answer to where each one of our arrows are pointing and whether we are following its obvious direction, or moreover putting in the time to figure it out.