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STRATMOR Identifies Effective Leadership During Times Of Crisis

Leaders need to be clear and consistent in their messaging to gain trust during a crisis, according to the STRATMOR Group, which detailed how one mortgage company is getting it right during the coronavirus pandemic.

In her article, “Effective Leadership through Crisis Times: A Lender’s Story” in the company’s latest monthly Insights Report, STRATMOR CEO Lisa Springer examines the leadership style of several countries’ leaders during the pandemic before looking at how Guild Mortgage is successfully managing business in the midst of COVID-19.

“STRATMOR is a data-driven advisory firm and believes that the most successful mortgage bankers live by their numbers,” Springer writes. “We’ve observed this to be true for countries as well. In fact, in the face of the pandemic, the most successful world leaders have embraced change and created a culture of accountability and transparency.”

According to Springer, effective world leaders in countries such as New Zealand and Norway took early, decisive action and used data to guide their decisions through the pandemic. These steps were mirrored by the steps adopted by successful lenders in the mortgage industry. The approach taken by Guild Mortgage CEO Mary Ann McGarry is a prime example of good leadership in a crisis, Springer said.

McGarry’s first act when the pandemic began in March was to call meetings with executives and representatives of every department to quickly lay out Guild’s challenges and identify the areas she wanted her team to focus on, the report says. Writes Springer: “There was a significant amount of coordination and collaboration among Guild’s production operations, servicing, human resources and IT departments, retail branches, and virtually every other department in the company. Together they created an effective response, concentrating their focus on three main areas: Manage risk of forbearances, deploy e-closing technology and optimize front-end MyApp technology.”

As of mid-2020, Guild was ahead of its financial projections, and today continues to maintain high customer satisfaction scores and retention rates that are among the best in the industry. “Despite the need to quickly transition to remote work in March, Guild has maintained high productivity in operations and servicing, while providing attentive, personal service to its customers,” Springer said. She added the company reported record loan volume of $14.6 billion and saw its servicing portfolio grow to a record $52.8 billion through June 30, 2020.

Under McGarry’s guidance, Guild effectively managed risk and placed a strong focus on customer service. “At Guild, we’re committed to developing customers for life and that means serving our borrowers in challenging times,” McGarry said. “Providing customers with forbearance options is the right thing to do, as so many have been impacted by the pandemic and need financial assistance. Regardless of the challenges, we’re working to make a difference in people’s lives and help keep customers in their homes.”

In a second article in the August report, MortgageSAT Director Mike Seminari says that as digital lending accelerates, lenders should ask themselves what the changes mean for the customer experience. In his article, “E-Closings and the Borrower Experience” he notes, “Digital path-carvers have been able to focus on – and automate where possible – the touch points that matter most in the borrower journey as the closing approaches.” For example, it has traditionally been very important to borrowers that their loan officer attend closings in person. Today, STRATMOR is seeing a new trend where originators are getting on FaceTime – or at the very least, a phone call – to attend closings.