Executive Conversations is a HousingWire web series that profiles powerful people in the financial industry, highlighting the operations and the people that make this sector tick. In the latest installment, we sit down with Garrett Clayton, CEO of AmCap Mortgage, to talk about how his company delivers customer satisfaction amid explosive growth.

Q. AmCap Mortgage has recognized tremendous growth over the last several years, producing more than $1 billion in closed loans in 2013, while closing in on the $2 billion mark for 2015. How did AmCap achieve that kind of expansion when the broader industry has been struggling so much?

ClaytonA. I attribute the company’s growth and maturation to a strong operational foundation, a top-tier executive management team and a true love for the mortgage industry. While I am extremely proud of our growth, I am even more proud of our recent awards, customer satisfaction levels and our company’s rebranding.

We have incorporated the idea of partnership into every part of our organization, including our branding. AmCap uses the ampersand (&) as a company symbol because it signifies collaborative efforts and the attitude of inclusion, teamwork and partnership.

To me a true partnership is one wherein each party to the transaction is better off for having been part of the relationship. We strive for 100% customer satisfaction and do everything we can to ensure our clients are happy with the experience. After all, AmCap is in the business of making good loans to good people.

To ensure customer satisfaction, we use customer surveys as a benchmark for understanding what we’re doing right and where we need to improve. We typically have 70% participation rate in the surveys, so we are getting invaluable feedback directly from our clients on a monthly basis, which helps our managers create specific training for their staff and loan originators.

Q. We all know the industry has been focused (and nervous) about TRID implementation, how has AmCap been able to handle such a daunting task?

A. AmCap sees major growth opportunities in our industry, through the proper implementation of TRID. Instead of seeing the TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule as a roadblock to be overcome, we are embracing the chance to implement it.

The first thing we did was to create a specialized “TRID Team” in the second part of 2015, while pushing our senior management team to learn as much as possible about how TRID would affect their individual departments. Once TRID was applied to their workflow, executives would report back to the TRID Team to collaborate on the best way to implement the new regulation, giving AmCap valuable feedback from all departments, so it could better define its origination workflow.   

We also leveraged our technology platform and built a more robust reporting database, allowing its process to be scalable while remaining highly compliant. Enhancements in both of these areas were important as it gave our staff tangible information to test and trend against.

Even more importantly, AmCap made a concerted effort to develop a comprehensive training process around the new rule. We utilized hands-on regional training, as well as internal webinars to disseminate policies and procedures to employees. We started training on our “Readiness Program” in the third quarter of 2015, and we might be one of the few companies in the industry that was actually disappointed when TRID implementation was delayed.

We regard TRID implementation as an opportunity for growth, since TRID requires human oversight and a highly sophisticated technology platform. While this can put pressure on banks and originators unprepared for the new changes, we were very confident in our prep work. Some banks will not have the resources to perform all of the requirements under TRID, but here at AmCap we feel the lending landscape looks very bright indeed!

Q. Now that you’ve tackled TRID what do you anticipate as the next industry shift or challenge facing AmCap in the near future?

A. AmCap’s partnership with consumers includes meeting them right where they want to be engaged — online and through mobile devices. With a wave of 70 million Millennials looking to spend $2 trillion on home purchases in the next five years, this push for digital engagement is set to skyrocket, making our digital strategy even more critical.

Clearly, the millennial generation is interested in homeownership, and at AmCap we want to help them achieve that dream. In order to attract the younger, tech-savvy borrower, we provide self-service tools to allow the borrower to handle a large portion of the loan process, if they desire, as well as real-time notifications of the progress/status of their file. We use a number of methods including our mobile responsive website, secure self-service web portals, and a custom AmCap mobile app.

We also recognize that consumers of all ages are clamoring for real data security, something that AmCap is wholly committed to providing. We have partnered with Ellie Mae and Microsoft to ensure the security of borrowers’ personally identifiable information.

Q. With such an impressive set of plans for the continued success of AmCap Mortgage, what are some concrete steps that AmCap takes to insure you meet these goals?

A. Growing production means increasing personnel to handle the rising demands of our production team and our end consumers. While that’s a great problem to have, hiring people who will be a good fit can be a struggle. For AmCap, it’s all about finding employees who understand what it takes to be “true partners.”

To build this partnership internally, we highlight employees’ achievements and personal milestones in an internal company newsletter and throw an annual celebration for the company’s birthday every year. We also strive to give any kind of corporate training or continuing education course a unique twist. For example, we gave each of our employees a TRID Survival Pack and ended one TRID training session with a game of laser tag through the corporate offices.

In setting out eight years ago in the mortgage space, my goal was to create a company that was well respected and did the right thing by the customer 100% of the time — while having a lot of fun doing it! Over the years we have hosted Super Bowl pools, end-of-month lunch crunch, family day at the ball park, bowling tournaments, monthly first Friday breakfasts, hotdog days, warm cookies at each cubicle, Easter egg hunts, Halloween costume day and girls-night-out events.

Nothing builds a company culture quicker than working together toward a common goal, so company employees also work together on charitable projects, including Habitat for Humanity houses, food banks and animal charities. Giving back to the community is a major part of our company identity.

It is impossible to create a positive internal culture for any type of organization if you don’t practice what you preach. Expectations are high for management to lead by example. It’s easy to show up on time, stay late and be focused all day for short bursts of time, but ownership and management need to be consistent with their performance matrix over longer periods of time.

Our strategy for creating a strong corporate culture that draws exceptional employees is clearly working — for the fifth year in a row AmCap has been ranked as one of the top 100 companies to work for, based on anonymous employee surveys solicited by The Houston Chronicle.