As mortgage origination continues to gain ground, lenders and servicers increasingly look to third-party vendors for underwriting, valuation, consulting and compliance. We sat down with Jeff Tennyson, president of Clayton Holdings, to find out what his company is doing to deliver what the market needs now.
HousingWire: What is your vision for Clayton Holdings as you begin your tenure as president of the company?
Jeff Tennyson: Our vision is simple: Be the leading third-party solutions provider to the owners, originators and servicers of residential mortgage and consumer loans.
We’re growing and bringing new third-party review (TPR) ideas to our clients at a good time in the mortgage cycle. From a market perspective, mortgage origination is relatively strong, the industry is healthy and has gotten over the shock of new regulations and is adjusting to them. All of which benefits our underwriting, valuation, consulting and compliance offerings.
Some of Clayton’s traditional products that were developed for the securitization markets, such as private-label RMBS and single-family rental, are relatively static, at least at the moment. But Clayton is leading the industry in continuing to work on the next generation of non-agency securities. When the economics, interest rates and demand for private-label securities come together, this will create new opportunities for Clayton in due diligence, valuation and surveillance.
We’re also seeing new opportunities as private equity firms and hedge funds are gaining comfort with mortgage assets, again, as a way to access more yield. Likewise, we’re providing new services to the participants in the new GSE credit risk transfer transactions.
This is an exciting time at Clayton. Our integration and sales alignments with Radian and its MI clients continue to provide real value to both companies and our customers.
HW: Clayton has performed due diligence on more than 12 million loans since its founding in 1989. How do your clients benefit from that experience in such a critical area?
JT: Unquestionably, underwriting and property valuation — the two key components of due diligence — are part of our company’s DNA, and essential to mortgage origination, securitization, whole loan trading and portfolio acquisition. A third element, compliance reviews, has taken on increased importance in recent years and we have invested in both talent and technology to integrate this into our due diligence and loan review offerings. Last year, we also acquired ValuAmerica to provide us nationwide title and appraisal services to further enhance our end-to-end review solutions.
When Morningstar decided to give Clayton the first deal agent rating for RMBS, the credit agency specifically emphasized our experience in loan reviews.
What this means for our clients is that they can be confident that they are going to receive a best-in-class, 360-degree view of the asset in question and that it is coming from an independent TPR firm with experienced professionals.
HW: How does Clayton Holdings ensure that its employees are providing an excellent customer service experience?
JT: Historically, Clayton’s businesses have tended to be transactional in nature: If we don’t deliver for our clients, we don’t get the next assignment. Client service is our lifeblood.
Recently, I asked our entire executive team to visit our clients and truly understand “how we’re doing,” as well as demonstrate the “top of the house” focus on client service.
I’m personally spearheading leadership sessions across all of our operations centers to remind our leaders of the importance of having a client-focused mindset. My message: over-deliver on our clients’ expectations, continually expand individual skills and abilities, eliminate delays…do it now, and take personal ownership of their service delivery.
HW: What is Clayton doing to invest in the technology it will need to serve this industry?
JT: One of the major advantages of being part of Radian is the financial strength and support it provides. This allows Clayton to invest in technology and to make strategic acquisitions, such as our recent acquisitions of RedBell Real Estate and ValuAmerica.
Recently, we significantly revamped our Global Loan Asset Surveillance System, a technology platform that facilitates real-time data exchange, analysis and performance reporting between loan servicers and their risk holders, and introduced Rental Asset Management Performance, a new surveillance and asset monitoring system for the single-family rental and fix-and-flip markets. We also launched new technology that supports the non-performing loan market, and this fall, we will unveil a new due diligence platform that will make our file review process more automated.