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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 Mat Ishbia, president and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, to talk about the vital role that brokers play in the mortgage industry, and how UWM is supporting their growth.

Q. United Wholesale Mortgage is the No. 1 wholesale lender in the country. What kind of growth do you see in the mortgage broker channel across the industry?

IshbiaA. I see big growth in the mortgage broker channel over the next three years. It’s the best place for loan officers to work, and it’s the best place for borrowers to get a loan. Brokers used to make up close to 50% of the market and, while I don’t see the number getting back to that level, right now it’s in the 12-15% range and we see brokers reaching more than 20% of the market. More loan officers are leaving banks and retail lenders to work for mortgage brokers. More real estate agents are seeing the better client service that brokers deliver. More borrowers are reaping the benefits of using brokers.

Q. Do you think consumers are becoming more aware of mortgage brokers and what benefits they offer?

A. Absolutely. I think consumers and real estate agents are all realizing that mortgage brokers have huge benefits. Real estate agents are able to close deals on time because they’re working with brokers that can choose a specific lender based on their desired turn times. Agents can hit their contract dates more consistently by working with brokers than retail lenders.

Consumers are seeing the value of brokers because options matter, and shopping mortgages matters. They’re seeing that mortgage brokers are actually in their local communities and can offer them multiple choices. More and more borrowers are realizing that having options is key, and mortgage brokers provide the most options.

Q. How can mortgage brokers compete with retail lenders when it comes to technology, especially as consumer expectations continue to rise?

A. Mortgage brokers can compete with retail lenders because, besides the multiple products, they have access to technology, innovation and ideas of 20 wholesale lenders, not just one retail lender. What’s happening more now than five years ago, on the technology side, is wholesale lenders are building technology to help brokers thrive. Brokers actually have better technology than a lot of retail lenders because they have access to [UWM’s] marketing technology and Blink, and several other wholesale lenders, so they can use the best technology that everyone has to offer. Brokers didn’t have that kind of support five years ago. 

Q. What does UWM do differently to support mortgage brokers?

A. A big part of why UWM is different is that we’re partners with mortgage brokers. Our company will grow if brokers grow because we only do wholesale lending. We believe completely in the wholesale channel. We’re not competing with brokers at all, and we want brokers to succeed. Our business is to help brokers thrive, and if we do that and we keep doing a great job, we’ll grow our business as well. So we’re completely different because our focus is to really support brokers. Everything we think about is: How do we help this broker go from 10 loans a month to 12? How do we help that broker go from 20 loans a month to 25? We want them to get better.

Q. Beyond those day-to-day client service efforts, UWM stands out because of the programs it’s involved with, like KickStart. Why is that so important to you?

A. KickStart is important to us because we know that mortgage brokers are the best place for a borrower to get a loan and the best place for loan officers to work. The program is also big for entrepreneurship. We really believe in the value of people starting their own companies and we want to help support that. UWM is an entrepreneurial company, and if we can help loan officers achieve their dreams of running their own business, that’s important. Helping entrepreneurs that are going into the mortgage broker world is a win-win for us, and we really believe in it.