Top 10 lender and servicer Freedom Mortgage has trimmed its workforce across multiple rounds of layoffs this year and continues to “offshore” some jobs, former employees tell HousingWire.
In response to falling origination volume, the New Jersey-based mortgage company has conducted at least four rounds of layoffs this year – in March, May and August, multiple sources told HousingWire. Eliminated positions included loan officers, closers, underwriters and client advocates, according to six former employees. (The former employees requested anonymity because they believe speaking publicly would jeopardize their future job prospects.)
Privately held Freedom Mortgage did not respond to requests for comment about the layoffs, which sources said primarily affected the wholesale division.
Freedom, like most top lenders and servicers, has long offshored a portion of its operations, hiring staff overseas to work mortgage files at lower costs. The lender has a contract with Moder, the business outsourcing arm of Archwell Holdings, sources said. Moder, founded in December 2020, has a presence in India and the Philippines and plans on opening an operation center in Central America this year, according to its website. Erik Anderson, president and CEO of Archwell did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Multiple former employees said the cuts at Freedom led to loan closer and underwriter positions being transferred to India, with U.S.-based Freedom employees reviewing work done by international workers.
“The only thing that is needed from the American team is communication and a quick compliance overview that is being done by the outsourced staff,” a former U.S. employee said. “You’re handling a higher volume, because you’re not doing the actual work. You’re doing a quick scan, correcting errors, you’re being the communication piece.”
After the layoffs, organizational restructurings occurred. As part of those restructuring some supervisors were demoted to become team leads and closers, sources claimed.
“I changed team leads four times,” said a former junior underwriter who worked remotely. “They would do a round of layoffs and they would restructure how you did your job.”
Changes included client advocates (a sole contact point between the broker and underwriter) sharing an inbox set up to address mortgage brokers’ inquiries, to being assigned to individual brokers because there was a drop in business, former employees said.
“They were trying to do a more streamlined process but they said we didn’t have the volume that was more efficient,” a former employee said.
Freedom, led by Stan Middleman, claims on LinkedIn to have more than 10,000 employees. HousingWire wasn’t able to confirm if that figure included staff overseas.
Freedom ranked as the nation’s sixth largest lender by origination volume during the first half of 2022, but like its competitors is suffering from the impact of high mortgage rates. According to data from Inside Mortgage Finance, the lender originated $19 billion of loans in the first six months of this year, with $8.3 billion originated in the second quarter of this year. Loan origination volume dropped 74% in the second quarter compared to the same period last year.
Last month, Freedom sold RoundPoint Mortgage Servicing to mortgage servicer Matrix Financial Services Corp. and a wholly owned subsidiary of real estate investment trust Two Harbors Investment Corp. two years after Freedom acquired it.
The acquisition increased Freedom’s combined owned and subserviced mortgage servicing rights portfolio to $310 billion, Freedom announced at the time.
The deal with Matrix led Roundpoint to close some sales operations and lay off employees.