HousingWire spoke to Home Point Financial’s new President of Servicing Perry Hilzendeger about the company’s “We Care” philosophy and how Home Point supports its broker partners.
HW: What was it that initially drew you to Home Point, coming from such a long and rewarding career at such a large, well-known consumer-facing brand?
Perry Hilzendeger: The opportunity to join a company of Home Point’s size was incredibly attractive to me because it’s very much in growth mode. It’s exciting to be part of a company that has experienced such rapid growth over the last few years.
Home Point has only been around for five years and it’s already the fastest-growing top-five wholesale lender in the country. And it’s already on the fringe of being a top-10 correspondent lender. That trajectory is now being put in place for the servicing operation because we’ve seen such great success on the origination side of our business.
Additionally, Home Point aligns with my desire to work for a company that prioritizes customer satisfaction. Home Point’s people and its culture are incredibly strong.
There is a concerted effort to treat our people well throughout the company – whether it’s our associates, brokers or correspondent partners. Home Point has woven its “We Care” mentality into the fabric of how it conducts business daily, and it’s an excellent fit for me.
HW: How is the “We Care” philosophy reflected in Home Point’s approach to servicing?
PH: It’s simple. We make a concerted effort to ensure Home Point creates the best possible loan experience for customers, from start to finish – and that really benefits our mortgage broker and correspondent partners.
We care about our partners’ ability to build long-term sustainable value – and one of the ways we excel is by helping them hold onto their customers. We retain servicing for 99% of the loans we originate, and that’s intentional.
By keeping our partners at the forefront of every discussion with the customer, they have the opportunity to benefit from future transactions that the customer may look to do, whether it’s a refinance or another purchase.
Last quarter, wholesale lenders were only retaining around 20% of their loans. That number is so low because so many lenders get more entities involved in the transaction by selling off servicing. Then you have the customer, whose only real relationship is with the initial loan originator, ultimately being serviced by another company that they don’t know.
We believe in connecting the value chain for the customer. Our responsibility isn’t just to source customers to our partners, but to develop a relationship with the customer inclusive of the independent originator.
We care about the customer having a positive servicing experience for the entire life of the loan just as much as we care about them having a seamless origination experience. In turn, this helps our partners look great.
HW: Home Point retains the majority of its originated loans for servicing – how does this benefit mortgage brokers?
PH: It creates a tremendous value proposition for mortgage brokers because it facilitates customer retention. This is the part of the wholesale mortgage industry that presents great opportunity.
It’s hard to think of another industry where people, like mortgage brokers, work so hard and pay so much money to acquire new customers, but are then ineffective at retaining those customers.
Our mortgage broker partners work very hard and have significant expense associated with acquiring new customers. By retaining the servicing and developing a long-term relationship with the customer, the broker has the opportunity to earn their next loan.
The most significant opportunity, collectively, for the wholesale industry – mortgage brokers, in particular – is to make the servicing experience better for the customer. At Home Point, our goal is to make it a simplified and streamlined experience based on the customer’s preference.
We’re keeping the broker top of mind with the customer every time they log in to make a payment. Each conversation we have with the customer reminds them about their mortgage broker and reinforces the relationship in a meaningful way, instead of brokers having to arbitrarily make cold calls or send emails.
This long-term connectivity with the customer helps brokers retain their customers over the life of the loan, maximizing their earning potential over several years.
HW: That notion of “We Care” applies to your associates as well. How has the pandemic impacted the way business is done at Home Point?
PH: Thankfully, the mortgage industry has been among the few that have generally thrived during the pandemic because of historically low interest rates. Prior to the COVID-19 environment, we had approximately 37% of our associates working remotely. Once we began to experience the impacts of the pandemic, we pivoted quickly to expand the number of associates working remotely.
We have more than 96% of our team working from home, making our accelerated growth even more impressive. For us to grow our broker-oriented wholesale business faster than any other Top 5 wholesale lender with a remote workforce speaks volumes about the technology and processes we have in place, and how dedicated our associates are to helping our broker partners succeed.
We’re finding that our associates are embracing the opportunity to work from home and, in many ways, have been even more productive. It’s changing how we, as a leadership team, will manage work-life balance for our associates even after the pandemic has ended.
We’ve asked our associates for their feedback through surveys and weekly all-associate meetings and found that they appreciate the flexibility and ability to plan their work schedules around their personal lives, instead of the other way around.
Feedback has shown that 80% of our associates like the idea of a hybrid work arrangement, where they can work from home and choose which days they get to work in the office. We’re looking into doing more to accommodate our associates’ appreciation for flexibility because keeping them happy leads to tremendous success for Home Point, our broker partners and everyone.