Mortgages changed my life. Like most mortgage industry professionals, I fell into the business. Most of us don’t grow up telling everyone that we want to change the world by selling, processing, underwriting and closing mortgages. Unless, perhaps, you are my five-year-old daughter and six-year-old son. They both make it known that they will “do mortgages with mom” while they build skyscrapers and run the country. Maybe they were born with mortgages in their blood.
Throughout my earlier years in school, elementary and middle, math always came easy to me. During high school, I continued to excel and enjoy math. I opted for every AP math class I could and during my era, we had an accounting elective that I sought after. I remember that class vividly to this day.
I loved it and that was not a word I threw around casually when it came to academics. That was my junior year of high school. When college applications came around and you had to select a major (for context, I was 17 and could not decide what I was going to wear that day), I checked off the accounting box.
I went on to graduate from Northeastern University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration and a concentration in Accounting. Graduating in late 2009, which was not an ideal time to join the workforce, I Initially intended to sit for the certified public accountant exam, but after thorough research and understanding of what my life would look like working for a “Big Four”, I was not convinced. I didn’t want to put more hours into school, studying and an office.
It didn’t help that all the careers we were told about and prepped for were corporate finance and accounting roles, where you sit in a cubical and work your way up the corporate ladder.
Long story short, I opted to work for several defense contractors, including Raytheon and General Dynamics. I joined their finance departments and gained some remarkable experience, skills, and connections.
After that, I was in the corporate world for about seven years, eventually landing my last corporate finance job at a nuclear power plant. Ironically, it was an “old boys club”.
I just had my son Bruce, and my boss at the time was giving me my review. I vividly remember him saying that I was doing great working my scheduled nine hours but wished that I could put more hours in.
To add it to it, he also said, “You knew you were pregnant when you took the job.” Not too long after that stellar review, I had the opportunity to go right into sales at a small mortgage company in my hometown.
Looking back, I just found out I was pregnant with our daughter and recall asking if I should wait until I had the baby to start or if I could start before. Hindsight being 20/20, I know now that’s not something you need to ask permission for. Fortunately, it did not matter to my new employer that I was going to have another baby, so I started as soon as possible.
A passion for mortgage
If you told me back then that I would live in my hometown, sell mortgages and be so passionate about my career that it does not even feel like work, I would never have believed you.
Mortgages have been transformative for me personally and professionally. I know that everything happens for a reason and timing is everything. However, I want to make sure that mortgages change more lives than just mine. I want to share the impact that you can have in this industry with students, showing them what it looks like as a career path early on.
Students need to be empowered and encouraged to use their strengths. Mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers and banking institutions all need to come together on this. We need to host our own career days at middle schools, high schools, tech schools, and colleges across the country. We also need to develop comprehensive co-op and internship programs with leading colleges. People in the industry can even tap into their alumni networks to learn more about how we can get these implemented.
My first boss in the mortgage industry taught me to focus on my strengths and delegate my weaknesses. While all of this might seem obvious, not everyone has a support system that encourages you to have a voice, asks you what you want to do and lets you find your way.
Raising the next generation of mortgage professionals
The financial industry, especially the business of mortgages, has largely looked the same since its inception — we all know what that means. I am blessed to be one of few women leading my own team, tailoring programs for the fiscally marginalized and the many underserved communities that are often overlooked.
Too often, companies focus all their energy on the bottom line. We believe in profit with a purpose, creating social value alongside economic value and keeping the customer experience in mind each step of the borrower’s journey.
I entered the mortgage world with no prior exposure, but I was determined to absorb information wherever I could find it. I would have loved to have an established network of female and male leaders to learn the intricacies of the mortgage industry from.
It proved difficult learning from those without shared perspectives and experiences — such as being a full-time working mother. Still, I sought out the best of the best in the industry and formed my own tribe of mentors. One of my top priorities now is implementing an active mentorship program for those interested in entering the business.
Anne Finucane, vice chairman at Bank of America and one of the most powerful women in banking, recently stated, “You can be anything you want to be — believe in yourself; be an innovative thinker; ask questions and listen.”
I look forward to continuing to share my knowledge and resources with anyone who is interested in building a career in the mortgage industry.
A shift in leadership and representation within our industry leads to increased diversity of thought, experience, and innovation — with female leaders providing a different perspective. This also leads to a more robust lending experience for everyone.
When dealing with a commodity, the client experience should be paramount. Day in and day out, my team and I have a tangible impact on our client’s lives. Rather than be transactional, it should be an opportunity to lend a helping hand. I am hoping as more female power players are recognized and discuss their positive experiences, more women will be inspired to pursue a career in lending.
Mortgages gave me the freedom to take my infant daughter to broker opens. Mortgages allow me to take my kids to the doctors. Mortgages gave me my voice. Mortgages gave me my confidence. Mortgages gave me freedom. Mortgages allow me to help people buy homes and have a safe place to live. Mortgages allow me to help people achieve financial wellness. Mortgages have given my family and me a life we could have only dreamed of. And lastly, mortgages have given me lifelong friendships.
These are just a few examples of why I live and breathe mortgages. I want to make sure that this industry is not kept a secret. I want to help bring in the next generation of mortgage professionals and make sure that mortgages change the lives of others too.
This commentary was part of the August issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read the full issue, go here.