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Sprout Mortgage taps Wells Fargo veteran to lead retail

Michael Johnson will lead new distributed retail division

Non-QM lender Sprout Mortgage is setting up a distributed retail operation, and it’s picked a veteran of Wells Fargo to lead the new division.

Sprout hired former Wells Fargo executive Michael Johnson to expand Sprout’s consumer and retail sales channel, the company said Tuesday. Johnson, who most recently led the depository bank’s Southeast division, will report directly to Sprout’s president, Shea Pallante.

Johnson spent two decades at Wells Fargo, leading sales teams in the Miami and Philadelphia regions. Johnson, based in Miami, has also worked at PNC Bank during his career in mortgage banking.

“Michael will help drive our commitment to significantly build out Sprout’s retail sales channel through direct-to-consumer outreach, brick-and-mortar retail facilities, and strategic joint ventures – all designed to help Sprout better serve our end-user clients with high-quality financial solutions for home ownership and investment properties,” Pallante said in a statement.

Sprout said it intends to grow its retail channel through increased direct sales to consumers and residential investors, dedicated retail facilities, and joint ventures. Sprout does most of its business through mortgage brokers. It also has a low-margin correspondent business.

The addition of Johnson represents yet another change to the C-suite at Sprout, which halted non-QM lending last year when the coronavirus pandemic began and liquidity dried up. In the last six months, Sprout has unveiled a series of new products for it non-QM programresumed correspondent lending

In April, the company announced that it had hired Infosys chief information officer and global director of real estate finance Henry Santos to be CIO. It also appointed Laura LaRaia as chief legal officer. LaRaia was previously the chief legal officer and general counsel at First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation.

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