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UWM adds Fannie Mae exec as chief growth officer

Desmond Smith will be tasked with growing the broker channel

United Wholesale Mortgage has hired Desmond Smith, a former Fannie Mae executive, to be its chief growth officer as the wholesale firm attempts to usurp Rocket Mortgage as the nation’s top lender.

Smith comes to UWM after a stint at Fannie Mae as the senior vice president and chief customer officer for single family business. He’s also worked at the FHA, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, and Capital One Home Loans over the course of a 30-year career in mortgage lending.

Desmond P. Smith Headshot
Desmond P. Smith, the new chief growth officer at United Wholesale Mortgage.

At UWM, Smith will focus on how to grow the mortgage broker channel, which the lender is betting can grow from less than 20% of the overall originations market to about 33% in the next few years.

“Desmond is an innovative and thoughtful veteran of the mortgage industry who will bring a unique skillset and background to our team that will allow us to catapult the broker channel forward,” Mat Ishbia, president and CEO of UWM, said in a statement. “He believes in the wholesale channel and knows first-hand the benefits mortgage brokers bring to borrowers as well as the benefits a loan originator has access to when working at a broker shop.”

Smith ran national production teams and correspondent business at several top retail lenders, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase and Citibank. He landed at Fannie Mae in 2016 and was initially tasked with leading the East region for its top 200 customers. He quickly received a promotion and took over 1,200 customers and received the title “Chief Customer Officer.”

“I’ve had the privilege of working with many different companies and I am proud of the impact I was able to make, but when it was time for the next chapter in my career, joining the team at UWM was a no-brainer,” Smith said in a statement. “UWM was one of my top customers at Fannie Mae, so I’m very familiar with how they operate and their leaders. I’ve always been impressed by their dedication and focus on the broker channel. I’ve had the benefit of understanding all the origination channels, and mortgage brokers really are better. In most instances, they offer a more efficient experience with a cheaper cost.  I’m ecstatic about the contributions I can make to ensure more people know this to be true.”

UWM has grown to become the largest wholesale in America. In 2020, the company originated more than $182 billion in mortgages and was the largest purchase lender in the country. It’s one of only a handful of top lenders that operates solely in the broker channel. UWM hopes to achieve 50% market share in the broker space in the next few years.

Smith’s departure represents another significant personnel loss for one of the GSEs following the failed bid to end conservatorship. Andrew Bon Salle, the head of Fannie Mae’s single-family business, left in the fall. He was named chairman of wholesale lender Homepoint earlier this year, just weeks before the company went public. Freddie Mac’s David Brickman also stepped down as president in the fall, and Jeffery Walker, chief strategy officer of Fannie Mae, also left last year.

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