UWM CEO Mat Ishbia promises no layoffs during coronavirus slowdown

Ishbia: “I will sleep on your couch before I lay anyone off”

The CEO of the nation’s second-biggest mortgage lender told his 5,800 employees Thursday that not a single one of them will lose their jobs as the spread of COVID-19 continues to drive layoffs to record levels in the U.S.

“We are family. United Shore is your family,” United Wholesale Mortgage and United Shore CEO Mat Ishbia told his employees Thursday morning during a company-wide video call, before pledging that all 5,800 jobs will be protected.

“There will be no layoffs. I will sleep on your couch before I lay anyone off,” Ishbia said. “We’re going to do this together. If this month sucks, and next month sucks, I don’t care. No one is losing their job. No one on this call is losing their job.”

Over the last few years, UWM has grown into the nation’s No. 2 overall lender and the largest wholesale lender.

In his address to UWM’s employees, Ishbia celebrated the company’s growth and performance in recent years, while noting the company is prepared to weather a short-term slowdown to secure a more successful future.

“This is a scary time in America,” Ishbia said. “We all know people who have lost their jobs. But the mortgage industry, our business, will bring people out of this. Are there less loans in the market? Probably yes, because of the job losses.”

Ishbia said that the company will likely have a slower April than originally expected as the country struggles with the coronavirus shutdown. But the slowdown at UWM won’t only be because of a decline in mortgage demand.

Ishbia also said that the company is turning away some loans due to borrowers’ employment situations.

Ishbia noted the company’s recent announcement that it will require reverification of a borrower’s employment on the day their loan is scheduled to close. The purpose of that move: To ensure that borrowers are actually still employed when their mortgage closes.

The policy, which was put in place late last month, ruffled some feathers among mortgage brokers as the change came both at the end of the month, when brokers were rushing to close their loans, and in a way that Ishbia says wasn’t ideal.

“We have always been a little more conservative than other places,” Ishbia said. “But now, others are trying to match what we’re doing. Yes, we’ve done overlays and adjustments to address the market realities. That’s because I’m not going to sacrifice the future for one great month. The process was a little clunkier than I would have liked, but we feel good about where we are.”

According to Ishbia, the implementation of the new employment verification policy came on the “last day of the busiest month in our company’s history,” but Ishbia said he feels the changes are necessary to protect not only the company but the borrowers themselves.

“If people don’t have a job, I’m not going to put them in a bad position,” Ishbia said. “By doing this, we’re protecting borrowers, the company, and the country.”

Overall, Ishbia said that the new employment verification policy will probably affect more than 1,000 loans that would have funded otherwise, a volume that Ishbia places at approximately $350 million.

Despite that slowdown, Ishbia said he is confident that the company will come out of this period stronger than ever.

“We’re going to get through April. We’re going to get through May. We’re going to get through June. When July comes, we’re going to be better than everyone in America,” Ishbia told his employees.

“Our fourth quarter is going to be the best quarter in company history,” Ishbia continued. “Our country is going through a tough time. United Shore is going through a tough time, but you’re not going to go through a tough time.”

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