A loan for every customer.

Author:Schneider, Howard
Position:Interview with Mortgage Bankers Association's new president Donald E. Lange - Interview

Donald E. Lange will assume the Presidency of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA) in Chicago with a pair of top priorities: increasing homeownership opportunities for all Americans, and maximizing the reach and effectiveness of commercial and multifamily financial tools. His objective is to keep improving the real estate finance delivery system through an industrywide approach to better meet the needs of all types of consumers.

An efficient market is in everyone's best interest, providing opportunities for more people, Lange says.

Lange's determination stems out of a career-long passion to get people into homes of their own and in providing the best possible financial solution for his customers. In the coming year, he will guide MBA to seek common bonds with other industry groups - ranging from Realtors to mortgage brokers. And Lange will listen carefully to the needs of MBA members in today's marketplace.

Lange's presidency comes at a time when the MBA is at a crucial moment in its history. A strategic plan, endorsed already by the MBA board of governors, lays out some dramatic governance changes. The changes are aimed at giving all the many splintered segments of the vast real estate finance industry more of a direct voice in what the MBA does on their behalf. Indeed, a separate governing board is being established, pending the approval of the membership at the Chicago convention, for the commercial members, and more of the same could be forthcoming for other cohesive groups of members with unique sets of issues.

Lange will preside over a year of great change as the governance changes and a new set of strategic initiatives are put in place to reconnect the MBA to all the growing segments in the industry. Be they brokers, multifamily lenders, correspondent lenders, local mortgage bankers, private mortgage insurers, commercial mortgage-backed securities conduits, or industry technology companies - MBA wants them under the tent, as members. Lange will be the voice that seeks to unite the various family members - at times wayward cousins (at best) - into a cohesive functional family. It will draw on his years of industry experience and be a challenging assignment even for an industry veteran.

A career of changing hats

Leadership and a drive for consensus aren't always mentioned in the same breath. Yet, in a career that's been full of changing executive responsibilities, wearing several different hats within the financial services industry keeps Lange from defending the status quo or touting preferred strategies.

That will likely prove helpful as Lange guides the new strategic plan into uncharted waters, and he will need to call on flexibility and pragmatic powers of persuasion and compromise to keep everyone in the fold.

Lange's career encompasses running a combined commercial and residential mortgage banking firm as well as a real estate venture capital company. Currently he is president of Weyerhaeuser Financial Investments, Inc., in Torrance, California. After completing undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin in 1967, Lange served three years as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He then began a mortgage banking career as a loan officer in Hayward, California, with Pacific Western Mortgage, a company newly acquired by Weyerhaeuser Mortgage Company.

After managing the San Jose retail branch, Lange assumed responsibility for all of Weyerhaeuser's retail loan originations, along with warehousing and shipping. In 1978, he moved to Weyerhaeuser Venture Company as president and chief executive officer and, in 1989, assumed the additional responsibilities of president and CEO of Weyerhaeuser Mortgage Company.

"He's personally fun-loving and outgoing," says Steve Margolin, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Weyerhaeuser Really Inc. Margolin has worked alongside Lange since 1980. "Professionally, Don is creative and aggressive - entrepreneurial within a corporate environment."

As a mentor, Lange "lets us run our part of the business," says Margolin. "We don't always agree, but be's good at listening and allows for a win-win solution. For Don, there's not just one right way to do things."

Mortgage Banking recently sat down with Lange and asked him some wide-ranging questions to get a sense of where Lange hopes to lead the industry in the coming year.

Q: What is the MBA focusing on now?

A: We are working on strategic planning as an association. An outside consulting firm was retained, and it began by conducting a survey and interviewing members. We are attempting to become more of an inclusive organization for the real estate finance industry. We refer to this as "the big tent" concept.

Mortgage insurers, title companies, closing-service providers, mortgage brokers and thrifts, all will be included in MBA efforts. It's going to make us stronger. For instance, we'll urge the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB) to be involved with us in mortgage banking issues. There are many, many issues where NAMB and MBA want to arrive at a similar solution.

If we can advance homeownership and the development of greater commercial and multifamily financial tools, the whole industry and consumers will benefit. We want MBA to be consumer-driven and member-driven.

Including other groups also recognizes that MBA's traditional core membership has changed. Four of the...

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