One year ago, Jonathan Kempner, president and chief executive officer of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), wrote in his column in the January 2006 issue of Mortgage Banking: "Industry leaders can change the course of history," when describing the Council to Shape Change. Citing past and current transformers of the business landscape such as Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, Kempner acknowledged that there are certain times in every industry's history when an unusual amount of creativity and change is occurring. And the mortgage business is at one of these turning points.
Many pundits agree that there has been a major shift in the American psyche about homeownership. A house has become a financial tool that can help consumers achieve goals and build wealth. The very nature of the customer experience has been transformed dramatically. Given this scenario, what could be more effective for an industry that is one of the linchpins of the economy than to create a think tank comprised of some of the brightest minds in real estate finance?
Thus was born the Council to Shape Change, the brainchild of former MBA Chairman Regina Lowrie, CMB, in the fall of 2005. No known project of this type had ever before been undertaken in this industry. The participants, all with unparalleled experience and expertise, represented a broad spectrum of residential and commercial, small and large, and prime and non-prime real estate finance companies.
The Council to Shape Change was not about a lot of intellectuals mulling over the state of affairs. Instead, it was a group of leaders and doers who are currently running critical business functions within the industry.
We [this column's authors--Andy Woodward, council chairman, and Brenda White, a council member] were honored to work with some amazing people for the first half of 2006. Our deep appreciation goes out to all the other participants who made a highly unusual commitment of both time and energy to this endeavor. It is astounding to think that everyone kept such a high level of participation and interest over the course of six months. This commitment involved preparatory homework, traveling to and attending group sessions for two days each month, and working collaboratively to create the final 180-page outlook report.
The council opened up the opportunity to work on important issues in a truly apolitical manner. While MBA sponsored the study, the Council to Shape Change was on...