ALL OF THIS YEAR'S MORTGAGE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT) ALL-STARS HAVE ONE THING IN COMMON: They stay in the mortgage industry because of the challenge of trying to make the mortgage process better and the excitement that comes from technological change. * But that's where most of the similarities end. Although a few are lawyers, most have very different backgrounds that typically don't include highly technical training or decades in the mortgage business. * This year's group, however, has brought about change in the mortgage industry in ways that mean the business will never be the same.
It was the Internet that brought Sig Anderman, 62, out of retirement--that is, this last time he decided to come out of retirement.
Anderman, chief executive officer and founder of Ellie Mae Inc., Dublin, California, says, "I feel like the George Foreman of the mortgage industry." He says he keeps coming back because "the mortgage business is always good, even in the bad years, because it's a huge industry."
Anderman, once a practicing lawyer, started his mortgage industry-related career in 1973 when he was a stockholder in American Home Shield. The company offered one-year home warranties (against unexpected home or appliance repairs) to homeowners through real estate brokers. He later became chief executive officer of the company. In 1980, the business was sold.
In 1982, he started CompuFund Inc., a company that offered loan comparisons for adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) long before there was a cap on the rates.
In addition to offering the side-by-side rate comparisons, he started brokering mortgages, and during the late 1980s the company began to fund loans and became known for being a computerized mortgage firm.
Anderman decided he wanted to retire in 1987, but stayed on as CEO of CompuFund until 1991. In 1993, he came out of retirement to start another business, Inspectech Corporation, which provided technology to home inspectors. He sold that company in 1997.
"Then I really retired and I bought a ranch," says the New York City native, referring to his ranch in the wine country of California, where he has an orchard, a red tractor, chickens, a goat, a pony and a llama.
Then came the Internet.
"I started doing my banking online and looking at my stock [online], and then I realized: This is the marriage waiting to happen between the Internet and the mortgage business," Anderman says, explaining that he saw the duplication in procedures and all the paper that could be eliminated.
"It looked to me to be a terrific application to use for the mortgage industry," he says.
After talking to a venture capitalist friend who suggested Anderman start a company, he did just that. "I couldn't resist the challenge," he says.
It was 1998 when Anderman started Electronic Mortgage Affiliates, now simply known as Ellie Mae. And from listening to what the industry needed, the company started focusing on business-to-business (B2B) services. The company also started offering a platform that would allow originators to access mortgage transactions via the Internet.
Anderman attributes the success of Ellie Mae to hiring "very smart, accomplished people and letting them do their jobs." He adds to that formula for success this additional principle: His company creates products that "pass my skill set." He explains, "So we keep it simple."
The opportunity to make a difference is what attracted Anderman to the mortgage industry, he says, and it's the thing that keeps him in the industry.
David Barkley, 44, director of eCommerce relations for Freddie Mac, McLean, Virginia, has demonstrated his commitment to making sure the mortgage industry has the electronic data standards it needs to be as efficient as possible.
After graduating with a degree in economics from Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, and a master of arts degree in telecommunications from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., Barkley spent a few years at the telecommunications division of Dayton, Ohio-based NCR Corporation.
Bringing his experience in data communications, Barkley started in the mortgage industry 17 years ago when he worked for the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) in the electronic communications division. He joined the Mortgage Banking Service Corporation, where he worked to bring ECHO, an electronic network, to the mortgage industry.
When mortgage professionals started asking for more ways to use the system in 1987, Barkley sent out an industrywide e-mail advertising a seminar on how to use the system. And he's been helping the industry set standards ever since.
Although Barkley admits some would question the success of previous standardization efforts, given that X12 and electronic data interchange (EDI) never really took off, he says, "They were successful in establish lasting collaborations and synergies that can be built upon."
Now with the growing acceptance of the need for standards, he's seen how "you can define the possibilities in technology and take the possibilities and make them realities."
Barkley is chairman of the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization's (MISMO's) Governance Committee, and is an active member of MBA's MISMO workgroups. These workgroups are responsible for developing standardized electronic data transactions and considering emerging technologies for the real...