These nine profiles highlight some successful women executives in the mortgage banking business today.
The number of women-owned businesses increased 8.4 percent compounded annually from 1979 to 1990, double the rate of male-owned businesses, according to the National Association of Small Businesses. The group estimates that about 37 percent of all small businesses, or 7.7 million, are owned by women.
When it comes to mortgage banking, the number of firms owned by women is nowhere near 37 percent. In fact, it is still pretty tiny. But with consolidation transforming the industry into bigger and bigger companies, small mortgage banking companies are not as plentiful as they once were either. Nevertheless, if you look hard enough you can still find some small mortgage banking firms thriving. And some owe their success to some very able women executives. Even very large mortgage banking companies today count women among their ranks of senior executives.
When Mortgage Banking decided to take a hard look at a few of the women who have made it to the top ranks in this industry, it found hundreds of talented women in senior-management positions. But the search for CEOs and owners revealed that women at the most senior level in this business are still a rarity. But that doesn't mean you can't find them.
The nine successful mortgage banking women we chose to highlight have varied stories to tell. Most have had strong male mentors who encouraged them, pushed them along and paved the way for them. Yet several cite mortgage banking as a profession where talent and competence matters first, more than gender.
Most of those profiled have a gift for working well with people and have developed loyal coteries who have stayed with them through the years. Some staffers have followed our successful executives from job to job.
Our standout women mortgage bankers all report that their financial rewards match those of men in similar posts, although those who are owners say it is difficult to judge. They themselves are satisfied, however.
All are giving back to the industry through various volunteer efforts, including committee work with the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA), presidencies of state MBAs and work with other industry groups such as the secondary market agency advisory councils. Many make a point of sharing their experiences with others in the industry, women in particular, by mentoring, training, lecturing through various organizations and through the MBA Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) program.
As for up-and-coming young women executives, our profiled mortgage bankers have some interesting advice. Those who want to make it to the top can profit by listening, learning and emulating.
GAYE G. BEASLEY President The Patrician Financial Company Bethesda, Maryland
With $5,000 and the trust of a bank, Gaye Beasley created the first female-headed multifamily mortgage business in the country. The year was 1985. This year, her firm, The Patrician Financial Company, will realize some $320 million worth of new financings and service some $1.4 billion in multifamily loans.
How did this soft-spoken woman develop one of the largest FHA co-insurance portfolios in the nation, doing $570 million? The answer probably lies not just in being in the right place at the right time, as she modestly says, but in her ability to see where change will lead and to follow the path she sees. Right now, she is anticipating a thriving market in the healthcare mortgage field and staffing up to handle loans to nursing homes and projects involving the elderly.
Beasley is that rare person who seems to have made no enemies on the way up. "She's the kind of person who makes her points without pounding the table," says Gretchen MacNair, vice president of loan administration for Reilly Mortgage Group, Inc., and one of the women Beasley brought into the mortgage business. "Her softness and kindness take people off-guard; she's really quite remarkable."
Back in 1969, Beasley was working on Capitol Hill and getting increasingly bored. She had started out with a degree in English literature from the University of Miami, then taken graduate business courses at George Washington University and American University in Washington, D.C. Then she applied for a job with Mallory Walker who brought her into his mortgage company, Walker & Dunlop, Inc., as his executive assistant.
Overworked, open-minded, and supportive, Walker "gave me an opportunity," says Beasley, letting her work on a new program of FHA-insured project loans. Beasley processed and closed a number of FHA loans, eventually becoming an assistant vice president for originations.
And there she stayed until 1976 when she and Jack Reilly founded Reilly Mortgage Group in Washington, D.C., where she was a minority stockholder and vice president. Her talent for building relationships with borrowers was becoming seasoned, and she was developing strong relationships with FHA, Ginnie Mae and, later, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and NationsBank. These stood her in good stead, as investors turned to her for financing and returned again and again, even if there were times when she couldn't handle their loans.
In 1981, Reilly decided to leave the origination business. But Beasley liked the excitement of production. She bought Reilly's production pipeline and opened a Washington office for ABG Associates, Inc., a Baltimore mortgage firm.
When she saw the business was becoming a servicing company, she made a deal with ABG in 1985 to buy her production on a profit-sharing basis and establish her own firm, The Patrician Mortgage Company. She had $5,000 in cash, an excellent line of credit from American Security Bank, and the heartfelt support of her tax attorney husband.
Patrician has grown its own staff as a rule, Beasley says. Two of her female cohorts went with her to ABG. They and two others joined her when she established Patrician.
In 1987, Bill Comings, a senior vice president at National Housing Partnerships, joined the firm as executive vice president. "He complements me," she explains, bringing historical knowledge and the ability to close deals and bring people together. Beasley herself is superb at problem solving, building relationships and is positive about new challenges. If anything, she may be too optimistic, she says.
In her staff, Beasley looks for character and an eagerness to learn as well as experience. "We don't want originators who are going to overpromise," Beasley points out. Half her originators are women, with most of the loan production being done through correspondents.
"I think companies that don't draw on both genders make a mistake," the entrepreneurial president says.
In 1988, Patrician Mortgage was one of the first 10 lenders selected for the launching of Fannie Mae's new Delegated Underwriting and Servicing (DUS) product line for the funding of multifamily projects. In 1990, she founded The Patrician Financial Company to specialize in DUS loan origination and servicing. Later, the new subsidiary handled the Freddie Mac Program Plus business and other conduit lending. Patrician is also one of five conduit lenders for NationsBank and an approved FHA-insured lender and issuer of GNMA mortgage-backed securities.
As for her own career, she has always been able to work within the system. Back in the 1980s, people were looking for diversity, she says. She was elected to the board of governors of the Mortgage Bankers Association, one of two women at the time. She was the first woman president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Metropolitan Washington. In addition, she is on the board of the National Multi-Housing Council and has served on Fannie Mae's Advisory Council and Fannie Mae's Impact Advisory Council.
Beasley has only one problem: finding time for oneself without cheating her husband or her daughter. She relaxes by walking the beach in Ponte Vedra, Florida, and taking a whack at a golf ball when she finds the time between watching her seven-year-old at ballet school and other claims on her attention.
BARBARA R. CHAUNCEY Senior Vice President Private Deals/Investor Relations American Home Funding, Inc. Richmond, Virginia
When she counts the people who've helped her make it to the top, Barbara Chauncey names three: John Phillips, previously a secondary marketing director at Crestar Mortgage in Richmond, who was not only a secondary market expert, but also was willing to teach her the necessary technical skills; Paul Reid, president of American Home Funding, Inc., and current MBA president, for his enthusiasm for the industry, and her husband, who finds her success as exciting as she does.
Chauncey's unusual professional title means that she sells all loans that are not securitized and develops and maintains relationships with players in the secondary market from Wall Street to Fannie Mae to private investors. What her fide doesn't tell you is that she also is responsible for developing new products. Success in developing ARM programs helped American Home weather 1994 when the need to find alternatives to fixed-rate mortgages spelled the difference between survival and collapse for many mortgage firms. Developing new mortgage products and finding investors is a challenge she thoroughly enjoys.
Getting her formal education at Virginia Commonwealth University and the MBA School of Mortgage Banking, Chauncey has been in the business since 1969 when she started out with the Pennisula Savings Bank in Newport News, Virginia. She stayed there for more than 10 years before moving to Richmond, where she worked with United Virginia Bank (now Crestar) and then, briefly, with the Bank of Virginia (now Signet).
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