PERSON OF THE WEEK: Kingsley Kodan is senior vice president of sales for Equity Loans.
MortgageOrb interviewed Kodan to learn more about the company's recent entry into the wholesale market and the steps the company is taking to survive the volatility of the lending industry.
Q: Equity Loans recently announced its entry into the wholesale market – why make this move?
Kodan: One of our main strategies for growing the company is diversification through multiple channels, which helps build our servicing portfolio and further expands our product offering. Entering the wholesale market enables us to leverage alternate channels and build a stronger foundation for future operations, giving our loan originators more flexible options for their borrowers.
Previously, we had one or two investors when we really needed eight or 10, and the wholesale channel provides us with that additional revenue stream we needed. Now, we can purchase loans from companies that have loans they are unable to sell due to limited investor outlets and those that are hung up on warehouse lines. Equity Loans was founded at the height of the mortgage crisis in 2008 as a broker, so we have an understanding and appreciation for the challenges brokers face today. We are a sales-oriented organization, and we are eager to serve the broker community.
Q: How will the company support this new business internally?
Kodan: To support this new side of the business, we established a team of underwriters, loan coordinators, closers and sales professionals to better assist our brokers, as we place a great deal of emphasis on communicating with our broker partners. With a dedicated team and processes in place, we have eliminated internal bandwidth issues. As the company continues to grow and expand into these specialized business segments, we will continue to recruit more individuals to join our team.
Q: Earlier this year, the company announced that it had received Fannie Mae approval. How important are these direct authority approvals in today's marketplace?
Kodan: Our Fannie Mae approval has made us more self-reliant and vertically integrated as an organization. It has also allowed us to offer loan programs that can be underwritten to agency guidelines without being encumbered by investor overlays. We began to pursue government-sponsored enterprise (GSE) approvals back in 2011 because we knew early on that in order to offer more products and help more borrowers, GSE approvals would be a critical component of Equity Loans' future growth. The ability to sell whole loans to Fannie Mae gives us an even greater opportunity to originate more loans. In addition to Fannie Mae, we are in the final stages of approval with several other GSEs.
Q: What other steps is the company taking to survive the volatility of the lending industry?
Kodan: Beyond diversifying our channels, our primary focus is to capture market share in all our channels: retail branching, wholesale lending and portfolio acquisition. To accomplish this goal, we plan to continue to offer better service levels, product variety, value-added services and of course, new members to our team.
One of the biggest challenges for lenders today is the shift from a refinance model to more of a purchase-driven market, and to brace for this change, we encourage our team to focus on the relationships that will fuel this shift. While realtor and builder relationships are paramount, financial planners and even divorce attorneys can be key drivers for our business. Staying on top of the latest industry regulations is also important, as maintaining compliance can be a challenge if you are unaware of new or changing requirements. The market is unpredictable, so you have to prepare your team to focus on the future.