MBA’s Transformation ‘Far More Than A Marketing Effort’

As the mortgage banking industry continues to be reshaped by legislative, regulatory and economic factors, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, has been undergoing a transformation of its own – including not only a re-branding with the rollout of a new logo, but also a relocation to a new headquarters and the promotion of several key staff members to bolster its executive ranks.

In late October, during the MBA's 100th Annual Conference & Expo in Washington, D.C., the association announced that E. J. Burke, executive vice president and group head, KeyBank Real Estate Capital and Corporate Banking Services, had been tapped to serve as the association's next chairman. Burke previously served as chairman of the MBA's Commercial Real Estate/Multifamily Finance Board of Governors (COMBOG). He continues to serve as a member of the association's board of directors and as chair of the COMBOG Risk Retention Task Force. What's more, he is a former chair of the COMBOG Investor Council.

‘It is truly an honor to serve as chairman of MBA during its 100th year,’ Burke says. ‘The entire industry is undergoing historic change, and my goal is to ensure that MBA and its members are aligned, doing the right things to ensure that as these changes take place, we don't lose sight of what is best for our customers and for the larger economy and communities that we serve.’
MBA members also elected Bill Cosgrove, president and CEO of Union Home Mortgage Co., as chairman-elect and Bill Emerson, CEO of Quicken Loans Inc., as vice chairman. All three officers will serve for the 2013-2014 membership year.

Earlier in October, David H. Stevens, president and CEO of the MBA, announced that Michael Fratantoni, vice president, single-family research and policy development, had been appointed chief economist and senior vice president, research and industry technology. Fratantoni, who starts in his new role in February, will succeed Jay Brinkmann, who recently announced his retirement.

Fratantoni brings two decades of industry experience to his new position. In his current role, he serves as Brinkmann's top deputy on residential real estate and economic issues, managing MBA's industry surveys, economic and mortgage originations forecasts, industry technology efforts, and policy development research for issues impacting single-family lending.

Fratantoni is also executive director of MBA's Research Institute for Housing America and president of the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO), a not-for-profit subsidiary that develops technology standards for both the residential and commercial industry segments.

‘Mike has been an invaluable resource to MBA and its members as we try and navigate an ever-changing industry and economic environment,’ Stevens says. ‘His ability to compile and analyze data and apply it to complex public policy discussions has been a major factor in MBA effectively representing its members as policymakers implement many post-crisis reforms. His work has enabled us to make fact-based arguments about the impact of proposed rules, arguments that were critical in improving many of the Dodd-Frank reforms during the notice and comment period.’

Prior to rejoining the MBA in 2010, Fratantoni was an economic strategist within the enterprise risk management group of Washington Mutual, where he was responsible for assessing macroeconomic, regional and housing market trends that impacted the firm's risk exposure and business prospects. Previously, he had been senior director of single-family research and economics at MBA, after serving as director of economic and policy research at Fannie Mae.

During a recent interview, Stevens says he views having Emerson in the vice chair role as particularly important for the MBA, as technology is expected to play an increasingly dominant role in the mortgage market, moving forward. Similarly, Burke brings a wealth of experience and a deep perspective on industry trends to the role of chairman, Stevens adds.
‘I think having guys like Emerson onboard – and having E.J. Burke in the chairmanship – shows that we are anticipating that the business models are going to be very different, and that lenders are going to have to react to consumers, and not the other way around,’ Stevens says.

Stevens emphasized that the recent reorganization and re-branding at the MBA is ‘far more than just a marketing effort.

‘We've put a lot of thought into taking a brand that hasn't changed in decades to create an impression of something new, invigorated, strong and state-of-the-art – something that reflects the leadership posture we have in D.C.,’ Stevens explains.

Indeed, the MBA plays an important role in the industry, serving as an effective lobbying group in Washington, D.C., (it has provided federal regulators with important feedback and testimony regarding the development of many, if not all, of the new mortgage rules going into effect in January); a visionary in housing finance reform (the MBA recently released a series of white papers outlining steps for restructuring the secondary mortgage market); and also an important driver of technology innovation through MISMO.

In addition, the association plays a vital role in providing training and professional development to the industry through its MBA Education program (previously called CampusMBA), which has grown in popularity in recent years, as lenders and servicers seek to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent federal regulations. Stevens says the association's educational programs are what helped it add more than 460 new members last year. Today, the MBA boasts more than 2,000 members, Stevens explains.

‘Our education programs are growing dramatically,’ he says, adding that MBA Education recently expanded its offerings, hired a new training director and upgraded the capacity of its Web-based training platform to support more than 14,000 users simultaneously.

What's more, the association plays an important role in educating consumers about mortgage-related issues through its Home Loan Learning Center.

The MBA continues to hold more than a dozen conferences and seminars throughout the year and recently added its first independent mortgage bankers conference, ‘thus giving the independents one voice,’ Stevens says.

The association is also civically oriented, having recently partnered with Children's Hospital to launch the Open Doors Foundation, a non-profit that covers mortgage payments for parents of critically ill children.

‘We're more than just simply mortgage bankers – we represent the entire ecosystem of the mortgage banking industry,’ Stevens notes.

‘At the same time, when we chose to go with the new logo, we wanted to put the emphasis on mortgage bankers, as they lead the way,’ he says, adding that this is the reason the redesigned logo has the capital ‘M’ and ‘B’ and a lowercase ‘a.’


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