The Mortgage Bankers Association's new logo was omnipresent at its 100th Annual Convention & Expo in Washington, D.C., this week. But what some attendees may not realize is that there's more behind the logo change than just a lowercase ‘a.’ Rather, the association is undergoing a transformation.
‘The goal is to re-assert our role in the industry and bring a fresh new look to the association, both internally and externally,’ said MBA president and CEO David Stevens during a recent interview. ‘So, we have a modern, fresh brand – and behind that, the messaging is extremely important: leading strong with one voice, one vision for the entire industry.’
Stevens, former assistant secretary for housing and federal housing commissioner at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), said when he first the joined the MBA two years ago, the association had ‘a whole bunch of issues â�¦ one of which was, we really hadn't established what our purpose was to our broad membership in today's world.’
‘So we embarked on a strategic planning process that was very thorough and involved a great deal of research,’ he said. ‘We hired an independent research company, as well as used our communications and marketing staff – we surveyed policymakers, regulators, legislators, the media, tens of thousands of members large and small, bank and non-bank.’
That effort, in turn, ‘allowed us to synergize and clarify what our strengths are and where we should focus our efforts – all of that leading into this 100th anniversary and the desire to re-brand the MBA,’ Stevens said.
The MBA added more than 460 new members last year and now boasts more than 2,000 members, Stevens reported. Some of that growth, he said, has been driven by its training and continuing education programs, which have grown in popularity in recent years, as lenders and servicers seek to ensure compliance with increasingly stringent federal regulations.
‘Our education programs are growing dramatically,’ he said, adding that CampusMBA 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.
Also predicating the brand change, Stevens explained, is that the MBA's membership has grown more diverse over the years. While the association started as ‘a group of farm lenders lending into the agricultural community,’ today it represents almost every type of mortgage finance entity, including ‘single family, multifamily and commercial lenders from across the country – mortgage originators, mortgage investors, mortgage servicers, real estate investment trusts, service providers, technology firms and law firms.’
In addition, the organization has seen a shift in the makeup of its membership – for example, consolidation among larger banks in recent years has resulted in the MBA seeing stronger membership, comparatively, among community banks.
‘Independent mortgage bankers have been having a renewed and invigorating experience being part of the organization,’ Stevens said.
What's more, the organization has seen increasing membership among real estate investment trusts and life insurance companies that are active in multifamily, as well as legal, accounting and technology firms specializing in regulatory compliance.
‘The private capital side has gotten more engaged. too,’ he said.
Perhaps more importantly, the timing is right for a brand change.
‘There has been a complete change in the landscape of the industry,’ he said. ‘With this new focus on responsibility and integrity and ethics, our industry hasn't had to be this introspective in its entire history. So, we felt it would be good at this point to stop and reassess where we are and how we serve the industry. 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.’