Fred Kreger, CMC, incoming CAMP President (and branch manager of American Family Funding in Santa Clarita, Calif., a division of American Pacific Mortgage)
Q—How has the mortgage broker’s role changed?
A—There has definitely been a major change over the last five years. It’s a good idea to clarify that the title “broker” is now synonymous with “loan originator.” Whether you’re working for a mortgage banker, depository institution, or with a wholesale channel, at the end of the day everyone has most of the same needs and challenges. We all need training, education and networking. We have to stop the “us versus them” mentality that has been so pervasive in the mortgage lending industry. We all serve the consumer.
Q—You’ll agree that consumers’ perception of brokers/originators has changed?
A—Generally, yes. Originators are gradually regaining our positive reputation as professionals who provide a valuable service. Consumers seem to trust us more. So are legislators, who instead of pointing fingers at us for being involved in the financial crisis, want to work together to help solve the issues.
Q—Do you feel there is still room for improvement in how originators work?
A—Certainly the originators still working are those that have made it a career. Every day they’re helping consumers achieve their dream of homeownership. However, I also think too many originators continue to accept mediocrity. They aren’t as proactive or involved as they might be. Once you stop learning and growing within your profession, you should consider doing something else.
Q—What are the major challenges we face today?
A—As a group, working with regulators who have control of the mortgage lending environment has been a major challenge. Communicating with regulators to tell our side of the story can be difficult. It involves relating how a loan is originated and overcoming any misconceptions regarding the originator’s role, so that regulators have a better understanding of what will be in the best interests of the consumer. A big dilemma is determining how we can serve our clients if the rules change every week; it’s likely that consumers ultimately pay the price.
On an individual level, originators must be sure they have a viable channel through which to lend. They must have the confidence that they can originate in order to help consumers. It is often a matter of survival. Originators also have to look to the future, realizing that they can’t overemphasize refinance business because the interest rates will eventually rise. A greater focus on purchase business will ensure your survivability in the future.
Q—What responsibility do originators have to their profession?
A—Obviously they need to adhere to the Code of Ethics. Be a member of the association that represents you. Give back and serve your industry to ensure its survival and your own. When CAMP goes to Sacramento or Washington, D.D. to lobby, we are representing everyone, not just the paid members. So get involved; you’ll find there are many benefits of membership. Those who have read William Buckley’s book Gratitude know that he called for young people to serve their country. I am asking every one of California’s 35,000 originators to show gratitude by giving back to the industry which has given them and others prosperity.
Q—What are your primarily goals as the new president of CAMP?
A—Definitely to increase membership and overall member involvement in CAMP. I want to encourage more people to accept leadership roles, including helping at the local level. I’d rather have people do one thing great, so they don’t get burned out on volunteering.
Of course, we will also be focusing on working closely with regulators and legislators.
Education is another important goal. We need to provide even greater awareness of the continuing education requirement that we all have.