On the April 30 edition of the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series, host Andrew Berman, head of engagement and outreach for National Mortgage Professional magazine, had the opportunity to chat with Patty Arvielo, president and co-founder of New American Funding.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose challenges for the mortgage industry, the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series is designed to help mortgage professionals navigate the evolution of the industry as it copes with the effects of the coronavirus.
Just a month away from her 39th year in the industry, Arvielo established New American Funding’s Latino Focus and the New American Dream initiatives to improve the home lending experiences for Latino and African American homebuyers.
As part of the industry since the age of 16, she described the moment she knew she found her calling. “It was around the age of 19 when a gentleman who has been in this business forever who owned a brokerage shop came to me with a box of cards and said ‘Hey, you need to go and ask Realtors for loans,’” she said. “It was that minute I had that personal connection with homebuyers. I was their champion because I was able to deliver their keys. Then, it was all done! This was my mission … to help people get into homes.”
A Balancing Act
Arvielo, along with husband Rick, New American Funding’s CEO, lead the company. The two complement one another’s leadership styles as she describes both Rick and herself as “visionaries.”
“I have the heartbeat to the street, meaning I know what loan officers want,” describes Arvielo. “I know how branch managers feel. I know how mortgage brokers feel. I bring that ‘heart’ perspective to the table.”
Rick Arvielo, meanwhile, completes the tandem as Patty Arvielo describes him as a “Master Executor.”
“If I give him a vision, he executes. He knows the business well enough and he comes up with things from a common-sense perspective,” she said.
“It is great at our company because you have male and female equal leadership. You have females that can see me and aspire to be me. You have males that are driven by Rick’s leadership skills,” said Arvielo. “There is a perfect harmony here, and you can see it in our demographics from our employee pool.”
The True Value of Independence
“The thing about independent mortgage bankers and independent mortgage brokers, is we are much more nimble,” said Arvielo. “That’s why we can serve the street. I ask any bank mortgage loan originator the last time they were able to speak to the president of the bank. When was the last time you had a conversation with [JPMorgan Chase Bank CEO] Jamie Dimon? We are just a much more nimble platform … we move quicker, we react quicker, we speak many different languages.
“My mortgage loan originators can get to me at any given time. It’s a critical need for leadership to be nimble enough where the originators can touch the clients we serve. We have to come together.”
Unlike any other time in the industry, Arvielo sees this time as one where competitors should join together and unite for the greater good of the American homebuyer.
“You’ve got to wish good. This is a great industry for all of us and we do a lot of great work together, so that’s my mission,” said Arvielo. “We have to work together this time. Not like the meltdown, we have to speak up as a united front for the independent mortgage banker and the independent mortgage broker. If there was a time when we can all come together, it’s this time. Humanity is at the forefront of everything that we do.”
“I have been preaching that if there was ever a chance to use your human element, your love and your passion for this industry, the time is now,” said Arvielo. “You have homebuyers who are suffering … homeowners currently who do not know the difference between ‘forbearance’ and ‘forgiveness.’”
The Changing Workplace
Arvielo noted that New American was ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Rick Arvielo took action in January to prep the company before the crisis hit U.S. shores.
“The minute Rick started to hear the news in early January about what was going on in Wuhan, the minute he heard the word ‘pandemic,’ he bought every laptop that he could. So in January, we loaded up on all of this equipment.”
Getting ahead of what was about to blanket the nation as the “new norm” was arriving on our shores, Arvielo recalled the moment New American decided to go remote and send its workforce home.
As a member of the National Parks Foundation board of directors, she was slated to meet with President Trump on Friday, March 13, in Denver to discuss parks preservation.
“I remember specifically the 12th of March was when I got the call that we were not going to meet up, the 13th is when we sent everybody home, and by that Tuesday, March 17, we were completely remote,” recalled Arvielo.
The early investment in the technology to go remote spurred greater productivity from the New American work force.
“We are killing it remotely! Productivity is through the roof. I think we closed 4,000 units in February, and are looking to close 9,000 units this month [in April],” said Arvielo. “To turn that quickly, everybody is operating tip-top.”
And for the female members of the New American ranks, Arvielo sees a greater upside in working from home.
“It has helped a lot of us women in the mortgage industry as most of the time … we can get up and roll over to our laptop. We don’t have to do our hair, do our makeup, get in the car and go to work,” said Arvielo. “We will see what productivity looks like once the kids are back in school and we have to go to soccer games and things like that.”
Previous guests in the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series include Mat Ishbia, Christine Beckwith, David Luna, Barry Habib, David H. Stevens, Rob Chrisman, and more. See all the interviews from the Mortgage Leadership Outlook series on its YouTube channel.
Check out the entire chat between Patty and Berman in the video below.