MReport October 2018

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10 | TH E M R EP O RT TAKE 5 Bringing the American Dream to Veterans BBMC Mortgage President Todd Jones tells MReport how his own military service helps him anticipate and meet the needs of veteran homebuyers. Todd Jones serves as President of BBMC Mortgage. As a for- mer Army Captain and graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, Jones focuses on building a capable team, where every individual is valued yet the whole unit functions as a robust network. Jones has led BBMC Mortgage to serve clients effectively through an innovative online platform backed by personal service, with the goal being to provide clients with the benefits of a small mortgage lender but the financial backing of a large, federally insured bank. Before serving as President of BBMC, Jones served as EVP at The Federal Savings Bank, Chicago, and as Managing Director at Chicago-based mortgage broker Guaranteed Rate Direct. Jones spoke to MReport about where the industry is headed, how best to meet the needs of military homebuyers, and the lessons he took away from his own time serving his country. M // What are some of the educational initiatives BBMC is pursuing to reach potential homebuyers, as well as veterans looking to purchase a home? JONES // BBMC has a strong focus on consumer education, as well as educating realtors about the VA loan side of things. We have the technology to show us easily what will happen if interest rates go up by X, how much less borrowers will be able to afford in that circumstance. That helps drive urgency. Because of the current inven- tory shortages, I think we're look- ing at an appreciating market for a considerable period. My message to everyone would be to make your move now, while the rates are still low. They are likely to go higher, so now is the time to get maximum affordability. M // Are you seeing more people struggling to decide between buying or renting? JONES // The American dream is alive and well, with homeowner- ship as a key and central part of that. However, this younger gen- eration witnessed something they didn't think was possible. They lived through the 2008 housing crisis. That shook a generation and fundamentally challenged the concept of real estate being a reliable bet. We have a generation who saw their parents lose their retirement savings. The conversation often comes down to people thinking there's no real difference between renting and buying. They think they have less exposure on their rent. However, that's not great for their ability to build future wealth. That's part of the education we try to put out there—what it means to own and how to build equity. When you rent, you're building equity for somebody else. If you can make those points through technology, marketing, or education, it can be a real eye-opener. A lot of people don't understand how much house they could afford with the rent they're paying. M // BBMC has a heavy focus on lending to veterans and handling VA loans. What did you take away from your time serv- ing that you carried over into what you do now? JONES // A lot, on both sides. From a day-to-day manage- ment and leadership perspective, most of the good characteristics I demonstrate were born in the military. First and foremost, what I learned at West Point was how to prioritize effectively. They would overwhelm us with more work than anyone could physi - cally do within a 24-hour period. So, you were forced to prioritize the most critical tasks and learn what couldn't be done, what should be delegated, and what has to be delayed. That process of being over - whelmed and learning to pri- oritize and delegate is something I carry through to my current career. Effective delegation is the art of leadership. It not only helps ensure that we stay on the right path, but it also provides the op - portunity for subordinate leaders to be delegated tasks that allow them to expand their knowledge and abilities. I also learned a lot about organizational behavior and team dynamics. Most organizations are formed as silos or teams. With strong leadership, you create strong teams, and strong teams tend to compete and try to be the best. That can be counterproductive in some cases, particularly in a commercial environment where the customer's needs are what truly matters. Sales is frustrated with Operations or Operations is frustrated with Onboarding or Onboarding is frustrated with Recruiting, because they're all com - peting to be perceived as the best. The military teaches you to have an overriding mission. It needs to be clear what that overriding mis- sion is, and you need to have all of your teams guided by that overrid- ing principle. What matters most is what's best for the customer. From a housing standpoint, I also learned how to care for veterans and their needs. When I got out of the military, I had a West Point buddy in the mort - gage industry who steered me away from using my VA loan

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