MReport October 2022

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22 | M R EP O RT COVER STORY K risty Fercho is the EVP and Head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, where she leads a team of mortgage professionals in sales, operations, servicing, capital mar- kets, portfolio management, and related business, risk management, and supporting functions. Having taken on this role in August 2020, she has helped navigate Wells Fargo's Home Lending segment through the challenges of the pandemic and the emergence from it, all while being the only Black woman to lead a national mortgage company (as well as the largest bank originator in the country). When her Wells Fargo position was first announced, Mike Weinbach, then CEO of Consumer Lending at Wells Fargo, called Fercho "a custom- er-first business leader with deep home lending experience." Fercho recently took the time to speak with Five Star Institute Editor-in-Chief David Wharton to discuss the challenges of being a prominent woman leader in a male-dominated industry, her top accomplishments over the first two years at Wells Fargo, and how her career has taught her to gain insights into "how people tick." Two years into your leadership at Wells Fargo Home Lending, what are the victories and accomplishments you'd most like to spotlight? I think the biggest win is helping the customers through COVID forbearance. When I came in August of 2020, the foreclosure crisis was in full swing at that point. The MBA data showed that 8.5% of mortgage servicers' volume went into forbearance at the peak, which is about 4.3 million customers. Wells Fargo had over a million customers enter forbear- ance and that's significant. We helped those customers under- stand the forbearance programs going in, and now, 18 months later, we're helping them under- stand their options to exit and bring their mortgage current, and that has been extraordinary. It was a Herculean effort across the industry, and I'm proud of our in- dustry because, even coming out of the last housing crisis, servicers got a bad rap about how that was handled. This was the first big test since that time. As an industry, we stepped up and delivered something unprecedented. Just being able to ask for COVID forbearance without having to demonstrate hardship was unprecedented for the industry and the fact that we just leaned in, figured it out and provided assistance to those in need is a testament to the indus- try. We're back to historically low default numbers as a result of it. That's the first win that I have to highlight. These last two years have been extraordinary on that front, dealing with COVID and all that came with it. The second win I would call out is shifting the culture. When I first came in, like any new leader, I assessed, what was Wells Fargo Home Lending? What were we going to be? What did we stand for? I did this full assessment of the landscape, and then, in January 2021, I rolled out the new mission, vision, strategy, objec- tives, and strategic priorities for the business. One of the things we wanted to define the culture was pro- viding care for our customers. It was inspired by Kara Lawson, who is the Duke women's bas- ketball coach. She had posted a video online about the difference between working hard and com- peting and it spoke to everything that we were trying to do in Home Lending. "COMPETE" is an acrostic, which takes our strategy and objectives and spells it out into specific behaviors and goals that we're going after, starting with the C – Care for our Customers. All around Home Lending, you hear people talk about this mind- set to compete for the Wells Fargo customers; to make sure that the customers have a great experience Defining the Culture Two years into her stint with the bank, Head of Wells Fargo Home Lending Kristy Fercho speaks to MReport about challenges, victories, and the "extraordinary privilege" of helping people achieve the American Dream. By Demetria C. Lester & David Wharton

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