October 2016 - Changing of the Guard

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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20 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY I magine a corporation so strong and so full of vibrant business minds that it can weather any years-long crisis. After all, people can be depend - ed on to meet any national crisis— if they are brought to the real facts, so said Abraham Lincoln, who knew a thing or two about leader- ship in a time of crisis. From the sound of it, Franklin Codel, head of Wells Fargo Home Lending, could pen a book on the subject. Since taking over mortgage lending a year ago for the third- largest U.S. bank by assets—and one of the world's largest by almost every other measure—Codel has helped oversee what might be the last gasps of a tumultuous period in Wells Fargo's history. "I'm blessed with a very strong leadership team," Codel said in an exclusive interview with MReport. "I feel like we're very aligned in what we're trying to do." Codel and his team members have had to innovate in order to steer Wells Fargo Home Lending through today's changing mortgage environment, relying on new in - novations to carry them through. Despite the trials the mortgage industry as a whole has gone through since the financial crisis, one might not think about these challenges while looking at Wells Fargo's balance sheet—and home lending constitutes a big part of that image. For the second quarter this year, Wells Fargo posted $5.6 billion in net income. Of that amount, mortgage-banking income accounted for $1.4 billion, down by only $184 million from the first quarter this year. So, how are they doing it? MReport spoke with Codel and his C-suite Wells Fargo team members to assess where the com- pany is more than half a decade after the Great Recession—and where it may be headed. 'Big Shoes' to Fill A sked about his career and how he got to be where he is today, Codel nonchalantly lists off his previous titles with Wells Fargo, as if he were anyone other than the head of lending for one of the largest, most powerful banking entities in the world. He's humble about his story and reflects back on his career as if it were a com - ing together of fortuitous events. His resume certainly reads like it. Full of opportunities that seemingly fell into his lap, Codel's career doesn't make you think of the office hustler toting bestsell- ers on leadership. After joining the mortgage banking industry in 1989, he says he "spent time in a variety of disciplines." He started off in credit risk management at Citi Mortgage, and then left for Prudential Mortgage. Norwest Mortgage acquired Prudential, and then Wells Fargo acquired Norwest in 1999. "I've been in Des Moines 24 years now," he says with a bit of pride. "When Mike Heid, former head of home lending, retired last year, I had the opportunity to step into [my current] role." If hindsight is always 20/20, a career probably looks a lot easier, the steps a lot surer in the rearview mirror. Codel's path to head of lending may not have felt so certain, especially over the last decade. His predecessor is the key to understanding his leadership role to - day—as much as the state of lending at Wells Fargo. The team members praise their boss but make it clear that Heid carried them through the blustery financial crisis. "Mike played an integral role in aligning the industry during a critical time, by displaying unparal- leled leadership in working with the Bush Administration and the U.S. Treasury Department dur- ing the height of the U.S. housing crisis," said Ed Delgado, president and CEO of The Five Star Institute, who worked directly with Heid at Wells Fargo during the crisis years. "The industry and the country should be thankful for his efforts." [Full disclosure: MReport Magazine is published by Five Star.] The bank had "a powerful leader in Mike Heid [during] a time of disruption for a company," said Mary Coffin, who oversees cus- tomer excellence with Wells Fargo. Powerful indeed. The former head of lending was there to weather the throes of the financial crisis, a flurry of multi-billion- dollar settlements over faulty mortgages, regulatory overhaul in Washington, and bruising news headlines. There was the fair lending lawsuit brought by an Illinois attorney general over claims that Wells Fargo steered black and Latino borrowers into higher-priced loans, the historic $26-billion National Mortgage Settlement between the five larg - est mortgage servicers and 49 states, and the suit brought by a U.S. federal attorney over shoddy loans that left the Federal Housing Administration on the hook. For her part, Coffin called the transition from Heid to Codel in the bank's Home Lending division "seamless." "Mike was there at the helm, leading us through this time of change," she says. "Franklin [was] right there and ready, taking on those big shoes to lead us into the future." The Codel Leadership Style S ince coming into his role as head of lending, Codel has seemed eager to answer whether he can succeed Heid. He seems to see minority outreach and homebuyer educa - tion as top priorities and tasks that may not necessarily be unrelated, according to his colleagues. To that end, Wells Fargo Home Lending rolled out a loan program with an education component called YourFirst Mortgage in May. Aimed at low- to moderate-income homebuyers, the program aims to incentivize the learning process. The fixed-rate mortgage has a down payment of as little as 3 percent. Additionally, inter - ested homebuyers can receive Lending and Leading With a year on the job under his belt, Wells Fargo's Franklin Codel speaks about assuming the role of Head of Home Lending, his leadership style, and what the future holds for the bank. By Ryan Schuette

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