MReport May 2017

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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TH E M R EP O RT | 19 COVER STORY years serving as Director of Client Relations at Freddie Mac. With so much at stake, there were naturally many stakehold- ers to serve. Marie Day Hayes, Wells Fargo's Local Government Relations Manager of the East Region, says it takes a special leader to engage and assist elected officials and municipalities, media - tors, housing counselors, commu- nity organizations, civil rights organizations, housing advocates, housing activists, and others dur- ing such an unprecedented crisis. In his current role today, Ohayon calls on this past experience to help Day Hayes and the team implement strategies to maintain and build strong relationships with stakeholders across the nation. "Joe's willingness to get in the trenches, work with our distressed borrowers, and bring this learning back to our internal mortgage servicing leadership team and other Wells Fargo leaders was a refreshing approach in an industry that was being challenged in a new and different way during the housing crisis," said Day Hayes, one of many trained to gather and share data transparently, and to improve Wells Fargo's market understand - ing and internal processes for assisting impacted borrowers and communities. There was no roadmap or train- ing manual to prepare for an eco- nomic calamity of that type and scale, just great loss that demanded that great leaders step forward to help the mortgage industry get back on its feet. However, Ohayon's colleagues say his strong leadership skills have been impact - ful, both during the mortgage crisis and today in his government relations role. Coffin says, first and foremost, Ohayon listens to con- cerns, needs, and challenges, which were many at that time. "His calm demeanor is so im- pressive," she said. "These relation- ships can become challenging at times but never with Joe. He was the calming voice in the room and always worked to find the right compromise solutions." "He was a very impactful am - bassador for Wells Fargo, and also the voice of the customer as we tried to ensure that our actions would actually serve the custom- er's needs." recalls Blackwell. Price and Day Hayes echo these sentiments. "Joe's approach is unique because he is so intentional about listening first and speak - ing second," Price affirms. "Wells Fargo faced many different issues throughout the financial crisis, many of which were unique to an individual customer's circumstance. It took a leader like Joe, who has a unique way of gaining buy-in from others, to help us convene the right people at the right moments, so we could understand what exactly would meet the needs in their communities." Day Hayes agreed. "Through his interactions with distressed borrowers and internal leaders, Joe displayed what I think many would say is his 'signature charac - teristics,'" she said. "He is always kind, he listens to understand the interests of all parties, he is respectful, he looks for win-win solutions, and he maintains a calm demeanor." "One of my key learnings is to put your personal viewpoint aside and put yourself in other people's shoes," he said. "It's important to understand other people's perspec - tives — really listen first before taking action. It's served me well, and it's served our group, leading us to build trust and collaborative relationships for our organization regardless of the audience." Navigating through uncertainty of that time, Ohayon directed a coast to coast Wells Fargo team to meet with many stakeholders, in - cluding elected officials, consumer advocates, and housing counselors to inform and advise and then resolve critical housing issues involving payment-challenged customers and abandoned proper - ties in countless communities. Today, his government relations team's strategy is similar, but with a broader focus that covers a wide range of policy issues. "Over my career, the audi - ence has changed—mortgage lender to investor to consumers to nonprofit housing counselor and consumer advocate to elected officials today—but the ability to effectively manage relationships has not changed," Ohayon said. Wells Fargo has been a leader in preventing foreclosures, largely due to their product offerings and discipline the bank's delinquency and foreclosure rates have, over time, continued to be significantly less than the industry average. Their foreclosure rate for home loans in Q 4 2011 was 2.33 percent, well below the national average of 4.38 percent and at the end of 2016, the banks' foreclosure rate had dropped to 0.66 percent, still much lower than the 1.53 percent overall. Over the course of his life, Ohayon hasn't had to look far for inspiration: His parents bravely left their homeland to build a new life and provide a better one for their four children. For someone who has witnessed that kind of service and sacrifice, helping people with their dreams of homeownership comes naturally. BRIAN A. LEE is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and former editor of Western Real Estate Business magazine. Although a big fan of mortgage and housing content, the Wake Forest and University of Georgia graduate considers his top moment in journalism a one-on-one interview with baseball legend Hank Aaron in 2009. Ohayon pictured with Loan Administration Manager Brian Lauer.

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