MReport July 2017

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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TH E M R EP O RT | 19 COVER STORY by McKinsey & Company and Deloitte that have drawn a strong correlation between a company's financial performance and a bal- anced focus on diversity and in- clusion. The U.S. Census Bureau's forecast of a "minority-majority" population in the United States in 2050 should motivate the mort- gage industry as well. "Diverse customers will demand new products, come from new market segments, and require different types of services," he said. "The mortgage industry must prepare for this at all levels, with a special focus on ensuring that our future leaders can meet customers' needs." The Future is Diverse S ustained growth means offering enduring value through changing business cycles, consumer preferences, and demographics. Keep your eyes on the housing horizon. "Diversity is critical to the financial services' industry future," said Brad Blackwell, EVP and Portfolio Business Manager at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. "To remain relevant and grow, companies must ensure they are prepared to serve a more diverse customer base." The numbers don't lie. Blackwell reports that there will be 14 bil - lion new households by 2024, the majority of them African- American and Hispanic. However, the homeownership rates for both demographic segments lag behind that of the general population. In fact, at approximately 42 percent, the African-American rate is the lowest, 20 points below the na - tional average. "For the past six years, Wells Fargo has been the nation's lead- ing residential mortgage lender to racially and ethnically diverse homebuyers according to the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, and we are dedicated to advancing homeownership in these commu - nities," says Jimmie Paschall, EVP and Head of Enterprise Diversity and Inclusion at Wells Fargo. The dedicated investment dol- lars don't lie either. In February, Wells Fargo announced a sizable commitment to help increase African-American homeowner- ship: $60 billion in originations for qualified homebuyers and $15 million dedicated to homebuyer education and counseling. This came after a similar program in 2015 in support of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals ® ' (NAHREP) Hispanic Wealth Project. A highlight of Wells Fargo's April Corporate Social Responsibility progress report was the noting of a nearly $67 billion investment in lending capital and grants in diverse small business, sustainable housing, clean technol - ogy, and other critical community needs. The 2020 plan is to spend 15 percent of the bank's procure- ment dollars with certified diverse suppliers. Last year, Wells Fargo spent $1.1 billion with minority- owned businesses and donated more than $36 million to support the development of women and diverse leaders and more. Whether a professional team or just the garden-variety spice of life, diversity of thought and skills means increased appeal, preparation, and strength. To Wells Fargo, winner of the Market Outreach Strategies honors last year in the MBA's inaugural Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Awards, those two principles are critical to under - standing customers, seeing new business opportunities, and improving service overall. "We experienced some of the toughest challenges in our company's history this past year," says Paschall. "Our top priority is rebuilding trust, and our com - mitment to building a culture of diversity and inclusion is more im- portant than ever as we work to build a better bank for the future." Diversifying the Portfolio O pen minds and business minds are alike. They both tend to be ready for learning and opportunity, and a business organization open to different viewpoints, approaches, and backgrounds is one prepping for sustained success. "When we consider the retirement of the baby boomers and look to the succession of the industry, we must ask if we've done enough to engage millennial talent," said Freddie Mac's Roemer, whose mother is from Ecuador. "If an industry does not look to con - stantly refresh, it will remain stag- nant and fail to thrive. Companies and industries must continue to explore options to enhance and question current rules and systems in the name of increased efficiency and effectiveness." Success happens when prepara - tion meets opportunity, the old saying goes. Mortgage industry leaders, like the ones above, are finding that diversity and inclu - sion fuel both sides. 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. The mortgage industry must prepare for this at all levels, with a special focus on ensuring that our future leaders can meet customers' needs.

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