Rick Arvielo, New American Funding CEO, talked with Mortgage Media’s SA Ibrahim at SocialSurvey’s Create WOW Summit about the company’s growth, and discussed how New American might step up to the next level.
Rick focuses on the technology, marketing and capital markets for the company. He co-founded New American with his wife, Patty Arvielo, who has a more traditional mortgage background, coming from the underwriting side.
So far, New American has grown without mergers or acquisitions … but that might change, as opportunities arise.
“We’re caught in a weird place because we’ve grown organically. We’ve never acquired a company. We’ve never rolled up branches or anything like that. It’s really been one agent at a time,” Arvielo said. “But again, trying to get out my murky crystal ball I see that a lot of great companies right now are falling to pressure and they’re closing down channels or they’re disbanding altogether. So we’ve actually begun talking about, ‘Okay, now is it time to invite some of these companies to join New American Funding?’ More of an acquisition strategy.
“We haven’t fully decided that yet, but I think that if we do go that route it will really accelerate our growth because when you’re adding one agent at a time, it takes a while to get as big as you are. We’re proud of what we’ve done. We’ve been able to keep our culture intact; it’s very important to us. And our leadership teams are intact, so we’re not saying that what we’ve done is wrong but now with the new influences in the market, we’re thinking there might be another way to go about maybe even accelerating our growth.”
A challenge some lenders have is adding off-the-shelf technology, where the pieces might not always integrate smoothly. But New American built their platform, making it an industry power in its use of technology.
A lot of mortgage companies “didn’t really respect the millennial wave and their changing expectations and the importance to loan officers to have tools that allow them to deliver into that marketplace what was coming. And so … and we did. If we did a good job of looking around any corner, it was the fact that we need to invest in our own technologies at the point of sale to make sure our agents are as relevant with this group as possible,” Arvielo said. “And so we started investing … when it was a lot easier to invest, right? Loans are falling out of the sky when rates are going down. As a result we’ve got this war chest of technologies.”
New American has made a significant focus on borrowers from minority communities, as well as making digital solutions to make it easier for millennial homebuyers to enter the market.
“You’re always trying to look around corners and trying to go after the abundances in the market, and when you look out several years you see two primary abundances: you see the minority abundance, that wave is big and getting bigger in terms of home ownership. And then you see the millennial abundance. So here is a group, a cohort of people, that just are going to expect a different experience in the home-buying process just by virtue of the fact that they were raised as digital natives,” he said.
While New American has made an emphasis on serving minority homebuyers, the company also has prioritized diversity in its workplace. The lender was named one of the Best Workplaces for Diversity in the country in 2017 and 2018 by FORTUNE and Great Place to Work, and was also named named a Top Workplace for Women in the country for the second consecutive year.
Along with handling the duties of a company executive, the Arvielos have become active industry leaders in industry organizations. He is chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s non-partisan Political Action Committee, MORPAC; and Patty Arvielo is on the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ Corporate Board of Governors and is on both the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Consumer Affairs Advisory Council for the Mortgage Bankers Association. She is politically involved in the current and future states of mortgage banking, and frequently visits Washington DC to lobby on behalf of the mortgage industry and homeowners.
Looking at his responsibilities with MORPAC, Arvielo said he wanted to make sure voices were being heard. “The rules that are coming, even today, that could impact your ability to do loans and really affect your incomes, is a lot more than donating a few bucks to your PAC or enabling your employees and getting them to join Mortgage Action Alliance,” he said. “That’s why I do it. I want to have a seat at the table. I want to be part and parcel of crafting the message and making sure that mortgage isn’t looked at as the bad guy anymore.”