Robert (Bob) Broeksmit is president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). Bob is a senior finance executive and corporate officer with a 33-year career in the mortgage sector. He has directed all aspects of lending activities, including marketing, sales, operations, secondary marketing, loan servicing, and default management. He has also served as a mortgage underwriting expert testifying on many large, high-profile cases.
Prior to joining MBA in 2018, Bob served as president and chief operating officer with Treliant, heading the firm’s mortgage litigation support practice and serving diverse financial services clientele including large banks, independent mortgage lenders, community banks, credit unions, and service providers to the mortgage industry.
Bob has served as the chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Residential Board of Governors and as a member of its Board of Directors. Firms under his leadership have garnered multiple awards for servicing operations excellence, including Freddie Mac’s Tier One and Hall of Fame designations. He is a Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) and a graduate of Yale University.
1. It’s been about a year since you joined MBA as its president and CEO. One of your goals was to meet as many MBA members as possible and bring their ideas and issues back to the organization to help strategize on their behalves. What did you find to be some of your members’ biggest policy-related issues?
When beginning my tenure as MBA’s CEO, I embraced the role of being a “servant leader.” I made it my mission to travel outside the Beltway and meet with as many MBA members as possible. Meeting with our members has been the most important task that I have undertaken, and I am grateful to gain their trust as well as their input on pressing industry matters.
While traveling, I learned that there are several policy issues that MBA members are most concerned about. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest issues was housing finance reform – FHA and the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The administration recently released its housing finance reform reports from HUD and Treasury. Both reports included several MBA recommendations, such as:
- protecting taxpayers from future bailouts;
- establishing an explicit government guarantee on qualified mortgage-backed securities for single-family and multifamily loans; and
- ensuring a level playing field for lenders of all sizes and business models.
We will be actively engaged with all regulators and stakeholders as the future of Fannie, Freddie, and the overall secondary mortgage market is determined.
We also take seriously the relationship Independent Mortgage Bankers (IMBs) maintain both with regulators and government entities such as Ginnie Mae. In fact, we continuously work with FHFA, HUD, and Ginnie Mae to protect this critical market segment. IMBs have unique concerns, and I have made it my mission to hear what those issues are and ensure that the entire MBA staff is working to ensure that IMBs’ views are being reflected in everything we do.
2. If you could look back at the day you first started, what aspirational goals are you happy to see come to fruition? What are some goals you continue to drive toward for the new year?
Over the past year, I have learned what matters to our members, and I am proud of the direction in which the industry is headed.
This past June, MBA launched its new affordable housing initiative, which will help develop stronger and more effective affordable housing partnerships in both the policy and business arenas. As part of that initiative, we established two affordable housing advisory councils – one for homeownership and one for affordable rental – that will bring together some of the brightest minds in our industry to help shape our work in the space. In the coming year, I am looking forward to seeing this initiative expand as well as growing our partnerships with other affordable housing advocates.
Another significant milestone that occurred this year was MBA making a $2 million investment in the mortgage industry’s standards organization (MISMO). This move is designed to enable MISMO to expand its resources in support of key initiatives, such as a uniform data set for private-label mortgage-backed securities, a standardized closing instructions template, harmonized remote online notary (RON) standards, common standards to encourage business-to-consumer communications on smartphones and tablets, and appraisal and rent roll standards for commercial and multifamily lenders.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of focusing on trends in the technology space and how they impact the future of companies and the industry as whole. Today’s customers are demanding a digital mortgage process, and we need to have MISMO there to ensure that all the parts and pieces will work together.
And finally, in the new year, I will continue to prioritize listening to MBA’s members in order to make sure that MBA is working on the right issues at the right times for the right reasons.
3. Last year’s MBA Annual Convention was one of its highest-attended ever. What do you think caused this increase in attendance, and what were the topics of most interest to your attendees this year?
When planning a successful conference, you always think about location. We felt that Austin was a terrific place to host our Annual Convention due to its vibrant and welcoming culture as well as its growing status as a technology and innovation hub. Our members responded well to this atmosphere, and we hope to replicate that energy throughout our 2020 MBA conference season.
In addition to the location, we had a strong lineup of speakers whom our members were eager to hear from because of the outsized impact they have on the mortgage business. I’m referring to FHFA Director Mark Calabria, HUD Secretary Ben Carson, Fannie Mae’s Hugh Frater, and Freddie Mac’s David Brickman. They came to our conference to tell our members about what they were seeing and what they plan to do. I can’t think of four people who have a bigger impact on the mortgage lending business.
We also had compelling non-industry speakers, including an entertaining dialogue between former Governors Chris Christie and Terry McAuliffe, who offered their insight on current political hot topics and the upcoming election cycle, and the life lessons of General William McRaven and women’s soccer star Carli Lloyd.
In general, MBA strives to include relevant content that our members can benefit from as well as provide information that they can take back to their organizations that will boost their operational success. And having Grammy Award-winning musicians like Keith Urban doesn’t hurt, either – he really brought down the house.
4. The Fed recently slashed rates, but many economists are saying that low interest rates are not the only obstacle consumers face when trying to obtain a mortgage loan. What do you consider some other pain points that are holding back the housing market? And what can be done to fix them?
Low borrowing costs have been a predominant theme of the housing market for the last few years. Unfortunately, it’s not been enough to get housing market activity to the level where we think it should be. The issue we are really focusing on is the lack of affordable housing options, particularly for first-time home buyers and low-to-moderate-income borrowers. Insufficient construction in many markets has led to a shortage in supply, and that has been driving prices up faster than wage growth. The result is, even with rates around 4 percent, it’s just too expensive for some Millennials to get into the market or Generation X to find the right move-up home.
As I mentioned earlier, that’s why this past June, MBA launched a new strategic initiative to help develop stronger and more effective affordable housing partnerships in both the policy and business arenas. Our objective with these partnerships is to promote more sustainable, affordable homes for purchase and rent. We’re also an active participant in the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing Development.
Lot availability and prices, labor shortages, and restrictive zoning are among the many obstacles impeding home builders’ ability to increase the supply of new homes. As the trade association representing the full breadth and depth of the mortgage lending community, MBA will be the leader in finding innovative solutions to improve housing options for those looking to enjoy the many personal and financial benefits homeownership provides.
5. You grew up in Illinois with five other siblings. What was your parents’ strategy in buying a home in Illinois to accommodate all of you? What financial lessons did you learn from them?
My father was a minister, so I grew up in a parsonage, a house owned by the church. My parents had bought a home earlier, and they held onto it as a rental property, both so they could enjoy the benefits of home price appreciation and have a home for retirement. The equity they built over decades of homeownership was the major component of their “nest egg.”