Nations Direct Mortgage Thrives During Pandemic – NMP

The Thursday afternoon delivery of the Mortgage Leadership Perspectives Series introduced Martin Warren, Managing Director, Specialty Loans and Services for Nations direct mortgage. Warren was joined by series host Andrew Berman, head of engagement and outreach for National Mortgage Professional magazine, to discuss his early days in the industry, the impact of COVID-19 on his company, his charitable donations, his extensive collection of bow ties and much more.
As the COVID-19 pandemic poses challenges for the mortgage industry, the Mortgage Leadership Perspectives Series helps you, the mortgage professional, navigate through these uncertain times.
Warren is no stranger to the adversity of the industry, known for his trademark bow ties (his collection number 261), he is a survivor of the great mortgage crisis of 2008-2009. As Vice President / Regional Manager for New Century Mortgage at the time, it was a challenging period for an industry blamed solely for the collapse of the US economy.

“Nobody wanted to hire anyone from New Century. It was a challenging moment. I went to IndyMac for two weeks and did their training and then the company closed, ”Warren explained. “The only opportunity for me was to start a company. I had some conversations with several great industry leaders about starting a mortgage company. I was in Boston and I met some people in California, including Dan Upton, who is my partner today. “

“We had some great people in our organization who have companies today that started together in cubicles,” Warren said of the humble beginnings of the business. “We literally sat in cubicles and called from the yellow pages.”

And even as a pandemic continues to sweep across the nation, Nations Direct Mortgage, which specializes in FHA, conventional, VA and USDA products, bucks the trend and is hiring the best talent in the industry at an accelerating rate.

“The thing is, we’re hiring … we had eight new hires on Monday and we sent 15 new offer letters this week and they all accepted yesterday,” Warren explained. “These people are very grateful and there are many excellent people, I don’t care if they are from my company, but there are many excellent people in the industry.”

And when the state of California issued its stay-in-place orders, Nations Direct was ready to transition to a partially remote workforce.

“It was that week in March that we said it would be better to be ready to move out of the offices,” Warren said. “We were already making our own values ​​internally here since the fall, so it worked well, but it was that week of March 11, it was a crucial move. The good news is that we are a couple hundred people … half of the work outside of the office here where I am in Santa Ana, California. We were already at Citrix, we had boxes ready with dual monitors, VOIP phones, so people came in on March 16 and put them in their cars, and it was a seamless transition to remote work. Our associates did an incredible job. “

When Warren first drew up the business plan for Nations Direct, he realized that the company needed to get involved in a charitable initiative. They interviewed several candidates and selected Erik Rees, who initiated the Jessie Rees Foundation after her daughter lost her battle with brain cancer at the age of 12.

“Once a year, whether in the first or second quarter, we donate $ 25 for each closing, so this year we will give the Jessie Rees Foundation between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000, which is incredible,” Warren said. “I wear my NEGU (Never Ever Give Up) bracelet. If you look at Joe Burrow, he wore his at the College National Championship, Pat Mahomes [Super Bowl winning quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs] he wore his wristband … it has been in six Illustrated Sports covers — Josh Allen [Buffalo Bills quarterback], Sam Darnold [New York Jets quarterback]—Everyone wears their NEGU bracelets for childhood cancer. “

Other highlights of Warren’s talk with Berman include …

►On what drives his passion for the mortgage industry: “I have been blessed in life. I have amazing people that I surround myself with every day. Right now, our employees are working so hard that they work almost seven days a week, 10 hours a day. I tell you that there are many opportunities right now. We are very lucky to say the least… we are closing loans, we are closing purchases ”.

►On the importance of industry transparency in times of pandemic: “I have no problem sharing. I don’t know everything and we have some great leaders across the industry. We need to protect each other. We don’t want to go through what we all went through in 2007 when the industry ended one day. “

►On his longevity in the industry: “As I tell anyone here, if you want to make as much money as you want, do it by all means. I always say that those highest in integrity always do the right thing, even when the door is closed. If you want to make $ 1 million, God bless you, just do it right and build long-term relationships.

►About his future in the mortgage profession: “For me, being here at Nations Direct for 13 years, I want to be here another 30 years! I love what I do, it’s fun… it’s a long-term game. I don’t need to make $ 50 billion a month, if we make $ 500 million a month that’s a huge number. For a couple hundred employees to make $ 400 million, that’s unbelievable. “

See the full discussion between Warren and Berman below.

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