2019 is shaping up to be a year of big changes for Anthony Casa. The founder of Brokers Against Whole-tail Lending (BRAWL) has left Garden State Home Loans, the company he co-founded in 2011, to concentrate full-time on his duties as chairman of the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME).
Casa said that all of the broker advocacy AIME was involved in made the change a necessary one.
“I think the biggest issue that I was struggling with was that I wasn’t able to focus on Garden State once I committed myself to AIME,” Casa said. “With everything we’ve been doing, I was working 80 to 100 hours a week for AIME, and there just wasn’t anything left over for Garden State. … I started having conversations with my partner and said, ‘This thing we thought was going to be a year or two is looking like it’s going to be long-term.’”
Casa said he needed to focus 100% of his energy on AIME because the advocacy group has set some ambitious goals for the broker channel.
“We have a very robust agenda and set of goals right now,” he said. “We went from last year as a start-up with five or six employees to very aggressively expanding. We’re going to have over 20 employees by February.”
AIME’s objective is simple: Expand market penetration for the broker channel.
Our goal is to get to 50% market share in the next five years – and 25% market share by 2020,” Casa said. “Number one is making sure that every single loan officer in the country that’s not in the broker channel understands that this channel has evolved massively over the last few years. This is as good an experience as you’re going to have in the industry.”
Brokers can give consumers a better experience than they can get at a retail lender, Casa said – and, he insisted, the broker channel is a better place for originators as well.
“As a loan officer in the broker channel, you do not work for a lender,” he said. “When you work for a retail lender, you’re selling one company’s rates and one company’s program. As a mortgage broker, you’re working exclusively for the consumer. Your job is to get them the best rates and the best products.”
One of the ways AIME plans to get that message out, Casa said, is by getting brokers to present a united front.
“We really need to tell a story to consumers about why you want to work with an independent mortgage broker,” he said. “We don’t have the money that Quicken Loans has – but what we do have is a lot of people. If we’re disciplined and we share our message over and over again, we’ll be successful. … If everybody cooperates and everybody’s willing to participate in a national marketing strategy, you can easily have the same marketing budget that a Quicken or a LendingTree spends. The difference is, you have 42,000 brokers across the country working on that strategy. Brokers are your neighbors, they’re in your community – and people want to work with someone in the community.”