Weeks after AIME Fuse and the announcement of Arive, the new platform designed for and by mortgage brokers, momentum and enthusiasm is still high.
Anthony Casa, AIME chairman and president of Garden State Home Loans, isn’t surprised.
“Going into it, we knew, I had 100% confidence that that response that we got was going to be the response we were going to get,” he said.
He said that the feedback that he received after the announcement was from people, many of whom ran small, family-owned businesses, expressing excitement about a solution that allows them to be efficient and to be on the same level as bigger outfits with better access to better resources. It felt good, Casa said, to give people that power and to address the needs of brokers whose businesses aren’t as well-established.
“They’re part of the process, they’re on the team, and that’s an important part of this equation,” Casa said. It’s the difference between leaving decisions about features and functionality to technology experts in a boardroom, or polling tens of thousands of mortgage brokers across the country on the options they like the best, which is what AIME did. “When you’re getting that engagement, you’re giving them the opportunity to contribute, and to me, that’s been a big part of our process.”
Perhaps due in part to the announcement of Arive, the feeling at AIME Fuse was a lot more upbeat and optimistic than other industry events in 2018. Again, Casa wasn’t surprised. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the market, and it’s easy to fall into a state of fear, where a broker is unsure where to take their business next and stays in a holding pattern of sorts. When planning AIME Fuse, however, Casa and the organizers made sure that the conference was “peer-to-peer positive,” where attendees in the mortgage industry and otherwise were able to get something positive out of the event, and to literally see the support that brokers got from each other, from tech companies, and from lenders, all of which are all the more important in a tough environment.
“It’s not going to be easy to be successful; you have to work a little bit harder, you’re going to have to do a little bit more than you had to do, but when you have strong voices that are helping guide you, being able to convey what your value proposition is, and also making it clear that they have your back and they’re with you on this, that’s the positive messaging that’s needed,” Casa said.
As exciting as 2018 has been for AIME, there’s a lot more that Casa wants to accomplish. One of those things being bringing awareness to the practice within the mortgage industry of companies trying to create a mechanism to secure the customer at the earliest point in their evolution into being a consumer. The primary objective, Casa said, is to trap the consumer and prevent them from shopping around.
“We want to make sure that consumers understand that they have a right to shop around,” he said. “So we’re going to mobilize 35,000 people to get that message out there, and the same thing I would say I did with BRAWL where I was able to cultivate a movement from the grassroots standpoint where we want mortgage brokers to be proud to be independent mortgage experts, we’re going to champion it.”
Where there’s any expectation of success, there’s also room for disappointment, or at least some pressure to live up to those expectations. But Katie Sweeney, senior vice president of Arive, said that they’re not feeling any pressure at all.
"We’re trying to create an experience for brokers, that helps enable them to do their jobs better than they can today. I think that’s something that’s really cool that we get to work on, that’s really unique in the environment in which we operate in today. There’s nobody else that has the ability or the opportunity to create something that’s available for the masses of the scale that we’re trying to build toward, and I think the fact that we get to partner with an organization like AIME and create a platform in speaking with the brokers that are a part of the organization, taking the feedback, really getting to talk to the people who are going to use it day in and day out, there’s no pressure to create something great, because as long as we keep the broker experience at the core of our product, we know that it’s going to be great."
Casa agrees, saying that they’re not trying to commercialize Arive; the only pressure he feels is to improve it as the months go on, to add even more features and make it more customizable. If only five people use it, that’s okay. At the very least, it exists for brokers in a way that nothing else has to date. And that, combined with the positive messaging, really gives brokers hope for whatever tough times may lie ahead.
“We’re a people organization, this is all about people, we’re not going to talk about those high-level things the chief executive officer’s going to talk about, we’re going to talk about the things that matter: our families, our communities, the people that we’re doing loans for, and things that are really meaningful. If you keep it at the level that it needs to be, it’s going to stay positive,” Casa said.