How Champions Mortgage CEO shattered industry norms

Find out how he tackles the toughest loans

How Champions Mortgage CEO shattered industry norms

Joel Mathew’s meteoric rise in the mortgage industry can be attributed to his unwavering determination, strategic mindset, and profound understanding of mortgage guidelines.

It was in 2015, fresh out of college and yearning for a change, that Mathew (pictured) found himself disillusioned with his job as a credit analyst. Seeking a new direction, he stumbled upon the world of mortgages during a casual conversation with a friend. Intrigued by the possibilities, he decided to delve deeper, questioning the prevailing notion that securing a mortgage meant exclusively relying on traditional banks.

“One of my buddies, one night when we were hanging out, brought up mortgage, and I was like, ‘sure, why not let me get into it.’ So I switched lanes, and I was 23 at that time,” Mathew recounted. “I didn’t really know anybody that was in the process of getting a mortgage.

“I got my license and worked for a brokerage. It was extremely unorganized. I was an unpaid intern there for six months. I was just there to learn the process, and I saw the broker side of things for the first time when I was there and tried to gain as much knowledge as possible around the process guidelines.”

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Driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a desire to challenge the status quo, Mathew embarked on a mission to carve his own career path and establish a mortgage company.

“I wanted to try to transition to the banker side by working at a retail mortgage place,” Mathew said. “And when I made the transition over, and I saw the rates and how significantly different pricing was… that’s what made me more intrigued about being on the broker side.”

Undeterred by his limited network, Mathew founded Champions Mortgage in 2018. The early days, however, were not without their fair share of challenges. Mathew’s relentless pursuit of success meant working out of his parents’ house, using every corner available as makeshift office space.

“I got nothing to lose. If everything fails, I’m just going back to Chase or another bank and working as a credit analyst,” he said, recalling his thoughts at the time. “So, I applied for the mortgage company license. When all that stuff was done, we got the license approved. I worked out of my parents’ house for about three to four months and realized credibility and reputation are everything.

“I got a new office and was literally the only employee here, but it gave me the most knowledge about the industry because I was originating, I was processing, I was closing and basically did the entire process. It gave me the knowledge of the technical side of mortgage, which helped me grow quite a bit down the road as we grew as a company and volume went up.”

While others shied away from difficult loans, Mathew embraced them head-on, leveraging his deep understanding of mortgage guidelines to uncover innovative solutions. His unwavering commitment to mastering the intricacies of the industry allowed him to find creative ways to secure approvals where others saw roadblocks. Realtors quickly recognized Mathew as a go-to resource for challenging cases, appreciating his tenacity and expertise.

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“I used to go to real estate agents and tell them, ‘Hey, man, give me your toughest loans. Let me try to figure it out, and if I can close, you owe me another, like, an easier deal.’ That was always my pitch when I was to go around to agents, and they used to throw me the loans that most lenders told them were not pre-approved,” Mathew shared.

“I was usually able to find a solution to get the loan approved. I always say if you go in, have a process of reviewing everything from the beginning to the end. Most times, you can find a solution if you’re very familiar with the guidelines.”

Mathew’s command of mortgage guidelines set him apart from his peers. His ability to navigate complex loan scenarios with finesse and deliver favorable results earned him the trust and admiration of both realtors and clients alike.

“One of the biggest things I tell our loan officers is even though guidelines are the most boring thing you can read in the mortgage industry, getting that understanding of the guidelines really helps you be a really good loan officer, in my opinion, because that’s usually how you can figure out how the underwriter thinks and how to structure loans and come up with solutions too,” Mathew said.

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