How strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry

More and more strong female leaders are breaking new ground in the mortgage industry. Here’s how

How strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry

As with most industries in the US, women in the mortgage industry continue to face obstacles that their male counterparts do not face. Unequal pay and continued barriers to promotion remain significant challenges for women.

The good news is that more and more strong female leaders are breaking new ground in the mortgage industry. Not only are they leading their companies to unprecedented growth, but they are also doing more to support their teams and advance diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

In this article, we will look at how strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry. We will also speak with two female leaders to better understand their experiences.

How strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry

Strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry in numerous ways. Not only do they advocate diversity in all its forms—from gender to race to age—but female leaders also inspire new ideas and foster innovation. How? Offering different perspectives fosters creativity and leads to breakthrough innovations that drive growth.

Strong female leaders contribute a significant amount to the economic growth of their mortgage companies and have taken the lead in other areas. Female leaders advocate for mental health, fundraise for charity, mentor industry newbies, and educate their clients on finance.

For instance, several Women of Influence featured by Mortgage Professional America founded their own non-profit organizations in 2022. One female leader also raised more than $25,000 for various charities.

Strong female leaders also foster a welcoming, inclusive, and diverse professional environment. Female leaders equip the next generation of mortgage brokers with the skills required to be successful in their careers.

Strong female leaders: Erica LaCentra

MPA’s Female Leaders in Mortgage, Elite Women 2023, celebrates 50 of the top female leaders in the mortgage industry across the US. To determine this prestigious list, nominations were submitted for strong contenders, who were then reviewed.

Before the final selection was made, MPA asked the nominees, “What do you think makes a woman of influence?” The responses included:

  • Strong, present, teachable, with a desire to grow
  • Someone who makes an impact, changes society, and leaves a legacy
  • An ambitious individual thinker who has experience, drive, and a true passion for her craft

One of MPA’s Elite Women was Erica LaCentra, chief marketing officer of RCN Capital. LaCentra distinguished herself in the following ways:

  • 2017 AAPL Member of the Year
  • 2018 MPA’s Hot 100 and MPA’s Elite Women
  • 2020 MPA’s Mortgage Global 100
  • 2022 Women of NACLB

As chief marketing officer, LaCentra oversees RCN Capital’s entire marketing department as well as its business development department. She has been with RCN Capital for more than a decade and has taken the company from being a small regional lender in the northeast to being a nationwide private lender.

“In the private lending space now originating several billion dollars a year where we were only doing maybe about a couple 100,000 initially,” she told MPA in an interview.

“So (I’ve) really been able to be a part of that tremendous growth, especially when expanding across the entirety of the United States,” she added. “Especially when we started with about five states in the northeast and we're now in 46 states around the country.”

For LaCentra, more still needs to be done to help strong female leaders excel in the mortgage industry.

“There still needs to be more in terms of progress with the general stigma and sometimes even behavior towards women in the mortgage industry in general,” LaCentra said. “But I would say that it's gotten a lot better in terms of companies now identifying who the best person is for the job rather than selecting men over women.”

Women are clearly just as qualified as men are for leadership roles, LaCentra added. “Women work just as hard and I would say, unfortunately, the mortgage industry has been very behind in that mentality, which has discouraged women from joining it in the first place,” she said. “So I think it's great to see that there are now women who are more vocal in roles of leadership that are reaching out to other younger females to join the industry.”

Strong female leaders: Melissa Cohn

Melissa Cohn agreed with LaCentra.

Cohn is regional vice president and mortgage banker at William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance. After graduating from Smith College in 1982, Cohn got into the mortgage business, launching The Manhattan Mortgage Company in 1985. Since then, she has achieved the following:

  • grown her business into the no. 1 residential mortgage broker on the east coast with over $5 billion in yearly volume
  • been nominated as a leading LO by Mortgage Women Magazine in 2023
  • been nominated as a top LO in the Scotsman Guide in 2023 
  • attained the top-producing LO for William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage & Insurance

“I always think that opportunities for women continue to expand as we see more women in senior management positions,” Cohn said. “When I had my company, the Manhattan Mortgage Company, which I had for 30 years, I promoted the women that worked for me and really worked to promote them in the industry.”

Cohn echoed LaCentra’s sentiment: “Women work as hard as men do, and there should be no distinction between men or women in our industry,” Cohn said.

“I think that we're seeing it as we see more women leadership in the industry... I think the hardest thing that we have to do in our industry is attracting younger people into our industry. Mortgages, unfortunately, is an aging industry and we worked hard to bring in younger people.”

Strong female leaders: How to improve gender equality

Companies across all industries, including the mortgage industry, do not have to wait for society to catch up to make changes. Companies can play a critical role in promoting gender equality in the workplace today.

Here are different ways to improve gender inequality at work in the USA:

  • Transparency
  • Promotion to senior roles
  • Gender-neutral recruitment
  • Review salaries, standardize pay
  • Training on unconscious bias
  • Clarify discrimination policy

More and more strong female leaders are breaking new ground in the mortgage industry.

More and more strong female leaders are breaking new ground in the mortgage industry.

Strong female leaders: Closing thoughts

Cohn and LaCentra are just two of the countless strong female leaders exceling in the mortgage industry in the US. Understanding the challenges women face in the mortgage industry is an important first step to creating change.

Another step is mentorship – encouraging more women to enter the mortgage industry and to rise within their mortgage companies once established.

Remember: the more knowledge you have, the better off the mortgage industry will be.

If you are looking for a female leader excelling in the mortgage industry, need help finding the best mortgage rates, or simply looking for inspiration, check out MPA’s Elite Women 2023. Here you will find the top performing mortgage professionals, including strong female leaders, across the USA.

LaCentra added it is key to place greater emphasis on the successes of women in the mortgage industry. “Really having those female leaders taking it upon themselves to act as role models to show what the next generation can accomplish within the mortgage space,” she said. “We have every right to highlight all the success that myself or other female leaders in the industry have been able to accomplish.”

Have you worked with someone you consider a strong female leader in the mortgage industry? What was it like? Share your experience in the comment section below.