Fintech veteran tapped as president and COO
The digital commerce company loanDepot Inc. is creating a new business unit called mello, which is focused on developing digital-first products and services to complement its core mortgage origination platform, officials announced.
Appointed to head up the new unit is Zeenat Sidi (pictured), a former SoFi executive who will take the helm of mello as president and COO. Sidi is a fintech executive with significant P&L leadership, digital transformation, risk management, operations, and strategy experience spanning a 25-year career with senior leadership roles at SoFi, Capital One and RBC, company officials said. Mortgage Professional America spoke to Sidi in a telephone interview during which she explained the goal of the new unit.
“The creation of mello as its own operating unit is really the next evolution in our journey as a company,” Sidi told MPA, adding that “loanDepot, over the last 12 years, has really built strength in serving customers in all aspects of their homeownership journey. This move is designed to build on that foundation and recognize that we want to build on that trusted relationship with customers and offer them products and services that extend beyond the homeownership journey and really build customers for life.”
She expounded: “Recognizing what their financial needs are, and building digital-forward products,” both secured and secured-lending products, and other things that really help them “capitalize on the investment they made on their homes but broadly services their needs in all of the critical moments in life.”
She said the unit’s creation was accelerated by the pandemic, as tech-driven products and services have been across the industry. “It’s 100% cornerstone to this,” she said. “There’s an industry shift that we are absolutely seeing in terms of customers wanting to engage with companies in a much more digitally oriented way. The last two years during the pandemic really underscored and probably accelerated that. I’ve seen a bunch of statistics that talk about how we’ve seen a decades’ worth of trends really accelerate during a two-year period. Not only for the financial services industry, but broadly all industries have embraced that and recognized the importance of technology.”
She suggested loanDepot’s longstanding focus on technology puts it ahead of the curve. “For loanDepot in particular, technology has always been a core competency and asset we have built the company on, and this establishment of mello really harnesses that and builds on the strength,” she said.
In a Press release, the company said mello will be tasked with developing new mortgage-adjacent, digital-first products and services as well as with fueling the growth of loanDepot-owned companies and proprietary assets. To that end, loanDepot’s powerful mortgage origination business unit – which the company describes as one of the most diversified in the marketplace today – and its internal servicing group will operate side by side with mello. Both the mello and loanDepot operating units will report directly to chairman and CEO Anthony Hsieh.
Company officials noted the diversification brought about by mello – a Greek word meaning “about to be” – is underscored by loanDepot’s ranks as the second-largest non-bank retail lender in the US as well as its position as a top five wholesale lender. The company also boasts of having one of the largest joint venture lending platforms. With the formation of this new business unit, LDI will shift specific proprietary, competitive-advantage assets into the mello division and, under Sidi’s leadership, including oversight of the company’s customer contact center, world-class mello DataMart and performance marketing engine which cultivates, ingests, and distributes over 10 million data-enriched leads annually and connects with more than one million customers daily, all within fractions of a second.
Under Sidi’s leadership, the mello business unit will develop digital-first secured and unsecured lending products leveraging loanDepot’s customer engagement channels, marketing assets, and proprietary technology stack. Officials added that the mello business unit will also house the company’s mortgage adjacent businesses such as mellohome Real Estate Services, melloinsurance, and mello title and escrow services (CUSA, ACT), offering customers a value-added suite of products and services brought together in a powerful platform.
It was not lost on MPA that Sidi’s appointment coincides with Women’s History Month. Sidi’s ascension comes amid an industry that is still male-dominated, although great strides have been made in recent years.
“It’s a positive coincidence that this is happening in Women’s History Month,” she said. “I’m a big proponent of diversity in all forms because that’s what strengthens companies, and that’s really what will drive the next chapter across the industry. For me, this is a really exciting time to join a company that has always been an innovative company that believes in strengths based on diversity of thought and experience. And the chance to really work with a founder whose vision has been really central to digitizing and revolutionizing the industry,” she said.
Women are already well represented at loanDepot, she noted: “I’m coming into a leadership team that already has some very strong and experienced women, and I’m very excited about that,” she said.