Forbes Tate Partners will ensure brokers have a seat at the table
In another milestone furthering its mission of advocacy, the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts (AIME) has announced it will be working with new lobbying firm Forbes Tate Partners to represent its interests.
The lobbying firm is focused on communication and engagement strategies to reach and engage key audiences, AIME officials explained. The group is described as a bipartisan, comprehensive public affairs firm specializing in government relations, traditional and digital communications, grassroots advocacy, third-party coordination, insights, polling, coalition management and business development.
Mortgage Professional America reached out to AIME’s CEO Katie Sweeney (pictured) for more details. Notwithstanding the alliance, she emphasized the rank and file of AIME membership would still be the leading voice on issues facing them.
“We are incredibly fortunate to have Forbes Tate Partners guide us, but it is our members that will take the lead, help us establish our advocacy presence, and create lasting change,” she told MPA.
Sweeney outlined some immediate goals with Forbes Tate: “We will be expanding our Government Affairs Committee and launching more focused sub-committees,” she said, referencing the committee that was formed last year. “Specifically, we will have sub-committees focusing on long-term advocacy initiatives, new issues that require immediate action, as well as sub-committees focused on expanding homeownership in underserved communities.
“Lastly, we will be expanding our presence and relationships with other associations within our industry, including consumer advocacy groups. More often than not, the interest of mortgage brokers aligns perfectly with the best interest of the consumer.”
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She noted the lobbying prowess of FTP given its deep familiarity with the machinations of the nation’s capital and its institutional knowledge into its machinations.
“Forbes Tate Partners is a bottomless well of industrial knowledge,” she said. “Their 80 associates know DC in and out and they know exactly where to go for each issue. They know who is doing what, and who is looking for what. FTP will keep us informed on exactly what is happening, and who is doing it and they will look for opportunities for AIME to enter its voice into conversations.”
In essence, the lobbying firm will make sure mortgage brokers’ voices are heard, she continued. “FTP is going to help AIME ensure that mortgage brokers have a seat at the table,” she said. “Before we can have a voice, we need to have a presence. AIME knows the issues that consumers and mortgage brokers face, and FTP is going to help us design a game plan to best tackle these issues.”
She provided an example of the importance of representation for context: “For example, an AIME member recently began working on legislation in Maryland that will be incredibly beneficial for disabled veterans. The bill has passed the Maryland House of Delegates and is looking incredibly favorable. This bill solves a problem that exists in 32 other States. FTP has begun to help AIME lay the groundwork on how to best establish this law (when it is passed) as a template for all other applicable states.”
The nascent relationship with FTP comes at a time when AIME is forging ahead in strengthening its makeup to further reflect its diverse membership base and audience Sweeney noted.
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“AIME is in the process of expanding our existing member-led committee and sub-committee structures,” she said. “Included are sub-committees specifically focused on Black homeownership, Hispanic homeownership, veteran homeownership, and a community development sub-committee that will focus on ways to create more broker owners, and broker originators in these underserved communities.
“FTP will help guide these committees in a multitude of ways by establishing relationships with associations that focus individually on these issues and identifying both Federal and local grants that may be applicable for these specific causes. Additionally, they will create introductions to politicians and their staff members who are passionate about these causes.”
She described how AIME and FTP would work hand in hand: “Our Immediate Action sub-committee will be constantly staying abreast of issues that are coming at us. FTP will be integral in ensuring that these issues are on the horizon and how to best get ahead of them. These types of actions will occur as legislation is being mulled.
“The foremost goal of expanding AIME’s Government Affairs efforts is presence. We need mortgage brokers to have a seat at the table so that they will never be left out of conversations. This is what happened in 2008 and we don’t want it to ever happen again. To have a seat at the table, we need the lawmakers to know who we are, who our members are, and the consumers that they fight every day for. The groundwork for this is laid in meetings with lawmakers that may not serve any purpose other than getting to know them, and them getting to know us. They have to know who we are before they’re going to ask for our opinion. And they have to trust us to value our opinion.”
AIME staffers will have a direct hand in the lobbying work, she added: “Step one is meeting with staffers as much as the actual politicians. Our current focus is on individuals that either serve or staff committees that are tied to our industry, most immediately, the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee. We are meeting these individuals, telling them how our members serve their constituents, and asking them how we can help.”
FTP’s senior vice president Kelly Williams will serve as lead lobbyist, AIME officials said. Kelly formerly was vice president of Government Affairs for the Mortgage Brokers Association (MBA). Additionally, FTP’s Jeff Strunk, managing director, and Trevor Hanger, senior vice president, will also act as advisers. “We are eager to support AIME’s ambitious goals and the direction their advocacy work for both mortgage brokers and diversified consumers is heading in,” Williams said in a prepared statement.
AIME’s president of advocacy, Brendan McKay, urged members to tune in for further developments in the coming days.
“Several exciting updates will soon be available, including the opportunity for this group to dig deeper into specific lobbying initiatives,” he said in a prepared statement. “The fact that Black homeownership is at a low point compared to a decade ago, the wealth gap between Hispanic and White Americans persists, and veterans are often taken advantage of when obtaining a mortgage or refinancing should be our focus, as well as other challenges the broker community faces.”