Mom-daughter brokerage team made an impact

Mom: 'Look at what a couple of Buffalo gals have accomplished!'

Mom-daughter brokerage team made an impact

Who says mothers and daughters can’t work together?

Jeanne Wiles, broker/owner of L.W. Integrity Funding LLC in Buffalo, New York, told Mortgage Professional America of the days when she and her mom, Roberta “Bobbie” Lindner, would take jobs together at other brokerages before hanging their own shingle.

“My mom and I opened up our shop in June 2005,” she told MPA during a telephone interview. “For our anniversary, I did a Facebook post and basically told our story of how we had worked at a couple of brokerage shops together. One afternoon, after a very frustrating day, I looked at my mom and said: ‘We are smart, we can do this – let’s open up our own shop.’”

Soon, they took the leap of faith and launched their firm. Her mom was then widowed at 63 and had undergone a kidney transplant four years before. For her part, Wiles’s children were then five and seven – old enough to be enrolled in school while she worked.

The corporate name reflects ownership structure

And so L.W. Integrity Funding was born, the initials representing their surnames.  “She’s the L and I’m the W,” she said. “We had a lot of laughs trying to pick names. We had a lot of fun at work together. Who would be a better partner than your mom? Maybe other people wouldn’t say that, but we worked pretty well together.”

But just a few years after the launch, the Great Recession emerged. “I wasn’t even sure if the government was going to come to shut us down,” she said, invoking the chaos and uncertainty at the time. She said roughly 70% of her competitors were forced to close.

Today, Wiles is facing another set of challenges given a market weighed down by inflation and higher rates against a backdrop of limited housing. But anything after the crash of 2008-09 is anticlimactic, she said: “If I can live through the mortgage crisis, I can live through anything.”

Despite market downshifts, she posted just under $40 million in volume last year, with 95% of business representing referrals or repeat business. She runs a lean shop, with just one other loan officer besides herself and three employees handling administrative tasks. “Luckily, I didn’t have to lay anybody off this year,” she said. “I never wanted to do that at all, and it never came to that.” 

Mom’s presence to be felt on trading floor

Sadly, her mother has since passed away. “Her kidney started to fail in 2018 when she was 78 years old,” Wiles recalled. “Seventy-eight and still working! Bless her heart.” By then, Wiles said her mother had stopped originating loans and stuck to payroll and administrative duties. In 2020, she passed away, the daughter recalled ruefully. “But we were as prepared as we could’ve been.”

Recently, United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) urged its independent brokers to submit short essays conveying their career trajectory to be considered as an attendee on the trading floor on Wednesday. UWM’s CEO Mat Ishbia is expected to lead the ringing of the bell to signal the end of business for the day – a tradition every national Mortgage Brokers Day.

Most brokers wrote of cases that stirred at the heartstrings in which they were involved – helping a military veteran who was living in a shelter achieve homeownership, securing a home for a blind couple, coming to the rescue of a Ugandan mother and daughter in urgent need for the safety of a home.

Wiles wrote of her mother, and the essay judges voiced their approval. She described the mother-daughter epiphany of wanting to venture on their own after five years of working together at other brokerages. “We were tired of not having a say in the process,” she wrote. “We were tired of our boss making it about numbers – not people. We just wanted to hang our hats, write our loans and take care of our clients.”

And she recalled how her mom – despite her own indomitable spirit and grit – seemed perpetually in awe of what the two had accomplished together. “My mom always said ‘look at what a couple of Buffalo gals have accomplished!’”

Wiles said she was excited about the prospect of being on the trading floor on Wednesday, something she’s never done before. She’ll be surrounded by some 100 colleagues vying to be among the lucky few to ring the bell with UWM’s CEO. Her mom will be there in spirit given her permanent residency in the heart and mind of her most treasured co-worker.

“Her legacy lives on,” Wiles wrote. “People still call the office asking for Bobbie Lindner!” 

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