What has AIME done for you?

Broker details what the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts has contributed to her career

What has AIME done for you?

What has AIME done for you? That was the question posed by Mortgage Professional America during the recent AIME on Tour stop in Denver, where mortgage brokers gathered to exchange ideas and mingle with collegiality.

For the uninitiated, AIME stands for the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, a non-profit, national trade association with a mission of fostering an inclusive environment to support and protect independent mortgage brokers across the country to grow the wholesale mortgage channel. It now has around 40,000 members.

Before AIME: “We’ve never had a strong lobbying presence, we’ve been fractured in our associations,” Carrie Gusmus (pictured), president and CEO of Denver-based Aslan Home Lending Corp., said. “AIME is really a binding agent. AIME has been – especially in more recent transitions – an agent of the broker and of the non-del correspondent, being able to generate some energy and motivation around the fact that belonging and participation are really good and we’re going to be in the public eye and we’re going to be speaking.”

She harkened to the time before the Great Recession. “Prior to 2008, brokers were originating 69% of all the loans that were done. Where did your loans go? The top five banks were the biggest wholesale channel providers, and when they closed their fists and said ‘we’re not doing wholesale anymore, so many brokers got out of the business, and it went to 8%. But what that 69% didn’t do well is wave the flag that they were out there representing the customer better than anybody else because they were giving the customer choice, they were bringing the choice to the table for them, they were shopping for them.”

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In one collective voice, Gusmus said, AIME is now delivering that message. “Now we don’t have the top five banks controlling like 90% of the wholesale market. We have this smorgasbord – hundreds of companies. It’s great that we have UWM [United Wholesale Mortgage]; it’s great that we have HomePoint; it’s great that we have Flagstar; it’s great that we have Penny[Mac TPO]. It’s great that we have these bigger companies but it’s also great we have all these other micro kind of providers. When we all come to AIME, both the brokers and the providers, we’re all making an effort to be consumer-facing and Capitol Hill-facing saying ‘we do a better job for you, consumer. We’re working for you and, by the way, for a heck of a lot less money. We got legislated into less money in 2009, so we get paid less. We shop for you and do a better job.’ “

AIME has taken the mantle, broadcasting the role of the broker to the consumer: “AIME is bring that energy and that voice and that collaborative effort to represent everybody,” Gusmus said. “They have done so much and will do more. It’s the trajectory they’re on to bring the wholesale independent channel together we can be more powerful for our industry channel and continue to be more powerful for our customers. Because it was really bad for customers when the wholesale channel went from 69% to 8%.”

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In a previous interview with MPA, Gusmus encouraged fellow brokers not to be dissuaded by the market downturn. “I’ve seen this market before,” she said. “Aslan’s volume this year versus last year is not down, and we’re really grateful for that. Part of it is our new people. If you’re coming into this industry in this environment, this is actually a time you can be really aggressive and kick on, because there are a lot of people leaving. Maybe they just opened their basket and took all the refi and the fruit that fell into it, and now that time’s over.”

A veteran broker, Gusmus endured – and survived – the Great Recession. Those who persevere during the present market turndown will come out of it stronger, she suggested: “We’ve seen this in recessions in the past,” she said. “We saw it in 2009 – so many people left the industry in droves. I think there were 40,000 people registered in Colorado but only 4,000 or so went through with the full licensing process. We’ll see that kind of shrinkage. You have to have more fortitude and more resilience and more persistence than the 90%, which is not to say that 90% will leave.”