“A good beginning is half the battle won!”
The success of a correspondent lender relies mostly on the public image they create for themselves. The first thing important for a correspondent lender is his/her research. This gives you an upper hand on your customers because the mortgage industry is and will always remain a competitive space for anyone entering.
Communication counts to everything when you are a correspondent lender. Good contacts with your lenders are bound to give you prospective new clients.
Featuring for the Cover Story of The Enterprise World’s this issue of Enterprising Women of the Year is one such entrepreneur, who with her dedicated efforts has made mortgage look like a piece of cake to everyone. Dana Brashear, with her zeal to succeed, is today recognized as one of the exceptional mortgage experts!
Unmatched Leadership of Dana Brashear-
“First and foremost an entrepreneur is responsible for leadership.”
An entrepreneur initiates and oversees almost all activities across business lines, creating jobs, fulfilling opportunities, and managing risk. Secondly, they must ensure the business is operating efficiently and taking care of their staff. Thirdly, they engage with the community, being a change agent and aiding in achieving their goals. Overall, improving lives while making a profit for everyone involved.
Dana Brashear started in finance as a bank teller almost 20 years ago. Dana Brashear took the traditional path of moving up through an organization within the mortgage department becoming a processor, originator and eventually management. Through her network, Dana Brashear had an opportunity present itself to aid a de novo correspondent channel grow.
“Through this avenue, I began building high performance teams and entered project management and I haven’t looked back since.”
Coping with the rat race that the industry is, Dana Brashear says that she has chosen what to give her attention to and then prioritize her work accordingly. It can be extremely overwhelming with the amount of knowledge and changes that is being thrown at you daily.
“I stick to my strategy and if it doesn’t align, I table it.”
Being a project manager helps me compartmentalize fortunately. However, there are times when Dana Brashear finds herself chasing the new shiny thing because it’s intriguing. But at the end of the day, where you put your knowledge and how it is capitalized matters the most!
West Gate Bank- Always Thriving for End-to-End Fulfilment-
Chartered in 1968, West Gate Bank is a family-owned community bank based out of Lincoln, Nebraska. WGB Correspondent has been helping community banks and credit unions provide home ownership to their customers across the nation. Offering Delegated, Non-Delegated, and “Full Service” Broker relationships, providing end-to-end fulfilment, we offer the right products at the right price, in a fast and efficient manner.
“Our overriding philosophy is for our partners to keep their borrower/member relationship.”
To guarantee that philosophy, we institute a non-solicitation commitment clause in our contract. They retain servicing of nearly all mortgage loans in their Servicing Center located in Lincoln, Nebraska to ensure borrowers/members receive the best customer care available.
Cutting Through the Complexities-
There were a variety of challenges, especially when ramping up our strategic plan. One common challenge all the contemporaries share in this industry is how fast you pivot and adapt to the changing market. Being a small community bank, nimbleness was not an issue. However, employees shifting their paradigms and learning new processes was and continues to be an obstacle, in some respects. As the industry moves to leverage more technology, archaic processes become obsolete, this causes a shift in moral as employees feel insecure and afraid of the unknown.
Another hurdle the team had to overcome was securing the available resources and expertise to fill in gaps within their tech team and servicing. Over the past several years, they identified and hired some amazing talent helping to bring the company’s goals to fruition.
“We’ve built the necessary infrastructure that has allowed us to overhaul our servicing platform, creating a dynamic, paperless solution as well as create our own technology processes without relying on a third party. This has been invaluable to maintaining growth without the additional cost.”
The talent acquisition along with the technological abilities West Gate Bank now possesses allowed them to tweak their plans and realize what they, as a company, were truly able to accomplish. This was a major turning point and triggered new product and process development. They were also able to expand their product offering and execute more efficiently. In turn, they are able to compete with larger aggregators leading to an influx of partnerships and increased volume.
The Products and Services-
West Gate Bank Correspondent Mortgage focuses on developing third party relationships with community banks and credit unions with a desire to grow their mortgage presence. They offer secondary market mortgage and portfolio products to enhance an institution’s housing menu.
West Gate not only purchases secondary market loans, but also services these loans locally and offer a non-solicitation agreement. A few differentiators are their ability to implement new products quickly, a streamlined manufacturing process with minimal overlays, and access to all staff for a white glove approach.
The Changing Graphs and A Bright Future-
Inception occurred in 2011, however, let’s go back to 2015. For the past six years, the company has managed to increase their correspondent partnerships by 74% and triple the production volume. While 2020 was a bit of an anomaly, Dana Brashear is extremely proud of the team and what they have been able to accomplish in such a short period of time.
“We continue to grow our network of relationships, create brand awareness across the nation and manage an increasing pipeline.”
Dana Brashear firmly believes that the long-standing success is due to the commitment the team has to the community banks and credit unions. West Gate prides themselves on maintaining service levels no matter the market environment and are also willing, as you can see in 2020, to slow growth where needed so that they do not sacrifice the relationships they have cultivated.
“WGBM believes in a true partnership, building communities together, and that’s what we service.”
Currently, the company is weighing their pricing execution options to offer better margins on both agency and government products. This will be a key factor in their ability to complete over the next few years. With housing inventory drying up and mergers and acquisitions shrinking the current pool of investors, competition for community financial institutions will be fierce.
West Gate is also looking at a variety of affordable housing products that align with the current administration’s goals. As funding becomes available for various community grants and bonds, they are partnering with local housing agencies to help facilitate their secondary market loan opportunities.
Team Work Makes the Dream Work-
“I build teams that have different skill sets and viewpoints.”
Dana Brashear wholeheartedly believes in collaboration. Dana Brashear feels that collaboration in diversity makes the team more rounded and facilitates an environment for learning of different viewpoints and also cultures. The staff need to always agree with the boss!
Dana Brashear encourages her team to challenge her thought process and offer better suggestions. Dana Brashear has also cultivated a habit of holding them accountable for their actions. There is no failure, only learning opportunities. This approach gives the staff the confidence to develop their own ideas and methods.
“I always ask to look beyond the job at hand and how this will improve their life in the future.”
These subtle changes and challenges of her leadership have presented Dana Brashear with tons of achievements throughout her entrepreneurial journey. The one that Dana Brashear recalls, which was probably her best achievement was her team receiving promotions and recognitions professionally. All her staff has elevated in their career, whether those on her current team or the past one. Witnessing their growth and seeing them achieve their goals has been the highlight of her career, says Dana Brashear.
Probably the best achievement, is when I experience my team receiving promotions and recognition professionally. All my staff have elevated in their career, whether those on my current team or past teams.
The Words of Appreciation Always Count for Best Efforts-
The clients appreciating your products and services is always a great achievement in a leader’s journey. Here are what Dana Brashear’s clients have to say about West Gate Bank and their unmatched excellence of services-
“As an industry leader in the custom home market of southeast Nebraska, MK Builders Inc. is constantly striving to incorporate the best people and product into our process. Construction lending is a critical element required to help dreams come true. The products, services and expertise offered by the team at West Gate Bank bring the personal involvement of lending to a whole new level. We appreciate the innovative and forward-thinking methods West Gate Bank provides, as well as a simple process for clients not typically found in the industry. Thank you, West Gate Bank, for your continued dedication and support.”Matt Karl, President, MK Builders Inc.
“West Gate Bank has been the banking partner we sought as we develop and expand our services in the Lincoln and Omaha communities. They have offered a highly competent and professional approach to our complex needs in banking. Recently, they were quick to respond to our application Paycheck Protection Program dollars that have made all the difference in being able to provide essential mental health and substance use disorder services to people across Nebraska. This is what a banking partnership ought to look like. Thanks, WGB!”Topher Hansen, Executive Director, CenterPointe