Prepared Remarks of Rodrigo Lopez, CMB, at MBA's CREF/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo 2017

Ali Ahmad
(202) 557- 2727

WASHINGTON, D.C. (February 20, 2017) - Rodrigo Lopez, 2017 Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Chairman and Executive Chairman of NorthMarq Capital, today delivered the following remarks at MBA's CREF/Multifamily Housing Convention & Expo 2017 in San Diego, CA.

[Please Note:  These are prepared remarks.  Mr. Lopez may add to or subtract from these remarks during the course of his presentation.  Portions of the text may be omitted during the speech.]

Good morning!  It is great to be back in San Diego.

You know, this weekend, as I was coming in from the airport, I was struck by how much this great city has changed in the past few decades.

I remember some thirty years ago when less than 200 of us gathered in a small hotel across the road from the airport to attend MBA's Income Property Conference.

Today, that small conference has grown into the most important convention of the commercial and multifamily real estate finance industry, attracting the most diverse array of interests within real estate finance -- and thousands of people.

Thousands of people who over the next few days will network and learn from the very best of our industry in this beautiful city by the sea.

So, welcome to San Diego, a city that has scores of office buildings, numerous retail centers, hotels, recreation facilities, libraries, wonderful city parks, and over 500,000 housing units.

Climate may be one of the most attractive features of this city, but also attractive are its diverse economic sources that range from technology, aerospace, nuclear and oceanographic research, to fishing, marine products, and wholesale distribution.

And the United States Navy has a significant presence, being the largest employer of this city.

Our industry has played a significant role in the growth of this city and countless others across the United States, and, indeed, throughout the world.

We touch every community, every family.

We contribute to the fabric of our nation where families live, work and play.

We provide diverse capital resources for office buildings, retail stores, industrial centers, and our homes, whether rented or owned.

And as MBA members, representing all facets of real estate finance, we have definitely enabled this growth.

Our strong partnerships allow us to develop innovative and balanced capital solutions, which help our communities prosper and grow.

These successes are remarkable, particularly given the breadth of our industry.

The commercial property sector consists of all property types, with nearly $3 trillion in outstanding commercial mortgage debt provided by a wide variety of capital sources, including banks, life insurance companies, CMBS conduits, real estate investment trusts, and pension funds.

Also in the mix are lenders who work with the government-sponsored enterprises and the Federal Housing Administration to provide liquidity to the multifamily rental market.

I think you would agree, it is a great time to be in the commercial and multifamily real estate finance businesses.

As we look forward, we must capitalize on the opportunity to build on this success through our unified partnership and single vision for the future of our industry.

As your 2017 MBA Chairman, I am proud to represent our strong, singular voice and vision as we continue to build even greater communities.

Like many of you, my passion for our industry is derived from helping others achieve their dreams of building communities, growing their businesses and providing for their families.

Working together, we have the means and opportunity to advance real estate finance in America to the benefit of our industry, the economy, businesses, and households.

Our blueprint for the future will focus on three critical areas: first, effective flow of capital while maintaining the right regulatory balance; second, transformational technology; and, third, achieving meaningful diversity in our industry.

Let me start with regulatory reform.

Each capital source is subject to distinct government rules and regulations. The complexity of regulatory frameworks leads to overlapping rules, which negatively impact the entire commercial and multifamily real estate finance industry.

For example, the core purpose of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act-- or HMDA-- is to mandate reporting on consumer lending, rather than business-to-business lending on commercial and multifamily real estate.

The recently expanded HMDA rule, however, imposes considerable reporting obligations on a wide range of institutions that provide capital for multifamily real estate assets.

This regulatory expansion arguably presents significant concerns across the commercial/multifamily sector, without delivering a corresponding public policy benefit.

Other regulations present challenges because they are developed in isolation within bureaucratic silos that end up having unintended effects across markets.

Regulatory capital requirements, including those advanced by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, have led to uncertainty in balance sheet lending, as well as construction lending under the High Volatility Commercial Real Estate rules.

Similarly, for some life insurance companies, additional federal regulations could be layered on top of the long established state regulations already in effect.

The goal then should not be to impose more and more regulation, but instead to strike the right balance that allows us to best serve our customers and grow the global economy.

In a paper published in December 2016, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew stated,

"Our economy and our markets are now more interconnected and globalized than ever before-- some of our largest banks operate in over 100 countries, and the flow of capital circles the globe each day in financial centers around the world."

This flow of capital will determine which resources get funded.

With the Trump Administration's focus on the global economy, MBA will be leading one voice in driving the flow of capital.

As I said, striking a regulatory balance will be key, and we must continue to strengthen all the capital sources and those who link us to our borrowers in the commercial/multifamily real estate marketplace.

OK. Next, technology. This critical area, and one that poses some of the biggest challenges, presents a new frontier of opportunity for the business of real estate finance.

We need to be poised and ready to take the necessary steps in strategic innovation, or transformational technology.

Like it or not, we live in a time when people expect information instantly, whether we are talking about outreach to customers and partners, business intelligence solutions for commercial lenders, or attracting new employees.

Clara Shih, the founder and CEO of Hearsay Systems, who has come to know our industry well, suggests that "companies, especially those that have traditionally lacked digital touchpoints or have low interaction frequency with their customers, need to rethink their business practices and even their business models to adapt to the age of constant digital connectivity and influence."

By embracing new technologies, we have the opportunity for tremendous growth.

New technologies will help us not only attract and communicate with more customers, but also new generations of employees.

Today, one in four workers in the United States are millennials. Adopting relevant technology to engage this rapidly growing segment of our population will improve customer service and our business operations, and help us recruit and retain good and creative employees.

These innovations can be linear, whether in the context of property inspections or the loan documentation process. Or they can be disruptive, bringing forth new business models and paradigm shifts.

We, as an industry, must embrace innovation.

It is liberating and exciting to think with a mindset of "what COULD BE", rather than one based on "what HAS BEEN."

Technology is the transformational engine that will drive this change.

Finally, there is another opportunity that touches everyone in this room-- Diversity and Inclusion. It strengthens our industry, but also our workforce.

The face of America is evolving.

Over the next decade, there will be sixteen million new households in the United States. Today's minorities will become the majority. The millennial generation proportionally has the largest share of immigrants.

It is essential that we view these demographic changes as positive opportunities for our businesses and our society. To benefit from this evolution and take advantage of these opportunities, we must be inclusive in every aspect of our businesses.

We need to move beyond standard business practices and intentionally develop diversity management strategies with dedicated recruiting, mentoring and leadership programs.

Building a culture of inclusion and diversity in our companies brings more strategic vision to our business plans.

A diverse and inclusive workforce allows for better decision making, providing leadership with alternative perspectives.

Cultural diversity leads to broader ideas and greater success.

Diversity is not only good for racial and ethnic minorities, but ALL employees derive benefits from being part of a diverse and inclusive workforce.

And a good, strong workforce is better positioned to serve our rapidly changing and diverse market.

MBA is one resource that assists our industry in more fully embracing this opportunity.

For example, MBA's CREF Careers effort works to attract more-- and more diverse-- candidates to careers in our $3 trillion industry.

In 2016, the CREF Careers program held three in-person events-- one each at Howard University, Harvard, and UCLA. A total of 525 students from 23 different schools signed-up to learn more about internships, jobs and careers in our industry.

The program, which is driven by MBA's commercial/multifamily member firms, has also produced an industry recruitment video and will be launching a series of virtual career fairs this spring.

If you have not discovered how this program can help your business, I encourage you to visit the MBA booth in the HUB or go to the CREF Careers website at

Here is the most important point on this issue that I want to leave with you.

Diversity happens as the fabric of the "we" begins to change such that we become less focused on our differences.

Rather, we focus on the goals we share and begin to realize we are stronger and better as we live, work and play together.

Before I close, I have one more very important and personal initiative to share: giving to and supporting our communities.

MBA's Opens Doors Foundation has become a favorite charity for Mary and me.

It provides us, as an industry, the opportunity to support families with critically ill children with their home rental payments.

In just a little while, you will have an opportunity to give your support to families in need and any amount helps.

A $100 donation from everyone registered for this convention would help over 200 families with a critically ill child at a Children's Hospital.

Ensuring the flow of capital and striking the right regulatory balance; embarking on transformational technology; achieving meaningful diversity in our industry; and, providing support to the communities we serve.

This is OUR vision. This is our blueprint for the future.

And it will require each of us in this room, collectively as one voice, to benefit from the opportunities available to us.



United, we form a powerful force that ensures a safe and sustainable real estate finance system.

As an MBA member you have the most influential voice for real estate finance.

That is because MBA represents the entire industry.



With a strong and unified partnership with our members, we work toward our shared vision of a diverse and a competitive market for all industry participants.



With a dedicated team of policy and advocacy experts, we drive legislation and regulation to ensure your business is able to operate at its full potential.

The power to stay united in the coming year is in all of our hands.

Only by coming together can we achieve the best results for our industry.

Bringing together more than 3,000 here in San Diego is a good start.

Let us work together to ensure a strong and sustainable real estate finance system in 2017 and beyond.