Prepared Remarks of MBA Chairman Brian Stoffers, CMB, Global President, Debt & Structured Finance of CBRE, at the 2019 MBA Annual Convention and Expo

Rob Van Raaphorst
(202) 557-2727

AUSTIN, TEXAS (October 28, 2019) -  Brian Stoffers, CMB, Global President, Debt & Structured Finance of CBRE, was sworn in yesterday as Chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) during the association's 2019 Annual Convention & Expo in Austin, Texas.

[Please Note: These are prepared remarks. Mr. Stoffers 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. Thank you, Chris, for that kind introduction. You know, if someone asked me to describe Chris George, here's what I would tell them. Chris George should have been cast in The Greatest Showman, not Hugh Jackman.

He exudes confidence, charisma, and class-- and boy, does he give one helluva speech. But more than that, Chris has been a great leader over the past year. I know I speak on behalf of every member of the Mortgage Bankers Association when I say: Thank you, Chris, for all you've done. Please join me in thanking Chris George! It's an honor to follow in Chris' footsteps.

It's very humbling. One thing should already be clear: Chris and I are a little bit different. I don't think anyone would want to see me in the Greatest Showman. So if it's alright with you, I'd like to tell you a little bit about myself. My hope is that by telling you where I've been, I can explain where we're going, as an organization AND as an industry. Like so many of you, I never knew I'd get into the mortgage business. I grew up in Southern California, working odd jobs from the age of 8 onward.

I was a paper boy, an ice cream scooper, and a bicycle mechanic.

I even built the bikes with the banana seats-- Schwinn Stingrays.

I put myself through college by working as a union clerk at a local grocery store.

I did everything from boxing groceries to stocking shelves in the middle of the night-- we called ourselves "night stockers." I ruled out the management training program at the store-- I just couldn't imagine a career in a grocery store. But then one day, in my senior year at Cal State Fullerton, I caught up with an old acquaintance who owned a small commercial brokerage firm.

He gave me my first job in the field. Six months later, I was hooked.

Commercial real estate was the place for me. And truth be told, it was the WORST time to get in the business. This was all the way back in 1980. That year, the prime interest rate hit a record high 21.5%.

Unemployment was nearly in the double digits. But where others saw a challenge, I saw opportunities. I was lucky enough to get into the commercial group training program at Coldwell Banker.

I took a 50% pay cut from the grocery store job-- but it was worth it.

I've been at CB, and now CBRE, for nearly 40 years.

When I started, we had less than a thousand employees.

Now we're getting close to 100,000.

I'd like to acknowledge my colleagues who are here-- thanks for being such a great team!

But it hasn't exactly been 40 years of smooth sailing.

Those first few years were tough, but I kept my head down and hopes up.

And just when I thought I was getting the hang of it, I got diagnosed with a rare autoimmune blood disease.

I was in denial. Thank God, I was referred to a world-renowned doctor who coincidentally practiced just a few miles away. I underwent a five-month experimental treatment.

I was one of ten patients in a national study, and I later found out I was the only male who survived. Throughout this ordeal, my work was my therapy. I never missed a full day in the office.

And after I got through it, I rose through the ranks at CBRE, which sometimes took me way outside my comfort zone. Case in point: In 1997, we moved from San Diego, California to Houston, Texas.

At the time, most of my friends thought we were crazy. We left what is arguably the best climate in the country for heat and humidity. We've now lived in Texas for over 22 years.

And I'm glad that we're hosting the MBA's annual convention right here in the Lone Star State. Welcome to Texas. And thanks for making my commute so easy! So that's my story.

It's a story of hard work, a lot of luck, sacrifice, and service to others. But my story isn't all that unique. A lot of you have similar stories. And so does our industry as a whole.

Think about it: The mortgage finance world has gone from strength to strength over the decades.

We've built our success by empowering others to succeed-- by helping homebuyers, renters, developers, and investors get ahead. We want win-win relationships, and that's exactly what we deliver. But our industry has also faced its challenges.

Some of them were pretty serious, like the crash in 2008.

It's been a long road back, and in some respects, we've still got a way to go.

But even in rough times, we came through it.

Why? Because one thing is the same, whether it's good times or bad.

It's something I learned over nearly 40 years in the industry.

We're stronger when we work together -- when we're a team.

And THAT is why the Mortgage Bankers Association is here. At the MBA, we are one vision, one resource, and one voice. As your new chairman, I want you to know: My focus is on you. I will fight for you every single day.

And that's what the MBA team already does. I see it every day: This group is exceptional. We have a dedicated staff that develops world-class educational resources, research products, government affairs expertise-- you name it, we do it. We also have a dynamic duo at the top.

Our COO, Marcia Davies, has a pretty tough day job, but she goes above and beyond to lead the charge to empower women in the industry.

And then, of course, we have our President and CEO, Bob Broeksmit. He's been on the job for just over a year, and he has delivered results day after day. Thank you, Bob, and congrats on a great first year!

That's no small feat considering the environment we're in right now.

When I look at our industry, our economy, and the opportunities that lie ahead, I think of one word: Agility. Agility has never been more important, given everything that's happening around us.

It will help us react to new developments as they arise-- and it will help us shape events, before they happen. The more agile we are, the better off we'll all be. Rest assured: The MBA is here to help.

My vision for the Mortgage Bankers Association is similar to my vision as head of CBRE's Debt and Structured Finance Team. It's simple: Get better, grow faster, and help more people get ahead.

This is what I've always tried to do. At CBRE, we've seen an increase in annual loan servicing from $6 billion to more than $223 billion, and originations grow to over $53 billion.

I know how to serve clients, and here at the MBA, I'm gonna put that knowledge to work, serving YOU.

Our goal is to improve, expand, and intensify the services we offer our members, to help you become more agile and effective. One way we'll do that is by focusing on diversity.

This has long been a passion of mine at CBRE, and for the past year, I've chaired the MBA's Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I think diversity matters for two reasons.

First, diversity is the right thing to do. People of all backgrounds and beliefs deserve the same career opportunities that we've had. Our industry can be a model for the nation in that respect. Second, diversity is the smart thing to do.

New people have new perspectives and can help us design new products and services. It's essential to keeping up with a changing economy.

A more diverse workforce will allow us to make a bigger difference for more families, clients, and business partners. In the coming months, you'll see the MBA step up its efforts in this area.

You're already seeing it, with our diversity breakout track at this conference. It's something we plan to bring to most, if not all, major MBA conferences. We have also expanded our Path to Diversity Scholarships. But these are just a start.

When I step down this time next year, I'm confident our industry will be more inclusive, and therefore more diverse.

And I know that we'll be stronger for it. Our industry's strength also depends on our innovation.

I don't need to tell you how quickly the expectations of our customers are changing.

It is incumbent on each of us in this room to push our companies to innovate.

Know that the MBA team is uniquely suited to assist. We are One Resource, and through our networking, information, education and research offerings, we're here to give you the tools you need to get ahead and stay ahead.

If you come up against a roadblock, ask the MBA team to help you break it down. If you want to explore a market sector, let US do the digging for you. If you want to help your staff improve their skills, let US be the ones to teach them.

I could keep going. The bottom line is that I urge YOU to use US, so that our industry can stay where it belongs-- on the cutting edge. Diversity and innovation -- those will be two of MBA's main focuses in the year ahead.

Our third focus is something that affects every part of our industry and essentially every person here. I'm talking, of course, about Fannie and Freddie-- and the path forward.

You'll hear plenty about this issue over the next few days, so I'll keep it brief. The MBA has a close relationship with Mark Calabria and his team at FHFA, and we're constantly talking to Congress and the administration.

We're pleased with the steps that have already been taken.

And we're gonna keep making progress-- I promise you that.

No matter the issue, the Mortgage Bankers Association will partner with others in D.C. and collaborate across the country to ensure that we make the biggest impact.

The MBA is effective because we are One Voice -- speaking on behalf of residential, multifamily, and commercial companies.

So how much more effective can we be by adding our voice to a chorus of others? I intend to put points on the board for OUR members, every single day. I'll fight for you because I see the good that you do, every day.

The mortgage industry is fundamentally about people. It's about the millions we help buy homes, build communities, and bring prosperity. And I'm not just talking about our financial products, either, although that's obviously at the core of what we do.

Through the MBA Opens Doors Foundation, we also help families caring for their critically and terminally ill children, providing them with mortgage and rental payment grants.

I've seen firsthand the difference we can make... To the members who support Opens Doors -- thank you, To the members who are considering a donation, I say: Families are counting on us, so let's all step up.

After all, helping people is what we do.

That's true whether you're working in residential, multifamily, or commercial, like me.

We each come to the Mortgage Bankers Association with different stories.

But we come here for the same reason. When we stand together, we accomplish far more than we ever would standing apart. United, we have the agility to thrive in this rapidly changing world.

I couldn't be more humbled to serve as your Chairman this year.

And I couldn't be more proud to be your fellow member of the Mortgage Bankers Association.