MBA Launches Member Action Pledge to Promote Minority Homeownership, Affordable Rental Housing, and DEI

CONTACT
Adam DeSanctis
adesanctis@mba.org
(202) 557-2727

Mortgage industry campaign announced by 2022 MBA Chairman Kristy Fercho at MBA's Annual Convention & Expo

SAN DIEGO (October 18, 2021) - Kristy Fercho, MBA Chairman, and Executive Vice President and Head of Home Lending at Wells Fargo, today announced the Home for All Pledge, a Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) member company action pledge to promote minority homeownership; affordable rental housing; and company diversity, equity, and inclusion. The action pledge was revealed during Fercho's keynote address at MBA's Annual Convention & Expo.

"The Home for All Pledge represents a long-term commitment by MBA member companies and employees to promote and ensure greater racial equity and inclusion in housing," said Fercho. "The time is now for the industry to collaborate on developing policies and best practices to close the racial homeownership gap, remove the barriers to sustainable and affordable housing, and support strategies to increase diversity within our organizations."  

Member companies are encouraged to sign the Home for All Pledge today and commit to aligning with MBA's efforts to:  

  1. Foster public policies and industry practices that promote and sustain minority homeownership and affordable rental housing;
  2. Support market-based solutions through MBA's place-based CONVERGENCE programs; and
  3. Champion diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces and our industry.

"MBA believes there is a significant need and opportunity for member companies to come together to eliminate the racial inequalities that have plagued our communities for generations," said Bob Broeksmit, CMB, President and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "With the industry's support, the results-driven action plans outlined in the Home for All Pledge will help expand homeownership opportunities for minority households, improve affordability and stability in the rental market, and ensure our workforce better reflects the diverse makeup of the communities and borrowers we serve."  

MBA's Building Generational Wealth Through Homeownership, a new policy initiative announced in September, will provide an important framework for the Home for All Pledge. The policy initiative provides industry leadership and direction for reducing the racial homeownership gap; developing and supporting policies that support sustainable homeownership for communities of color; and promoting fair, equitable, and responsible lending for minority borrowers.  

For more information and to sign MBA's Home for All Pledge, click here.   ------  

The following are the full prepared remarks from Kristy Fercho, MBA Chairman, and Executive Vice President and Head of Home Lending at Wells Fargo, today at MBA's Annual Convention & Expo.  

[Please note: These are prepared remarks. Fercho may add to or subtract from these remarks during her speech. Portions of the text may be omitted during the speech.]  

"Thank you! It's an honor to be here. And it's deeply humbling.  

The Mortgage Bankers Association is making history right now.  

I'm so proud of our industry for the journey we have been on that has gotten us to this place and I want you to know: I am here to help you and our mortgage industry thrive like never before-- because my only goal is to help you make history, too!  

Susan, thank you for what you said. And I can't thank you enough for what you've done.  

You led the MBA through an unprecedented time--  

and you did it with grit and grace and Southern charm.  

Let's show Susan Stewart how much we appreciate and love her!  

And thank all of you for being here. It's been a long road, hasn't it?  

The last time we met in person was two years ago.  

Think about everything we've been through, and how different things are.  

The last 19 months of the pandemic have been a study in perseverance, creativity, and adaptability. It has changed everything - or at least, almost everything.  

But one thing is exactly the same. Whether you're residential, commercial, or multifamily, what hasn't changed is how you maintained the highest commitment to your customers and communities over the past two years.  

You got more thrown your way than anyone expected, and yet you gave more than anyone asked. I have the highest respect for you!  

This is my first speech as MBA Chair and I'd like to talk about where I've been, throughout my life that brings me to this stage today. Then I want to connect my experience to where I see us going, as an industry.  

I often say, I'm "straight Outta Compton." Literally.  

It's where I was born, to the two best parents a kid could ever have.  

To understand me, you have to understand my Mom and Dad.  

I'm the daughter of a track coach and a stay-at-home Mom.  

My parents coached my three siblings and me to always strive to be our best selves.  

They encouraged us to achieve to our God-given abilities and never put limits on what we could do or be.   

And my parents practiced what they preached. My father stayed at the top of his game, as one of the top-ranked sprinters in the world and broke the color barrier in track and field.  

In 1969, he became the first Black head coach at a Division I school in American history.  

The coaching job was at the University of Arizona, so we packed our bags and moved from Compton, CA, which was 99.9% Black to Tucson, AZ which was 99.9% white.  

It was tough being in this new environment ... it was a real culture shock.   My mom tells the story of how when they went to meet the landlord for the house we were renting, he remarked "we've never rented to a colored family before."   

My oldest brother Greg, who was 8 at the time, asked my mother naively, "What color are we Mommy?"   

I had to navigate that world as a young Black girl, and I'll be honest: it was tough.  

I didn't know much about the people I was around. And they didn't know much about people like me.  

Growing up, I was never "Black enough" for the Black kids, or "White enough" for the White kids.  
My parents helped me navigate that difficult world. They gave me permission to be 100% me. And they gave me the strength to push through the bad times and always strive for a brighter future.  

I just wish Dad had lived to see it. He passed away when I was 15.  

I'll always remember his funeral. When the service was over and the music stopped, I went up to his coffin, and looked down at my Dad.   I thought about how he blazed trails for others to follow. The countless people he had inspired over the years, and the standard of excellence he left for me and my siblings. And standing there, I made him a promise:   I said: "Dad, I will be driven, just like you. I'll make sure your memory and legacy live on in me."   Standing here as the first black Chair of the Mortgage Bankers Association is everything to me.  

Dad, I kept my promise!  

It's been a long road since then. And it was the sacrifice of a strong mother, and the love and support of so many, that allowed me to thrive on my journey. My family and friends are here today once again supporting me. Thank you for always being there!  

Like so many of you, my career didn't start in the mortgage business. After college, I got my start selling hospital supplies right here in  

San Diego, and after that, I moved to PepsiCo in Human Resources. Being in New York on 9/11, I rethought my career and wanted to do something meaningful, something to have a great impact on the world and selling chips and soda didn't cut it.  

So I figured I'd try my hand at helping people buy their first home.  

I started looking around, and after just a few weeks, Fannie Mae asked me to interview. I got the job, and I've never looked back.  
Now, I didn't realize what I was getting into. The only thing I knew about mortgage was that I had one. Housing was like nothing I had ever done.  

I basically became a full-time student, spending my nights and weekends learning anything and everything I could about the business and the industry.  

Mostly, I read the Fannie Mae Selling Guide. I learned a lot... but it wasn't exactly a page-turner.  

I stayed at Fannie for 15 years. Along the way, I worked hand-in-hand with many of you-- Independent Mortgage Banks, Community Banks, Credit Unions, and Multifamily lenders.  

I couldn't have asked for a better experience. It gave me a deep understanding of this industry-- of who you are, what you need, and why you matter.  

In the end, it gave me a burning desire to switch sides.  

In 2017, I decided it was time to leave Fannie Mae and the day I announced I was leaving, I got a call from one of my customers - Flagstar Bank.  

They offered me the job of President of Mortgage, and I took it. I became the first Black woman to run a major mortgage operation.  

It was my first real step to continue my dad's legacy.  

I took an even bigger step last year. After growing Flagstar's mortgage business, I got the chance to work for one of the biggest mortgage lenders in America - Wells Fargo.  

I've been there for just over a year, and before I go on, I want to acknowledge my incredible team, many of whom I just met for the first time in person this weekend.  

I couldn't ask for a more committed and principled group of colleagues.  

I thank you for your support and encouragement and count it a blessing to work with you.  

I joined the board of the MBA the month after I started at Flagstar.  From the moment I joined this incredible organization, I saw how much it matters to our industry-- and how much it does.   Let me take this moment to sing the MBA's praises. This team is sensational-- and the past year and a half is the best proof possible.   It was make-or-break times for our businesses, and they ensured that we made it through.  

I'd say we owe this team a debt of gratitude, but they'd be the first to disagree.  

The MBA team is just doing their jobs-- and what a job they do.  

Let's show them our appreciation.  

It's an honor to chair this organization. It's also a great responsibility.  

As MBA Chair, the first priority I have is you. Full stop.  

I'm here to serve you. I'm here to strengthen you. And I don't just mean for the next year alone. I want to help you thrive for years to come. And I have a plan to make it happen.  

I've chosen two priority issues for my year in the hot seat.  

They're two causes I'm passionate about-- both personally and professionally.  

They're also two issues that are vitally important for our industry's future.  

The first one is simple.  

I will empower our industry to do even more to expand minority homeownership.  

The good news is we're not starting from scratch. Susan Stewart made minority homeownership her sole focus over the past year.  

I'm grateful for her strong leadership, and I intend to continue her stellar work.  

I've worked on this critical issue for a long time.  

At Flagstar, I fought hard to improve its record of lending to the Black community, starting in Detroit where the company is based. I've focused on minority homeownership even more at Wells Fargo. In fact, this issue was front and center when I got the job.  

Last summer, after the murder of George Floyd, I promised myself I'd do even more to advance equity and equality. I knew I couldn't solve every problem, but I could help address the issues in housing.  

In my interviews with Wells Fargo, when asked why I wanted the job, my response was simple: "I want to put more Black and Brown people in homes, and why not do it from one of the biggest mortgage platforms in America."  

They said they wanted the exact same thing, and since I started, they've given me the resources and support I need to succeed.  

We all know why this issue matters. Homeownership is the number-one wealth-building opportunity for virtually every family in America, but minorities have often been denied that opportunity.  

We have an obligation to right this wrong and help them own a home and own their futures.  

And there's never been a better time.  

We're at a critical moment in history when the White House, Congress, our industry, and community advocates all agree it's time to address the systemic challenges that hold back minority homeownership. It's incredible.  

We have to make the most of this moment.   

We will make the most of this moment-- I promise you that!  

My second priority issue is to improve diversity in our industry.   I want to empower more and different people to experience what you and I have experienced. Right now, there are a lot of Black and Brown kids out there who don't know what they're capable of.  

They don't know about our industry or appreciate how rewarding a career in Mortgage or Commercial Banking can be. We can help them find it, and give them the chance to contribute.  

I'm proof of what's possible. The only reason I'm standing here  

is because a lot of people helped me rise. They believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. They helped me climb when I didn't think I could reach the next rung. 

They gave me opportunities and supported me through thick and thin. We can all do the same thing for the next generation.  

There's a moral need to do this, but there's also a business need.

  A few months back, the Census Bureau found that the White population declined last year for the first time in history. America is on track to become majority minority.   Our companies should reflect our country and the communities we serve. They don't today.  

We all know it's easier to understand the needs of the community when we live in them and look like them. And on that front, we have a way to go.   Right now, I'm able to say that "I'm the only one of me," and that's not a good thing.

  We need to do more to build a pipeline of talent so that in five years, we have more people from diverse backgrounds-- not only in leadership, but at every level.   It's the right thing to do-- and this is the right time!  

So those are my two priority issues. And now I'm pleased to announce my first action to make these goals a reality.  

Starting today, the Mortgage Bankers Association will offer the "Home for All Action Pledge" - a pledge to promote inclusion in Housing for all our members.  

By signing this pledge, you and your companies will commit to promoting minority homeownership and a more diverse workplace. It has specific actions you can take on both fronts-- from public policy to industry practices.  

And signing it is just the first step. Once you do, the MBA team will help you identify concrete next steps you can take. We want to help you do what's right for your business and the communities you serve. A number of MBA members have already signed the pledge.  

I thank them for their leadership and hope their example inspires you to do the same.   My fellow members of the MBA, we have a chance to make a difference.   The time has come to act. And I know that we will lead the way!   If you want to learn more about the pledge, visit mba.org-slash-homeforall.    Or visit the MBA booth in the HUB.  

I couldn't be more excited for what we have in store. And I couldn't be more honored to serve you in this role. Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility.  

In the coming weeks, I'll hit the road to meet with as many of you as I possibly can.  

I'll go to states and cities across the country, and wherever I go, I'll listen to you and learn from you.  

Everything I do will revolve around you. You and your companies are a force for good, and I want to help you do more good for more people, across the board. 

That's my mission, and that's the mission of the MBA. I look forward to fulfilling it.  

And I look forward to the incredible things we will accomplish together.  

Thank you.