Accomplishments: Founding Advisors Mortgage Group and guiding it through the ups and downs of the housing market; expanding the company’s services and cultivating a great place to work; volunteering through his church, First Presbyterian Church of Red Bank.

Super Power: Knowing how to solve disputes better before the disputes even take place.

What You Wish You’d Known Earlier: “The work that needs to get done will still be there tomorrow, so no need to work until the late hours doing it tonight. It can wait until tomorrow.”

Steps to Balance Life and Work: “I typically work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. I used to bring work home, but no longer do that. I also do not get email on my phone, so I make sure to leave work at work.”

Essential App: Mortgage calculator.

With $1 Million to Donate, You Would Support: “A charity in Red Bank to help people who need a second chance. It would provide them shelter, food, health care, counseling, etc. There would be no cost to the care recipient, so they could hopefully get a good-paying job, afford their own place and get back on their feet.”

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Mastering the Mortgage Market

May 19
Category | General News

In 2008, long before the subprime mortgage crisis took hold, Advisors Mortgage Group, LLC decided to change a key business process. “We went to a conference about mortgage fraud, and brought back some ideas that led us to start reviewing mortgage applications more carefully,” says Sean Clark, vice president of the 13-year-old mortgage bank, which processes, underwrites, and sells loans to the secondary market. Today, thanks to that evolution and others, Advisors Mortgage Group has 20 offices and lends in 13 US states, and has made Inc. 5000’s list of America’s fastest-growing companies three years in a row. Here, Clark and vice president Steve Kaliff break down the New Jersey company’s impressive run.

1. Maintain Independence
A direct lender, Advisors Mortgage Group lends its own money and underwrites its own loans so it’s not reliant on anyone else. “We do everything in-house—from originating to closing loans—because we know if we rely on other companies, their performance can affect our performance,” Clark explains.

2. Make Quality Control a Priority
The most significant tactic Advisors Mortgage Group has implemented, says Clark, is to put in place a fraud-prevention program. In late 2008, believing that fraud, including falsified loan documentation, was rampant in the industry, Clark, Kaliff, and president Steven Meyer hired a quality-control manager. By January 2009, they had developed two departments, one called quality assurance, to prevent fraud prior to closing, and one called quality control, to ensure compliance after closing. “One hundred percent of our files now go through a department in addition to underwriting for the purposes of reverification and fraud prevention, so when we sell our loans into the secondary market, we know they’re clean,” says Clark.

3. Stay Abreast of New Regulations
In the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis, a wave of regulations hit mortgage bankers at the federal and state level. To help ensure compliance, Advisors Mortgage Group has turned to a team of external experts. “It seems like every day there’s a new regulation,” Clark says. “To keep abreast of them, we use AllRegs, an up-to-date database of mortgage-lending guidelines, to ensure that we understand regulatory changes in every state. We use DataVerify, QuestSoft, and Desktop Underwriter for fraud prevention. We also have two attorneys: Washington, DC-based Ari Karen of Offit Kurman helps us deal with compensation changes that resulted from the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and New Jersey-based Wayne Watkinson of Levy & Watkinson, P.C. helps us deal with fair lending changes and licensing changes.”

4. Establish a Web Presence
The company also relies on traditional marketing techniques, such as word-of-mouth referrals from realtors, builders, and financial advisers, but has also hired a social-media consultant and implemented a social-media effort that is showing significant results. “It’s hard to track what’s coming in from Facebook or Twitter, but loan officers who have used it have seen a dramatic increase in business, and we know it’s the future,” Clark says. “Statistics show approximately 90 percent of first-time homebuyers find their homes and mortgages online.”

5. Diversify
Advisors Mortgage Group has always sold its mortgages to other banks, such as Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America. Recently, however, those players have begun to exit the industry, driving the company to expand its options. “We’ve sought to do what those banks previously did, which is sell directly to government-sponsored entities such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” says Clark. “Now we can apply to sell loans to the Government National Mortgage Association. The more you can do on your own, the better you can compete.”

6. Encourage Staff
In 2006, a fire burned Advisors Mortgage Group’s only office to the ground, forcing the firm’s 30 employees to work from a small office equipped with folding chairs and tables. Clark says many left—but those who stayed were committed to the company’s success. “Employees who work with us now have been with us for 5–10 years, which is rare in the mortgage industry,” says Kaliff, who also points to the company’s culture as a factor in its slow turnover. “We facilitate a family relationship so employees feel like more than employees,” he says. “Every Thanksgiving, our president cooks a turkey dinner for the entire company at his home.”

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OCEAN, N.J., Nov. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 100 people gathered on Friday, October 25th for a ribbon cutting event that celebrated the grand opening of Advisors Mortgage Group's new corporate headquarters and also marked the company's fourteenth anniversary.

On a stage full of public officials, invited guests and corporate employees, Advisors unveiled their new 9,000 square foot building. The building is home to its executive management team and the company's main processing, underwriting, closing and secondary marketing departments. Just two months ago, Advisors launched a full-scale serving department inside the building as well.

"It's amazing to think that just fourteen years ago we started in a 400 square foot office. Now we are operating out of a 9,000 square foot building with over 30 offices nationwide," shares an excited Sean Clark, Vice President of Advisors Mortgage Group.

The ceremony began with welcoming comments from Mayor William Larkin. Following the mayor, State Senators Jennifer Beck and Joseph Kryillos each spoke, describing Advisors' growth as extremely important and inspiring during the nation's current economic climate before presenting Steven Meyer, President of Advisors, with a resolution from the State Senate. Later that afternoon Senator Beck tweeted "I was proud to join @joekyrillos for the grand opening and ribbon cutting of @AdvisorsMTG new HQ in Ocean Township," and posted pictures of the event on her Facebook page.

Also participating in the day's celebrations, were Ocean Township's Chief of Police Steve Peters, Councilwoman Donna Schepiga, Town Manager Andrew Brennan, the Oakhurst Fire Department, the Wanamassa Fire Department and 94.3 The Point, who broadcasted from the event.

"We are proud to choose Ocean Township as our new home. One of the core values here at Advisors Mortgage is giving back to our local community and helping those in need. We are excited to have such strong support from the community," Meyer said. Some of the organizations that Advisors has contributed to this past year include: Monmouth/Ocean County Food Bank, Holiday Express, Mary's Place by the Sea, Hope for Children, The Greg Hickman Foundation and numerous Hurricane Sandy relief organizations.

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Sean Clark - Young Guns 2014

May 19
Category | General News

As vice president of Advisors Mortgage Group, Sean Clark facilitates the daily functions of the company, both at the corporate level and in more than 30 branches across the country.

“Sean Clark is an incredible asset to Advisors Mortgage Group,” says John Thompson, assistant branch operations manager at Advisors. “Although it sounds like hyperbole, Advisors would have a very difficult time functioning on a daily basis without Sean’s direction, drive and intensely positive attitude. … Sean is the one who has the answer to every question, and almost everyone in the company knows to seek out Sean for answers.”

Clark has also been a driving force behind many of the company’s major accomplishments in the last 11 years, including gaining Full Eagle status from the FHA, launching a branch network in 2006, and being named one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies every year since 2009.

“Sean continues to raise the bar for a company with such modest beginnings that there is absolutely no telling what the limits could be,” Thompson says.

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