Living and Breathing Mortgages: MBA’s Robert Broeksmit
How his 30 years in the mortgage sector led to an opportunity to head a top industry trade group.
Robert Broeksmit has been living and breathing mortgage for most of his life. So it seems fitting that he should be leading the Mortgage Bankers Association as it confronts numerous COVID-19 related hurdles.
“I took the leadership job as an industry practitioner. It was helpful to see how all the aspects of my career were interrelated in this position,” said Broeksmit, who has headed the organization since 2018. “It was easier to relate and empathize with our members because I’ve sat in their seat. I feel like it was a good preparation to be in this job where all of our members are facing challenges that I’ve faced in the past.”
The Mortgage Bankers Association, for example, has been working diligently in assisting its commercial and multifamily members in advocating for direct rental assistance for renters to make payments to MBA’s operators. Eviction moratoriums were an effective solution in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but further assistance is needed in the form of unemployment services or future stimulus checks, he said.
MBA’s advocacy also includes encouraging the inclusion of CMBS in the revived Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (the Federal Reserve announced it would be in April) and speaking against a 50- basis-point fee for lenders on all refinance loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which is expected to go into effect on Dec. 1.
“Bob is very thoughtful and strategic. He is always two to three steps ahead on the chessboard,” said Brian Stoffers, chairman of MBA & global president of debt & structured finance at CBRE. “He is a very focused individual that pays attention to detail and why the details manner.”
Immediately before joining MBA, Broeksmit worked for seven years at Treliant, a risk advisory consultancy firm. He became president, but his main role was to work with institutions facing litigations as a result of mortgage-backed security. He was included as an expert witness multiple times and stated that one case he was involved in, involving a loan back made back in 2007, continues to this day.
“After working with him for about three months I was totally sold on Bob, he took to consulting like a fish to water and was able to assume more and more project responsibilities so I could focus on running the firm,” said Susanna Tisa, former CEO and one of the founders of Treliant, who is now currently a member of the Board of Directors.
Tisa and Broeksmit worked closely together on a day-to-day basis. He soon became a managing director at the company and was eventually named president & COO when Tisa was named CEO.
Starting at the bottom
Broeksmit’s thoughtful and detail-oriented approach helped him rise quickly within an industry that he really joined by accident. Following his graduation from Yale University, he took a temporary job doing clerical work for The Money Store in Union, N.J. He started working on mortgage loans by typing verifications of employment and deposit documents that he would mail out for the borrower party to fill out in order to process the loans.
“It was a small division and I was a curious person,” said Broeksmit. “I gained exposure to different functions within the mortgage business and a broad view of business.”
After The Money Store, Broeksmit followed his boss to Investors Residential Mortgage. He was then transferred to the Austin home office before the company was acquired by Krupp Residential Mortgage Co. Broeksmit moved from Austin to Boston in 1988 and worked for the new entity before moving out to the suburbs to run a branch for Great Western Mortgage.
During that time he received a call from Prudential Home Mortgage, which was growing an operation in Maryland. He accepted and moved for that job in 1989, where he spent seven years growing his career. He started by running a team that processed, underwrote and closed loans from mortgage brokers made by Prudential. Then went the direct-to-consumer channel by handling mortgages already held by the company.
In 1996, the firm was in the process of being acquired by Norwest Bank, now known as Wells Fargo. From Prudential, he moved to Chevy Chase Bank where he was an executive vice president & president of the B.F. Saul Mortgage Co. subsidiary. He spent 14 years at Chevy Chase Bank, continuing for a year after Capital One acquired the bank.
“Running a pretty significant regional bank thrift from a young age was a great opportunity and a role I really enjoyed,” said Broeksmit. “I stayed on for almost a year and a half under Capital One, until they moved the mortgage business down to Texas.”
As the son of a minister, Broeksmit credits his father’s upbringing for instilling a strong moral compass and faith in him that he considers extremely meaningful. His other mentors includes the late Dennis Hedlund, one of his bosses at Prudential Home Mortgage, who, he said, brought a wide-ranging and cerebral approach to solving business problems.