Editor’s note: This feature appeared in the February issue of MReport, out now.
In the final part of this series, MReport recognizes the top leaders and influencers of the industry. Compiled from nominations submitted by industry professionals, the “Top 25 Industry Leaders & Influencers” list recognizes those individuals who are guiding by example, thinking outside the box in ways that are shaping the industry’s path forward, and still maintaining that personal touch that ensures their team members feel supported, inspired, and recognized.
PRESIDENT AND CEO, BSI FINANCIAL
Years in Industry: 18
Gagan Sharma acquired BSI Financial Services from its former parent in 2006 and transformed the company from a small lender into an innovative and thriving loan servicing provider, growing BSI by over 50 times since his acquisition. During this time, Sharma has overseen the launch of several new product lines at the company and complemented it with bolt-on acquisitions, while building a strong management team and culture with the organization focused on a shared set of core values. This included the development of BSI’s proprietary data and analytics platform, ASSET 360, which imports data elements on BSI’s loans on a daily basis, including all collection comments, transaction history, and loan status updates. Sharma was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 Award Finalist in the Southwest Region. Before acquiring BSI, Sharma founded a global outsourcing company serving the financial services and technology industries. He raised institutional equity financing and increased its labor force to more than 1,200 people before selling it. Before that, Sharma was a consultant with Deloitte, advising clients on matters of strategy and operations in the financial services and high tech industries. His areas of expertise include specialty loan servicing and subservicing, loan-servicing quality control, REO/asset management, MSR acquisition, loss mitigation strategies, loan-servicing technology, and outsourcing. A seasoned entrepreneur, Sharma brings a wealth of deep expertise and experience in the launching of new businesses, raising capital, P&L management, and growing organizations from startup to enterprise scale. Sharma is praised by colleagues for his effective leadership of teams and his commitment to trustworthiness and integrity.
SVP, HEAD OF DIRECT LENDING, FLAGSTAR BANK
Years in Industry: 15
Rocky Stubbs helped lead the industry through one of its darkest hours. Currently, with Flagstar, Stubbs helmed JPMorgan Chase’s foreclosure prevention group in the country’s hardest hit markets during the financial crisis, which successfully helped over 100,000 struggling customers avoid foreclosure and remain in their homes. An innovative and strategic mind, he has an industry reputation as a bold innovator who is highly skilled at leading rapid growth agendas. His passion for designing incredible customer experiences using leading edge digital tools is second to none. He is one of the few industry leaders to crack the code on scaling purchase business in a direct lending channel. While most scaled (2Bb+) consumer direct lenders struggle to get over 10 percent purchase mix, Stubbs’ team achieved over 40 percent purchase while delivering industry leading customer and Realtor satisfaction scores. Stubbs has rapidly put Flagstar Bank on the map as a competitive player in the digital lending arena for both mortgage and the home equity businesses. He continues to be a strong thought leader for the industry in the areas of digital lending, artificial intelligence, digital assistants, and customer experience. He attributes the reason for his success to a group of strong mentors. He always prefers useful feedback to accolades in his effort to be continually improving. “I call Rocky ‘the maestro’. He’s like an orchestra leader pulling all of the instruments into the music at the right time. Everyone is welcome around the table and encouraged to weigh in,” shared David Dickey, EVP at Guaranteed Rate Affinity.
EVP AND COO, VRM MORTGAGE SERVICES AND CO-FOUNDER, COUNCIL FOR INCLUSION IN FINANCIAL SERVICES
Years in Industry: 30+
Since joining VRM in 2008, Cheryl Travis-Johnson has been responsible for developing and rolling out VRMU, one of the leading training vehicles for real estate professionals. She is committed to developing nontraditional services to mitigate losses associated with nonperforming loans. As a director on the board of PCV/VRM Seeds of Hope nonprofit, Travis-Johnson leverages philanthropy to support neighborhood stabilization efforts. Immediately prior to joining VRM, Travis-Johnson served as Director of REO Sales Operations for Freddie Mac, during which time she received Freddie Mac’s Premier Achievement Award. She is the Co-founder for the Council for Inclusion in Financial Services (CIFS), an industry initiative created to help the financial services industry develop and sustain an inclusive workforce and promote financial literacy so more Americans have access to wealth management tools. The CIFS was initially formed to address the requirements of Section 342 of The Dodd-Frank Act that relate to supplier utilization, women, and minorities in senior leadership roles. Travis-Johnson received her bachelor’s in Economics from Mills College as well as an MBA and Doctorate from Walden University. She was a 2018 nominee for the Five Star Conference Keystone Award—recognizing female leaders in housing and mortgage. VRM has invested more than $90 million in veteran-owned businesses since 2012, a cause Travis-Johnson has championed. “Our support of veterans is about their future and the future of our country,” Cheryl TravisJohnson said. “Engaging veteran-owned, small businesses through our extensive, results-driven network boosts the economic opportunities for veterans year-over-year,” she said.
OWNER, TROMBERG LAW GROUP
Years in Industry: 13
Andrea Tromberg began her legal career as a public defender and then a criminal defense attorney, trying over 100 jury trials. This taught her to think on her feet and exposed her to a broad array of different people, backgrounds, and personalities. These experiences provided many useful lessons, including the ability to deal with differences of opinion by stepping back and considering who is delivering the message, and why. Tromberg has spent the last 10 years in default litigation and runs a mid-size firm in Florida, which also practices in Puerto Rico. She prides herself on her firm’s diversity, with management comprising primarily women and all ethnicities and races. Her colleagues say that Tromberg leads by example, with patience, ethics, care, brilliance, and dignity, as well as a commitment to always doing the right thing. When dealing with an employee who is having a difficult time, Tromberg will attempt to understand the person’s issues and the reasons behind that struggle, while also ensuring they understand that she cares. Tromberg consistently promotes her employees and gives them opportunities to grow and make a name for themselves in our industry. Tromberg is currently serving her second term as the America Legal Financial Network’s first female Chairperson of the Board of Directors. She is also dedicated to charitable causes such as the Boys and Girls Club and Breast Cancer Awareness, and she recently attended the Five Star PR18 Summit in Puerto Rico to help find solutions to assist with the island’s ongoing recovery.
PRESIDENT, FIRST AMERICAN MORTGAGE SOLUTIONS
Years in Industry: 25+
Under Kevin Wall’s stewardship, First American Mortgage Solutions solidified its leadership position as a trusted and proven provider of data and technology-driven offerings covering the entire loan spectrum, with a focus on quality and consumer experience. Wall reorganized an array of previously separate organizations, products, and services to create a single voice and point of contact at a time when lenders needed greater accountability from, and coordination with, their service providers. Wall then led First American Mortgage Solutions to bolster its end-to-end offerings through strategic acquisitions and organic growth, integrating rich data assets throughout all points of the operation, and working collaboratively with lenders to enhance their businesses with these industry-leading data assets. As digital transformation swept the mortgage industry, Wall’s product team engineered API-enabled versions of Mortgage Solutions’ end-to-end products and services to empower lenders in innovating their digital mortgage strategy, from online application to eClosing. Wall is a visionary leader who responds to customer needs and industry trends by fostering innovation across the division while stressing accountability, transparency, and alignment. He consistently reinforces this business approach with his leadership team and employees with the message that their collective accomplishments are helping shape the company’s legacy. Wall also advocates for the values and award-winning culture of First American, which was named to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list three years in a row. As a constant reminder of his appreciation, he uses the signoff “Thanks for all you do!” in all employee communications.