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Recognizing 30 Years of Mortgage Industry Excellence

To close out events Tuesday at the 2023 Five Star Conference & Expo, the Keys for Life Gala was held to honor the 2023 Five Star Institute Lifetime Achievement recipient, and U.S. military veterans.

The event, hosted by Guardian Asset Management and co-hosted by Xome along with Non-Profit Partner Military Warriors Support Foundation, featured the presentation of Five Star’s annual Lifetime Achievement Award, and this year, Five Star honored Kim Yowell, EVP of Servicing for Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, with the Award.

“Kim Yowell is an expert in the field of servicing, she knows all the ins and outs,” said Steve Jacobson, Founder and CEO of Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation. “Any mortgagee would be able to trust a person like Kim Yowell.”

With more than 30 years of management experience in the financial services industry, Yowell started her career in the accounting and finance side of the mortgage business, and has been focused on servicing and operations for the past 20 years. Prior to her role at Fairway, Yowell held key leadership positions at CTX Mortgage Company, First Horizon Home Loans, Metlife Bank, and BoK Financial. She has also served on the Freddie Mac Advisory Board, the Mortgage Bankers Association Loan Administration Committee, the Black Knight Servicer Advisory Board, and the Fiserv Servicing Advisory Board. Yowell is also a member of the MortgagePoint Editorial Advisory Board.

With friends, family, and her industry peers in attendance, Yowell took the podium to accept her Lifetime Achievement Award from Delgado.

“I am here because of my amazing team and co-workers … I’ve been blessed with a phenomenal work team,” said Yowell in her acceptance speech. “I have been surrounded by some of the strongest servicing talent in the industry and they would do anything for me and for each other. I would like to say to them, we are bonded for life. I am here because of my leaders who have mentored me, nudged me, believed in me and gave me opportunity.”

She added, “I am here because of colleagues and industry relations, having established meaningful and lasting relationships, trusted partners and even competitors … all of whom are critical to the industry’s success. I can’t thank them enough for supporting me.”

Also at the Keys for Life Gala, Ed Delgado, Managing Director of Mortgage Policy Advisors and Chairman of Five Star Global, delivered his annual State of the Industry Address. Delgado discussed the latest happenings in the industry, from advancements in technology, to returning to business in a post-COVID marketplace.

Ed Delgado, Managing Director of Mortgage Policy Advisors and Chairman of Five Star Global, delivers his annual State of the Industry Address during the Keys for Life Gala

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere in our lives,” said Delgado as he introduced the topic of technology in the mortgage space, and the challenges and risk presented by AI.

“While the benefits of AI in the mortgage and financial markets are undeniable, there are also challenges and risk,” added Delgado. “Of more significant concern is data privacy and security. With AI collecting and storing personal and financial data, protecting your information from cyberattacks and unauthorized access has become paramount. Regulations and security measures must keep pace with the increasing use of AI, in particular in the mortgage industry.”

The evening also featured the Five Star Institute paying tribute to a number of U.S. military veterans during a special presentation. A donation of $10,000 was made on behalf of Guardian Asset Management to the Military Warriors Support Foundation.

Tara Smith, VP of Client Relations for Guardian Asset Management, took the podium to recognize the efforts of Military Warriors Support Foundation, and the Foundation’s CEO & Founder Leroy Sisco (U.S. Army Retired). To date, the Foundation has awarded more than 900 mortgage-free and gift-tax-free homes, as well as more than 150 payment-free vehicles to wounded veterans and Gold Star families nationwide.

On hand at the event were U.S. Army Specialist Carlos Colon, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Alan Craig Conway and his wife, and U.S. Army Specialist Joshua D. Resch, three veterans who have benefitted from the work of the Military Warriors Support Foundation.

Military Warriors Support Foundation CEO & Founder Leroy Sisco (at podium) accepted a donation on behalf of Guardian Asset Management for $10,000 to assist veterans

The mission of the Foundation is to provide programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star families, with a focus on housing, transportation, outdoor recreation, and leadership development.

The Foundation offers support through a number of programs, including:

  • Homes4WoundedHeroes & Homes4GoldStars: A program that awards mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded veterans (Purple Heart recipients are given priority) and unmarried Gold Star spouses who’s loved one was killed in action.
  • Transportation4Heroes: A program that awards payment-free vehicles to combat-wounded veterans (Purple Heart recipients given priority) and unmarried Gold Star spouses who’s loved one was killed-in-action. In addition to the vehicle, the recipient will receive one year of family and financial mentoring.
  • Skills4Life: Provides recreational outings and peer-to-peer mentorship to combat-wounded veterans (Purple Heart recipients given priority) through hunting, fishing, and golf outings.
  • Leadership4Life: A one-year program designed specifically for combat-wounded veterans to help them utilize the leadership skills learned in the military to propel them into their future in civilian life.
  • Hope4Heroes: A one-year program that supports veterans through personalized financial mentorship and situational needs, offering multiple options for areas of focus to support veterans.

About Author: Eric C. Peck

Eric C. Peck has 20-plus years’ experience covering the mortgage industry, he most recently served as Editor-in-Chief for The Mortgage Press and National Mortgage Professional Magazine. Peck graduated from the New York Institute of Technology where he received his B.A. in Communication Arts/Media. After graduating, he began his professional career with Videography Magazine before landing in the mortgage space. Peck has edited three published books and has served as Copy Editor for Entrepreneur.com.

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