“Our desire is for the prosperity of all families in America. ”
CONTENT QUICK LINKS
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Hello! April is one of my favorite months as it represents so many incredible things. New beginnings for one, with the Easter holiday. This month’s cover is adorned with a very special man, David Munoz, someone who is filled with passion and vision. His story is an incredible one and along with all of the articles in keeping with our theme, Working Towards Financial Goals, I ask you, the reader, where you are in your own business journey and your personal financial goals. Are you as far along as you had hoped to be at this time in your life?
For as long as I can remember, the mortgage business industry has carried so many successful professionals to incredible financial heights. I have watched so many people build remarkable lives. It’s hard to even imagine the lives I have seen changed in the course of three-and-a-half decades, all made possible by gaining financial literacy. As an educator in our industry, it is with great pleasure we lean in to ensure our professionals have the very best insight and our magazine represents this sentiment as well. We hope you not only enjoy the magazine, but you take away applicable information, so you pivot your business and/or life towards the success you strive for this year. Happy Spring!
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Written by Leora Ruzin
There are many in the mortgage industry who consider their businesses to be a family affair. The power of family is so prevalent in mortgage, even the professional mortgage organizations embrace the culture of family and work side by side with family members. Family is integral to the story of David Muñoz, broker-owner at Home Lenders of Georgia. David’s upbringing was not exactly traditional, and it is because of this he welcomes family in his business. David truly lives by the philosophy of Carpe diem. He seizes every opportunity before him.
David was born in the remote mountains of Costa Rica and grew up tending to the dairy farms surrounding him. At the young age of 14, he journeyed alone to the United States to live with Methodist missionaries. After six months he returned to Costa Rica to obtain his student visa and returned to the US permanently when he was 15. As a teenage immigrant who knew little English, David could have fallen into the trap many do who emigrate and accepted the status quo society relegated him to. Not the life David envisioned. He stepped up to the challenge and embraced the task of ingratiating himself in his new home and culture. Along the way, he learned and mastered the drive that has brought him to where he is today.
In 2004 David, now a husband and father, partnered with his wife Dawn, to start their business in the basement of their Georgia home. This came only a few years after making the decision to become loan officers. In their years in this industry, David and Dawn have weathered virtually every storm, including housing industry collapse and economic recovery. Today Home Lenders of Georgia is one of the top broker shops in the state. David, who had very little education and knew nothing about mortgages, made it his mission to help others learn how a mortgage can help them become financially free. As David stated, “I remember sitting at a client’s home looking at a Good Faith Estimate trying to understand the numbers and trying to explain and convince my civil engineer homeowners that refinancing their $550,000.00 fixed-rate mortgage into a six-month Libor ARM made perfect sense for their finances. Starting in this industry, it was just an opportunity, and I took advantage of it and I am still taking advantage of it as I develop as a leader.”
David often leans on his strengths to run his business, and it is no surprise his greatest strength is the passion he has for the journey of becoming a homeowner. His drive powers his vision and he is keenly aware of the influence he can generate behind the vision by using the power of his Wisdom. David explains, “I have the ability to obtain the attention of those in my surroundings and I am able to influence my followers, like those in our sphere of influence, members of my company, or peers, to see what I see, to believe in what I believe.”
David’s comments do not reflect bragging or overconfidence. Rather he understands how important his role is in the greater sense and does not waste any opportunity he has to educate others. He firmly lives by the motto, “for Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.”
What drives David? What is his WHY? As David describes, “What drives me is the passion to be everything I can be. I want to leave everything exposed and on the table. I love progress and enjoy seeing the fruits and results, but even better the prestige of knowing I can do anything in life not for me only but most of it for others. To show someone else how to prosper. To teach someone else how to use their own individual smarts to reach goals and expand their horizons. I am driven to listen to nature and the natural law. I am driven to observe and analyze to find answers.”
As someone who is always looking for a win-win scenario, David reflects on his career, and what has made him successful in business. He understands the importance of being a leader who does not sit back and let others do the hard work. He is an active participant in the decision-making within his company and assumes full responsibility for the results.
As he thinks back on his struggles as a leader, he acknowledges where he has fallen a bit short. “After the mortgage meltdown, “there was a fear within the mortgage broker industry that mortgage brokers were going to go away. I had multiple national lenders calling to advise me to join their institutions because there was no hope for us as brokers. Their advice had the opposite effect to what they wanted. Their words gave me the fuel to stay with my business. Looking back today, I believe I should have expanded my business even greater because I would have had my business in a much better position. Not that I am complaining where we are now, but I feel that I should have been more aggressive back then.”
Because David chooses to take advantage of every opportunity, he has risen above the challenges to achieve true success. As someone who has fought hard to live the American Dream, he remembers well where he came from and wants to pay it forward to others who seek his counsel and guidance in their homeownership journey.
Throughout my many years in this county,” David shares, “I have had many successes and reached many personal and business milestones. My greatest success is a combination of personal and business success. My success has to do with taking advantage of the opportunities this life, this country, and my drive has given me.”
David never slows down, regardless of the weather ahead and always strives to see the positive. “I am blessed to be in an industry that is versatile and offers opportunity for everyone,” he says. “Many opportunities are given to those who are willing. I believe, as a business owner and leader in our industry, I carry a visionary gift. I am passionate about providing opportunities for anyone I encounter and helping those who are willing to take advantage of the opportunity.”
David is not one to shy away from speaking truth about the issues facing the mortgage industry. He knows as a leader his role is to effect positive change. As he looks to the future, he sees his company as a beacon for others. He fuels his personal drive and uses the experience and resources of his teams to make others successful. His personal goal is to take advantage of every opportunity before him. As one might expect, the goal of his company is similar.
“What is our main goal?” he says, “to provide opportunities of self-development and financial development to the members of our company so they can thrive as true professionals and provide for their families. Equally important is to extend the opportunity of prosperity to our business partners and our clients. I think the wording of our company mission statement says it best, ‘Our desire is for the prosperity of all families in America.’”
David identifies communication and collaboration, especially in our current market, as important traits to prosperity, saying, “Our industry will not survive unless we communicate well, unless we bring value, and unless we earn trust. These traits can’t be applied unless we build relationships, strong relationships. This is my favorite thing about our industry. Having honest relationships with our clients, business partners, and members of the company is a must.”
TIPS FOR SUCCESS:
- Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who have tremendous drive, passion for life, smarts, and passion to see beyond the natural world.
- From the beginning, identify the main goal complementing the mission and understanding the steps to take to accomplish the goal.
- Lean on the ones who have done it; the ones who will help you and advise you as to how to reach your main goal. Do not reinvent the wheel.
When David looks at his wife and two children, he sees the future. His passion to take advantage of every opportunity is instilled in everything he does, even outside of the office. Whether it is when he is coaching his son’s baseball team, working on his farm, or running the business with Dawn, he is cultivating opportunity. If he could go back in time, he would have told his younger self to “embrace and practice discipline and as that discipline is developed, to pause, to enjoy the place where you are in life, to enjoy the moment you are in, and to enjoy the relationships around you. You never know how long those moments or relationships will be present in your life.”
When David was asked what his Vision for Success is, he reflected on his spiritual faith and the power of direction and Wisdom. As he says, “Vision for success is given by the one and only Wisdom who speaks every day early in the day. She will point out very clearly the path to take. Sometimes she will point out to an individual who will help you how to get there. Sometimes she will point out who to speak to or how to speak. Sometimes she will give you a whole plan or strategy as to how to create or resolve something. Sometimes she will let you see the complete vision for what you are doing or about to do. Sometimes she will give insight and counsel you on your vision.”
Next time you are in a room with David, perhaps you can ask him if he has time to tell you more about his story. The odds are he will make time for you, but if you want to sweeten the deal, tell him you will take him fishing. While sitting on the banks of a river, he can share his wisdom with you.
NEXA Mortgage is a Mortgage Broker lending to consumers looking to own a home or refinance their existing. Our mission is to serve our customers with honesty, integrity, and competence while providing an exceptional customer experience.
Our goal is to provide home loans to consumers nationwide while supplying them with the lowest interest rates and closing costs possible. We pledge to help borrowers overcome roadblocks that can arise while securing a loan and strive to offer the best payment plan along with the best terms imaginable.
Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored
Season 1, Episode 9: Are You Always Right?
Are you someone who always wants to be right? Let me tell you a little secret, we all have this feeling but it’s how we communicate that reflects our growth.
Christine dives into this topic on the next episode of Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored navigating through personal stories and strategies to expound on this polarizing yet amazing topic.
We strongly suggest you take 30 mins and listen in, it surely will not disappoint. We promise, we’re right.
Check out https://www.visionyoursuccess.net to reach us.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Beckwith Unplugged and Uncensored is video podcast designed for Christine Beckwith, a long-time business executive turned executive coach in the banking, mortgage, and real estate industry. In this totally transparent and sometimes raw monologue, Beckwith tells it like it is…publicly. Emotion is the driving force behind all human intellect, accomplishment, and success. If you cannot feel where you are going, you cannot SEE it either. As the visionary behind 20 / 20 Vision for Success, Christine brings her personal and professional philosophy to the mic. Listen in because these are lessons you will want to learn here instead of anywhere else.
Written by: Leora Ruzin, CMB, AMP
In 2016, as the mortgage industry was ushering in a new era of homeownership for the Millennial generation, a 20-something Katie Sweeney was beginning her mortgage career as most folks do, by stumbling into it headfirst. A graduate from Pepperdine University with a degree in Sports Broadcasting and Business Marketing, Katie started her journey as the head of marketing and analytics for the Consumer Direct team at Pacific Union Financial. In the span of six short years, Katie has experienced a meteoric rise leading technology innovation for PUF, developing key strategies for the ARIVE broker conduit, cultivating partnerships at AIME (Association of Independent Mortgage Experts), and was most recently elevated to the role of CEO of AIME in January 2021. The speed at which Katie has risen through the ranks in the broker community is nothing short of awe-inspiring, but don’t get it twisted; Katie has worked her tail off every step of the way and has earned her stripes.
Mortgage brokers are the boots on the ground in our communities, and they possess the spirit of an entrepreneur. They have a unique business model; they have access to a multitude of lenders and can tap into the wide array of mortgage products available in the marketplace. At the heart of AIME is the passion behind supporting these brokers, and Katie exemplifies that passion. “Brokers and local loan originators are direct representatives of their communities,” Katie states. “When we provide a valuable resource to them, it trickles down to the people in their neighborhoods. Getting to work in an industry that helps people come home, that’s an incredible blessing.”
The broker community has seen a resurgence in activity over the last two years, and organizations such as AIME have provided brokers with tools to better advocate for their borrowers and communities. As Katie further explains, “We’re obviously passionate about protecting, supporting, and growing our members, and the broker channel in general; this will always be the core mission behind every decision we make at AIME. With that though, it’s critical to do what’s right by the consumer as an industry. It is easy to lose sight of that, to look at a consumer as an address. We will always passionately advocate for potential or current homeowners to be served in the way that best meets their specific needs.”
To better understand what drives Katie to be the voice of an entire subset of the mortgage industry, we dug into her background and found the core of her why to be around family and community. While her immediate family is rather small (her parents have been married for 33 years and her younger brother just graduated from college), her extended family is broad. As she explains, “My extended family is huge; more cousins and second cousins than I could even try to count and nine sets of aunts and uncles. We also have the best group of family friends who are more family than friends. I’m lucky to say we’ve always been incredibly close. If you’ve been to an AIME event recently you’ve probably met the whole Sweeney Team; we always show up to support each other, no questions asked.”
Katie is, at her heart, a Southern gal. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Katie lives by the philosophy of “helping people help more people.” When asked what her main goal in life is, she points to a desire for southern hospitality to always come shining through. “I’ve been blessed in life to have a platform people listen to. My goal is to always ensure it’s used for good, never for personal gain. At the end of every day or week or month or year I strive to answer the question ’who did you help and why does it matter?’”
Even though Katie has a heart the size of Texas and uses her voice to help her broker partners have the best chance at success, it hasn’t always been easy for Katie to use her voice. Thinking back to when she was in high school, she remembers it wasn’t always easy for her to talk to others. “I know it’s hard to believe now, but I was quiet and shy, even through college. I was more comfortable being Robin than I was being Batman. It was only through working in Pepperdine’s Sports Broadcasting program that I found the confidence to assert my thoughts and share my opinions in more public settings. I would go back and tell young Katie, “You have a voice. Use it. Be Batman.”
Using your voice to help further a cause or to advocate for someone may seem difficult, but it is not nearly as difficult as using it to advocate for yourself. Too often leaders put the needs of others before themselves and become silent when it comes to expressing what they want out of their careers. As Katie also explains, it is difficult finding a good balance between work and home life. “My biggest struggle will always be balance, but I’d challenge you to find a motivated and competitive person who doesn’t feel the same.” As a huge sports fan, it is no surprise Katie is extremely competitive by nature, but one’s spirit is difficult to cultivate when you do not know how to use your voice to advocate for yourself. “If I could travel back in time, I would have learned to speak up for myself earlier on in my career,” Katie states. “From sports to healthcare to mortgage, they all come with similar challenges for a young woman. Once I realized I had a voice and I had to use it if I wanted to reach my career goals, everything changed for the better.”
Katie’s leadership style combines kindness with her competitive edge. This style is a rarity in the mortgage industry. As she describes, “I like to think of myself as a combination of grit and grace. Grit is all about digging deep, working hard, and showing what’s possible. Grit motivates others, but grace teaches. Grace allows you to understand all angles and to speak in a way that will resonate with your audience. Grit is something that burns in your core; grace is the polish that grows through experiences over time. Showing the importance of both through action is the first step in being a leader.”
Katie’s career in the industry has placed her at the forefront of setbacks, but these have not deterred her from helping her teams reach their ultimate potential. Katie understands without her team, she is not successful, and she does not take success for granted. She truly feels when she builds up communities, teams, and her people, this drives success tenfold.
“My success is directly tied to the success of those around me. I’m proud of the teams I’ve been able to work on, lead, and ultimately build. My career has been a series of start-up style environments, and that world can be tough. Identifying talent, helping curate and develop skills, and watching people rise to the occasion is one of the greatest accomplishments I could hope for. I strive to be a bumper when things go sideways and the biggest cheerleader when things go right, working every day to somehow impact the leaders of tomorrow; this is where my passion lies.”
As Katie looks ahead to the future, she sees a greater push to homeownership for the underserved and the younger generations. She foresees a mortgage process where digital and scalable programs blend, in addition to the use of outreach and personalized/community-based experiences to reach a greater swath of homebuyers. “Millennials, single women, and various minority groups buying homes; using a variety of communication styles, providing more access to information. The pace of home buying for these demographics is rapidly growing and they need access to education and information to help them through the process. The most successful business will be those directly reflecting the perspectives and needs of the communities they serve.”
Katie is 100 percent all-in when it comes to furthering the broker movement, and her motivation to see market share in the broker space grow is what drives her every day. She wants to help others find their voice as well: small business owners, veterans, minority groups, women. As she explains, “every person benefits when all perspectives are being appropriately considered when creating policy and promoting change. This isn’t some unreachable, conceptual idea; it’s something I work towards daily. By giving brokers the tools to best serve their borrowers and giving them a megaphone to sound their clients’ needs, we can bring these issues to Capitol Hill. We can search for solutions. I promise to continue using my platform to advocate for others. If they don’t have a seat at the table, I’ll be the one to pull up a chair for them.”
At the end of the day, when she isn’t answering the Bat Call for brokers across the country, you just might find Katie enjoying a nice glass of red wine while watching football with her family. Or you might find her tooling around DC or Philadelphia, enjoying the sites. You might also find her reciting her favorite quote from Mary Poppins:
“Winds in the east, mist coming in, like somethin’ is brewin’ and ’bout to begin. Can’t put me finger on what lies in store, but I feel what’s to happen all happened before.”
Katie recalls watching Mary Poppins more times than she can count with her father, and this quote has resonated with her ever since. She finds it both nostalgic and exciting; a reminder of the impact a single person can have on so many people.
In closing, Katie imparted her greatest lesson, which is to understand and accept people for who they are, and sometimes, you must make tough decisions when people in your life don’t serve your best interests going forward. Such sage wisdom from someone who has seemingly only just begun to leave her mark in this world.
If Katie has her way, you will see her on a TED Talk someday, and I have no doubt in my mind it will be sooner rather than later, and you can count on me to be in attendance.
Katie’s Tips for Success
- Pull up a chair to the table – whether it’s for yourself or someone
- Do no harm but take no
- Whatever you do, do it for
Written by CaZ
It does not take long when one first meets Neena Vlamis to understand why she is at the helm of a successful business. This year, 2022, marks 20 years for A and N Mortgage, a residential mortgage lender approved to underwrite and fund loans up to 5 million. The longevity and steady growth of her company are due in large measure to Neena’s ability to harness unstoppable go-getter energy. My father would describe her as a firecracker, and I would agree. She has an entrepreneurial mindset and an engaging personality overflowing with passion for life, a combination guaranteed to lead the way with fortitude and a smile.
“I am open-minded,” Neena says, “and willing to ask questions, continue to learn, and grow myself and others around me. I received a brain scan once and the doctor said I had one of the ‘happiest brains’ he’d ever seen. I love that as I am an optimist.
I look at obstacles as opportunities and frame my thinking to avoid ‘have to do something’ and instead think of it as a privilege. I learn every day and don’t dwell on negativity. I chose to see the light and keep moving forward. I want to be the change I hope to see in this world.”
Choosing mortgage as a career path was an early decision for Neena. Her mother worked in the mortgage industry, and her father, an immigrant from India, owned properties. Neena speaks fondly of the days when her father took her along as he collected rents,
“I wanted in! I saw how lucrative this could be, and I also saw his passion. I caught the fever from him. I remember it like yesterday. Helping my father manage rental properties on the weekends throughout junior high showed me the value of hard work and building wealth. I knew I wanted to be in business for myself and pass on those traits to develop other leaders and teach borrowers about building wealth. I was 24 when I collected on my first property, 25 when collections started on the second, and I’ve never stopped. The passion I found as a young child is still here. I love it.”
For Neena, her business is in every way a family affair. Her mother works for A and N. Her husband, Dean, works in the mortgage industry. And they are raising their children to make smart financial decisions to give them a strong foundation for their future. Neena credits her eclectic heritage for her core values. In part Irish, Swedish, and New Delhi Indian, she has a little bit of libertarian, a little bit of democracy, and a little bit of republican influencing her view, saying,
“At the end of the day, our values are everything. Don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t hurt people. We sustain our culture through respect for other people. We have to understand their perspective, where are they coming from, and what have they been through to appreciate how they fit into our world. We don’t know what shoes they’ve walked in before. Understanding and respecting personal history matters. Alignment with people who share the same values is important to me. That’s a big part of my vision for success.”
And what a powerful vision she has! For Neena, this vision melds business and family in one. Her goal is to raise children who are kind and happy, who bring joy to their community, and support employees and business partners who share the same values and goals.
“I sat on a board for Freddie Mac. It was a high-level board; I mean, one guy there ran the credit union for Walt Disney employees, and they picked me to be in that room. I had no idea what I was doing on the board. I remember after the first meeting thinking I said the dumbest things you could ever imagine. Then one of the guys on the board, an older gentleman, connected with me. He said my being there was refreshing and shared how he appreciated my energy having turned a normally boring meeting fun.”
Neena believes a smile is the most important gift anyone can give, saying it is not necessary to fight or argue when agreeing to disagree is an option. The key to Neena’s vision for success is to communicate well, and when it’s hard, just keep trying. When you are up and running, reach back and help those around you.
“Recently, I took my daughter to her first softball practice. She’d never thrown a softball in her entire life. She had no idea what she was doing but wanted to play. Along the way, we picked up two other young girls, and they were all nervous. I heard them worrying about all kinds of what-ifs, like what if we hit somebody, what if we hurt somebody, and even what if we disappoint the coach. So, I changed the conversation and asked my own what if. What if you don’t try and you don’t put yourself out there? They saw a different perspective, began to understand another perspective, and it changed theirs. It sounds naive, telling this story, but that’s how I am.”
One of Neena’s favorite parts of working in the mortgage industry is helping clients realize their homeownership dreams and being able to play a part in turning dreams into achievable goals. She is in the process of taking A and N into California, expanding from the company’s Chicago base, and looks forward to scaling the company’s message of trust, accountability, integrity, and ethics into even more markets.
It’s fair to say Neena believes in speaking up and being true to your own values. She works, entirely by choice, in an industry where a woman leader remains a minority, despite many inroads made in recent years by women. To Neena’s mind, men and women bring equal yet different value to the business.
“My husband tells me not to handicap myself because I’m female. When I walk into my home, I need to make sure all my people in my household are taken care of. And the same for my business and the people there. That’s who I am, and Dean says to use this rather than thinking of my gender as a handicap. I like being in an environment where it’s men and women because it doesn’t always feel like it’s competition. As a female leader, it does feel different. I am different. But different does not mean better or less than. Let’s agree to take each other on merit and appreciate the strengths we bring. I am a woman leader, and I think it makes a difference only that I wear my dresses and I’ve got curves. That’s part of who I am, and it’s not a handicap. I’m a mother, wife, and daughter. I’m also at the helm of a 20-year-old 100 percent woman-owned business that can go head-to-head with the big players in the industry and win.”
Get yourself organized; time management is essential. Have a plan for your day.
Always ask questions and learn.
Hand-written thank you notes still go a long way.
Written by: Bill Foss
Picture a little child with a workbench, trying to slam a square peg into a round hole. Obviously, there’s going to be damage to the peg and surrounding areas. The same is true of you and your business. If you force your way into your business, there will be collateral damage OR you will shrink to fit the space.
So how can you become truly successful?
Knowing how to do something can give you incremental improvements. Knowing who could help can give you massive leverage improvement. If you know you and align your business with who you really are, then you:
- Choose the right partners (your who), and
- Place them in the right seats to align for both of you.
Alignment is Crucial
If you know YOU and you know the ultimate outcome or vision and create a supportive environment by knowing who you serve, who can support you, and HOW to do what you do IN A WAY THAT IS IN ALIGNMENT within and between these three core areas, you and your business become limitless!
Creating an aligned business is challenging because you must dig deep into your history and your past, into who you really are at your core. It’s important to define your values which are often created by the voids in your life. For most of us, our purpose is driven by pain.
Consider this powerful concept: Nature is always trying to balance itself. If there is a high pressure and a low-pressure system, there’s a storm to bring the atmosphere back into alignment.
All too often, people trying to build a business put their rose-colored glasses on and try to achieve the upsides without considering the downsides. The way to create a business so it works is to be in alignment with reality, to see both the upsides and the downsides, to seek balance, and to be aligned with who you really are. When you become empowered and balanced, you create from a position of strength just as nature does.
Initially, when a car is out of alignment it’s no big deal, right? The tires wear out a little, then the ride becomes bumpy, and then a little bumpier. Then, the shaking starts, and the brakes and the steering mechanism begin to wear out as well. The more you drive the vehicle and the more you push it, the worse the situation becomes until it eventually breaks down altogether.
You and I are no different.
If our business is out of alignment with who we really are, we create stress and strain. Things begin to wear out. Eventually, something has to give.
Many people focus on how to do things better or turn to How-To training to fix problems. As you can see in this picture, the whole bell curve comes into effect in How-To training. Out of all people, a few obtain great results, and a few obtain incremental improvement. At the other end of the spectrum, a few people gain little-to-no results whatsoever. The people who have results do so because the information is aligned with who they really are. They are already in alignment with the activities and the changes that need to be made. It’s simple for them.
The vast majority struggle with the information because it is not aligned with who they really are and worse, they don’t know who they really are. The key is to adjust and adapt the information in a way that aligns it with who you really are, or else the information will go unused. Worse, it could, if used, deliver poor results. In a very simplistic way, this causes what I call the Shiny Lure Syndrome.
You choose a course or a coaching program and are excited about it. You begin to implement the lessons learned. Then you don’t see results right away. The enthusiasm wanes. And the next thing you know, you spy another great marketing program or maybe a new company to go to because the lure of the greener grass is stronger than staying on the course you’ve chosen. So, you start down a new path only to find once again the excitement wanes and the pattern repeats. Following the shiny lure has led you to stagnant growth and little-to-no implementation of solid growth-building practices.
As you chase shiny lures and new training or new technology or a new marketing program you will suffer the roller coaster ride. There is famine and feast and famine: too much money, not enough money, too much business, not enough business, too much free time, not enough free time, and every time you try to improve this situation, you add more stress and overwhelm because you’re trying to fix a problem by piling more on top of it. That is never a recipe for success.
And we don’t have a life because we’re too busy worrying about our business. And when we’re at our business, we’re worried about the time we’re not spending with our family. Then you get into self-judgment and comparison. We start to feel like a failure and see ourselves as not good enough. Then behold, a guru is going to teach you to fix yourself to try harder, push through, reprogram you. We pile ice cream on top of dog crap, more great sounding solutions on top of a faulty business model. Then what? You leave projects unfinished. You begin to leave loose ends because you don’t want the self-judgment of fear of rejection of what you are putting out there to cause feelings of unworthiness. Maybe you are good at forcing your way through the pain of change. Maybe you keep your nose to the grindstone. AND, there is one more insidious trick your brain will still pull out of its bag: you trick yourself, proclaiming loudly in mental warning, Your Success May Be Your DOWNFALL!!
This one is painful for me. It drives me to coach on this topic of business alignment. You see, I had by all measures, succeeded. I had the fastest-growing business in the country. We were at around six million dollars in revenue. Happy family. Nice car. Condo in the mountains. The good life.
What wasn’t visible was the thought spiral that had planted itself. What I heard every day inside my head was a litany of negativity, Someday people will see you are not that good, Bill. You’ll be found out as the fraud that you are. That little voice came and went. Eventually, it came more often and feelings to match the thoughts began to take hold until one day, literally, my world came crashing down! The imposter syndrome was the culprit. At the time I did not understand it. Nothing in coaching or training had prepared me.
I wasn’t just thinking about being a failure, I was acting out the thoughts with avoidance and procrastination. I knew I should be doing something, but I just did not want to. In the end, I learned invaluable lessons about myself and the world I now share with you.
In reality, it is our comfort zone keeping us stuck in this pattern. The brain does NOT like change. It sees change as a threat. When you intend to change, to adopt a big new idea, the brain immediately sets up resistance because it knows how things are. It sees change as a threat to our survival!
And that’s where alignment comes in because you will understand what really drives you intrinsically. Not with motivation from the outside, but from the inside. When you align with your highest values, your intrinsic motivation will help move you beyond the resistance to a better way of life. If you depend on force or external motivation you will struggle. It is that simple. Avoidance and procrastination are minimized. We suffer through overwhelm and frustration because we don’t have time to grow our business and it isn’t doing what we want it to do.
I understand you are already perfect. Do you? Or do you believe you need to be fixed in some way or the other? Do you believe if you could cover up the bad stuff and reprogram the good stuff all would be perfect?
Not so. I used to think it was ME failing. I understand now I am right where I need to be. Newsflash!! It is not you. You may need clarity. You may need a new perspective. You do not need fixing. I believe you also ARE YOU’RE EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO BE!
What is needed is understanding, acceptance, and direction! I cannot describe for you how empowering it feels when you truly understand who you really are, the direction you want to take, and the environment you need to create to live the life you imagine. This is what an aligned business is all about.
To quote from Dr. Suess, “You are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”
The system of aligning your business with who you really are, is understanding what makes you, YOU and who-you-really-are! I believe there is an innate purpose within you! If we align with that golden thread, remarkable things happen. The sky’s the limit when you align your passion and purpose and who you really are. There is a genius running throughout your being, and you will align your genius within your business to create a business that serves your life. You will serve your clients and the world at large in a much more powerful way!
Here’s a picture of how you can achieve your goals. What you need is a vision. See Your Vision at the top of the photo.
Become very accepting of where you are because you came from somewhere! That somewhere was on the way to where you are now. Nothing was ever in your way; it was on the way. It was a benefit to you in some way. It gave you the intrinsic power, the inner drive. With a vision aligned with our values and our purpose, we begin a journey. We must become someone different. This is what this stairstep shows. The dotted lines show we don’t know everywhere we’re going.
We begin the journey like a butterfly. A butterfly goes into the cocoon and dissolves itself with enzymes to be reborn as a butterfly. If we were caterpillars and knew we had to go into a dark place and dissolve ourselves to emerge without all our legs, but with wings, would we, do it? Nature protects us. It doesn’t show us the whole way. It shows us what we are ready for next.
This is SO important but difficult to grasp. What’s important for us to do is make a shift from thinking of our vision and where we are to where we’re going, to think from our vision as if we were already living the vision. I suggest we create an avatar with the personality traits, the value system, the vision, and the decision-making process as if we were already living it.
Most people don’t realize we only control our perceptions, our decisions, and our actions. If we can create alignment with:
- clarity of direction,
- and clarity of environment,
our decisions will align with who we are, and success will be much easier to attain.
Clarity of Self-Knowledge
Clarity of self-knowledge is simply understanding your values, purpose, and mission, your innate genius, emotional patterns, and perception.
What Makes You Tick? Are you a goal setter? Or are you a problem solver? Why does it matter? Because goal setters do not like problems and problems solvers do not like to set goals. And this is just one area.
Have you looked back through your life in seven- or ten-year increments? What events shaped your being?
Clarity of Direction
Clarity and direction of vision is the strategy aligned with your values. Once you have a clear vision, your actions will prioritize those values and goals. When prioritizing your values and goals in this way, you are focused on your life aligning with your values and ensuring you are making value-driven decisions.
Do you know your highest value? How about your top three or four in order of importance? Values are your JUICE!
Clarity of Environment
Then, last but not least is clarity of environment. Now, this does NOT necessarily mean the office or company you keep. It means the support structure around you.
What is your team like? What are your tools, technology, and space? What is your financial reporting and investment plan? Who are your ideal clients? What is Your Ideal Market?
Great power comes from alignment! You combine clarity of self-knowledge, clarity of direction, and clarity of environment toward one vision! It is like rays of sun through a magnifying glass!
Step one is to understand your history and your top values, then to create a compelling magnetic vision. When you gain clarity of who you will become to live your vision you create a strategy and a prioritized plan to get there, with goals and problems you will solve on your way. Then you act.
Once you act, you gather feedback and adjust the plan.
The Wright Brothers did it right!
Samuel Pierpont Langley had all of the resources and created a bigger engine and bigger wings. They strapped bigger engines on a fuselage of a plane that couldn’t glide let alone FLY.
The Wright Brothers found out what would make the plane glide. Only then did they add the engine.
By aligning your business with who you are we find out how to make your business GLIDE. Your business will take less energy, fewer resources, fewer dollars, and the success will be much greater.
Let’s be honest.
If YOU do not change, nothing will change.
What most people don’t understand is change is difficult, and most people want to feel good.
To build your business to serve your life your way, you need to be willing. It’s the things we try to avoid and we are unwilling to face keeping us stuck. It all begins with aligning with who you really are.
I hope I’ve made a case for business alignment. I hope I gave you a path by understanding who you really are, aligning with a clarity of direction and clarity of your environment to attain a vision that serves your life, your lifestyle, your way. This is what a business is supposed to do.
If you are interested in diving deeper into this concept, I created the Your Business, Your Life, Your Way program for those who want to dive more deeply into creating a business and life that makes you happy. (add link)
JUNE 28 – 29, 2022
Written by: Ruth Lee, CMB
It is suddenly 2022, and I am a fifty-year-old mortgage executive looking to wrap up my career in the next few years. The zombie apocalypse transformed my perspective on work and retirement to focus on what is now most important to me today: my health, my faith, and my family. There will be no hut on a beach passing out margaritas to tourists. Instead, there will be independence and financial freedom focused on my true priorities.
As the daughter of a CPA, I learned the golden rule of smart financial moves very early. If you spend it, it’s gone forever. With early success, it was super easy to become numb to the reality of how much was leaving my coffers. So, after a few years in my 20s spending like it was my job, I learned to identify and avoid wasteful expenses and purchasing depreciating assets. So, while I enjoy my life, I travel and I spoil myself and my family, I have learned to spend with absolute intent.
As I consider my post-Rona future, my questions are very different than a mere two years ago. And I want to share those questions as you define your own smart financial moves. The most important question is, how much is enough? In my youth, I had this gigantic number. When I started mortgage companies, I had different numbers. Now on the other side of a couple of acquisitions and over the age of fifty, I am looking at the finish line and recalibrating. How much money, how many deals, how many networking opportunities do I need to achieve? And my answer, while very personal, is very realistic. I don’t need diamonds and Birkin bags; I need zero debt and enough investment to live comfortably for another thirty to forty years.
Financial discipline combined with compounding interest are the bedrock of your future financial freedom. Smart financial planning is not only about saving and investing, but also about being aware of what is going on around you. If you don’t know about crypto or the metaverse, I understand. But you need to. They will be redefining the investments you’ve made for the first half of your career. So, ensure you are approaching your financial future with a growth mindset and not a fixed one. The mentality of you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is quaint, but not a path to enlightenment, to opportunity, or even to being aware of how to protect what you already have, and unlike the days of old, these answers are all cleverly hidden on the internet.
As you spend time thinking about financial freedom and smart financial moves you need to ask yourself:
- How much is enough?
- What and who are your priorities?
- Do you intend to have a work life until you die?
- What are the challenges and disruptors on the horizon?
Implementation is key. After asking these questions, get serious about how you make it happen. Implementing financial freedom is about discipline and consistency. Much like eating well, exercising, or a constant diet of good information honing your expertise, it isn’t a lumpy path. It’s a lasting pledge to become the person in your brain movie. A steady, reliable approach requires making a promise to yourself about your financial future and having a wide-eyed, realistic understanding of how to achieve it. I don’t know who said it, but hope is a lousy hedge.
Written by: Megan Anderson
Buying a home is one of the biggest financial decisions people make, and it can also be one of the smartest. But with home prices and mortgage rates rising, and home inventory at record lows, many potential homebuyers become discouraged, especially when the media reports doom and gloom is ahead for housing.
While there are some challenges to buying a home right now, the opportunity is still well worth the effort. Many housing experts are forecasting continued home price appreciation this year and beyond.
Knowing how various economic reports and other factors can impact the markets is one of the smartest financial decisions you can make today. This knowledge can help you become a better advisor, increase your level of conversion, and land new referral relationships.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most important economic reports and data you need to understand each month, so you can share this critical information with your clients and help them make smart financial decisions for their families.
Home loan rates are inversely tied to a type of bond called Mortgage-Backed Securities, also known as Mortgage Bonds. When Mortgage Bonds improve or move higher, home loan rates decline. And when Mortgage Bonds worsen or move lower, home loan rates can rise.
Inflation is the archenemy of fixed investments like Mortgage Bonds because it reduces their value. Bonds pay investors a fixed rate of return over time. Inflation erodes the buying power of your future fixed return because the cost of goods and services has increased, meaning the fixed amount received will purchase less in the future.
For example, let’s say you lend someone $100,000 at 4 percent. Your fixed-rate interest-only payment is $4,000 per year. Today that $4,000 can purchase a shopping list of goods and services, but over time, prices rise due to inflation so you can’t purchase all of the items on the shopping list with the same fixed amount received. If inflation were to accelerate, the only protection investors have is to increase interest rates so they receive a larger fixed payment in order to offset the more rapid erosion of their buying power.
If inflation is rising, Mortgage Bond investors must be compensated with a higher rate of return to combat the erosion of the bond’s fixed payment, causing home loan rates to rise. As a result, inflation reports are followed closely, as they can have a big impact on Mortgage Bonds and the home loan rates tied to them.
There are two main reports that measure inflation at the consumer level: the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), the latter of which is the Fed’s more favored measure of inflation. These reports have several important similarities, as well as some crucial differences.
CPI measures prices on a fixed basket of goods and has a significant weighting towards housing and out-of-pocket medical expenses. PCE measures prices on a basket of goods but allows for substitutions. These substitutions will be for similar products. An example of this could be the substitution of honeydew melons for cantaloupe melons if the price of one were to rapidly increase due to supply issues. PCE tries to act like a smart shopper would.
Unlike CPI, PCE does not have a big weighting towards housing, which is obviously important, as well as out-of-pocket medical expenses. Instead, PCE focuses on Medicare and Medicaid expenses, which are kept by the government. As a result, PCE can underestimate the real inflation a consumer feels and it typically runs softer or cooler than CPI due to these factors.
Inflation has risen sharply this past year, which consumers have noticed as everyday prices of food, gas, and other items have moved higher. February’s Consumer Price Index released on March 10 showed inflation is at 7.9 percent, which is the hottest reading since 1982 when it was at 8.4 percent. This is a big reason why mortgage rates have moved higher. Keeping an eye on this data can help you explain to your clients what’s happening in the markets.
Rising inflation is a big reason why the Fed’s actions remain crucial to monitor in the months to come, as they will play an important role in the direction of the markets and mortgage rates this year.
Note that the Fed has two levers they can pull for tightening the economy: hiking their benchmark Fed Funds Rate and reducing their balance sheet. The Fed Funds Rate is the interest rate for overnight borrowing for banks and it is not the same as mortgage rates.
Hiking the Fed Funds Rate will actually be a good thing for mortgage rates, as the Fed curbs inflation and preserves the fixed return a longer data bond provides. However, reducing their balance sheet (which means allowing bonds to fall off their balance sheet and no longer reinvesting in them each month) would cause more supply on the market that has to be absorbed. This can cause mortgage rates to move higher.
At their March meeting, the Fed, as expected, raised the Fed Funds Rate by 0.25 percent. They also said they expect to reduce their balance sheet at an unspecified future meeting.
The bottom line is we will want to closely watch how the Fed tries to walk the tightrope of hiking and allowing a balance sheet runoff during 2022.
Existing Home Sales is especially important because it measures closings on existing homes and represents currently about 90 percent of the housing market. This report comes out monthly from the National Association of Realtors and likely shows buyers in the previous two months since it measures closings of existing single-family homes during the month and not contracts.
One piece of data within this report often misinterpreted by the media is the median home price. The median home price is not the same as appreciation. It simply means in this measured time period, half the homes sold above this value and half below. Given that housing nationwide is especially tight for lower-priced homes, it makes sense that the median home price has increased.
In addition, January’s report showed housing inventory is at a near-record low 1.7-months’ supply, whereas a six-months’ supply is more reflective of a healthy housing market. Considering the lack of inventory we have, the pace of sales is actually keeping up quite well, but the media will not tell your clients this.
Appreciation reports, unlike the median home price, give us a reading on how home values are performing. These are very important to not only understand but also to be able to articulate to your clients.
The Case-Shiller Home Price Index is considered the gold standard of appreciation reports and tracks monthly changes in the value of residential real estate. This report is a bit behind, as it is on a two-month delay. It is based on resales of single-family homes, while co-ops, condominiums, and new construction are excluded. The most widely watched reports are the national and 20-city composite indexes. These reports give both a monthly and an annual appreciation figure.
You can use this data to explain the power of appreciation. For example, if we saw 8 percent appreciation on a $400,000 home, your clients would gain $32,000 over the next 12 months in appreciation alone. Remember, buying a home is a financial decision and knowing this information can help you show your clients the financial opportunity.
There are two main employment reports issued each month: the ADP Employment Report and the BLS Jobs Report. These reports measure the most important aspect of the economy: the health of the labor market. They also tell us the rate of job growth or loss, the unemployment rate, and the change in wages.
The ADP Employment Report is a monthly report from Moody’s Analytics and tracks private employment in the US (does not include government jobs). It is based on anonymous and aggregated data derived from nearly 460,000 US companies and approximately 26 million private sector US workers. This report is typically released on the first Wednesday of every month and is viewed as a useful preview to the more detailed Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report. ADP can have an impact on the markets, but oftentimes is overshadowed by the more important BLS report that follows two days later.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Jobs Report is a monthly report and it typically comes out the first Friday of each month. It summarizes total non-farm payroll employment in the United States by surveying businesses and households. The BLS Jobs Report is comprised of two surveys to monitor the labor market: The Establishment or Business Survey (Current Employment Statistics – CES) and The Household Survey (Current Population Survey – CPS).
The Establishment Survey (Business Survey) outlines the headline job creation number and employees paid during the sample week, the week that encompasses the twelfth of the month. It also takes into account the birth/death ratio, which tracks the number of new companies created (born) versus companies that closed (die).
The Household Survey is collected through phone calls and visits made to approximately 60,000 households during the sample week. Since the US has over 124 million households, each call represents over 2,000 households. The Household Survey also reports on the rate of unemployment. This is calculated by dividing the number of unemployed individuals into the total labor force.
Monitoring these reports matters because when business is good, companies will be hiring, which can have a big impact on housing. The opposite is also true. When we see decreased job growth or people are fearful about their employment situation, the last thing they will be thinking about is purchasing a home.
As jobs go, so does the economy.
When I first started at MBS Highway and still to this day, I spent hours of my day studying and learning the market. But it wasn’t until I took our Certified Mortgage Advisor course that I really began to understand why it’s so important to have this information.
CMA teaches you about economic and housing reports, candlestick patterns, recession indicators, and how to use mortgage debt to create sustainable lifelong wealth for your clients. This course empowers you to step away from being a salesperson so you can step into being an advisor for your clients. This knowledge has made a powerful difference in my life and my career, which is why I’d like to offer you an exclusive $400 discount for this course. Simply use the code VISION upon signup.
After all, investing in yourself today is the smartest financial decision you can make for your future success.
Who Moved My Cheese? – Spencer Johnson, M.D.
Written by Peter Wietmarschen
I am not sure if it’s possible to write a longer review/report than the book it is based on but this review might just do exactly that. I am sure many of you know of the book, Who Moved My Cheese? This book has generally high marks in Goodreads (by the way, if you don’t yet use Goodreads, I highly suggest taking a moment to join! It’s probably the first place I look to find new books and to see what others think of the books I want to read) and is generally well-thought-of in the business world.
I am truly a believer in less is more, especially in writing. Oftentimes in business/self-help/personal development style books you see authors use too many words to make their point. Sometimes it feels like these authors don’t think they are going to be taken seriously unless they use multi-syllable words and industry jargon only a few readers will understand.
This is not the case with Who Moved My Cheese? The book is less than 100 pages long (including the foreword, and you don’t even get to the meat of the book until page 20!) but it packs great information for anyone looking to move ahead in life or business. This book is a quick afternoon/weekend read (I re-read the whole book when I was writing this article) but I guarantee, if you put this advice to use, you will find and maintain the success you’ve always wanted.
Spencer Johnson begins his teaching by telling us a quick story about a couple of mice and a couple of littlepeople. These four characters lived in a maze and spent their days searching for their Cheese (what they want in the world). They eventually find all the Cheese they ever hoped for and settle into a daily routine of waking up, going out to find their Cheese, and coming back home. But this book wouldn’t mean much if their story ended there! After a while, they all wake up to find their Cheese has been moved! This is the story of how two littlepeople (miniature beings, small as a mouse but with the brains of humans) learned the importance of finding New Cheese.
Once their Cheese is moved, the mice instinctually go out in search of a new storeroom of cheese. The littlepeople, caught up in thoughts and emotions, continue their regular lives hoping they will find the Cheese brought back to where they know it to be. Time goes by, the littlepeople sit around waiting, they put in more time and effort around the first Cheese store but never once do they find the Cheese where they first found it. Eventually, one of them realizes what he needs to do and goes out into the maze of the world to find New Cheese.
What this book highlights are the reasons why we as humans, as business owners, as salespeople, as entrepreneurs, become set in our ways and expect to find what worked in the past will continue to work now and into the future. Too often, we are set in our ways and refuse to change, but as the author says, “If you do not change, you can become extinct.”
Spencer Johnson, through the story of the littlepeople, tells us the story of how we need to move away from our fears, embrace change, and see how we can always have the Cheese of our dreams if we keep searching.
There are a number of themes running through this book; one of which is fear. I speak for myself and probably many of you out there when I say I have let fear stop me from doing something new, in work and life. Too often we handcuff ourselves by letting fear run our minds. But what we must understand is fear, especially fear of change, will only make us unable to adapt to the ever-changing world around us. Look around the mortgage industry and how much change has come in the past 15 years. Those who are not afraid to adapt always come out ahead!
The biggest lesson I took away from this book is the Cheese we have now is not our only source of Cheese. We must not neglect the Cheese we have now, but it’s important for us to constantly be on the lookout for a new source of Cheese should our current stash go bad.
The story ends with a discussion between friends about the lessons they learned. The friends ask questions like who is afraid of change? Which one of the four characters are they more alike? How does their company react to change? It’s almost like a little book club meeting, and I would suggest taking some time to discuss the questions posed with friends, family, and colleagues. I bet you will be surprised to hear what you say about yourself and what others think of themselves!
In general, I think this book is a great read for anyone looking to stay relevant in business. I think there are a number of great tips we can all use in our daily lives. While there is great information, a lot of this information is just surface-level thoughts and ideas. Each of these ideas probably has hundreds of books you can read to go deeper but this one gives you the best overview of finding your Cheese.
Breaking the Cycle is filled with engaging stories wrapped around a theme of power words and is an invaluable treasure trove of practical, hands-on advice. Jam-packed with easy-to-implement suggestions, you’ll read sage advice from two women whose diverse career paths literally write the book on how to create your version of success!
In Wise Eyes: See Your Way to Success, Beckwith tells her life story in a style that is real and raw, but brutally honest. Wise Eyes is a handbook for professionals wanting to walk a direct path to incredible success.
And in her most recent book, Win or Learn: The Naked Truth, Beckwith joins more than a dozen other C-Suite professional women from across the mortgage, real estate, and finance industry for frank discussions about what it takes to succeed as a woman in the top eschelon of business in today’s world.
Are you a reader who likes to share the wealth and benefit received from consuming a great book? Just as we welcome Peter Weitmarschen and Leora Ruzin to these pages as book reviewers, we would be delighted to welcome you as well. We consider all submissions. Reach out to us at email@example.com and let’s talk books. –Editor
MORTGAGE X PODCAST
On this episode of Mortgage X, Michael Hammond joins Christine Beckwith and Jason Frazier to discuss how after his many years in the industry he decided to stop being the guy behind the scenes by being front and center by creating content. Michael also talks about how others in the industry can learn from you and get value from your stories. Don’t be held back by the naysayers because they won’t matter when you execute.
Christine Beckwith of 20/20 Vision for Success Coaching and Jason Frazier of Mortgage X Creative bring you the Mortgage X Podcast. Guests range from visionaries working hard to evolve our industry to meet the needs of the modern consumer to the industry’s biggest producers, advocates, legends, thought leaders, partners, and lenders.
Industry veteran Suzy Lindblom was recently named the new chief operating officer at First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and will be overseeing all operations within the organization.
Lindblom comes to FGMC with over 30 years of experiencing in mortgage and finance, with a variety of roles with companies such as Bank of America, Stearns Lending, Planet Home Lending, and Kind Lending. Suzy is also on the Board of Directors for NEXT and is a MISMO senior advisor. She has won many prestigious awards and is well-respected within the industry.
FormFree, a digital mortgage solutions firm, has recently named Patrick Rutherford as their new Chief Financial Officer. Rutherford comes to FormFree with an extensive finance background and was most recently the Senior Finance Director at Intercontinental Exchange (ICE). As a financial leader at the publicly traded Fortune 500 company, Rutherford oversaw multiple aspects of global forecasting, planning and analysis. He was also a key participant in ICE’s mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activities, including its strategic equity raise for the company’s initial venture into digital assets and its more recent entry into the mortgage space. Rutherford served as a finance leader at The Home Depot before joining ICE. During this time, he gained a broad set of finance and strategy experiences while progressing professionally, earning formal recognition by the CEO and CFO for his achievements on multiple occasions.
Daniela Jorge has been appointed to the Mr. Cooper Group Inc. Board of Directors. Jorge currently serves as vice-president and chief design officer at PayPal, a leading financial technology company and online payments system. Jorge’s background includes 15 years of leading user experience design at top consumer brands including PayPal, AT&T, eBay and Intuit. At PayPal, Jorge leads the team responsible for creating meaningful and cohesive end-to-end experiences through a deep understanding of customers and exceptional design. Additionally, Jorge serves as a board advisor for Loft (Brazil), a real estate technology company, and on the Board of BayBrazil, a social impact non-profit organization.
Mortgage Cadence, a subsidiary of Accenture (NYSE: ACN), has announced Kelly Booth has joined as a Senior Vice President of Sales.
A seasoned mortgage software solutions veteran with more than thirty years of experience, Booth will be connecting lenders with Mortgage Cadence’s technology. The new Mortgage Cadence Platform (MCP) is the industry’s most modern, flexible, and intuitive cloud-based loan origination system. Prior to joining Mortgage Cadence, Booth served as Vice President of Enterprise Sales at SitusAMC. She also brings years of experience in sales, marketing, management, strategic planning, and product design concentrated on financial software services.
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