In honor of Black History Month, we reached out to several prominent black leaders in the housing and mortgage industry to celebrate their success, learn from their experience and gain insight into the challenges facing the mortgage industry. Today, we’re happy to share this interview with Tony Thompson, founder and CEO of the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA).
Tony discusses how the lack of women, millennials and minorities in the mortgage banking industry was the impetus for founding an organization dedicated to increasing their engagement through education and professional development. He also shares what he views as true leadership.
Can you give us some insight on how the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America (NAMMBA) came to be?
NAMMBA evolved more than five years ago from the need of diverse mortgage professionals who wanted a community in which they could connect with “like-minded” individuals and create an ecosystem where they could learn from others, as well as meet new people, to help grow their business. Additionally, many people wanted the opportunity to share with college students their experience and journey into the mortgage industry, to intentionally work with college students, and to introduce them to exciting careers.
Did you face any challenges in getting NAMMBA started? Were there any individuals or organizations that stood out for their support in making NAMMBA a success?
One of the greatest challenges we initially faced at NAMMBA was simply getting the word out about the association and its overall goal. Like any new organization, we tried to make sure other real estate and trade associations understood that our mission focused on professional development and education while connecting with millennials to provide financial literacy and introduce them to careers in real estate finance. NAMMBA is truly different than any other association because it is the culmination of all trade associations. Our membership is made up of originators, operations and real estate professionals from all ethnicities. While we have received a lot of support along the way, some of the first companies to embrace our vision were the Mortgage Bankers Association, Freddie Mac and our MI partners (including MGIC).
What are some of your top priorities for 2021 and beyond?
In 2021, NAMMBA will celebrate its 5th anniversary. This is a very exciting year for us. First, we are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to hold our National Conference in Atlanta, GA, on September 16-19 to celebrate our 5th anniversary. Additionally, this year we have launched the first phase of our MISSION 2025 program, which involves creating chapters on college campuses. And, last but not least, we will launch more chapters in several new markets during 2021 to continue to meet the demand for our organization at a local level.
Shifting from NAMMBA, could you tell us about your background? What led you to the mortgage industry?
Like most of us who are in the mortgage industry, we all have a story. I originally started my career in human resources (which explains why NAMMBA is focused on training and development) and ultimately ended up as a HR manager for a Top 10 bank, supporting the mortgage division. While working with my peers, I became very fascinated about the mortgage industry, but more so regarding how the work we do to create homeownership positively impacts people’s lives and the communities we all live in. So, one day I stepped out of my HR role, assumed an originator role and worked my way up to various leadership roles while becoming involved with the local, state and national MBA. This is where I recognized there were not a lot of women, minorities or young people in the room. Let’s just say, the rest is history.
Are there any people in particular who made a significant impact on who you’ve become as a leader?
Yes. From a personal aspect, my mother and father taught me a lot about the value of hard work and dedication to becoming the best person you can be by making a difference in the lives of others. From a business perspective, my former boss Josh Moffitt, CEO of Silverton Mortgage, showed me what leadership was truly about – being a servant leader helping others find their “why.” He did what so many leaders won’t do with their employees – help them learn to fly.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice, what’s the one thing you’d say?
I would tell myself not to be afraid to take a chance on something you believe in. Many people often think their dreams or goals become deferred the longer they wait. I never imagined I would be leading an association like NAMMBA. Go for it…you never know how you can impact other people’s lives.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, and what are you looking forward to the most once we’re past the pandemic?
Over the last couple of years, I have rarely had the time to do anything (and I would not have traded this experience for anything) just because NAMMBA was experiencing a lot of growth. However, when I do have an opportunity to relax, I plan to use the new golf clubs, which have been sitting in my bag, to enjoy a round of golf. Lastly, I cannot wait for the opportunity to experience attending conferences again and seeing all our friends and NAMMBA partners.
The opinions and insights expressed in this Q&A are solely those of its interviewee, Tony Thompson, and do not necessarily represent the views of either Mortgage Guaranty Insurance Corporation or any of its parent, affiliates, or subsidiaries (collectively, “MGIC”). Neither MGIC nor any of its officers, directors, employees or agents makes any representations or warranties of any kind regarding the soundness, reliability, accuracy or completeness of any opinion, insight, recommendation, data, or other information contained in this blog, or its suitability for any intended purpose.