Linda Jones began her mortgage banking career in 1983. Holliday Fenoglio Inc. had just incorporated its Houston mortgage banking company. When Linda assumed the role of servicing manager with the firm, she was responsible for servicing only 20 loans totalling $100 million for five correspondent lenders. Within several months, she attended her first MBA conference. When Linda left the firm this past summer to join The Robert C. Wilson Company, the servicing portfolio had grown to 600 loans totalling $2.6 billion. At MBA, Linda had become chair of the CREF Council (the body that governs MBA's commercial activities) and had been elected to the MBA Board of Governors. Among her MBA distinctions, Linda was one of the youngest members to be elected to the Board and was both the first female ever and the youngest person to serve as chair of the CREF Council. The story of this one member's achievements tells as much about her success as that of her firm and MBA.
Linda attended one of the first meetings of the newly-formed income property servicing committee (now known as the Commercial Mortgage & Asset Administration Committee or CMAAC) in 1984 with the support of her firm. Her firm believed that providing superior loan servicing would support loan production and translate into greater overall earnings for the company.
She recalls that there were not many loan servicers in the room at the first CMAAC meeting she attended, and that the discussion there was nowhere near as lively as at today's meetings. At that time, the debacle that would change commercial real estate investment forever was just beginning to unravel. Many institutional lenders did not yet have internal servicing departments to monitor, coordinate and manage the servicing of their commercial mortgage assets. Commercial servicing agreements were often simply altered residential servicing contracts.
Linda recalls a transition in the early years. The Committee went from discussing professional workplace attire and deportment to helping its members create commercial servicing agreements and to defining servicers' responsibilities to lenders. At MBA programs and meetings, Linda listened closely to her colleagues. She listened especially closely when life company lenders revealed their frustration at inadequacies in loan administration services provided by other mortgage banking firms. She also listened to and participated in the panels which discussed emerging issues, such as the importance of conducting structured reviews of insurance coverage to protect lenders from loss and mortgage bankers from liability. As lenders began to monitor their commercial portfolios more closely and require portfolio analysis, economic analysis and real estate market studies, CMAAC responded by presenting panel sessions and written guides. Linda took many of the lessons she learned home to her Loan Administration Department and implemented them.
In 1987, Linda volunteered as part of an MBA team that created the industry's first handbook on income property servicing and that same year spoke on her first MBA panel. The next year, she was appointed vice chair of CMAAC, where she first helped to create and coordinate panel sessions. Along with Roland Lee of Legg Mason in Miami, Linda began revising the handbook as co-editor in 1991. The result was a new handbook entitled "Commercial Real Estate Loan Administration." In late 1992, Linda was appointed chair of CMAAC.
The year 1993 was an exciting one for Linda. Under her leadership, her firm achieved an unprecedented 100 percent servicing rating by Providian Corporation, one of their largest correspondent lenders. During her term as CMAAC chair, MBA's CREAMCommercial Real Estate Asset Management) Database (a comprehensive list of data elements for use in developing loan administration information systems), on which she also worked, was released. That same year, Linda was elected to a four-year term on the MBA Board of Governors. By virtue of chairing CMAAC in 1993, Linda served on the CREF Council in 1993 and 1994.
In 1994, Linda was appointed chair of the Council for 1995. While she presided as chair, the Council pressed for U.S. Bankruptcy Law reform and supported amendments to a proposed NAIC model investment law, and streamlined CREF's committee structure. The Council also undertook various initiatives, led by the CREF Capital Markets Task Force, to ensure opportunities for commercial mortgage bankers in securitization.
As Council chair, Linda shared her unique perspective as a highly-experienced loan servicing executive. She consistently elevated developments in loan administration to the Council's discussions and often highlighted loan administration initiatives and various achievements. While serving as chair of the Council, she remained true to the Pubs Team, which was creating yet another new document. Released in June of 1995, A Policies and Procedures Guide for Commercial Loan Administrators is a template for use by servicing organizations that are revising or creating their own internal policies and procedures manuals.
Back at Holliday Fenoglio, Linda was helping grow the business and was promoted to senior vice president. Under Linda's direction, the Loan Administration staff grew from, initially, just Linda to 15 people, administering loans for 28 lenders in 28 states in 160 cities. Her department, and the industry as a whole, went from providing their lenders clerk-like functions (such as collecting payments, paying taxes and insurance) to providing value-added services (such as loan re-appraisals, specific loan recommendations, lease and market analysis). For her firm's correspondent lenders, Linda ensured that the loan administration department maintained, at least, the same level of market, borrower and property knowledge that the production department originally developed. It was Linda's feeling that if the company's production department was to provide the lender the best initial investment, then it was the loan administration department's responsibility to preserve that investment and enhance it, where possible. Over the years, her department consistently earned top rankings and awards from its correspondent tenders.
For her success, Linda credits her involvement with MBA. Her career progress occurred in tandem with her contributions and achievements at MBA.
This past August, Linda joined The Robert C. Wilson Company, a full-service commercial real estate mortgage closing and transaction firm with headquarters in Houston, a production office in Phoenix and an affiliated company in Denver. The firm's combined portfolio includes 700 loans at a value of $1.2 billion. While maintaining her involvement in Loan Administration issues, Linda joined the company primarily to help develop new lending relationships, expand the firm's loan production and servicing activities, and, in the process, make a name for herself in loan production.
In the year ahead, Linda will continue her service on MBA's Board, chair the CREF Long Range Planning Committee, and serve again on the Ad Hoc Group, which is updating MBA'S CREAM Database. Undoubtedly, her new firm will benefit from her MBA service. Likewise, MBA is sure to benefit from her new perspective in loan production.
Linda Jones' story makes clear that MBA membership has it benefits.