On paper, the AIME Fuse 2019 National Conference held in Las
Vegas on October 11-12, had all the hallmarks a conference needs for success:
inspirational headline speakers, panels of mortgage experts and plenty of
networking time. But as soon as 2000+ attendees began to converge in the halls
of the Bellagio, even before formal programming began at this second annual
event hosted by the Association of Independent Mortgage Experts, the distinct
character of this particular event quickly emerged – all ignited by the
explosive energy continuing to build in the independent mortgage broker
Anthony Casa’s vision for AIME, the
organization he launched as Chairman in 2018 to exclusively support independent
mortgage brokers, stems from his own experience as an independent broker/owner.
While he was growing his New Jersey-based brokerage, Garden State Home Loans,
Casa realized he had few resources for networking or support that were
specifically applicable to small independents. In 2016, Casa hired a group of
loan officers to prospect from Garden State’s database for possible refinances
and discovered that many of their clients had already been refinanced by their
supposed lending “partners,” behind their backs.
“We felt betrayed — it was a massive amount of
loans that had been refinanced without our knowledge,” Casa said during his
keynote at the conference.
According to Casa, it became glaringly obvious
in speaking with other brokers from across the country that this was an
epidemic that was not only negatively impacting brokers, but was ultimately a
terrible outcome for their borrowers who were unknowingly being subjected to
paying more for the same loan products that the broker would have provided for
less. It was a turning point for Casa, who was determined to level the playing
field for brokers.
Less than two years later, AIME has helped
increase mortgage broker share to almost 20% of the market. In addition, a
growing number of originators from retail lenders are breaking away to become
independent and start their own brokerages or to originate for an independent
broker instead. Today, AIME’s goal is nothing short of a true disruption of the
status quo, with a goal to see brokers surpass 50% market share by 2025. In
order to accomplish this goal, the association is empowering brokers with the
tech tools, support and insight they need to compete against traditionally much
bigger competitors – online and direct retail lenders and big banks. These
include expanded efforts to support lobbying and compliance issues, intimate
town hall educational gatherings that will be held nationwide, in addition to
technology partner ARIVE, a custom built end-to-end LOS and POS system
exclusive to brokers, which was announced at the inaugural AIME Fuse National
Conference last year.
For mortgage brokers, most of whom are small
business owners focused on working to serve their local communities, this type
of practical help is vital to their success and growth within the industry.
Cuneo, broker/owner of Exception Lending, started her career as a licensed real
estate broker in 2005, then transitioned into lending in 2010. She then became
an independent mortgage broker earlier this year with the support of AIME and
relishes the service and unique value she can provide to her borrowers as a
my career, I’ve focused on clients seeking jumbo financing and loans for ‘out
of the box’ circumstances,” Cuneo said. “I decided to start my own brokerage so
I could focus on products and clients who need a level of expertise and product
mix that they can’t find with a ‘do it yourself’ online mortgage lender, or any
an AIME member, she appreciated the AIME conference’s focus on preparing
brokers to compete for client attention in advance of new technologies that
larger companies are employing, including voice, video and AI.
“I work primarily by referral, but it’s critical that none of us take our
eye off these changes. They will impact the way we engage clients and continue
to grow,” Cuneo said.
Dave Coyle, a loan officer at Local Mortgage
Colorado, worked as a retail LO for six years before switching to the broker
side four months ago. For him, the marketing support AIME offers to its members
is a key part of his success. “One of the biggest challenges I see as a broker
in a small shop is that the name recognition is not there at the same level.
Before, I could lean on the fact that I worked for one of the biggest lenders
in the nation, but now branding is one of my biggest challenges.”
After attending the keynote session by Gary
Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia, Coyle gained a new perspective on the value of
putting his name in front of local consumers. “I think my biggest takeaway is
that I need to be creating a lot more content,” he said. “Vaynerchuk drilled it
in — we’re heading up a path of getting a mortgage through Alexa and Google
Home. It’s pretty eye opening and motivating to change what I’m doing to adopt
The conference also spotlighted the wholesale
lenders who are working in tandem with brokers to grow this channel. Mat
Ishbia, President and CEO of United Wholesale Mortgage, urged brokers to “never
relax” as he reinforced that brokers can inherently provide borrowers with the
best products and customer service in the industry – it’s just a matter of
communicating as much to their clients and community. “Wherever you are today,
you can get better. As soon as you relax, someone else is coming for your business,”
Brokers know that strong wholesale partners
are a crucial part of their strategy to win. “It was evident that the wholesale channel is innovating
and growing and that everyone in attendance was committed to supporting the
growth of the broker channel,” Cuneo said. “The explosion of non-QM products
has created a huge opportunity for brokers to differentiate themselves from big
banks and online mortgage lenders who are primarily focused on standard agency
and government loans.”
For both Cuneo and Coyle, networking with
other independent brokers was the highlight of AIME Fuse 2019.
“Meeting other brokers in all stages of their businesses, from brand new
one-person shops to much larger, more established brokerages, demonstrated that
the opportunity to grow to any size, in any direction, is available to all of
us,” Cuneo said.
was also inspired by panelists freely sharing their keys to success. “There is a feeling of comradery here — we’re all competitive, but as
brokers we are all in this together,” Coyle said.
That united front is one of the hallmarks of
the broker movement, and the foundation of AIME, according to Casa. “Our job is
to help mortgage brokers by protecting them, supporting them and helping them
grow,” Casa said. “Everything we do, it all comes down to this — this is why
AIME exists. And we look forward to continuing to spark growth in 2020 and
AIME just announced that AIME Fuse 2020 will
be held in Las Vegas on Saturday, September 26, 2020. Registration is now open
– an Early Bird discount of $125 (full-priced tickets $199) can be secured
through Saturday, 11/30 at https://bit.ly/36pEkVv. More details about
AIME Fuse 2020 will continue to be updated at www.aimegroup.com.