by Sue Allon
I started this company with the vision of re-inventing a very small part of a failed industry. The third-party review, or due diligence, process could have done much to prevent the mortgage meltdown and ensuing economic collapse. But it let us all down.
I've preached to the rating agencies, legislators, investors, hedge funds and banks how critical it is that we approach things differently when the market comes back to life and avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. One area that I'm committed to changing is the hiring model that third-party review firms such as Allonhill rely on. In the past, everyone expected the review firm to staff almost exclusively with industry veterans. The rating agencies and bankers who hired firms for due diligence wanted to see quotes like "over one hundred combined years of experience" in marketing materials. Some of the government proposals we've seen still use this model to judge firms like ours, asking us to state how many combined years of experience we have in various categories. Believe me, I put tremendous value on the experts in this field; they bring integrity and an uncompromising work ethic with them, and we depend on them. But I will also wager that we can staff a job with some of this deep talent and a whole lot of new talent, and we will rock, because we will be able to produce a team that has been steeped in the culture that we believe in, that the integrity of our work product matters more than anything.
In the newly reawakening world of mortgages and mortgage securities, I want to hire people who are bright, have fresh minds and are driven to prove their excellence. I want some seasoned industry veterans, too, because we need them to guide and teach the new players, and we can't do our job without their valuable insights and expertise. But I don't want to recreate the model of old, in which everyone in the room had seen one thousand files and knew it all, including all the shortcuts and all the ways to compromise. I want people who are willing to go through our training and then dig into loan files and challenge what they see. I don't want people who try to satisfy the client by giving them the "right" answers; I want people who surface the facts and stand by them. I don't just think this is important, I think it is the difference that will give people reason to trust this industry again.