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Get to Know Bob Hartwig, the New President of IBMC

Robert HartwigDo you feel like your career is coming full circle now as you take the reins of IBMC?

In a crazy way I guess it has, but what a journey it has been to come full circle as you say back to the residential mortgage business. I have a pretty good background on the retail side of our business from my days as a mortgage loan originator. As I have told our staff and board at IBMC, the technology and regulatory environment of delivering loans into the secondary market has completely changed since my day as a mortgage lender in the late 80s and 90s, but relationship building with our banks and their customers is still pretty much the same as it was 30 to 35 years ago. With an ever changing and complex regulatory environment that we deal with in residential lending today, I do feel like my legal background both in regulations and public policy will be helpful leading IBMC going forward.

How does your time working at the Capitol give you an advantage as you lead a team of nearly 100 employees?

At the statehouse, you learn that even though there are many different views and perspectives from policymakers, everyone serving in the Legislature is trying to help make Iowa a better place to live and work, so everyone’s opinions and viewpoints should be respected. Respect for others’ opinions and different ways to approach public policy issues is also very transferable to leading a group of talented mortgage professionals and the tasks and challenges we face at IBMC. When leading a staff of this size, it is not always important that jobs and processes are completed exactly the way you would do them. In my role now, I am looking at the bigger picture of giving our banks the best products and services we can while providing a positive and productive environment for our employees.

What impressed you the most about IBMC when you transitioned to working as its in-house general counsel in 2019?

Our commitment in production and servicing to provide a superior outlet for secondary market access to our banks and taking care of their customers with our servicing expertise, while doing things the “right” way from a legal and compliance standpoint. Our staff truly does go the “extra mile” for our banks to best serve their customers with quality service and subject matter expertise.

What can you say about Dan Vessely’s impact on IBMC, and how will his tenure with the company influence you as IBMC’s new leader?

First, Dan Vessely is IBMC. What can you say about someone who has been here from the beginning, through the ups and downs of every conceivable market and seen the company through revolutionary regulatory and technology changes. One of my favorite sayings is, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I watch Dan live this quote every day, and how much respect he carries with our staff and bankers. I can’t expect to walk in on day one and be Dan strictly from his subject matter expertise on running a wholesale mortgage operation, but I have a good understanding of the culture, work ethic and talent we have at IBMC for a base to grow and “lead my own way” so to speak.

Briefly talk about how you’ve prepared over to take over the role as IBMC president.

I really started in earnest beginning in July of last year, meeting with all of the department heads to get a full picture of the operation and flow of the process — from loan registration all the way through funding and loan boarding to begin the servicing process. As I had a previous background on the retail side of mortgage lending, much of these conversations focused on all of the technology and process changes of modern secondary market lending.

Much of my preparation during the fall of 2022 was spent working directly with Dan and our treasurer, Steve Kollasch, on all of the financial and accounting aspects of running a mortgage company, along with how setting pricing and margins translate into sales gains and losses, and how mortgage servicing rights are valued and carried on our books. I also spent time with Dan later in 2022 and early into 2023 on all personnel issues, including annual merit reviews and now feel like I have a pretty comprehensive review of all IBMC operations.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from Dan over the past year?

Put your trust in the staff and give them the support they need to do their jobs. Trust is something that certainly goes both ways, but Dan told me immediately upon the announcement of this transition that if the staff trusts your leadership and knows you have their backs, they will do what they need to do to get the job done for our bank clients. Not every day goes smoothly at IBMC, but Dan also is very good about helping the staff to find solutions to challenges we face in any market — in both busy and slower times.

What does the future look like for IBMC? What can lenders and customers expect under your leadership?

No. 1: They can expect a steady hand, as we are not going to fix what is not broken. Our banks can also expect more outreach from me from a sales and marketing standpoint, as I intend to leverage my relationship with our members to tell our story at IBMC to serve as many banks as we possibly can.

No. 2: Our expansion into surrounding states, particularly in regards to our partnership with Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines and the Mortgage Partnership Finance program has been important, but what is best for Iowa banks will always be at the forefront of discussions of any new programs or initiatives we may entertain in the future.

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