In 1999, Keith Polaski and Sarah Valentini created Norwell-based radius financial group after leaving another private mortgage lender. They were joined by 11 others from that company who had lost their jobs, and their firm now employs about 100, a figure that should jump to 150 by the end of 2016, Polaski said.
The company, with eight branches including Mansfield and Scituate, has won a variety of awards over the years, including Banker & Tradesman’s “Fast 50” list for 2015, marking it as one of the fastest-growing mortgage lenders in the state. We talked to Polaski for this story.
Q. How have the changes
in mortgage lending affected the industry?
A. We’ve seen the most dramatic changes in a long time, including the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 and most recently in October with TRID [a new three-day closing disclosure rule]. People are struggling to digest these new regulations, and you need to be well capitalized and have a strong management team with access to technology. There are players who can’t make it, and that’s when consolidation happens. After the crash of 2008, if you were a tree standing after the fire, you had the opportunity to grow. And that was one of our opportunities.
Q. How have you attracted young mortgage bankers to the company?
A. We had great success with our first Nex-Gen IMB [Next Generation Independent Mortgage Banker] program and now have Nex-Gen IMB 2. Mortgage bankers don’t have a great reputation, so we had to step up and create something to draw young bankers. The first class had 20 people; it was very competitive with 12 weeks of paid training, and 13 of the 20 got jobs with us. I think we’re the first in our mid-size independent mortgage banking group to do something like this, and we got a lot of coverage from places like a leading trade magazine, The New York Times, and Fox News.
Q. You also actively recruit veterans?
A. Yes, we have 13 vets working for us who promote home ownership to other veterans. In November, we launched our “Veterans Helping Veterans” program, partnering with MassHousing, which was born out of the Nex-Gen IMB initiative.
Q. Single-family home sales in Massachusetts have surged — is that a good sign?
A. We’re encouraged by that. The national industry prediction is a 10 percent increase in loan purchase volume, so we’re turning the corner. At radius, we’re looking to go up about 25 percent.