This month we are focusing our Women in Leadership series on Chris Boyle of Freddie Mac.
Chris is chief client officer and is responsible for sourcing Freddie Mac’s Single-Family business, which includes client experience and management, marketing, bulk purchases and servicing exchange executions. Ms. Boyle is a member of the executive leadership team and reports to David Lowman, executive vice president of the Single-Family business.
A veteran of over 30 years in the mortgage industry, Ms. Boyle joined Freddie Mac in 1990 and has held a variety of key leadership roles in client management. Also a mom to five children, Chris shares her perspective in our interview below:
As one of the senior executives at Freddie Mac, what are your day-to-day responsibilities?
How much time do you have? I love my job because it keeps me on the go and engaged all the time. As chief client officer, I am responsible for sourcing Freddie Mac’s Single-Family business, which includes client experience and management, marketing, bulk purchases and servicing exchange executions.
In an environment of ever-changing and evolving business needs and technology, I lead teams that are making extraordinary strides and really reimagining the mortgage market in such a positive way. One of my top priorities is making sure our clients are more than satisfied and I believe we’ve created a best-in-class experience for them. But we are not a team that rests on its laurels. So we are at it every single day, working to come up with new ideas and enhancements to make our clients’ jobs easier and grow their businesses.
What are you most proud of – can you share a couple of recent accomplishments at Freddie Mac?
Just in the last year, I believe our team has led the way with several specific products, partnerships and programs that are garnering kudos from clients and positive attention within the industry. One thing I am proud of is our Borrower of the Future® campaign. It’s a groundbreaking, first-of-its kind campaign aimed at helping our clients and the industry understand key topics ranging from artificial intelligence and self-employed workers to evolving demographics such as Hispanic populations and millennials.
One of my key goals is to continuously use data to help Freddie Mac clients better understand borrowers’ needs and the issues that affect home buying decisions and develop timely solutions to address them.
Another thing I’m very proud of is the successful launch of our redesigned Single-Family website and Seller/Servicer Guide in May. Completely rethinking and redesigning a site as vast and complex as Single-Family’s was truly a monumental undertaking and required all hands on deck to succeed. We now have a web presence that is a great benefit to our clients as well as a competitive advantage. It epitomizes our continuous efforts to improve and differentiate the experience we provide to our clients.
When people describe Freddie Mac, they often describe it as a tech company. Tell us how about recent technology changes that you’ve overseen.
I am so proud of our innovative technology. I’ve been with Freddie Mac since 1990 and I’ve never experienced the kind of growth spurt we’re having right now with our technology. We’re made this area a key priority in the last few years and I think it really sets us apart.
We’ve led successful rollouts for new technology such as Freddie Mac Loan Advisor℠ and its award-winning tools and applications Loan Product Advisor®, Loan Collateral Advisor®, Condo Project Advisor℠, automated collateral evaluation (ACE), and more, which have been game-changing for the industry.
I’ve been energized being on the forefront of industry-changing conversations about AUS-Neutral Design (#AND). And I’m proud of the work our team has done on our just-launched asset and income modeler (AIM), now available for self-employed borrowers through Loan Product Advisor®, the company’s automated underwriting system (AUS). This is the industry’s only AUS-integrated self-employed income assessment solution.
You have navigated many different leaders at Freddie Mac and you are very successful in your contributions and navigation in a changing marketplace. What do you attribute that to?
Well one thing I can point to is that, since I’ve been at the organization, we’ve truly brought diversity of thought to the table. At meeting table after meeting table, diversity is on the table. All types of diversity, too, including gender diversity. We make a concerted effort to be inclusive in every way and at every meeting and in all our interactions.
Every person on our senior management team believes strongly that making sure we have diverse views represented for all discussions and decisions isn’t just the right thing to do. It is, of course. But it’s also smart business. Study after study is showing us this.
A study specifically focused on my industry stated that having a diverse workforce across all levels of the mortgage industry benefits us all. Each person performing to their strengths will make the entire team stronger, which strengthens the organizations from the ground up. I think that our focusing on this has helped us navigate through changes successfully.
There was a time that mortgage lenders and Freddie Mac or other credit investors have had very strong relationships. The crisis brought some turbulence to these relationships. But it seems to be that mortgage lending and loan servicing have become more streamlined and the partnerships with the lending community continue to evolve and strengthen. Is this the case?
At Freddie Mac, we believe in building and maintaining strong relationships, and that includes loan servicing that reinforces our commitment to Servicers. We are focused on how we can Reimagine Servicing℠ to transform the servicing landscape, where all efforts are centered on improving the client experience.
We’re creating the next generation of servicing solutions to help our partners work smarter and more effectively. And just recently, we kicked off Freddie Mac’s Servicer Honors and Rewards Program (SHARP℠), which enables eligible servicing clients to receive annual rewards based on the Servicer Success Scorecard.
What mistakes have you made that you can share with others to avoid in their career?
One is not listening enough. This is sometimes a serious flaw of overly ambitious folks.
What advice would you give to mid-career women seeking opportunities to expand their roles?
It’s good timing to ask me about this. My team and I recently launched a new campaign called #LeadingTheWay, specifically to focus on advancing women in the housing industry.
#LeadingTheWay explores ways to do that and The #LeadingTheWay website features executive profiles, recent facts and figures that help tell our story, upcoming events, how to get involved through social media, events and networking, and much more. I hope your readers will give it a look and get involved.
In terms of advice to mid-career women, I am a big supporter or networking and finding a mentor who can help guide you. We all need someone with whom we can share ideas and feedback. I enjoy mentoring, both through formal groups such as the Women’s Interactive Network (WIN) group at Freddie Mac and informally, too. I tell mentees that you must make choices about how to spend your time. Some of those may be driven by economic decisions. Setting the right table and expectations for yourself and those around you is important. And if you know what your skills are, they are applicable to so many paths.
I understand what women facing career crossroads at midlife go through. Been there, done that. While I chose to slow down my career to raise my five children, my credo is: No decision is ever your last decision. Once my kids were older, I decided to return to the workforce full throttle. I got back in the driver’s seat by keeping my eyes open to opportunities and my skills current, and by refusing to accept limits imposed by others.
Can you share a fun personal aspect of your life?
Despite the fact that we are a Scottish/Irish family, my family has a bocce ball court in our backyard and we host a neighborhood tournament every year that even includes a trophy.
At Housing Finance Strategies, we are leading change in all things housing. By interviewing key executives like Chris Boyle, our intent is to educate and encourage the industry to constantly grow and evolve.
Having also worked at Freddie Mac, and raised a family like Chris, I can attest to her resolve to go ‘full throttle,’ leading and innovating. What a great leader and example Chris is for our Women in Leadership Series.
As our alliance with NEXT Mortgage grows, we are focused on a number of initiatives to foster the growth of women leaders. Sitting down with Chris for this interview reminded me of the importance of networking, making it a priority and always looking for opportunities to mentor the upcoming generation of women leaders.
As I like to say, grow, lead and mentor your peers!
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Faith Schwartz is the owner of Housing Finance Strategies, a professional services firm founded in 2016 to provide Strategic Advisory Services, Government and Industry Relations, Public Policy Expertise, Roundtable and Event Management and Professional Speaking Services.