Q&A session with self-made mortgage mogul Patty Arvielo and her journey to help Black and Latino communities achieve the American dream through home ownership
For most Americans, the epitome of the American dream is owning a home. However, many are unable to have access to the credit needed to fulfill this dream. Patty Arvielo, Co-Founder and President of New American Funding, is a first-generation Latina with 39 years of mortgage industry experience and a lifetime of dedication towards serving underserved communities and their quality of living.
Family-run and 100% owned by Patty and her husband, Rick Arvielo, New American Funding is one of the largest mortgage lenders to Black and Latino communities with over $33 billion in home loans. In this one-on-one interview, Patty talks about how she built this empire from the ground up and how she quickly became an empowering advocate for achieving the American dream.
Can you tell me a little bit about your story and how you got into the mortgage industry?
I fell into this industry at the young age of 16. At that time of my life, the fundamental reason as to why I got into this business was because it was the job that paid the most, I chased the almighty dollar, but I believe that if you’re going to work, you have to make sure that you know your value. Knowing your value, throughout anybody’s career is what is important. By the time I was 19, I was selling mortgages. By 25, I was a young mother of one with another one on the way and I was managing the second biggest branch of the largest mortgage lender at the time. I’ve just never veered from the path or exited the mortgage business to try something else because I felt the passion of serving others. I could go to work, help people, and make money. I was fortunate to have fallen into this career.
You went from managing a large branch to catapulting a large mortgage empire. Can you tell me how you went from an employee to starting your own business?
In the 90s, I had this phenomenal job with the largest mortgage lender. I was young, married with 2 kids. When I was 30, I found myself as a single mother. Through that pain, I found my purpose. Now it’s not just me going to work to be a wife, I need to go to work to run an empire and provide for my kids. That is what got me from being an employee to my beginning as an entrepreneur, which was not a natural thing for me. It was through my pain that I found my calling. My number one client at that time, a realtor, set me up with my current husband and my now business partner. I married a true entrepreneur, through him I learned more about running your own company. The synergies between myself and Rick are important to address. We are true visionaries and innovators.
For many people, the epitome of financial inclusion is owning your home and being able to borrow so that you can afford this milestone purchase. What was the underlying inspiration behind the name New American Funding and its mission? How do you see yourself realizing this mission every day?
The company was first formulated as New American Financial in the late 90s with a couple of other business partners before Rick and I took it over. Both of us being children of immigrants, we felt incredibly lucky to be able to have access to that name. It centred towards our core, the way we were raised. We live the name day to day. As far as our vision for the company, we’ve transitioned from a call center, to a distributive retail model, to a huge online lender with the purpose to serve the underserved. Obtaining a mortgage loan for somebody underserved is difficult. A lot of work that I do with agencies is bring attention to the fact that there are many cultures in this country. The Latino culture runs deep. You must understand these different cultures and the growth and impact they have to this economy. We’re also big in the African American community. Prior to George Floyd, we had already made it our mission to serve the African American community in 2016. It’s a public commitment. Being culturally aware is important when engaging.
In 2019, New American Funding did the most mortgages in the Latino community.
By percentage we lead in that effort. We are also one of the largest, measured by percentage, in lending to the African American community. You must be clear in your mission to serve communities, mirroring the communities we serve, and we must have purposeful and meaningful recruiting in diverse areas. We pull people up from within the company so that we have the leadership and the faces that resonate with the employees that we’re training to enter the mortgage industry. Our company is great because of the people and their diversity.
Why is it important that you empower women in the mortgage industry?
Empowering women, to me, is something that I do for my purpose because this industry has been a gift to me and my family. I feel like it is my duty. We’re still in a very male dominated field yet out of our 4,000 employees, 58% of them are women. A lot of that is because they see themselves in leadership here. If you can see it, you can be it. If you want diversity, you need to be diverse, something that I naturally am. I’m a woman in lending running a big company, that’s already a minority, and I’m Latina. I have women tell me that they came to work here because of me, because I’m Latina, because they want to be like me. That’s what mentorship looks like. Visibility counts. Even now, I’ll walk into mortgage industry events and still feel very alone and intimidated, and I’m a strong person. When you’re not around others that you feel comfortable around, it gets difficult. Diversity and inclusiveness becoming a direct core of your business, is not what you have to do, but what is necessary to do business in this country. You must naturally evolve into creating a company with diverse voices around the table. These voices will take you to a whole other level.
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