Archive for November 2016

Anthony Branda Joins Embrace Home Loans as New Chief Data Officer

Home Loans, a prominent leader in the mortgage industry, announced
today that financial services industry veteran, Anthony Branda, has
joined the national lender as its Chief Data Officer. In his role,
Branda will build an integrated omnichannel platform to strengthen
Embrace’s data intelligence to not only support continued growth, but
also enhance the customer experience.

Under Branda’s leadership, Embrace will develop a new data
infrastructure with more intelligence and customer insights for not only
better data decisioning, but also to better support its overall mission
of providing exceptional service. In addition, he will create a digital
nervous system to communicate digitally with customers and prospects, as
well as provide marketing automation to drive more customer outreach and
increase acquisitions.

“It’s not just about technology or data for technology’s or data’s sake.
It’s all about the impact,” said Branda. “My goal at Embrace is to build
out the necessary capabilities internally to have the competencies to
grow organically. We’re intelligently and methodically combining
technology with big data to create a CRM that improves the customer
experience, both online and offline. This digital nervous system is
critical to engage with consumers through the channels they prefer and
have the intelligence to make better decisions. It’s an exciting time
and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

“We’re pleased that Tony has joined our team and confident he will bring
a great deal of value to both our organization and our customers,” said
Kurt Noyce, president of Embrace Home Loans. “It is critical to have the
ability to quickly mine data to make better decisions and also provide
an exceptional experience. Embrace has long been an industry leader in
optimizing and modeling consumer data in effecting our marketing and
sales initiatives. As those consumers shift their buying behaviors,
Tony’s expertise and leadership will ensure we remain dedicated to
preserving our customer-centric model in today’s digital economy.”

Branda brings nearly 25 years of experience working in customer
intelligence and analytics for the financial services industry. He is a
recognized industry leader with the ability to execute digital, direct
and database marketing programs and all associated analytics. He has
worked in executive roles at several large-scale national financial
services organizations, including AIG, Bank of America, Citibank, RBS
Citizens and Wells Fargo. Most recently, he served as CEO of, a full-service marketing and analytics
consulting firm that worked with several digital lenders and
universities. Previous to that, Branda was a chief analytics officer for
Citibank North America’s Consumer Bank, where he oversaw the retail and
mortgage analytics center of excellence, staffed by 100 marketing and
analytics professionals in North America and India.

Aside from his career accomplishments, Branda serves as an adjunct
professor of digital marketing and customer intelligence at Pace
University’s Lubin Graduate School of Business. Currently, he is
pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration in Marketing and

To support this new initiative, Embrace Home Loans is currently
expanding in both Rhode Island and New York. For information on open
positions, visit

About Embrace Home Loans

Founded in 1983, Embrace Home Loans is a direct lender for Fannie Mae
and Freddie Mac, approved by FHA and VA, and an issuer for Ginnie Mae.
Embrace Home Loans has remained a prominent leader in the industry,
having helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families
purchase new homes, lower their monthly payments and consolidate
high-interest debt since its inception. With 80+ offices and licensed in
46 states and DC, Embrace has been recognized seven times as one of
the Best Medium-sized Companies to Work for in America by Fortune
and four times as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America by Inc.
The company has also been recognized eleven times as one of the Best
Places to Work in Rhode Island and as the Most Community Involved
Company in Rhode Island by Providence Business News. For more
information, please visit

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Could fed’s proposed curb on payday loans weaken Georgia’s ban?

Signs advertise short-term loans stands in Birmingham, Alabama, in 2015. The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has released sweeping new proposed rules that take aim at the payday lending industry, but consumer advocates say they could undermine Georgias ban on such high-cost loans. Bloomberg photo by Gary Tramontina.

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Fall in number of Bankie’s taking out pay day loan but more still needs to be done says report

“Our dedicated officers have vast experience in dealing with financial management and can provide information which will allow residents to make informed choices.”

Following StepChange’s findings, SNP MSP for Clydebank and Milngavie, Gil Paterson, also backed calls for regulations around payday loan sharks to be tightened.

He explained: “Payday loans are a curse on poorer areas of my constituency and trapping the poor and working poor in financial bedlam.

“The FCA has to tighten the rules to combat payday loan-sharking – and the treatment of people in financial difficulty – for the good of our most vulnerable citizens.

“Unfortunately, the powers to regulate this industry rests with the UK government. If it were a devolved matter, I am sure the Scottish Parliament would have taken radical action to end this injustice.”

Chief executive of StepChange, Mike O’Connor, described how regulation can make “a significant difference” to broken markets, but acknowledged there is still work to be done.

He said: “It’s essential the FCA review the payday lending cap is broad enough to fix areas of consumer detriment and poor lending practices.”

He added that there is also a “clear and immediate need” for the government to examine more affordable forms of borrowing for financially vulnerable people.

To speak with a member of the Working 4 U team, call 01389 738296.

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Trump may be a boon for payday lenders

Payday lenders may benefit from President-elect Trumps victory, as unified Republican control of the federal government poses a threat to the payday lending rule proposed in June by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Congressional Republicans have said the rule is a top target, and they have several means of stopping it, although advocates of the rule wont let them do so without paying a price.

The rule, which was proposed in June, is dead in its tracks, predicted Allan Kaplinsky, the head of consumer financial services practice at Ballard Spahr, which represents some firms in disputes with the CFPB.

Speaking in downtown Washington Thursday, House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling mentioned the rule as one of two major financial rules promulgated by the unelected and the unaccountable that he hopes to work with Trump to reverse.

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New fire station may be funded through USDA

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Building wealth doesn’t just mean investing in shares

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LendUp fights big banks with $47M for compassionate credit cards

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The Future Of Financial Advising Is Through A Goals-Based Approach

The financial advising industry continues to make great strides in developing new research, strategies, and tools that improve advisors ability to serve investors. There is certainly no shortage of discussion about scalable technology that investors and advisors can leverage to cut costs and simplify the investing process.

While these are exciting advances that deserve attention, in my view, the future of financial advising should center on enabling advisors to better identify and realize investors goals.

Advisors need technology tools that empower them to quickly and easily translate each clients unique situation and goals into a custom portfolio. Beyond that, tools that support regular check-ins are needed to build client confidence in the investment strategies employed and to help advisors stay informed of significant life events that could impact goals and investment decisions.

Traditionally, the financial advising industry was oriented around product and account administration, an approach that failed to facilitate the type of conversations that would truly help investors meet financial targets. Under this dynamic, advisors were focused on examining performance of each individual investment product and communicating those results to clients. Fortunately, advisors are beginning to recognize that such an approach presents an incomplete picture that does not get at the heart of investors financial objectives. By shifting the conversation from what is in a clients portfolio to why a particular strategy was chosen, advisors can build confidence by clearly articulating their alignment with investors goals and using terms investors can understand.

We are now witnessing tremendous progress in terms of creating platforms and tools that allow advisors and investors to construct portfolios that are goals-oriented. This requires restructuring and building the approach into the heart of financial platforms through new software development.

At the core of a goals-based approach is facilitating discussions between advisors and investors that help them collectively identify the ultimate investing goal, and then create a plan to achieve that objective. Companies are increasingly turning to this model, establishing portfolio accounting systems that more intuitively understand investors goals.

Take for example an investor whose central goal is retirement. If an investor wants to retire in a decade and needs a certain amount of money, how do we build a portfolio that will get the investor there in that time frame? Rather than directing the client toward an IRA through a single asset manager, advisors using a new portfolio system would recognize that the best way to achieve retirement goals could include more than a single account type or asset management solution.

Establishing a true goals-based platform requires more than just new software and tools it also necessitates a robust communications framework that reinforces the approach. Every element in a platform needs to use language that fosters continuous engagement between the advisor and the investor that assesses the financial goals at hand, and the rate of progress towards intended outcome. In these conversations, word choice, measurement, and context are of tremendous importance, and it is on us as an industry to continue to find ways to create language that complements new goals-based portfolio construction tools.

To complement frank, holistic conversations between advisors and investors, the frameworks and terminology embedded in the technology must reinforce communications tied to investor goals and be free of industry jargon. The stand-out advisors will leverage tools that embody these intentional shifts in dialogue to optimize client relationships and outcomes.

In the next decade, the financial advising industry needs to continue to invest in further developing technology and tools that will help advisors focus on achieving client goals. In turn, successful advisors will continue to demonstrate their value by building lasting relationships with their clients that inform holistic financial advice and enable them to achieve outstanding results for investors and their families.

Natalie Wolfsen is the Chief Commercialization Officer at AssetMark, Inc.

Photo Credit: Ken Teegardin

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#TGW: Even (Better) Stephens

Stephens took the initiative, getting players to come into the gym during the off-season and pushing them once there.

Small things as far as leadership, getting to the gym early, pulling a guy with me, thats something I think Ive gotten better on, he said. Ive taken it upon myself, because I want to be a better leader. So Im reaching out to them to see how I can become better. Another guy, [director of player personnel] Mario West, has been great to our team as far as understanding and listening to us. I think hes made a huge difference for this program.

Stephens has been trying to make a difference by taking some of the younger players under his wing, especially 6-6, 190-pound freshman forward Christian Matthews, a Clinton, Md., native and All-Metro DC player at National Christian Academy, who will vie for time at small forward with him.

Christians my guy, said Stephens. We work out right before practice. I make sure I get shots up with him, spend time with him in the evenings and just gett to know him. Were going to be playing the same position, and I think he can be really good.

Stephens, who also saw the possibility of playing Stretch 4 with a smaller lineup, is as positive about the rest of the freshman class.

Theyre hard workers, theyre eager to learn, and theyre open to learning, he said. You can tell that through how they respond to the coaches. Everyone has their own personality, where some guys may need to be spoken to a different way. Im learning that through them even with practice. So Im learning a lot.

Fellow senior, point guard Josh Heath, is impressed with Stephens attitude and work with the youngsters.

His voice is always being heard, and he sets a good example with his actions, too, said Heath.

Those actions have included his body improvement during the offseason through the teams strength and conditioning program.

Stephens believes in Pastner and his staff and listened when they advised him.

[Pastner] along with the assistants, let me know, Hey, Q, I think you can do this better. I do my best to accommodate them. I want to get better so I listen to them, he said. My body has gotten better, and its continuing to get better. That comes with my consistency as far as eating habits and workouts.

[Strength coach] Dan Taylor has done a great job with us, he added. Hes another guy thats been very personal with us as far as regulating our workouts based on how we play. Hes able to watch us and see, We need to get more explosive in this, or We need to become more agile or stretch more. Its become much more personal.

The new system included afternoon pickup games in addition to early morning workouts. Thats an element that has gone over very well and helped in team-building.

This summer we were trying to play a lot more pickup than we have in the past years. Thats been a dimension that weve added this summer, he said. Were building the culture here, but also it helps because we have so many new guys, and we want to learn how to play with one another.

Ideally all this work and play and learning will pay off come the start of training camp and during the course of the season. If anyone knows about dividends and paying off, its Stephens, who learned that in his non-basketball work during his summer internship at Morgan Stanley.

Im with the wealth-management team over there. More like wealth management, financial advising, he said. Its been great to have the opportunity.

He has one final opportunity with Georgia Tech and is planning on helping Georgia Tech cash in.

Its weird thinking four years ago when I came in here, seeing guys like Daniel Miller being the senior. So its been a good experience, he said. Its gone by fast, but Ive learned a lot. I think its coming along. Its been a long summer, some of us are a little banged up, but we had some testing, and weve noticed some results. Thats been good.

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Michelle Zych: Payday lending needs to change

Unable to make the lump-sum loan payment and also pay for groceries, gas, rent and utilities, the typical borrower must take out another loan — and then another and another, making it increasingly difficult to dig out of the high-priced debt. Nationally, the typical borrower pays $520 in fees to carry or roll over a $375 loan for six months.

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