UWM’s Agnes Standowicz on leadership strategy and harnessing technology

The HousingWire award spotlight series highlights the individuals and organizations that have been recognized through our Editors’ Choice Awards. Nominations for HousingWire’s 2024 Women of Influence award are open now through May 31, 2024. Click here to nominate someone.

HousingWire’s Women of Influence award has become one of the housing industry’s most prestigious honors, celebrating female leaders in housing who cover a wide range of backgrounds. With each honoree bringing her own experiences, skills and perspectives to the table, the award reflects on the richness of talent that female leaders have contributed to housing.

Women like Agnes Standowicz, VP, Underwriting Leader at United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM). Standowicz was selected as a 2023 Woman of Influence for her leadership and commitment to ensuring that UWM loans are processed accurately, quickly and consistently along with her ability to elevate UWM’s internal and external operational efficiencies. When Standowicz started at UWM in 2013 she was on a team of about 100 underwriters. Today, UWM is the No. 1 lender in the country, approaching 2,000 team members in underwriting and counting. 

HousingWire reached out to Standowicz to learn more about the path that led to her current role at UWM and the strategies and tools that keep her team running smoothly.

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HousingWire: Can you tell us about your story and how you entered the world of loan processing and underwriting?

Agnes Standowicz: I began my mortgage journey in my last year of college when I was hired at a small broker shop to help answer phone calls. I stayed on after graduation and started to learn more about the loan process, eventually becoming a loan processor. From there, I wanted to learn everything I could about the mortgage process. It wasn’t long before I joined a mortgage company to become an underwriter. Fast forward to 2013, I joined UWM as an FHA Senior Underwriter and quickly rose through the ranks to become an underwriting leader, guiding a group of underwriters to ensure loans are processed accurately, quickly and consistently. I genuinely love working in underwriting, and I’m so proud to have been a part of UWM’s impressive growth. When I first started, we were a smaller lender with about 100 underwriters. Now, we are the No. 1 lender in the country, rapidly approaching 2,000 team members in underwriting as we continue to grow.

HousingWire: Can you share insights into your leadership approach and how it has impacted operational efficiencies at UWM?

Agnes Standowicz: One of the most important tactics I use when leading my team is maintaining a continuous improvement mindset. At UWM, we are firm believers in finding ways to get better every day, and we always strive to become the best version of ourselves. I empower my team to constantly collaborate, try new things and discover out-of-the-box solutions that create a better process. We take advantage of all feedback that comes our way, which helps ensure that we seize every opportunity both large and small. Doing so has enabled us to fine tune the underwriting process, contributing to our industry-leading turn times and our strong Net Promoter Score (YTD +87.7).

HousingWire: What role do you see technology playing in the future of underwriting and client service within the mortgage industry?

Agnes Standowicz: Technology already plays a huge part in who we are at UWM and what we’re able to accomplish, and I only see this trend continuing. Every lender in the country works with the same set of guidelines, so it is vital to find other ways to stand out in the minds of clients and borrowers. That’s where technology comes in. Technology is the key to creating an optimized underwriting process, leading to a faster, easier, and cheaper loan experience overall. Additionally, advancements in technology lead to developing more effective techniques to deliver elite client service, boosting borrower satisfaction. UWM recognizes the pivotal role of technology in our industry, which is why our in-house IT team meticulously builds and implements tailored tools to precisely cater to the needs of our clients as well as our own business goals.

BOLT, for example, is a self-service mortgage underwriting platform that provides UWM partners with the ability to get an initial approval for qualified borrowers in just 15 minutes, granting more speed, certainty and control. On the client experience side, UWM Memory Maker is an exclusive tool that gives our broker partners the option to send their choice of personalized thank-you items to their borrowers and real estate partners with just a few simple clicks directly from the loan closing screen.

HousingWire: How do you stay updated with industry trends and regulations to ensure compliance and adaptability in underwriting practices?

Agnes Standowicz: A big part of how my team and I stay up to date with the latest changes in the industry comes from our Credit Policy Team. They do a tremendous job of continuously monitoring industry trends, providing the foundation of knowledge that enables us to stay at the forefront of industry news and ascertaining that our practices are always informed, relevant and compliant. Another primary contributor is our underwriting training team. The entire underwriting team is trained daily on any updates, changes or regulatory shifts that happen in the industry. We have an award-winning training team at UWM, and they do a fantastic job of communicating complex concepts effectively, ensuring that we are equipped with the expertise to meet the needs of the ever-changing mortgage landscape.

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