When the Treasury Department hosted a forum on the future of housing finance this summer, it all but ignored mortgage lenders. The exception was Barbara Desoer, the president of Bank of America Home Loans, who shared the dais with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.
"Responsible lending, greater transparency and clarity for consumers, and a level playing field for all participants," is how Desoer describes the way the market should work.
She is navigating a tough second year as head of BofA's mortgage, home equity and insurance services. But despite the economic stress, elevated loan defaults and low origination volumes, her unit managed a slight gain in market share. It makes one of every five mortgages in the U.S.
A 60 percent increase in the staff managing defaults-now 18,000strong-helped BofA become the servicer with the highest number of permanent loan modifications under the government's Home Affordable Modification Program. It also has refinanced the largest number of borrowers through a related program.
Some of Desoer's initiativesat BofA have since been adopted by Treasury as a blueprint for other mortgage servicers.
That kind of attention is helping to raise her profile.
Mortgage lenders don't have much clout in Washington these days, but Desoer is the rare exception. And she has not been shy about voicing her opinions, particularly when it comes to the roles of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in future housing policy.
"Institutions or products will either need to be explicitly guaranteed or not guaranteed at all," she said in the forum with Geithner.