Andrew D. Woodward Jr. did not start out his career as a mortgage banker-but after nearly two decades at the helm of some of the largest mortgage lenders, he is hooked on the industry.

"I love this business. I have a passion for it," said Mr. Woodward, who started his banking career in 1969 heading the corporate trust division of Bankers Trust of South Carolina. "My wife would tell you that I live and breathe mortgages."

Mr. Woodward, president of NationsBanc Mortgage, NationsBank's massive mortgage subsidiary, is now expressing his devotion for the business by becoming involved as an industrywide leader and spokesman. Last month he was named chairman of Fannie Mae's National Advisory Council, a position that he was appointed to by Fannie Mae chief executive officer James A. Johnson.

In addition, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America last month nominated Mr. Woodward to be its vice president beginning in October. As a result of this nomination, Mr. Woodward is to become the trade organization's president in October 2000.

"In recent years he has acknowledged a growing personal sense to give something back to an industry that has given much to him," said Marc C. Smith, CEO of Crestar Mortgage Corp. and current president of the MBA.

Mr. Woodward recalls that he "kind of backed into the mortgage banking business" in the 1970s, when he was working on Bankers Trust of South Carolina's national mergers and acquisitions team. Many mergers involved mortgage companies.

In 1981 Mr. Woodward was named executive vice president of Bankers Mortgage Corp., the mortgage subsidiary of Bankers Trust, which is unrelated to Bankers Trust New York Corp. Two years later Fleet Financial Group acquired Bankers Mortgage, and Mr. Woodward was named president of the new Fleet Real Estate Funding.

Mr. Woodward in 1992 was named chairman and CEO of the company, which by then was known as Fleet Mortgage Group.

Mr. Woodward left Fleet in July 1994 to join NationsBanc Mortgage. Since his arrival at the Charlotte, N.C., mortgage company, its servicing portfolio has grown from about $25 billion to $122 billion.

NationsBanc Mortgage has not made any significant acquisition since buying large servicing portfolios from Source One Mortgage Services and KeyCorp in 1995. But the mortgage company has also grown because of the acquisitive nature of NationsBank.

"It has been nice to have been able to grow the mortgage business in dual ways-acquisitions we've made and through consolidations of other banking institutions," Mr. Woodward said.

NationsBank's purchase of Boatmen's Bancshares added $20 billion in servicing rights to the mortgage company. NationsBanc Mortgage also added production heft through its parent company's purchase of Barnett Banks Inc. earlier this year.

Mr. Woodward said one of his goals for NationsBanc Mortgage is to become a servicer of more than $100 billion because size would yield greater economies of scale.

He did not rule out further growth, especially if NationsBank makes more acquisitions, but the main focus now is on making the mortgage process easier for customers. By simplification, Mr. Woodward says, the mortgage company will be able to steer more customers to other NationsBank products.

"The mortgage product is a core, key product in relationship building for the bank's customer base," Mr. Woodward said.

One-third of the mortgages NationsBanc Mortgage originates through its retail branches come from referrals from NationsBank branches, Mr. Woodward said. And 45% of borrowers who get a loan from the retail channel have other NationsBank products.

But Mr. Woodward said the mortgage unit needs to be integrated with all the operations of the bank and this goes beyond cross-selling attempts. True integration would mean that a customer seeking a mortgage would be able to easily get information through any of NationsBank's channels-bank branches, the phone, or by the Internet.

By developing cross-selling opportunities in NationsBank's mortgage unit, Mr. Woodward is creating a template for other big banks, said Paul S. Reid, executive vice president of the MBA. "Mortgages are a cornerstone account that allow a bank to do a lot of other business."

Still, some industry observers said NationsBanc Mortgage needs to bulk up its production operations even more. Its origination network while sizable, is not substantial enough to replace runoff, the skeptics maintain. And the production of new loans is especially important now that low rates have caused the most significant level of refinancings since 1993.

NationsBanc Mortgage originated about $15 billion last year, enough to replace 12% of its servicing portfolio. Other large lenders, including Norwest Mortgage, Countrywide Credit Industries, and Chase Manhattan Mortgage, have replenishment ratios (origination volume divided by servicing volume) of about 25%.

But Mr. Woodward said his company's origination numbers are understated because they do not include co-issue originations. Some lenders do not include co-issues-the purchase of servicing rights from correspondents that are under contractual obligation to deliver a certain amount of volume to a lender each month or quarter-in total reported origination volume.

Factoring in co-issues, Mr. Woodward said NationsBanc Mortgage originated $23 billion last year, with much of this production coming from midwestern states where Boatmen's had a strong presence. And Mr. Woodward said NationsBanc Mortgage, like many other lenders, is expecting record origination volume to compensate for runoff in the servicing portfolio.

Other industry observers said Mr. Woodward is well-equipped to handle any challenges facing his organization and the industry.

Robert J. Levin, Fannie Mae's executive vice president for marketing, has worked with Mr. Woodward for nearly a decade and said his leadership skills, strategic mind, and business savvy will serve him well as he becomes a more visible presence in the industry.

"He has the ability to bring attention to some of the most important issues of housing finance," Mr. Levin said.

Mr. Woodward said the next few years will be hectic as he juggles his industry leadership roles with managing NationsBanc Mortgage. But he is looking forward to the challenge.

"Mortgages are my life," he said. "It is all-consuming right now."

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