Two up-and-coming mortgage companies have named senior executives.

They are Preferred Mortgage Corp., Irvine, Calif., which has hired Li- Lin Ko as chief financial officer, and Knutson Mortgage Corp., Minneapolis, which has named Sara Powell as a regional vice president.

Ms. Ko will report directly to Todd A. Rodriguez, chief executive.

Mr. Rodriguez said he was seeking to build Preferred into a company with national visibility and needed an executive to provide the necessary financial skills in mortgage banking.

Ms. Ko had been chief financial officer at Plaza Home Mortgage Corp., Santa Ana, Calif., until it was aquired by Fleet Mortgage Group last year.

Preferred has recently emphasized home equity lending. With products tailored especially for the California market, it became the largest independent home equity lender in the state in the second quarter.

Before joining Knutson, Ms. Powell was an executive with North American Mortgage Co., Santa Rosa, Calif.

She will be in charge of Knutson's loan center in Dallas, where she has had extensive contact with real estate brokers.

Knutson, one of the nation's top 100 mortgage originators, is owned by Chemical Banking Corp., Chase Manhattan Corp., and a venture capital company. It added other management muscle recently by recruiting Ray Warren Sims and Lawrence Spera from GE Capital Mortgage Corp. Mr. Sims is now president and Mr. Spera executive vice president.

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