Home Fairfield Westport mortgage pro heads a rebuilding industry group

Westport mortgage pro heads a rebuilding industry group

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Kenneth Campbell did not intend to pursue a mortgage industry career. “I was in a marketing and promotional agency,” he said, referring to the New Canaan-based Kendrew Group Ltd., where he worked for 16 years and rose to the rank of chief operating officer. “We had some bad times. But I was always good with numbers and I was fortunately in a position that I could cover the commission structure for a while” when moving into the mortgage industry.

kenneth campbell westport mortgage pro
Kenneth Campbell, shown at his Westport Mortgage office, leads a state mortgage industry group left decimated by the financial crisis nearly a decade ago. Photo by Phil Hall.

In 2005, Campbell made the career switch to the Tarrytown-based Home Funding Group. One year later, he changed jobs again, becoming a loan originator at Westport Mortgage LLC, where he has worked ever since. To strengthen his connections within the industry, he joined the Connecticut Mortgage Association (CMA), the trade group for the state’s
mortgage brokers.

“Somewhere along the way, I was asked to be on the board,” he recalled. “When I joined the board, I was the only loan originator on the board. All the other board members were brokers that owned their own mortgage companies. As time went on, I became secretary, then treasurer. Last year, they were looking for officers and I threw my name into the hat and got
elected president.”

Campbell leads a trade group that is still rebuilding from the impact of the financial crisis of nearly a decade ago.

“We have not yet recovered our membership from the recession,” he said. “I am embarrassed to say that we were dwindling. We were at less than 100 (members) and we currently have about 300. We are on a concerted effort to increase our members. According to the Connecticut Department of Banking, there are between 3,000 and 5,000 of us, so I think we have some opportunity to increase our membership.”

That effort includes attracting the next generation of mortgage professionals as CMA members, especially when the estimated average age of loan originators in the mortgage industry is 54. Campbell said the lack of salaried positions in the mortgage brokerage field has resulted in many millennials seeking other financial services jobs with regular paychecks.

“The compensation is based on commission, so it can be difficult,” he said. “You need to have a following or the ability to create a following in order to live in this environment. Some of our lenders are trying to develop educational programs to encourage younger people to come in. There are younger people working in banks and if they feel there are opportunities for them as an entrepreneur or they feel captive in their earning capacities, there are opportunities here for them.”

In his president’s role, Campbell works with Matthew Hallisey, a Hartford attorney and lobbyist who serves as the group’s executive director in the state capital. Hallisey identifies potential bills that could be beneficial or detrimental to the mortgage industry.

Campbell noted the last legislative session saw the stirrings of a bill imposing a new tax on mortgages. Hallisey worked with state trade groups representing mortgage bankers and Realtors to successfully fight to keep the bill from getting a
subcommittee hearing.

“There needs to be a very significant shift in the state government,” Campbell said. “We are taxing people out of the state, including employers. We need to create an environment where employers are coming to Connecticut. The state’s finances need to be corrected so that companies will see an advantage to move here.”

Regarding Fairfield County’s housing market, Campbell noted “a softness in some of the areas that are higher priced.” And efforts to expand home ownership could be impeded by the construction boom of multifamily rental buildings in the county. “Obviously, there is a demand for it because it is being built, being rented and being filled,” he said.

Campbell is still considering whether to pursue re-election as Connecticut Mortgage Association president when his term ends this year. While he has enjoyed the opportunity, “Whether I’ll do it for another year, I am not quite sure,” he said.

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