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Best Mortgage Companies to be Associated With

Several lenders among 100 Best Corporate Citizens in 2004

May 7, 2004


Several mortgage companies made a recent list of the best U.S. companies. The organizations were ranked based on how they served a number of groups with a stake in the company including shareholders, employees and customers.

Out of hundreds of firms nationwide, including several mortgage-related entities, one of the country's secondary mortgage lenders topped the list of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens in 2004.

Filling in the No. 1 spot in the annual list compiled by Business Ethics magazine was Fannie Mae. Last year, General Mills topped the chart and Fannie placed 12th. The mortgage giant was among the 29 firms that have made the list every year since its initiation five years ago.

The magazine said the listing aims to identify firms in the Russell 1000 -- an index that includes the largest publicly traded firms -- which excel at serving a variety of stakeholders well. The rankings are based on quantitative measures of corporate service to seven stakeholder groups: shareholders, community, minorities and women, employees, environment, non-U.S. stakeholders and customers.

Besides standardizing the scores of companies' "strengths" and "concerns" in each category, additional research on social scandals, or other issues possibly missed, is also performed to see if any firms need to be pulled from the list, the magazine said. Firms were removed for accounting fraud, for example, or if they lost money two or more years in a row.

"Fannie Mae's dominant presence in the mortgage market enables it to play a critical role in keeping mortgage rates down," the publication said. "Yet its most visible impact is on helping those who traditionally have been underserved obtain home loans."

Fannie reportedly purchased over $240 billion in home mortgages for 1.6 million minority first-time home buyers in 2003. Additionally, the government sponsored enterprise created a Native American Conventional Lending Initiative to help finance $75 million in loans on trust land for the Navajo Nation of Arizona, Oneida Nation of New York, and Menominee of Wisconsin.

Fannie also earned a place in Fortune's latest lists of the 100 Best Companies to Work For and the 500 largest corporations in America.

At No. 46 was Doral Financial Corp. The diversified financial holding company with operations in the United States and Puerto Rico -- where it is reportedly the largest residential mortgage lender -- produced a record breaking $1.8 billion in loans during the first quarter, according to its Web site.

In the 69th slot was Michigan-based mortgage financing thrift Comerica Inc.

Slipping 13 slots from last year to No. 71 was First Horizon National Corp. Formerly known as First Tennessee National, the company reported loan production of $7.0 billion in the first quarter and was also among Fortune's best 100 companies to work for.

Golden West Financial Corp. declined four spaces from last year and landed in slot 74. The holding company of World Savings Bank, which originated $9.4 billion in loans during the first quarter, has made Business Ethics' list each year and was also among the 500 largest corporations named in Fortune.

No. 76 was UnionBanCal Corp., which originates mortgages through its subsidiary Union Bank of California.

Filling the 86th slot was Wachovia Corp., which reported its latest quarterly mortgage production totaled $3.1 billion.

The last of the mortgage-related entities to make the list was FirstFed Financial at No. 91, down 11 spots from the previous year. The savings and loan holding company originates mortgages and serves Southern California through its First Federal Bank of California subsidiary.

Mortgage-lending companies that made the list last year, but did not make the cut this time around, were Bank of America, which placed No. 13 at the time, FleetBoston Financial at No. 38, and National City at No. 96.

Coco Salazar is an assistant editor and staff writer for MortgageDaily.com.

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