Citigroup's conforming unit and subprime subsidiary are doing a better job servicing loans.
Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it upgraded the residential primary servicer ratings of CitiFinancial Mortgage Co.'s subprime product to 'RPS1-' from 'RPS2+' and the residential master servicer rating of prime-lending unit CitiMortgage Inc. to 'RMS1' from 'RMS1-'.
Fitch rates residential mortgage primary, master, and special servicers on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the highest rating, and further differentiates each level with plus, minus or flat rating.
While all of the ratings reflect the strong financial condition of parent Citigroup, which is rated 'AA+', the ratings agency attributed CitiFinancial's upgrade specifically to the unit's "experienced management team, comprehensive loan administration processes and controls, strong emphasis on customer satisfaction, effective default management strategies and continued success in managing and resolving delinquent loans."
The Irving, Texas-based lender has annual volume of over $16 billion, approximately 1,557 servicing employees, and as of June 30, 2005, serviced $24 billion portfolio in excess of 271,000 loans, almost entirely subprime, according to the announcement.
Fitch noted CitiFinancial places strong focus in improving customer interactions and incorporates a Gallup survey into its customer satisfaction dashboard, which management uses to monitor trends on a monthly basis.
"The improvements that [CitiFinancial] continues to make to technology, policies and procedures, and corporate controls have positioned [it] to effectively manage its growing portfolio while maintaining performance," the ratings agency reported.
CitiMortgage's master servicer rating upgrade was "based on Citi's accomplished master servicing experience, strong portfolio management, and tightened procedures and controls," as well as the "company's proven ability to oversee the servicing activities of its primary and special servicers," Fitch said.
As of July 31, 2005, CitiMortgage master serviced over 95,000 loans totaling over $15.6 billion, which grew 78% since Fitch's last review, the announcement said. Over the last year, the lender has "successfully integrated" Principal Residential Mortgage Inc.'s $115 billion servicing portfolio, $10 billion in servicing from Hibernia National Bank, and a $200 million portfolio from The First American Bank of Texas.
Fitch commended CitiMortgage for enhanced customer service practices, technology platform upgrades, the reinforcement of robust training and leadership development programs, among other things. The company has also bolstered the servicing platform through process improvements and accommodated the training and staffing needs for its increased portfolio by continuing to expand in-house training programs, Fitch indicated.