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What a year for the mortgage industry. 2003 will be remembered as a year of record production and low interest rates, accounting scandals, and the passage of The American Dream Downpayment Act. But more than anything, it was the people of the mortgage industry that defined 2003. Here, in alphabetical order, are’s five icons of the industry and the roles they played in this historic year.

From an apartment in New York City in 1969 Angelo Mozilo and his partner, David Loeb, launched a mortgage company that has become an industry giant.

Today, Countrywide Financial services a loan portfolio of $631 billion, according to the company’s financial information. Countrywide earned $1.1 billion in the third quarter of this year, a 187 percent gain over its record setting second quarter and a 381 percent jump over the third quarter of 2002. And for the year, the company is on track to earn more than $2 billion.

Mozilo is chairman and CEO of a company that has 520 offices, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is a part of the Forbes and S&P 500s and, according to Fortune magazine, is the second-largest home lender in the country after Wells Fargo.

Countrywide has more than 29,000 employees and, in addition to home loans, is also in the banking, insurance, and mortgage-backed securities trading businesses.

Fortune reported that over the last 20 years Countrywide had the best stock market performance of any financial services company, delivering a staggering 23,000% return to investors.

“Countrywide’s approach is a primer for creating shareholder value,” Fortune wrote. “It made virtually no acquisitions and issued relatively tiny amounts of new stock. And it supercharged its shares the old-fashioned way, by producing big gains in earnings with tiny dollars of new capital.”

According to the company’s Web site, Mozilo “is active in all aspects of Countrywide’s businesses. While he reviews all financial and operational activities, his central focus is on overall business growth and strategic direction.”

He is a past president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (1991-92), is active with the National Housing Endowment, and is on the board for the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

In December, Mozilo was one of 10 recipients of the Horatio Alger Award and inducted into the association’s Hall of Fame for mentoring young people and sponsoring more than $5 million in need-based scholarships.

It’s always newsworthy, but not always easy running one of the biggest companies in the world.

As chairman and CEO of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines oversees the largest non-bank financial services company on the planet. Publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, Fannie — as it is commonly called — has assets of more than $1 trillion, employs 5,000, and earned $6.39 billion last year.

According to the company’s Web site, since 1968 it has provided $5.7 trillion of mortgage financing for more than 58 million families and today is the largest source of financing for home mortgages.

But in October, Fannie disclosed a $1.2 billion accounting error for the third quarter. The company attributed the error to a change in accounting standards that would not impact earnings.

The error at Fannie, along with allegations of management misconduct at its smaller sister, Freddie Mac, has attracted intense scrutiny from federal regulators. Raines seemed to know he and his company would be closely watched in 2003.

“We need to ensure that, as policy makers return to the task of strengthening the financial regulation of the GSEs that they also preserve our mission, which supports the housing finance system, a system that home buyers and the economy need and the world envies,” Raines said in a Dec. 17 speech at George Washington University’s School of Public Policy and Public Administration.

Harvard educated and a Rhodes Scholar, Raines worked in the Carter administration and on Wall Street before spending 1991 to 1996 as Fannie’s vice chairman.

He joined President Bill Clinton’s cabinet in 1998 and spent two years as Director of the Office of Management and Budget. He rejoined Fannie and became chairman and CEO in 1999.

During 2002, Raines got a cash salary of $992,500, a bonus of $3.3 million, and options valued at $6.7 million, according to an April proxy statement.

JJ Sims was proud in late June when his wife and business partner, Jayne Sims, was named the 2003 Volunteer of the Year by the National Association of Mortgage Brokers (NAMB).

Imagine how he felt a few weeks later when the association named him Broker of the Year.

Sims, CFO of ABC Mortgage in Minneapolis, earned the award “through his dedicated service to the mortgage broker industry on both a state and national level,” NAMB President A.W. Pickel III said in a statement announcing the award.

“Through integrity and quality service, J.J. has found success in the mortgage business,” Pickel said. “But more importantly, he has volunteered countless hours in sharing his experience and expertise to make the industry stronger for all mortgage brokers.”

The award is NAMBs most prestigious. Sponsored by Fannie Mae, it annually recognizes the broker “who embodies the ideals and principles of the association’s members,” NAMB said in the statement.

The selection criteria reflects how a mortgage broker interacts with his or her community, their commitment to quality service, and their success in upholding the ethics and ideals of the industry.”

Sims has sat on the NAMB board of directors since 2000, chairing the Legislative and NAMBPAC committees. He also serves as secretary.

On the state level he has been active in the Minnesota Association of Mortgage Brokers since 1995 and was president from 1999 to 2000.

There are good years, there are great years, and then there is the year Leif Thomsen had in the mortgage industry.

Thomsen, the owner of Massachusetts-based Mortgage Master Inc., had a monster year in terms of compensation and deals.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Thomsen earned $10 million while his company produced $3 billion in loans during 2002.

Thomsen has rich company in his own office. The paper reported that five Mortgage Master brokers hauled in $1 million or more last year.

A native of Denmark, Thomsen started his firm in 1988. On its Web site, the company bills itself as “the largest volume lender on first mortgages in Massachusetts” over the last four years.

“We are now the largest independently owned mortgage company in the country and consistently lend over $2 billion per year,” the company said.

The firm has 250 employees and operates satellite offices in Connecticut, Illinois and Florida.

Thomsen, a high school dropout at age 14, runs a high volume business that spreads the wealth around his company. He told The Journal that every broker who worked a full-year for this company earned at least $100,000 in 2002.

But as big as 2002 was for Thomsen, 2003 could be bigger. Reuters reported in June that Mortgage Master was brokering about $700 million a month, double the volume of 2002.

“We’re drowning,” Thomsen said at the time.” We can’t keep up. We’re working 24/7 and we’ve tripled the amount of people we have working here in the last six to eight months.”

Awards and accolades are nothing new to Doreen Woo Ho, president of Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Group.

She’s been recognized as one of “America’s most powerful women executives” by Money Magazine, tapped as one of the “100 most influential women in business” by the San Francisco Business Times, and in October was named of the “25 Most Powerful Women in Banking” by US Banker.

According to a statement from Wells Fargo, Woo Ho grew her division by 30 percent since taking it over four years ago. Her innovations have included establishing the National Home Equity Group at Wells Fargo, launching the company’s Internet home equity application process, and introducing products that include Home Asset Management Account and Equity Line with credit card access. That portfolio is at $40 billion with over 2 million accounts, the bank said.

Woo Ho is also the highest-ranking Asian American banker among the top five U.S. Banks, Wells said. Her 25 years in the industry also includes a long stint at Citibank, where she built the company’s California mortgage business from $100 million to $2 billion.

In a statement, Wells Fargo chairman and CEO Dick Kovacevich called Woo Hoo an “exceptional leader” who exemplifies “the highest level of achievement in financial services.”

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