Guaranteed Rate CEO Victor Ciardelli Profiled in Chicago Tribune Cover Story
The national buzz about Guaranteed Rate has been building steadily over the past year, from the company’s new national TV commercials, to dozens of honors and awards the company has received for its loan production, technology innovation, and company culture. The latest media coup appeared recently when the Chicago Tribune, the largest newspaper in the Midwest and fifth-largest in the nation, recently profiled Guaranteed Rate founder and CEO Victor Ciardelli in a cover story.
The article, part of a series which profiles a successful Chicago area CEO each quarter, takes readers through Ciardelli’s career and shows how he built Guaranteed Rate from a small startup in 2000 to one of the ten largest retail mortgage lenders in the country, going toe-to-toe with the largest players in the industry and funding nearly $16 billion in home loans in 2013.
The article opens with Ciardelli describing the inefficiencies of the traditional mortgage model and where Guaranteed Rate can upend that model.
“It’s incredible that in 2014, with all the technology we have… and how industries have completely shifted by using technology, the mortgage business is still paper and is slow and lethargic,” he told the Tribune.
The author, nationally syndicated housing columnist Mary Ellen Podmolik, reveals how Guaranteed Rate’s approach turns that slow, dated model on its head.
“In an industry steeped in complicated terminology and ever-increasing government regulation, Guaranteed Rate’s business model is simple: use technology and employees’ skill sets to more efficiently process higher loan volumes. Greater productivity internally means lower rates for consumers and improved corporate profitability,” Podmolik wrote.
After giving some of Ciardelli’s personal history, the article details his efforts to get his new company off the ground, noting that one of his smart early decisions was to build relationships with some of the top real estate agents in Chicago, including Sean Conlon.
“Did I think (Ciardelli) was going to do something fairly exceptional? Yes, I did. He just had that X factor,” Conlon told the Tribune.
Ciardelli ended up building Guaranteed Rate on the three-pronged company value proposition: low overhead and automation helping home buyers to get lower rates; resources and coaching to help real estate partners build their own business; and customized training, technology, and a unique workplace environment to help loan officers close more loans.
The article then details the company’s voluminous use of data to measure everything from loan production to customer satisfaction with their communication during the loan process. The scores are used to not only see what’s working well but to allow Guaranteed Rate to fix problems rapidly.
Next, the feature delves into the unique company culture that Ciardelli has built, noting that Guaranteed Rate’s headquarters in a converted timber loft on Chicago’s north side, which the Tribune says “resembles a tech firm in amenities it offers to employees,” such as an on-site fitness center, furnished roof deck, corporate chef, and nurse practitioner on staff. It also mentions the Guaranteed Rate Foundation, the public charity established by Ciardelli to help provide aid to families in times of unexpected hardship or need. All of these benefits are a major reason why Guaranteed Rate has made the Tribune’s “Top Workplaces” list three of the past four years. The company was also ranked #1 in the recent “Top Mortgage Lenders” issue of Scotsman Guide.
The article closes with an overview of some of the company’s technology innovations, from its award-winning online loan application to its agent-coaching site Gateless, currently used by more than 30,000 real estate agents for peer coaching resources and other tools to help grow their business. Ciardelli’s longstanding goal is for Guaranteed Rate to create the first fully digital mortgage for consumers looking for a streamlined process to buying a new home.
It’s this emphasis on out of the box thinking that has earned Ciardelli the admiration of many real estate and mortgage industry leaders, including Thaddeus Wong, cofounder of @properties, the first real estate brokerage to endorse Guaranteed Rate as a preferred lender in the company’s early years.
“One thing I appreciate about Victor is he’s a nonconformist…” Wong told the Tribune. “I’ve seen him in action where he’s paying attention to ideas. He’s all about the growth, the company, the efficiency.”