Paul Katz
Managing Director and Head of Bank Relations, Promontory MortgagePath
Age: 60
Industry experience: 35 years 

When Paul Katz joined Promontory MortgagePath three years ago, he wanted to help the Connecticut-based company expand its digital mortgage services with community banks, credit unions and community lenders. Katz had spent most of his career working with community banks at trade associations, including 18 years at the American Bankers Association. Promontory MortgagePath, a member of the Massachusetts Bankers Association, was founded in 2015 by Eugene “Gene” Ludwig, comptroller of the currency during the Clinton administration. Katz said the company provides an end-to-end mortgage solution that helps lenders deal with market fluctuations and other industry changes while giving them the technology to remain competitive. 

Katz is now leading an initiative at Promontory MortgagePath to support community development financial institutions and minority depository institutions in their efforts to expand homeownership in underserved communities. Two banks – Washington, D.C.-based Industrial Bank, the oldest Black-owned commercial bank in the Mid-Atlantic region, and South Carolina-based Optus Bank – have joined the program. 

Q: How did the initiative to work with CDFIs and MDIs come about? 
A: One of Gene’s other companies, Promontory Interfinancial Network [now IntraFi], had a strategic partnership with the Community Development Bankers Association, the CDBA. We similarly approached CDBA and really wanted to talk about a strategic partnership ourselves as a way of leveraging two great brands. More importantly, we wanted to put ourselves on their radar screen given the mission-focus of their membership – the community development financial institutions – and find a way to bring a solution that would enable their members to not only compete but to win in the mortgage space and do all the great things that expanding and building mortgage does for a community lender.  

The other thing I would say is more cultural – which is our founder Gene Ludwig’s passion and commitment for helping banks serve the underserved and really expand the reach into the communities and financial inclusion.  

Q: Coming from the trade associations, had you been thinking about these topics?
A: Early in my career, I had the opportunity to play a role in developing a housing opportunities foundation, which was essentially an opportunity to disseminate and aggregate best practices and information for the membership of the trade association I was working for. And I had a very brief stint at Fannie Mae. So, the notion of homeownership and leveraging the brand that community lenders have and really increasing all the things that go with homeownership have always been intriguing to me. I think the thing that attracted me to come over to Promontory MortgagePath was Gene’s track record and his desire to really help drive home his solutions to the broadest possible network of borrowers. Don’t misunderstand me – we’re in the business to make money. But what truly drives us is making a difference.  

Q: What is involved with the initiative?
A: At its core, we’re really trying to expand our reach in the CDFI and the MDI markets and to do so in a way that turbocharges their ability to serve their mission, which includes building long-term wealth and increasing and expanding homeownership. Certainly, there are other key areas that they’re looking to grow. Probably top of mind is job creation and job preservation through the PPP and things like that, and I certainly tip my hat to the industry for the extraordinary work they’ve done there.  

At the same time, we really see homeownership as a cornerstone product for them. And when you look at their markets – some are very rural, some are more urban-centered – in a lot of ways, they’re like any other community bank or credit union in the sense that they struggle with scalability, leveraging technology and talent management. On a very practical level, it’s deepening our reach so they can better serve their communities and better meet their mission.  

Q:  What are some features of the program?
A: One is there’s exclusive and aggressive pricing to make the barrier to entry that much smaller. We’re also looking at creatively and opportunistically driving joint marketing opportunities, where we would work with each other in order to help expand awareness and utilization of the solution that they’re offering in the mortgage space to the fullest extent.  

One thing that struck me in my career banking is – and candidly I don’t have much experience in other industries – I’ve always been humbled by the willingness to share best practices and ideas across the entire industry. That, too, is in the back of our minds and perhaps even at the forefront of this partnership in the sense that as we build with a core base of CDFIs or MDIs, word will get out quickly. I think they’ll see opportunities to collectively learn what we have from our first couple of clients. That will make us better and smarter, but it will also make our clients better and smarter.  

Q: What are some of the specific goals for the program? 
A: It’s really essentially enabling our partners to deliver on their mission, and the mission obviously being in this case expanding homeownership and creating wealth opportunities. But doing so in such a way that we can maximize our impact in terms of profitability, compliance, efficiency and things like that. In some ways, we’re just like any other key partner that they might have. We just happen to be in a space that we think can have a really profound impact on their communities and on the borrower and on the institution.  

When you look at some of the studies that are out there relative to the impact of homeownership and the ancillary benefits that brings, we just feel that we’re really in a unique position to help our partners in a meaningful and impactful way. So, we don’t have a specific growth target at this point. I think we really just wanted to jump in the pool here and get some really key early partners, and I think we certainly have that in Industrial and Optus. Both banks have a real rich legacy and tradition of serving their communities when you look at the track record that they each bring to their market, so we’re certainly excited about that and then we’re eager to build on that.   

Katz’s First Five Concerts: 

  1. Elton John 
  2. Billy Joel 
  3. Bruce Springsteen 
  4. Fleetwood Mac 
  5. Electric Light Orchestra 

Helping MDIs and CDFIs Build Homeownership

by Diane McLaughlin time to read: 4 min