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Wednesday, 10/14/2020 5:52:31 PM

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 5:52:31 PM

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Mortgage giant Fannie Mae is shaking up leadership in its largest business, with 2 top execs leaving

Rebecca Ungarino, Alex Morrell, and Sean Czarnecki 5 hours ago

Business Insider has learned of big changes inside Fannie Mae. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

*Fannie Mae, the US government-controlled mortgage giant, is shuffling leadership within its largest business line and reorganized the reporting structure there, Business Insider has learned.

*Andrew Bon Salle, a 28-year company veteran who heads up the single-family business and is one of Fannie Mae's most senior leaders, is leaving at the end of the year, an internal memo showed.

*Jeffrey Walker, chief strategy officer of the single-family office business, is leaving this month, according to an earlier, separate memo that also outlined sweeping changes to teams' reporting lines.

*The changes inside Fannie Mae, which has become a political football since it was bailed out and taken over by the government during the great financial crisis, come just weeks before the US presidential election.

US government-controlled Fannie Mae, a key player in the country's massive mortgage market, is shuffling leadership in its largest business line and has reorganized the reporting structure there, according to recent internal memos seen by Business Insider.

Andrew Bon Salle, a 28-year company veteran who heads up the mortgage giant's single-family business and is one of Fannie Mae's most senior leaders, is leaving at the end of the year, a memo sent to employees on Oct. 13 showed.

In a separate memo sent earlier this month, Jeffrey Walker, chief strategy officer of the single-family office business, said he was retiring from the company after "several months" of prepping for his exit. His LinkedIn profile lists October as the end of his tenure with Fannie Mae.

"Andrew will work with company management to ensure a smooth transition focused on delivering for customers and homeowners during this extraordinary time and ensuring continued safety and soundness," a spokesperson for Fannie Mae said.

The changes inside Fannie Mae, which the government took over during the great financial crisis and has become a political football, come just weeks before the US presidential election that could usher in changes for the organization.


The Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, respectively, buy or guarantee trillions in home loans originated by banks and other mortgage companies to encourage lending to moderate- and low-income households and spur market liquidity.

The organizations nearly collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis and received a nearly $200 billion bailout. They've been in government conservatorship ever since and have for years sought to return to private ownership.

Through its two primary business lines, single- and multi-family, Fannie Mae provided more than $650 billion in liquidity to the mortgage market last year, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Net income from the single-family business dropped 14% in 2019 from the year prior.

freddie mac fannie mae forbearance rule
Edwin Remsberg/Getty Images

Fannie and Freddie, regulated by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, guarantee about half of the nation's $11 trillion mortgage market.

President Donald Trump's administration has outlined plans to free the mortgage giants from government control. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn't proposed a concrete plan, but the return to private ownership would likely be delayed, especially amid more pressing concerns, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, according to Cowen Washington Research Group.

Further complicating an exit plan, Biden would have the ability to appoint a new director, thanks to a June Supreme Court decision.

"If Biden wins, he'll appoint a new director, and then it will be up to Congress to figure out what to do," Stephen Myrow, managing partner of Beacon Policy Advisors, told HousingWire in September.

In August, the White House and industry groups took issue with a new fee that the two entities looked to impose on some mortgages in the ultra-low interest rate environment, the Wall Street Journal reported.


Walker joined the company in 2016 from SunTrust Mortgage with the marching orders from Bon Salle to transform the organization into one that was far friendlier to the mortgage lenders its works with.

In the memo to staff announcing his retirement, Walker wrote that prior to 2016, "Fannie Mae's customer engagement model could be fairly described as 'when Fannie says jump, lenders ask 'how high?'"

In light of the pandemic and social unrest this summer spurred by the death of George Floyd, Walker said, he needed to shift his focus to "reflecting and acting upon what I could do to be a more active agent of social change."

"I've spent the last several months preparing for my exit, and, more importantly, ensuring that each of you are positioned for continued success," Walker wrote in the memo, before outlining sweeping changes to teams' reporting lines within the single-family business.

The strategy and insights team, which Fannie Mae created three years ago as a type of in-house consultancy to create fresh strategies and market research as the firm navigates its future, is reporting to Bon Salle until he leaves.

Other changes included shifting units within the single-family business line — customer strategic insights, community lending and engagement, customer care and solutions, and single-family business solutions — to report into Chief Customer Officer Desmond Smith.

Additionally, the strategy, insights, and business enablement team will now report to Sharon Parsons, president of the single-family front office business.