Senate Banking Leaders May Delay GSE Reform Vote

On April 14, National Mortgage News published an article titled Senate Banking Leaders May Delay Vote on GSE Reform.

Senate Banking Leaders May Delay Vote on GSE Reform

Questions are being raised about whether Senate Banking Committee leaders will delay a pending vote on their mortgage finance reform bill as they struggle to secure additional votes.

Chairman Tim Johnson, D-S.D., and Sen. Mike Crapo, the lead Republican, are said to be trying to attract as many as four more votes, bringing the tally up to 16 supporters, but those numbers are proving difficult to come by. The situation has even sparked rumors about whether the original coalition of committee members from both political parties remains intact.

That has led to suggestions that Johnson and Crapo may ultimately push back the vote, scheduled for April 29, by one or two weeks in order to buy more time to bring on additional lawmakers, according to multiple sources close to the process.

“With any of these things, once you put it out there, you try to meet the deadline, but there’s no hard and fast reason why that has to be the day,” said Edward Mills, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets. “Where it stands right now, there’s not a lot of question about whether the bill can pass the committee—it’s the margin. They’re trying to make sure they have some momentum coming out of it.”

A spokesman for the Senate Banking Committee declined to comment for this article.

Johnson and Crapo introduced a bipartisan bill last month that would eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and create a new housing finance system. The legislation drew heavily from a measure put forward by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. and Mark Warner, D-Va., last year, which had already attracted bipartisan support.

But the bill, which would preserve a government guarantee for the mortgage market in the event of catastrophic losses, needs more support from Democrats to have enough momentum to make it to the Senate floor this year ahead of the November elections.

To be sure, the rumor mill is firing on all cylinders ahead of the vote, and the process remains extremely fluid as committee staffers, industry stakeholders and the White House reach out to the remaining uncommitted panel members in an effort to raise the vote tally.

For now, the effort is said to be focused most closely on the six Democrats who have yet to sign on to the legislation: Sens. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Charles Schumer of New York, Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

“The true question is whether a delay would allow Johnson and Crapo to onboard the liberal contingent of the panel,” said Isaac Boltansky, a policy analyst at Compass Point Research & Trading. “There is no doubt that the liberal contingent on the Banking Committee is the most watched group for the ongoing GSE reform effort—they are the ballgame.”

All of the lawmakers who have not signed on to Corker-Warner have largely been keeping their powder dry on the issue ahead of the vote, making it difficult to conclude where any one member is likely to come down. Representatives for the senators did not respond to requests for comment, except for a Menendez spokeswoman, who declined to weigh in.

Warren has been the most vocal on mortgage finance reform over the past several months, repeatedly speaking to concerns about access for low-income and rural families and smaller institutions in a new system. Last month, she also urged Banking Committee leaders not to rush to a committee vote in a speech before housing advocates. Those watching the deliberations continue to suggest she may prove one of the hardest to sell on the legislation, though her vote could be critical for attracting other Democrats onto the bill should the plan eventually make it to the Senate floor.

Still, some have also suggested that having her stay off the bill could ultimately be a boon for the larger effort, because her support could alienate Republicans who might otherwise be convinced to sign on.

“We continue to believe it may be better for the bill if high-profile progressives like Sen. Elizabeth Warren oppose the bill for not doing enough on affordable housing,” Jaret Seiberg, a policy analyst at Guggenheim Securities, wrote in a March 24 analyst note. “It may just be too hard for some Republicans to realize that they can support something that a progressive supports.”

Brown, another staunch liberal, may also be a difficult get for the committee. He made waves during an interview with Bloomberg News last week, predicting the bill “won’t pass this year,” and citing concerns about the complexity of a new system and the potential dominance by big banks.

The crucial challenge facing supporters of the Johnson-Crapo plan remains how to make concessions that bring on additional support from the Democratic holdouts without breaking up the existing coalition of backers, let alone the broad-based support that will be needed on the Senate floor.

“Even if you give liberals everything they want—prohibiting banks of a certain size to act as guarantors, limiting market share and expanding affordable housing—I still think it’s difficult to see the more liberal contingent signing on, and you would undoubtedly lose some of the more moderate and conservative members who backed the original Corker-Warner proposal,” said Boltansky.

Industry groups who have generally been supportive of the process are also beginning to step up their pressure on the committee to make key changes ahead of the scheduled vote. The Independent Community Bankers of America, Credit Union National Association and National Association of Federal Credit Unions penned a letter to the banking panel on Friday, pushing for seven key changes to the bill.

“Restructuring of this system is unchartered and untested and therefore raises numerous questions regarding fees and functionality when applied to the real world marketplace,” the groups said. “We understand some of the specific details of the proposal are still to be established and we hope those changes will satisfy our ongoing concerns and address the uncertainty faced by our member institutions.”

Among the suggestions, the groups ask for the legislation to prohibit aggregators or originators from also serving as guarantors in the new system, a growing concern among several industry groups, and also ban upfront use of capital markets transactions put toward a proposed 10% first-loss capital requirement.

The letter also requests that a new regulator in the system, the Federal Mortgage Insurance Corp., cede safety and soundness authority to existing prudential regulators and suggests certain changes to the governance structure of a small-bank mutual and common securitization platform to be established.

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About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally. Website:



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.