Countrywide's Hustle Program Only Sounded Bad

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From the name on down to the "On-Fire February" contests to fund the most loans during the shortest month, maybe the Cadillac of mortgage lenders could have done a better job of branding. And it was all in good fun, Rebecca Mairone assures, and at no time were they just handing out mortgages willy-nilly.

Under questioning from her own attorney, Mairone said the contests were a motivational tool intended to "make it more fun."

"It was certainly not something that got in the way of controls," she said.

Ms. Mairone said Tuesday the reason for creating Hustle was to make the process more efficient and improve customer service. Before Hustle, she said, borrowers with solid credit scores were forced to go through a lengthy process of handoffs and had no personal point of contact on their loans.

"From a customer perspective, I thought it was a very important design," she said of Hustle. Ms. Mairone added that she thought limiting the number of people who processed loans would improve quality by giving loan specialists a sense of ownership over a file.

Ms. Mairone also defended her decision to use the automated program, which she said was capable of making sophisticated mathematical calculations about risk that a human couldn't replicate.

U.S. prosecutors grill ex-Countrywide exec in BofA mortgage trial [Reuters]
Ex-Countrywide Executive Rebecca Mairone Defends 'Hustle' Mortgage Program [WSJ]

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