As President of Claims Recovery Financial Services (CRFS), Steven Mowers is responsible for the overall management of the company and reports directly to the Board of Directors. Mowers joined CRFS in 2015 as CFO and was named President in 2017. Mowers has over 25 years of experience as a senior financial leader across several industries including telecommunications, high-tech manufacturing, and healthcare. He graduated with honors with a B.A. degree in accounting from Rochester Institute of Technology and has an MBA in finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business. Mowers has served on the boards of various community organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America.
Mowers recently spoke to DS News about CRFS’ recent challenges and successes, as well as how the company works to build a diverse and inclusive culture.
What were the most difficult headwinds you faced over the past year, and how did you work to overcome them?
Mowers: Two of the more significant challenges were default and foreclosure claim volume constraints caused by the mortgage forbearance and foreclosure rules, and the 100% remote staffing requirements. To address the remote staffing challenge, we quickly scaled-up and launched a technology-driven operational model that allowed individual users to quickly resume their day-to-day activities from their home offices. We also partnered with our Managed Services provider to significantly increase our server bandwidth to support the unique requirements of a geographically diverse workforce while ensuring system reliability and security were not sacrificed.
To counter the reduction in our normal claim volumes, we developed and rolled out new products that in many cases were a direct result of the forbearance and foreclosure rules. One example is the FHA Emergency Loss Mitigation claim. Over a period of five weeks, CRFS invested in technology upgrades, including integration with the FHA Catalyst system, and built out our workforce to greatly expand our loss mitigation processing capacity. In total, we expanded our processing and QC operations to handle more than 10,000 monthly Emergency Loss Mitigation claims, representing a tenfold increase in capacity. During 2021, we launched an equivalent product in support of FNMA Deferment claims, and by the end of the year, we’d successfully filed almost 15,000 of these claims for our clients.
What are your top priorities as a company for 2022? How are you mobilizing to achieve them?
Mowers: One of our top priorities is continuing to operate an inclusive company where talented, motivated professionals choose to work. Building on existing initiatives like our Talent Planning program and the analytics-based Compensation Model will ensure that we continue to offer meaningful advancement opportunities for our teammates.
Another strategic imperative is ensuring that CRFS continues to meet the emerging needs of our clients and partners as the mortgage industry evolves. To that end, CRFS recently hired a new Director of Information Technology to partner with the Director of Innovation we added in 2020 to help steer the company through the process of continuous improvement. Working closely with the technology, operations, and product management teams, these individuals will help ensure that CRFS continues to deliver best-in-class products and services.
Things to keep an eye out for in the coming weeks and months include the web-based CRFS Client Console, which will greatly enhance the way our clients digitally interact with us and an improved version of our Accelerated Asset Disposition tool that helps our clients determine the best path for disposition and resolution of their default inventory to avoid unnecessary losses, maximize recoveries, and reduce holding costs.
How do you manage changes in workload volume and staffing bandwidth?
Mowers: CRFS has and will continue to actively manage its workforce configuration to meet the changing needs of our clients. Utilizing internal tools like flex staffing and cross-training ensures that we have the right number of people supporting the right projects, based directly upon feedback and direction provided by our client partners. Similarly, building on the successful adoption of the remote work environment, our staff has collectively grown increasingly comfortable managing change and have truly become an agile workforce. Additionally, leveraging innovative external programs like New York State Workshare and the federal Employee Retention Credit program allowed us to take advantage of government programs designed to sustain companies during the most challenging periods of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lastly, maintaining a commitment to continuous improvement, technological innovation, and product development will ensure that CRFS offers the value-add products and services that the industry demands and that our employees are uniquely qualified to deliver.
How do you nurture a commitment to diversity and inclusion within the company?
Mowers: As a company co-founded in 2002 by a talented and motivated woman, CRFS recognizes the critical role DE&I plays in any organization. Our Talent Planning program fosters an aspirational, results-oriented environment focused on aligning the needs of the company with the skills and career goals of our teammates. Furthermore, our remote staffing model allows us to draw talent from many areas around the country, including cities large and small.
We also encourage our employees to be active members of the communities in which they live and work, and we fully support and facilitate participation in local volunteer opportunities, including the United Way Day of Caring. Lastly, in 2022, we rolled-out a formal Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Program that features training for our staff and provides key benchmarking data the company can use to help deliver on the program’s objectives.