‘Collaboration and Trust:’ Seth Appleton on the Future of MISMO

Seth Appleton joins MISMO in December as its new President, responsible for the mortgage industry standard organization’s overall strategy and direction.

Seth Appleton

Appleton comes to MISMO highly regarded, with nearly 20 years of service in the government sector. He most recently served as Assistant Secretary of Policy Development and Research with HUD and as Principal Executive Vice President of Ginnie Mae, where he oversaw the agency’s fiscal year 2020 mortgage-backed securities issuance soar to a record $748 billion, helping more than 2.8 million families secure affordable homeownership and rental housing.

Appleton joined HUD in 2017 and added his Ginnie Mae position in 2019. He previously served as the Chief of Staff for Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-Mo., and in legislative positions with Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo. He is a graduate of Stanford University.

“Seth’s considerable experience in senior leadership roles at HUD will serve MISMO well as it enters an exciting new phase of its standards development work,” said Bob Broeksmit, CMB, President and CEO of MBA (of which MISMO is a wholly owned subsidiary). “MISMO is helping lead our industry into the digital future, and Seth’s background meeting the competing needs of various stakeholders aligns well with the goals of the organization as it grows and increases its contributions to our industry.”

Appleton recently sat down (virtually, of course) with MBA NewsLink to discuss the future of mortgage technology/digital transformation and his vision for MISMO.

MBA NEWSLINK: What drew you to MISMO during this time of digital transformation in the mortgage industry?

SETH APPLETON: I was drawn to MISMO because I spent 16 years in the government and saw the importance of technology in improving efficiencies. Throughout my career MBA has been a leader in the industry; it has credibility and has done an excellent job of bringing stakeholders together to solve complex challenges.

Digital transformation is a huge challenge and this is something that I am very interested in. I jumped at the opportunity to join MISMO; it’s been the leader in the housing technology ecosystem.

NEWSLINK: What is your vision for MISMO heading into 2021?

APPLETON: We are at an inflection point in mortgage banking, as more lenders are moving to a fully digital mortgage, including eNotes. Widespread collaboration and adoption are essential. We want to leverage MISMO so that collaboration and adoption continues to take place and that stakeholders across the industry are pleased with—and derive benefit from—the standards we develop.

NEWSLINK: MISMO’s new Innovation Investment Fee will allow it to deliver digital initiative for the mortgage industry. Why is it so important for the industry to invest in standards that will help it do business more efficiently?

APPLETON: As the importance of digital transformation has emerged across the industry, the industry has stepped up with this fee to help MISMO create standards to address business challenges. MISMO will continue to collaborate with and provide value to the industry— in developing standards operations for the industry; in making sure the standards make sense and work; and in promoting adoption throughout the industry. MISMO is well-positioned to perform this role. We can use the infrastructure that MISMO has already established to bring more projects to completion.

NEWSLINK: What opportunities do you see for standards adoption within the mortgage industry?

APPLETON: There is tremendous opportunity in going fully digital for mortgages. Ultimately, industry participants are going to need to be engaged; they will inform us of new opportunities and help us meet those challenges. Remote Online Notarization is a good example of this–the pandemic showed us how critical it was for the market, and the market responded very quickly.

NEWSLINK: You played an integral role in the two-year effort to get Ginnie Mae to implement All-Participants Memorandum 20-10 to accept electronic promissory notes and other digitized loan files as collateral for Ginnie Mae securities. What are your takeaways from that effort?

APPLETON: Like a lot of significant policy measures, this was a team effort and had been underway for a number of years. But we put it at the top of the priority list as a result of the pandemic. We were able to accelerate and launch this because it was the product of an intensive collaborative process, working with stakeholders. That collaboration enabled it to be successful .

Collaboration is important not only within the industry, but between the industry and government in particular. It’s critical that industry agree on standards and adopt them on a widespread basis. But government participants need to grow in the same direction.

NEWSLINK: How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you see that playing out at MISMO?

APPLETON: I grew up in Missouri, the “Show Me” state. So, I am results-oriented. Collaboration and trust are the core of my style. I will be focused on bringing stakeholders together, communicating with them on a regular basis; and working with MISMO staff support the collaborative process.

For more information about MISMO, click www.mismo.org.