A Conversation with SimpleNexus President Cathleen Schreiner Gates

Last week SimpleNexus, Lehi, Utah, named Cathleen Schreiner Gates as its new President, responsible for all operations and business strategy. MBA NewsLink talked with her about her new role and the state of the mortgage industry.

Schreiner Gates is a 40-year veteran of the mortgage and technology industries. She joined the SimpleNexus Board of Directors in March after spending seven years with Ellie Mae, Pleasanton, Calif., as Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Senior Vice President of Sales and Client Services. She has an MBA from Rutgers University.

MBA NEWSLINK: Word was that you were headed for retirement last year. What about the SimpleNexus opportunity changed your mind?

Schreiner Gates

CATHLEEN SCHREINER GATES: Retirement was very much on my mind when I stepped down from Ellie Mae in 2019. Then I joined the SimpleNexus board and grew to love the people, the culture and the vision. By the time I was asked to consider stepping into the role of president, the pandemic had sidelined my retirement travel plans, so the timing was right — and it would have been a difficult opportunity to pass up no matter the circumstances.

I’ve been in the mortgage industry for the past eight years and in the SaaS world for my entire career. The common thread has been working with companies that solve business problems through technology. For decades, the mortgage industry has been criticized for lagging behind other sectors. Now, after years of hard-won, incremental process improvements, companies like SimpleNexus are finally moving us closer to delivering the kind of borrower experience consumers have come to expect. It’s exciting.

NEWSLINK: Ellie Mae went through a major growth spurt during your tenure there, including six consecutive years on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 and culminating in a multi-billion-dollar purchase by Thoma Bravo. Do you see a path to that kind of growth for POS platforms?

SCHREINER GATES: There’s no question SimpleNexus is on a growth trajectory. It’s been one of the fastest-growing companies in North America for a few years running. But to reach the next level takes more than just having a great product at the right time. That’s the work I’m passionate about; scaling companies is what I do.

NEWSLINK: You’ve been involved in the MBA’s mPower program in the past. Will creating more leadership opportunities for women be a focus of yours at SimpleNexus?

SCHREINER GATES: I’ve been involved with both mPact and EMerge, the Women in Leadership program at Ellie Mae. The bottom line is that companies are more successful when their people bring a diversity of ideas and experiences to the table, so I do hope to help bring that into focus at SimpleNexus. I’m especially passionate about mentoring women who are making the leap from mid-level roles into leadership positions.

NEWSLINK: 2020 has been an unusual year, to say the least. How has this shaped the conversations you’re having with mortgage executives?

SCHREINER GATES: I’m not a mortgage prognosticator – I leave that to people who have worked in this industry through several economic cycles. But no matter what line of work you’re in, you’ve got to be where your customers are. The Millennial cohort is the largest population of potential homebuyers the world has ever seen, and they aren’t going to buy the way their parents and grandparents did. They are digital natives, and if you don’t understand the way they evaluate their options, you’re going to miss out.

The pandemic has forced both individuals and organizations to adopt technologies sooner than they otherwise might have. Now lenders are looking at what’s next and wondering how to stay one step ahead of the competition. One area that’s getting a lot of attention right now is virtualization of the closing function. It’s crazy to think that lenders are doing the whole mortgage transaction at arm’s length, but then still meeting at a physical closing table to wet-sign a bunch of documents. So that’s the next area of disruption and innovation that’s happening right now.

NEWSLINK: What do you hope to accomplish in your first 100 days in the new role?

SCHREINER GATES: I was always impressed that SimpleNexus had such rabid fans, so we have this wonderful platform to leverage. Therefore, we are intensely focused on ensuring that all lenders and partners understand all we can do to streamline their processes and lower their operational costs. Because we are launching new products and features at such a fast pace, it is all about sharing with wider audiences how our user community experiences our brand.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at msorohan@mba.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at mtucker@mba.org.)Read previous articleRead next article