Kevin Peranio of AXIS Lending Academy: And The American Dream for All
Kevin Peranio is a director of AXIS Lending Academy. He is also the chief lending officer for PRMG, one of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, where he oversees all loan production. His two-decade mortgage career includes leadership roles at North Star Lending and First Magnus Financial. Before that, he spent two years with Dell Computer.
This is part 3 in a four-part series, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Mortgage Industry. In addition to a closing piece written by AXIS Chair Paul Gigliotti, the series includes pieces authored by AXIS directors Kevin Peranio, Brian Vieaux and Sue Woodard.
MBA NEWSLINK: In your own life, what has been your experience with diversity, equity and inclusion?
KEVIN PERANIO, AXIS Lending Academy: My parents came from very small towns in Louisiana and did not grow up with money, which, of course, placed them in very diverse neighborhoods. The ability to get along with people from different backgrounds and create an inclusive community was passed on to me by my parents. In my professional career in the housing industry, where fair lending and equal opportunity is not only a requirement but a tremendous benefit to all communities, fostering diversity, equity and inclusion just came naturally to me.
NEWSLINK: What has been your experience in the mortgage industry when it comes to DEI?
PERANIO: I began in sales, so I learned to communicate with everyone. Most sales professionals have a colorblind profit motive; the nature of sales inherently promotes inclusion. As I grew into management and then into executive leadership, I’ve really been fortunate to work with thousands of colleagues from very diverse backgrounds, where I saw first-hand the benefits of a having a team with different values and ideas.
NEWSLINK: What is the benefit to the industry of being more diverse, equitable and inclusive?
PERANIO: Our goal is to sell mortgages, but our industry also exists to teach financial literacy and foster the American dream—not just for some people, but for everybody. This means we must reflect the communities we serve, many of which are extremely diverse and use many different communication styles. This in turn promotes diverse ideas. Anyone that cares about building up other people understands the benefit of having diversity of thought. It also creates good feelings. There’s nothing more positive about our human nature than being inclusive.
NEWSLINK: In what areas does the industry get DEI right?
PERANIO: Our industry does a good job of embracing diverse communication styles. Consumers naturally gravitate to industry professionals who they can relate to. As the American melting pot continues to grow more diverse, our industry continues to more accurately reflect society. Bur more work can and should be done.
NEWSLINK: What DEI improvements are needed in the industry?
PERANIO: Our industry needs to be more intentional about being inclusive in both our thoughts and actions. This creates equity in opportunity, which then allows our industry to genuinely reflect the diverse nature of our culture. It truly just starts with these intentional thoughts.
NEWSLINK: At your own company, what is being done to improve DEI?
PERANIO: We’ve done quite a bit. Three years ago, PRMG created our Women’s Advisory Council, which gives a voice and platform to women professionals who may need guidance. We likely have the most women in senior management than any other company in the industry. We’ve also had multicultural executives and we participate in many of the industry’s leading trade groups that promote, diversity equity and inclusion.
Our founder is of Colombian descent, which has opened up our outreach into Latino communities. In addition, we intentionally focus on underserved borrowers by providing a broad product mix, which has expanded homeownership to those who otherwise wouldn’t have that opportunity.
NEWSLINK: What steps would you like to see individual home lenders and service providers take in order to enhance DEI?
PERANIO: I’d like to see more company owners C-level leaders be intentional about diversity, equity, and inclusion. Nothing would be more valuable than starting at the top. When company stakeholders openly talk about these initiatives, it instinctively becomes a regular part of that company’s actions.
NEWSLINK: What motivated you to join the AXIS Lending Academy board and contribute your time and resources?
PERANIO: I was really motivated by AXIS Lending Academy’s founder, Paul Gigliotti, who has lived a life both within the industry and personally that embodies the DEI movement. His passion to create a unique education platform and employment program with an intentional focus on improving industry diversity, equity and inclusion is so special, it inspires everyone around him. Diversity is something I’ve worked on for many years, and Paul was a driving force behind my decision to take things a step further.
(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 firstname.lastname@example.org; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at email@example.com.)