CONVERGENCE Partner Profile: Meghan Bartholomew of Radian

(One in a recurring series about MBA CONVERGENCE, the Mortgage Bankers Association’s affordable housing initiative.)

Meghan Bartholomew is Executive Vice President of Credit and Counterparty Risk Management with Radian, Philadelphia. She discussed Radian’s work with the CONVERGENCE initiative, a place-based partnership focused on narrowing the racial homeownership gap.

MBA NEWSLINK: Why is CONVERGENCE important to you, and what is your role in it?

Meghan Bartholomew

MEGHAN BARTHOLOMEW: At Radian, our mission is to responsibly expand equitable access to homeownership that is affordable and sustainable, and we are delighted to partner with the MBA as a Cornerstone Partner for CONVERGENCE Philadelphia to work with community and industry stakeholders to identify and address homeownership barriers for people and communities of color.

We believe there has never been a time that access to affordable and sustainable homeownership has been more important in our country, as we work together to support racial and economic equality and the very important role affordable homeownership plays in building wealth creation within diverse communities. Addressing the racial homeownership gap will take efforts by stakeholders across the housing and housing finance space. With its collaborative, multi-stakeholder approach, CONVERGENCE provides us with an opportunity to partner with a wider group of stakeholders and enables us to have greater and more immediate impact in Philadelphia, the metro area that we have called home for more than 45 years.

As a private mortgage insurer, we help low- and moderate-income borrowers who are not able to make a down payment of 20 percent to qualify for a conventional government sponsored enterprise loan. In this important role, we offer a pathway for borrowers to obtain GSE loans, and therefore, greater optionality with respect to lenders that they may choose among, rather than being limited to the Federal Housing Administration-approved lenders.

In our view, optionality is a key component of affordability and accessibility. In addition, our underwriting expertise allows us to serve as an important “second set of eyes” on credit risks, to ensure that borrowers who are ready to take the important step into homeownership are able to do so sustainably.

In 2021, nearly two million homeowners qualified to purchase or refinance their home thanks to private mortgage insurance. Of these homeowners, nearly 60 percent were first-time homebuyers, and more than 40 percent had incomes below $75,000.

In addition, we have grown our mortgage credit risk expertise into a full-service mortgage and real estate services powerhouse offering a comprehensive suite of mortgage, risk, title, valuation, asset management and other real estate services that can help move the needle on affordable homeownership. Through a series of planning meetings and numerous information gathering sessions, we have worked closely with MBA and the other Cornerstone Partners in preparation for the launch of this initiative, making recommendations on workstreams and engaging with various community leaders and organizations focused on housing issues in Philadelphia.

NEWSLINK: What has been your most meaningful accomplishment or experience since working with CONVERGENCE?

BARTHOLOMEW: The honor and pleasure of working with CONVERGENCE alone is a meaningful experience. It has been fascinating and slightly daunting to learn about the many obstacles that contribute to today’s affordable and equitable housing challenges. At the same time, it has been encouraging to learn about the many people and organizations, with expert knowledge and strong commitments to housing, who are driving numerous efforts and programs to tackle these challenges. 

For me, it’s been exciting to understand and begin to connect Philadelphia housing challenges and opportunities with Radian’s core expertise and comprehensive suite of mortgage, risk, title, valuation, asset management and other real estate services. We have a strong commitment from executive management to make a positive impact on affordable housing, and we have employees with relevant experience raising their hands to be part of the solutions. We feel extremely well positioned to make a positive impact.

I would be remiss if I didn’t add that we also recognize that there are many challenges where the solution is outside of our purview, and we have found that MBA’s multi-stakeholder approach allows us to connect with the important partners whose expertise, tools and resources are complementary and can help find solutions to the issues we face.

NEWSLINK: WhatCONVERGENCE initiative or project are you most excited about for the future?

BARTHOLOMEW: MBA’s focus on building a sustainable program that can be repeated in other cities is very exciting to me. As a mortgage industry professional who has spent more than a decade focused on credit risk, this long-term commitment is critical, and our focus on risk management will help ensure that the solutions are never a temporary offering and instead, support minority borrowers through the cycle.

In 2021, Freddie Mac did a study that estimated that there are approximately 18 million minority consumers who are mortgage-ready consumers who fit today’s credit box.  For some of this large population, there are obstacles that are preventing homeownership that are not related to credit risk. Also, there are opportunities to use additional data to identify consumers that can fit in the current credit box, but who cannot qualify under today’s traditional underwriting methods. We are seeing examples of this already with the use of rental payment data and consideration of residual income. 

Supporting minority homeownership also means end to end support, which means that our risk management activities do not stop when the loan is originated. There is an important focus on post-purchase housing counseling, access to loss mitigation, and support for home repairs. Minority homeowners may be disproportionately impacted by unemployment or damage to the property due to natural disasters. 

As an industry, we must find responsible ways to ensure that borrowers have support through short-term hardships.

NEWSLINK: Whatelse would you share with MBA members who want to learn more about CONVERGENCE?

BARTHOLOMEW: MBA has been extremely welcoming and inclusive in terms of involving members and other partners in conversations, workstreams and CONVERGENCE activities. As highlighted above, CONVERGENCE provides Radian this excellent opportunity to take our set of capabilities and partner with many others who have their own learnings and skills to bring to the discussion. These issues are impossible to solve alone, and MBA, through CONVERGENCE, brings the industry participants together and makes that important connection to community leaders, non-profits, and local government. For MBA members who are working on their own affordable and equitable housing initiatives or are trying to better understand how best to make an impact, MBA offers many great ways to get involved and learn more.


CONVERGENCE is driving collective action with lenders, other industry participants and government partners to facilitate new solutions to our nation’s rental and housing affordability challenges. By using a cohesive approach, CONVERGENCE promotes more sustainable, affordable homes for purchase and rental for underserved people and communities, especially minorities and low-to-moderate-income Americans.

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