I was 29 years old, working at a now closed regional bank, feeling lost and unappreciated in my work life. The economy was lousy and jobs hard to find. My responsibilities were to help borrowers who had been given bad mortgages that had resulted in a bankruptcy or foreclosure. I found that most of the lending decisions made by the bank were so poor that I was embarrassed to represent my employer.
In November 1995, a manager from my first job out of college, Ed Rizor called me. After catching up, he asked me a life changing question. “You know when I left the company, I moved to Ohio and opened a mortgage company. Well it’s working out and I want to open an office in PA. I know I can trust you with my license and my clients. Would you join me and the other four employees in February?”. It took me several weeks to say yes. I had only ever worked for a large corporation in the two other jobs I had held. It was a difficult decision at the time but who would have known how it changed the course of my life and the lives of my clients.
Over the years I have had many discussions with our President concerning the weight I feel helping clients with their borrowing decisions. I feel the need to be perfect in my analysis and recommendations. There have been countless times I have discouraged clients from borrowing. The most memorable came in 2009 during the historical low interest rates. A young man contacted me through a referral from Dave Ramsey and applied for a loan. After my analysis, I recommended he not refinance and instead outlined how to achieve his savings without a new loan. For several days he called trying to convince me I was wrong, he became angry saying I just didn’t want to help him. Soon after that call, I was contacted by the team at Dave Ramsey’s offices. They wanted to know why I wouldn’t help this client, stating “He is the brother of one of Dave’s employees and we want to be sure you’re helping everyone”. After getting the authorization to discuss his file with his sister who worked for Dave Ramsey, she told me “You’re right and thank you for not taking advantage of him”. I love this story because I had no idea who the client was, I treated him like all others, with respect and the heart of a teacher.
As I write this and reflect on the past years, it’s clear to me that my approach to my responsibilities to clients and lending have been on the correct path. I have received calls, texts, and emails from clients’ children who tell me “I’m buying a home and my parents insisted that I call you because they trust you and I can too”. In another call I was told “Mike, the last time we spoke five years ago, you told me to call when I was one year away from retirement. I am now and would like to discuss how I can retire on a fixed income and organize any debt I still have”. Lastly, I received a call from a widow shortly after the death of her husband and she said that he trusted me. She had decisions to make but was struggling with them so she said “I am calling you for help”. These are only a sampling of twenty-five years of calls that have given me affirmation that I am exactly where I need to be in my work life.
The decision I made in 1995 has impacted many lives over the past 25 years. The lending culture of Equity Resources is based on the foundational beliefs of our founder and President Ed Rizor, to improve the lives of families. Honestly, the life most impacted has been mine. Throughout this experience I have had the opportunity to build not only business relationships, but friendships with all of you, and I feel greatly appreciated and found. Thank you!
NMLS 1579, 78206
102 Broadway St, Ste 101 * Carnegie, PA 15106
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102 Broadway Street Suite 101 Carnegie, PA 15106
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