TOP MORTGAGE LENDER IN ILLINOIS RYAN FARHAT
As Regional Senior Vice President of The Federal Savings Bank, top mortgage lender in Illinois Ryan Farhat loves providing life-changing opportunities for his employees. “But the most fulfilling part,” he adds, “is knowing we help hundreds of veterans monthly.”
The bank, operated by retired U.S. Military veterans, does more than 50 percent of its business with veterans. That’s what drew Ryan, whose father was a Vietnam era veteran. “I learned character and integrity from my father,” he says. “Those qualities are the foundation of my business philosophy.” Ryan connected instantly with Steve and John Calk, chairman and vice chairman of the bank, who hold the same philosophy he does. “They advocate entrepreneurship, which allows us to make changes quickly. They give us the autonomy to run the business like we own it.”
Ryan knew early on that his future would be in the financial industry. All through college he interned as a financial planner’s assistant for Smith Barney, which then directed him to the mortgage industry so he could learn to sell. At National City Mortgage, he personally closed 3,000 loans for more than $500 million.
“When the company was acquired by PNC, talk of pay cuts ensued,” he says. “I was envisioning the future. I wanted to work at a company that wouldn’t have pay cuts and would have no ceiling for income. A place that would be a depot for my associates to go once the pay cuts were implemented. I left PNC in 2011 to help build the consumer direct department at The Federal Savings Bank. I have 26 loan officers now, and we’ve built my department to the point that we’re doing $500 million in business this year.”
The secret to Ryan’s success? Hiring the right people: those with a high level of integrity and character. “That’s important in building a rock-solid foundation,” he says. “People who are going to battle in the trenches with you in good times and bad. People who will fight through adversity with you.” Ryan has put together a best-in-class marketing system and sales process, and he expects his team to reciprocate with the right attitude. “Then the stars align,” he says. “We have great camaraderie and collaborate effectively to succeed.”
Because the bank is licensed in all 50 states, Ryan can target the largest possible market, maximizing lead quality and, subsequently, conversions. He utilizes direct marketing campaigns and places a high priority on contacting previous clients once every three to six months—such as when the VA changes its programs—to see if he can be of service. The bank currently ranks 8th in the country for VA refinance transactions (IRRRL, or Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loans) and 14th overall for refinances and purchases. Ryan’s office accounts for about 15 percent of that number.
Helping veterans is his passion. Besides his mortgage work, he supports the USO. “We do Jeans for a Cause on casual Fridays,” he says. “Each banker chips in $5 every week. It adds up to quite a bit.” They do annual functions to support the cause, too.
Of course, this dynamo isn’t all work. He and his wife Carrie and baby son Gavin love to travel. They often vacation on the Gulf side of Florida, where they enjoy the water and playing golf—until it’s back to work. Ryan plans to grow his staff from 26 to approximately 40 people over the next year or so and increase their volume to $1 billion. With his characteristic hard work, vision and timely decision making, Ryan is already on track to meet those goals.