LoanDepot has created a digital-first business unit, mello, in a major operational shift, separating it from lending operations as it attempts to develop services aimed at building life-long customers.

The Foothill Ranch, California-based lender and servicer tapped finance and banking leader Zeenat Sidi as mello’s president and chief operations officer to lead the creation of new digital secured and unsecured lending products. Mello will operate as a complementary business to loanDepot’s lending and servicing, with both units reporting to CEO Anthony Hsieh.

Under Sidi’s leadership, the mello division will also house loanDepot’s other mortgage-related businesses, including mellohome Real Estate Services, melloinsurance and mello title and escrow services (CUSA, ACT). The company will move its customer contact center and performance marketing engine to the mello unit as well.

“Customers want bundled options and appreciate complementary homeownership products and services being readily available from one source,” Hsieh said in a press release.

Home equity levels are at a record $25 trillion right now, which provides many homeowners a unique opportunity to access that equity to invest in their homes as they consider remodeling or renovating, or to consolidate their debt and lower their monthly payments in a rising rate and inflationary environment,” he added.

Zeenat Sidi

Hand-out/loanDepot, Inc.

In a press release, Sidi said she looked forward to helping “shape the trajectory of the home loans industry” at loanDepot. She comes to the company from financial services company SoFi Technologies, which she joined in 2018 to lead its home lending business. Sidi later became executive vice president and group business head of lending and then served as head of enterprise lending and data at Galileo Financial Technologies, following its acquisition by SoFi in 2020. Prior to her tenure at SoFi, Side held leadership roles at Capital One and RBC.

The move comes after loanDepot reported that its originations slipped in the final quarter of 2021, with gain-on-sale margins also narrowing. In the face of a forecasted decline in deal volume across the industry, the creation of mello allows the company to more easily focus on building out its in-house servicing platform to fuel growth, the company said. Other mortgage lenders, such as Finance of America, also recently made changes aimed at expanding their suite of products to retain customers.

The Mortgage Bankers Association recently forecasted originations to decrease by over one-third from 2021’s volume of $3.99 trillion last year.

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