Robert Senko is president of both ACC Mortgage, Inc. and Right Opportunity American REIT Corp. Headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, All Credit Considered Mortgage is the oldest non-QM lender in the nation, offering a full array of non-traditional loan products. Specializing solely in non-qualifying mortgages, ACC focuses on the underserved consumers—the self-employed, Jumbo, minorities, and credit-challenged—with products that include bank-statement lending, interest-only, no-income verification investments, second-chance lending, and debt consolidation programs.
During his early career as a marketing and sales professional, Robert witnessed the recession of the early ‘90s through the lens of a businessman with a degree in finance—and one of millions of Americans who began to rethink their futures. A recruiting event that introduced him to life insurance and mortgage products changed his career trajectory and catapulted him from a marketing executive to a commission only loan officer that led to the founder of his first company, Senko Financial Services, at just 26 years old. After selling the thriving firm in 1999, Robert took all the lessons learned from his career—and as a student of that recession years before—to launch a mortgage company that has flourished for 22 years. We sat down the Robert to learn more about ACC and how his firm—and its clients—have prospered through two financial crises and a global pandemic.
ACC has thrived for over two decades while never straying from its mission to focus solely on non-qualifying mortgages. Tell us about this.
ACC was founded on the heels of the Long-Term Capital Management Financial Crisis of 1998, which seized up the capital markets, as a true non-QM lender and we’ve been dedicated to non-traditional lending since the day we opened our doors in 1999. All Credit Considered is our non-QM DNA. We have navigated and thrived through two financial crises—and we never stopped lending during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our motto is “We provide solutions… not just loans.” So, while other lenders were freezing their loans during some of the most challenging times in history—including what we’re enduring now—we were finding solutions for our clients and issuing loans through our non-QM model. We make common-sense loans that other mortgage lenders and banks are passing up, and we’re committed to making loans that benefit the community and the underserved markets.
ACC’s unique non-QM model seems built on not only good business, but on your commitment to helping people. How has your lending philosophy helped to propel ACC to being a market leader and withstand turbulent times?
I’ve always believed that everyone should be able to own a home. There are a lot of people who should have a home, and can afford a mortgage, but they’re unable to get a loan through traditional means because of a variety of factors, such as credit issues or self-employment. They can prove their income and that they have the ability to repay the loan, yet most lenders will turn their nose up at people with unique circumstances that don’t fit their “cookie-cutter” loan-approval checklist. This is why I founded ACC on a non-QM model that focuses on simple “good lending” criteria: ability to repay and willingness to repay; not necessarily their credit score or job status or income. Of course, our loans have to perform for both our investors and our partners, so for us, it’s not about closing a loan, it’s about closing a good loan that benefits everyone. It’s just good business. This is the same philosophy that has allowed us to thrive since 1999.
Many lenders are freezing or reducing loans, or tightening lending restrictions, as the pandemic continues, yet ACC has recently increased its lending capacity above $1 billion. Are you seeing growing consumer demand for your non-QM products right now?
We are seeing tremendous demand from borrowers and investors, and we’re also expanding our abilities to fund real estate loans, both commercial and residential. There’s so much money that’s been pumped into the economy that industries are picking up, more hiring is happening, and we’re looking at explosive growth.
The watershed moment was March 20th, that was the point in time when the markets, banks lines, companies were shutting down when the pandemic first struck. But we saw the landscape—just as we had during the onset of financial crisis in the late nineties and again in 2008, with the global economic crisis. What separated us is that we have a strong balance sheet and institutions committed to buying non-QM. We never stopped lending, even during the dark days of COVID. We didn’t have a lot of exposure that other companies were dealing with. They were fighting for their lives; they were playing defense while we were playing offense. We chose the right trading partners, so we were able to continue to lend, which attracted additional capital partners and displaced non-QM folks because more people wanted to lend non-QM. They were saying, “These guys are lending, they’ve got products, let’s go over there.”
In fact, a recent internal report showed that our performance has outpaced, conventional and FHA products, and we offer attractive yields to our investors, so they have continued to make money. The institutions that we sell to are looking for above-market yields. We create those income-bearing assets for our partners.
One of your founding principles is to help underserved communities. Was this the reason you chose to become a designated CDFI?
It was. In 2015, I wanted to develop more non-traditional mortgage products to serve these markets that general lending institutions were shunning. At the time, the government bond program, through the CDFI, could be used as a financing tool to support non-QM products. While the market has since filled this void, I maintain this certification and still service these markets.
You’ve spent almost three decades in this field. What is the most fulfilling part of your work?
I enjoy finding solutions when other can’t or won’t. There was a short time before I started ACC that I got out of mortgage lending—literally, three weeks. I just couldn’t stay away. I missed making deals. I enjoy the people I work with, and the clients I help. I enjoy the friendships I have made in the industry and with my staff. I enjoy creating a fun and productive culture and an environment where people have success. Some people treat the job as a job, but I just truly enjoy getting up for work every day.
President — ACC Mortgage, Inc & Right Opportunity American REIT Corp