Daniel Macy – Lower
Purchasing a home unleashes an avalanche of confusing data, but Lower, a financial technology lender, is looking to unbury homebuyers with the five, large brightly colored blocks on its website. Each provides visitors with a quick overview of essential information, such as today’s 15-year mortgage and annual percentage rates.
Clicking the violet box will connect consumers with one of over 1,500 real estate agents, while clicking the dark purple box pulls up customized home insurance quotes. Lower’s site also allows consumers to compare its mortgage and refinancing rates with the rates of competitors.
“The fintech owes much of its success to our incredible information technology and programming department,” says Daniel Macy, executive vice president and general counsel of Lower since August 2015. Macy also has a personal interest in his role and the company’s success—he’s known Lower’s owner and most of its executive officers for nearly two decades.
“I’ve been in the mortgage industry since 1994, and at Lower, I can apply all the skills I’ve gained as a compliance manager, VP and general counsel at financial institutions,” he says. “The fintech industry is growing rapidly and definitely picked up more steam during COVID when people were doing everything online.”
Capturing the unicorn
Headquartered in Ohio, the fintech’s employee number has grown from the single digits, when it was established in 2013, to over 1,300 in 2022. In 2021, its Series A Financing raised $100 million.
With input from outside counsel, Macy worked with the company’s chief executive officer Dan Snyder to help Lower’s team apply the funding for maximum impact: $300 million in revenue in 2021, a nearly 300 percent increase from 2019. Macy adds that having worked with Snyder and the other executives makes the process easier, with less friction than usual for a startup and more focus on smooth business expansion.
“People want easier and more affordable ways to own and insure a home, and that’s what we’re doing at Lower,” Macy says.
The convenience of Lower means more people are using it. In fact, in 2022, the Better Business Bureau gave Lower a rating of A; on a 100-point scale, Lower achieved somewhere between 94 and 97 when BBB judged it on factors ranging from unanswered and unresolved complaints to transparent business practices and competency licensing.
Strength in (legal) numbers
The growth, however, comes with complications. In addition to complying with regulations in 43 states, Macy must adhere to the strict California Consumer Privacy Act. Passed in 2020, it requires businesses to obtain opt-in consent to sell personal information and provide consumers with disclaimers before they share information.
Macy must also ensure that the fintech complies with all mortgage and financial regulations—everything from Equal Credit Opportunity Act and fair credit reporting regulations to home mortgage discloser, consumer leasing and Mortgage Assistant Relief Services acts.
He’s received some help from outside counsel and Lower’s heads of quality control, licensing and compliance. Nevertheless, he was thrilled when he recently hired another in-house counsel, Chandel Boozer, who has an intellectual property background.
Even for matters as simple as registering the name of Lower, Macy had to work with secretaries of state and licensing agencies, a time-consuming task. Now, he’ll have help with work like this and more complex matters, such as managing acquisitions and affiliate relationships with real estate agents, as well as with title and insurance companies.
“While I love the challenge, I look forward to our new counsel, Chandel, joining to manage the work in a more balanced way,” Macy says. “Given our business’ complexity, we must ensure full compliance with every requirement.”
That’s for the sake of Lower’s reputation on top of the usual reasons. As Macy explains, because business is conducted online, Lower needs to uphold customer trust and experience, perhaps more so than a bank with in-person operations.
Sailing into real estate
With a second in-house counsel, Macy says he can now return his focus to many of the core functions as a general counsel, like mitigating risks, which means working with the company’s compliance department to ensure Lower’s loan origination department is compliant with the federal regulations.
Although he’s been handling a variety of legal matters for Lower, he’s been interested in real estate since he graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law with his degree in 1982. Following his graduation, he worked for a real estate syndication firm, where he learned—and was fascinated by—how real estate and investments work.
“Most people equate financial security with owning property,” says Macy.
Helping others achieve their home goals means he doesn’t get much free time to enjoy outdoor activities he enjoys, like sailing and hiking in the local parks
“If you’re in the mortgage space—no matter your role—your work is directly contributing to getting people into homes. If that’s not your main goal then you’ve missed the point of this industry,” Macy says.
View this feature in the Vanguard Spring IV 2022 Edition here.
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