Jeff Midbo – United Wholesale Mortgage

Tech and compliance keep UWM growing

Putting together assembly lines at John Deere’s Georgia manufacturing plant might not seem like a springboard to a legal career.

However, Jeff Midbo says this work helped him understand business processes, a crucial skill for an attorney when interpreting and applying laws to a company’s operations.

Now the senior vice president, deputy general counsel and chief compliance officer for United Wholesale Mortgage, Midbo contributes to the company’s growth by piecing together innovation and technology.

Jeff Midbo | Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | United Wholesale Mortgage

Jeff Midbo | Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | United Wholesale Mortgage | Photos by Mark Kocina

For example, he helped the business adopt remotely notarized e-signatures to speed up origination and closing. He also helped add technology for managing the fee disclosure process. Both have helped UWM become the top wholesale mortgage company in the U.S. and second biggest lender overall, he says.

Founded in 1986 by Jeff Ishbia and now led by his son, Mat Ishbia, United Wholesale Mortgage is headquartered in Pontiac, Michigan. UWM now underwrites 40 percent of the wholesale mortgages for brokers throughout the U.S.

In the decade Midbo’s been with UWM, the workforce has increased from 400 employees to nearly 8,000. A quarter of the workforce is in IT, which he says reflects the company’s embrace of technology.

“I’ve gotten to oversee some pretty cool, cutting-edge stuff,” he says. “It’s fun to be on the forefront of an initiative, but there’s risk.”

Navigating legal networks

One of UWM’s most notable initiatives—adding remote notarized e-signatures to mortgage closings in 2016—has paid enormous dividends throughout the mortgage and refinancing boom that’s occurred over the past two years.

Although the housing market has cooled since interest rates began increasing in 2022, more than 6 million homes were sold in 2021 and the total volume of mortgage origination, including refinancing, approached $4 trillion in both 2020 and 2021. That’s double the volume seen in the years 2016 to 2019.

Though remote notarized e-signatures were gaining acceptance before the COVID-19 pandemic, Midbo says they weren’t commonly used in the mortgage industry because they weren’t preferred and some states didn’t allow them.

Jeff Midbo | Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | United Wholesale Mortgage

Photos by Mark Kocina

There were also complex federal laws to follow concerning the bundling of loans and what could count as legally enforceable documents. There were practical questions, too. For instance, if a notary is allowed to digitally sign documents, does that notary still need to be licensed in the state where the mortgage originated?

Nevertheless, Midbo researched how the process could be incorporated by UWM, a tall order because he was then the main person in charge of compliance. The company has since added staff in that area.

His research meant the company was prepared for, and already using, e-signatures when the pandemic started. Midbo says upfront disclosures on mortgages are now 90 percent digital.

Regulations and opportunities

Midbo and the UWM compliance team also began looking at how to accept cryptocurrencies as payment during the pandemic.

“We had to figure out how crypto worked, how the wallets worked and what the tools out there were for fraud prevention,” he says. “Crypto is an unknown asset class—it’s undefined if it’s currency or an investment and the people in Washington, D.C., are still having those conversations now.”

When accepting cryptocurrencies, Midbo and UWM had to ensure they hadn’t been purchased by users as part of money laundering from areas such as arms or drugs sales. The company used software to trace the origination of cryptocurrencies, or to at least show if it was “blended” to hide suspicious origins, Midbo says, and then accept or reject it for payment.

Jeff Midbo | Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | United Wholesale Mortgage

Photos by Mark Kocina

Midbo says he always looks to view emerging regulations as opportunities, as he did in 2015 and 2016 when new rules on how mortgage companies disclose fees were enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

When the housing market crashed during the Great Recession in 2008, mortgage originators were blamed for poorly disclosing the fees they were collecting, especially in relation to incentives associated to riskier loan products.

When the reforms passed, Midbo and the IT and legal staff revamped the company’s origination process to ensure compliance, while also making UWM’s processes more efficient. The new systems disclosed a litany of fee information to consumers.

Legal project management

A Michigan native, Midbo earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Michigan State University before joining John Deere as a business analyst in 2000.

While working in project management, Midbo realized he wanted to become an expert at something more focused in a role that changed less frequently.

So, he returned to Michigan to attend the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2002 and joined Flagstar Bank’s management development program. Because he was attending law school, he says he was assigned a lot of regulatory and compliance work by the bank. After earning his J.D. in 2007, he got offers to work in law firms, but remained with Flagstar Bank because he considered himself a business person first.

Jeff Midbo | Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer | United Wholesale Mortgage

Photos by Mark Kocina

Midbo rose to become vice president and associate general counsel at Flagstar Bank, then joined Credit Acceptance as a staff attorney in September 2011. In January 2012, he joined UWM.

Building the compliance program and advising on business issues suits Midbo well. But, he says, it’s the company culture and balance for his work and personal life that have made his decade at UWM more rewarding.

As he chatted with Vanguard in June, he was looking forward to the annual fair the company hosts for employees and their families. In the past, UWM has brought in NBA superstars Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas and NFL stars Tom Brady and Barry Sanders for appearances. And each year, the company hosts family trick or treating events at its headquarters.

“And we’ve never had a layoff,” Midbo adds. “This remains a family-owned company and our leadership cares about everyone and their families. And there’s never a dull moment for me. It’s fast moving, especially at the state level for compliance.”

View this feature in the Vanguard Fall I 2022 Edition here.

Published on: August 24, 2022


categories: ,

Showcase your feature on your website with a custom “As Featured in Vanguard” badge that links directly to your article!

Copy and paste this script into your page coding (ideally right before the closing tag) where you want to display our review banner.


I was honored to be the subject of an article. I enjoy reading Vanguard articles and seeing how other attorneys got to their positions and see their jobs. It's also interesting to see how different law firms partner with the subjects of the articles.
– Henry Marquard, in-house counsel, Stanley Consultants Inc.
The piece highlighting my company, Bob Baker Enterprises, Inc., came out fabulous. Our company is in the new and used car sales and service industry. Everyone was great to work with and extremely professional. They produced a high-quality product and have provided expert assistance and guidance post-production of the article.
– Wade Poulson, General Counsel, Bob Baker Enterprises Inc.
As promised in advance, my feature in Vanguard has increased my visibility within the profession and prompted more than a few people I have not communicated with recently to reconnect. One of the Italian law firms I have used in the past is now in the process of interviewing me for an article on their website and tweeting out the feature story. Activity and the number of people connecting with me on LinkedIn has soared, which is great. The Vanguard writers and editorial staff were great to work with—highly professional and made the effort to make the experience both fun and rewarding (they were also respectful of the time pressures and demands all lawyers face). I was very pleased with the experience and the final outcome. Needless to say, I have been very pleased. All in all working with Vanguard has been a very positive experience which generated good publicity for both Shawcor and myself. My sincere thanks.
– Tim Hutzul, General Counsel, ShawCor Ltd.
It was a great honor to be featured in Vanguard Law. Working with every member of the team, from the initial interview with Erin Clark, through production with Victor Martins, writing the article with Taryn Plumb and creating the final content with Dave Gushee, was a true pleasure. Everyone was very professional, enthusiastic and supportive, and their creative approach and positive attitude clearly came through in the final product.
– Kevin C. Rakowski, Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel, Compliance with Radian Group Inc.


Spring IV 2024



  • * We’ll never share your email or info with anyone.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.