Micheal Jones on a chief financial officer’s biggest challenges in 2023

The HousingWire award spotlight series highlights the individuals and organizations that have been recognized through our Editors’ Choice Awards. Nominations for HousingWire’s 2023 HW Finance Leaders are open now through Friday, January 27, 2023. Click here to nominate your organization.

When it comes to the challenges faced by C-suite executives in housing, no one has had to bear the brunt of the uncertain market more than an organization’s chief financial officer. The pressure to cut costs and grow revenue has been magnified in the face of high rates, low margins and increased home prices. And that’s just to name a few of the hurdles they’ve faced in the past year.

“Without a doubt, secondary market volatility [has been the biggest challenge],” said Michael Jones, chief financial officer at Thrive Mortgage. “The market seems hell-bent on doubting and denying the Fed and that has not worked all year. The challenge becomes that there’s no consistency in rate direction, so you’ve really got to keep an eye on everything.”

Jones was selected as a 2022 HW Finance Leader for his in-depth understanding of financial markets, capital investment strategies and his ability to build a diverse product offering through Thrive’s secondary markets division.

In its third year, the HW Finance Leaders award recognizes finance executives in mortgage and real estate for their outstanding leadership and performance within their organization.

HousingWire reached out to Jones to hear more about how he balances his role of chief financial officer and how his background as an LO has influenced his decision-making.

HousingWire: Mortgage banking finance operations are complex, as the chief financial officer how do you divide your time between corporate finance, capital markets and other strategic initiatives?

Michael Jones: Truly, it’s having a great team. Obviously I can’t be in the details of everything, but over the years I’ve worked with the team so that they will notify me if there’s something that seems odd. That allows me to laser focus my attention in areas that really need attention versus trying to pay attention to everything all at once. Thankfully the debits and credits tend to be relatively unique — it’s capital markets you’ve really got to pay attention to. But, that’s one of the best parts about capital markets in that it’s never dull and there’s always an opportunity to squeeze additional bps in order to contribute to the bottom line.

HousingWire: Every bank has a slightly different formula for where finance leaders contribute. What’s unique about your role at Thrive?

Michael Jones: Because I’ve originated loans in the recent past, that helps me see things more easily and readily through our LOs and branch manager’s eyes. I can look at what the housing landscape looks like and think to myself, “If I were still originating, what would I need or want in order to be the best?” Then, with my back office knowledge and access, I’m able to work with other departments to meet the known or unknown needs of the team.

HousingWire: The last year has been challenging, what’s the most notable challenge that you’ve faced in your capacity as chief financial officer?

Michael Jones: Without a doubt, secondary market volatility. The market seems hell bent on doubting and denying the Fed and that has not worked all year. The challenge becomes that there’s no consistency in rate direction, so you’ve really got to keep an eye on everything.

HousingWire: What single accomplishment are you most proud of in your career?

Michael Jones: Navigating the early-Covid markets. There were some pretty dark days and nights as the country was shutting down and the secondary market was in complete free fall. Navigating those storms allowed the company to prosper once the dust settled and I’ll always look back to that time when in doubt.

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