Take one look at radius financial group inc.’s Co-Founder & CEO, Sarah Valentini, and the saying, “there’s more than meets the eye” rings true in on so many levels.
At first glance, Sarah Valentini is short in stature and cute as a button. Her extraordinarily inviting demeanor may not immediately spell out “mortgage lending savant," yet, her entrepreneurial spirit and personal mantra, "if you're not engaging, you're missing opportunities” has made her a total game changer for radius financial group inc., a firm which employs 98 and had a business volume of $375 million in 2014.
Valentini, an alumna of Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VY, is prominently recognized for rapidly pushing radius financial group, inc. to unprecedented levels of revenue growth, - most recently ranking among “The 100 Most Influential Mortgage Executives in America” by Mortgage Executive Magazine.
At radius, Valentini and fellow Co-Founder Keith Polaski have changed the way the mortgage lending game is played, as they work exclusively with Millennials – generally first-time homebuyers. Together, Valentini and Polaski have instituted a culture whose mission is to “offer a better mortgage experience" by changing the lending tone from a “dialogue of distrust” to a “dialogue of confidence.”
Valentini’s seismic impact stretches well beyond the walls of radius financial group, as well. This past June, Valentini was named the 2016 Women Build Chairwoman, succeeding HGTV star Taniya Nayak. Just months after being elected, Valentini acquired a $25,000 donation from a fellow women-owned company towards her chair and local MA-based humanitarian non-profit. Immediately following her election to chair, radius financial group inc. announced their new partnership with the Massachusetts South Shore Habitat for Humanity.
When Valentini isn't re-shaping the mortgage lending industry or engaging in her philanthropic endeavors, you can find her on the golf course where she boasts a cool 11-handicap…from the whites.
I had the privilege of interviewing Sarah.
Faten Abdallah (FA): How can women enter the executive fields of companies?
Sarah Valentini (SV): It’s very difficult, if not impossible, to “enter” an executive field. You have to earn it. To get on an executive path, one needs to shine in every role they take on so they can move up the ranks. People often get caught in the trap of worrying “what the next step will be” and lose focus on the job at hand – it can be a complete hindrance. You have to stand out and excel in each position in order to be offered a leadership role within a company. Leading up to that, it’s crucial to remember that every position can provide a knowledge base and unique experience that will make for a better leader once given such opportunity.
FA: How did you enter the executive field in your company?
SV: That’s a great question. I entered the executive field with a lot hard work and a little luck along the way, as well. I was promoted to a leadership role in a corporation at a very young age. Looking back, I might have been too young, too inexperienced and completely over my head. Some would view those as detriments. I, on the other hand, used those as motivators. I was determined to succeed. It took a lot persistence, foresight, and fortitude to get where I am today, but that’s how it’s done these days. Nothing is given to you. You have to earn it.
FA: What are some tips and advice for women to stay competitive in their field?
SV: We live in an era of innovation. It’s important to adapt to change and be willing to learn new things - accept new ideas and take some risks. I’ve also never chosen to dwell on the glass ceiling. Actually, I unconsciously broke through it. Throughout my professional career, I never felt as if I wasn’t worthy enough because I happen to be a woman. That’s the mindset to which any woman in business must adapt.
FA: Let's talk mortgages. What would you like our readers to know about them and how are you impacting the market?
SV: There is no question our industry has been turned upside down and then some. Now, more than ever, it’s critically important for home financers to work with an expert they can trust. At radius financial group inc., we have loan officers working face to face with people in the communities we serve. We walk them through every step of the arduous process of home financing and help them make the right decisions for their future and their families’ future.
FA: What kinds of advice can you give to first time applicants or homebuyers?
SV: Once someone decides to buy a house, they are often inundated with “advice” from family and friends. The problem is their family and friends are generally not mortgage experts and sometimes do not get the best advice. It’s imperative to work with an experienced loan officer who can guide them through the process. No one would take medical advice from a non-medical professional or tax advice from a non-tax professional. Yet, we constantly see people listen to a parent who hasn’t purchased a home since 1975. They should be seeing the advice of an experienced and licensed mortgage professional.
FA: radius financial group inc. partnered with Habitat for Humanity. Why?
SV: We could not think of a better fit for our organization to partner with. We’re extremely passionate about promoting home ownership and the mission of Habitat for Humanity aligns succinctly with our core values. All of us at radius are excited to work with Habitat for Humanity on all facets and hope to make a real impact on their footprint within our community. We plan on making a difference, not just talking about it.
FA: Anything else you would like to add?
SV: At radius, our mission is to offer a better lending experience. We are laying the bricks for a better road to honest and straightforward processes within the mortgage lending industry – a sector that remains tarnished with the horrific stigma from the results of the past 10 years.
In doing so, Keith Polaski (Founder & Principal) and I created the Next Generation Independent Mortgage Banker (NextGenIMB) training course. This course was developed to address the issue of an aging workforce and the needs of future millennial homebuyers by putting recruits through a 12-week course with a core curriculum centered around sales, operations and marketing to teach candidates about the residential mortgage loan business and prepare them to be loan officers, operations managers and sales support technicians. At the end of the program, candidates are tested and the best will be offered employment with radius financial group inc.
Though not all candidates are offered, or accept, a position with radius, we are accomplishing our mission by effectively instilling the skills, core values and moral principles required to succeed in righting the wrongs within our industry.