United Wholesale Mortgage has tapped former Fannie Mae executive Desmond Smith (pictured) to serve as the company’s first chief growth officer.

The non-QM lender, which saw its net income soar by 715% to $3.38 billion in 2020, has hired Smith to spearhead the growth of its broker channel. UWM said that it wants to differentiate itself from its rival, Detroit-based Rocket Mortgage, by focusing on the wholesale channel and relying on independent brokers to originate mortgages – whereas Rocket, which also operates in the broker channel, has largely built its business in the retail mortgage lending sector.

“Desmond is an innovative and thoughtful veteran of the mortgage industry who will bring a unique skillset and background to our team that will allow us to catapult the broker channel forward,” UWM President and CEO Mat Ishbia said in the release. “He believes in the wholesale channel and knows first-hand the benefits mortgage brokers bring to borrowers as well as the benefits a loan originator has access to when working at a broker shop.”

Smith has spent almost five years of his 30-year mortgage career at Fannie Mae, where he most recently served as the chief customer officer of the GSE’s single-family business. He has also held various leadership roles at Capital One Home Loans, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

“I’ve had the privilege of working with many different companies, and I am proud of the impact I was able to make, but when it was time for the next chapter in my career, joining the team at UWM was a no-brainer,” Smith said. “UWM was one of my top customers at Fannie Mae, so I’m very familiar with how they operate and their leaders. I’ve always been impressed by their dedication and focus on the broker channel. I’ve had the benefit of understanding all the origination channels, and mortgage brokers really are better. In most instances, they offer a more efficient experience at a cheaper cost. I’m ecstatic about the contributions I can make to ensure more people know this to be true.”