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Rocket Cos. CEO Jay Farner, who presided over the mortgage giant’s 2020 initial public offering and more recent pivot to a fintech platform, will retire on June 1 after 27 years with the company.
Former Rocket Mortgage CEO Bill Emerson — a longtime Rocket executive who is currently vice chairman of Rock Holdings — will fill in as interim CEO while Rocket’s board of directors conducts a search for a permanent CEO, the company announced Monday.
Emerson, 60, was also appointed to Rocket’s board to fill a seat vacated by Farner on Feb. 9, the company said. Farner’s retirement from the board “was not because of a disagreement with the company,” Rocket said in a regulatory filing.
Shares in Rocket, which have traded for as little as $5.97 and as much as $14.31 over the last year, were initially down 2 percent Monday morning following the announcement of Farner’s retirement, before rebounding in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange to close at $8.87, up from Friday’s close of $8.81.
Farner, who was appointed as Rocket’s CEO in 2017, helped the company go public in the midst of a pandemic-fueled refinancing boom that helped subsidiary Rocket Mortgage book record profits.
As rising mortgage rates put a damper on mortgage lending, Rocket shuffled its leadership and repositioned as a fintech platform, a strategy driven by its $1.27 billion acquisition of personal finance app Truebill, which it rebranded as Rocket Money in August.
“For nearly three decades Jay has poured everything he has into making our organization successful,” said Rocket founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert, in a statement. He said Farner “has overseen the most rapid period of growth and profitability in our 37-year history. His passion for people and vision for the future has benefitted Rocket tremendously and on behalf of the entire doard, I’d like to thank him for all of his work over the years.”
Gilbert said Emerson, who served as CEO of Rocket Mortgage from 2002 to 2017, “has remained very engaged in the business through his position at Rock Holdings. We are excited to welcome Bill back to the role and are confident in his ability to lead the company forward.”
Farner thanked Gilbert for his “mentorship, guidance and friendship” over the years.
“Being part of this amazing organization has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” Farner said in a statement. “More than 27 years ago, fresh out of college, I decided to join a small mortgage company led by Dan Gilbert. I never could have predicted the amazing journey that one decision would have taken me on.”
With rising mortgage rates taking a toll on refinancings, Rocket was surpassed by rival United Wholesale Mortgage (UWM) during the third quarter as America’s biggest provider of home loans. While UWM funded a record $27.7 billion purchase loan originations, Rocket Mortgage’s total loan production (purchase and refinancing) plummeted by 73 percent year-over-year, to $23.7 billion.
While providing home loans through Rocket Mortgage is Rocket’s biggest business, it also helps consumers line up real estate services, personal loans, used cars and rooftop solar systems through subsidiaries Rocket Homes, Rocket Loans, Rocket Auto and Rocket Solar.
Farner has been repositioning Rocket as a fintech, outlining a goal of unlocking “the lifetime value of the client” by employing Rocket Money to cross-market products and services offered by other companies under the Rocket umbrella.
Key Rocket Cos. subsidiaries
Rocket Cos. has evolved from a single mortgage lender to an ecosystem of businesses involved in home financing, home sale and search, personal finance, auto sales, media, and client services and technology solutions.
Companies under the Rocket umbrella include:
- Rocket Central: A centralized hub for the Rocket Cos. fintech platform, providing technology, accounting, legal services, public relations and human resources. Formerly known as Rock Central.
- Rocket Mortgage: After claiming to have created the “the first fully digital mortgage experience” in 2015, when it was known as Quicken Loans, Rocket Mortgage grew to become the nation’s largest mortgage lender with $320 billion in loans originated in 2020.
- Rocket Homes: Real estate brokerage and search portal that allows consumers to search multiple listing service data for homes, connect with a real estate professional and obtain mortgage approvals through Rocket Mortgage.
- ForSaleByOwner.com: Online marketplace enabling consumers to buy or sell properties on their own, offering financing through Rocket Mortgage.
- Amrock: National provider of title insurance, property valuations and settlement services, “preferred provider” to Rocket Mortgage.
- Amrock Title Insurance Co.: Nationwide title insurer, providing underwriting services for national title insurance agent, Amrock.
- Rocket Loans: Online personal loan company that takes applications online, with funding provided by partner Cross River Bank as soon as the same day.
- Rocket Auto: Virtual marketplace where consumers can shop for cars offered by a network of dealers.
- Rocket Money (formerly Truebill): Consumer finance app that tracks spending and helps users budget and build up their credit score.
- LowerMyBills.com: Online comparison service for mortgages, credit cards, insurance, loans, home services and personal finance.
- Core Digital Media: Digital, social and display advertiser generating leads for mortgage, insurance and education providers.
- Nexys Technologies: Software solutions for streamlining, digitizing and automating mortgages processes.
- Rock Connections: Sales and support platform providing contact center services including appointment setting, prequalifying clients, lead and efficiency consulting, lead generation, reporting and analytics.
- Rocket Innovation Studio: Recruits and mentors technology talent to support the needs of Rocket Companies.
- Woodward Capital Management: Issuer of private label mortgage-backed securities, providing funding for loans originated by Rocket Mortgage.
- Lendesk: Canadian mortgage technology provider of products to digitize and simplify lending.
- Rocket Mortgage Canada ULC (formerly Edison Financial): Canadian digital mortgage firm that employs Lendesk’s Spotlight as its lender submission platform.
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