Former Guild CEO Encourages Mortgage Professionals To Have Confidence, Ask Questions


The woman who led Guild Mortgage as it grew into a national company with operations in 49 states says the key to success is to have confidence and ask questions.

Mary Ann McGarry retired as the CEO of Guild at the end of June after nearly 39 years with the company.

“I would just remind everyone to have confidence in what they can do and their abilities. They don’t have to know everything 100%, especially in this business, and it changes every day, so you have to be able to learn,” McGarry said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note. “Learn everything and then you’ll earn it. Just keep voicing ideas and asking questions. Don’t be scared.”

McGarry knows what it’s like to work up the corporate ladder. She started at Guild in 1984 as a supervisor in internal audit and was promoted to senior vice president of loan administration and information technology within three years.

In 1988, McGarry was named to Guild’s board of directors. She held positions as chief financial officer, chief production operations officer, and chief operating officer before being promoted to president in 2005 and CEO in 2007, according to a press release.

During her interview, McGarry said that growing up, career women were either secretaries, nurses, or teachers but she wanted to work with numbers.

“I loved math and finance and as a woman I wanted something that was more black and white and there was no judgment. It was either you get it right or you get it wrong, and then you can succeed. I chose the path of accounting and became a CPA,” McGarry said.

McGarry graduated with a bachelor of business administration degree in accounting from the University of San Diego. She began her career at Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co., which is now KPMG, and was later recruited by a former partner at the firm to work for Guild.

McGarry said the first half of her career she was building a foundation for long-term success by putting the right people in the right places. Technology has aided them in creating a strong platform for growth, and flexibility has been key.

“We always say, ‘We have the soul of a small company but the resources of a large organization,'” McGarry said.

As the mortgage industry continues to face pressure from higher mortgage rates and limited inventory, Guild continues to grow.

This year alone, they acquired Legacy Mortgage as well as Cherry Creek Mortgage and added a new district made of eight branch offices in California.

McGarry said when they look at companies, they are looking for a match when it comes to culture.

“If you can match culture, then the rest just works because you’re always going to have bumps along the way when you integrate people into your systems. If you can figure out solutions together, and make your company stronger and better, it’s successful,” McGarry said.

McGarry said they anticipate gaining additional market share as the new acquisitions are fully integrated.

McGarry said they have a long-held succession plan to ensure the new CEO, Terry Schmidt, is successful.

Schmidt was McGarry’s first hire at Guild in 1985.

When asked what she plans to do in her retirement, McGarry said one of her plans is to mentor young women.

“I think women are more confident today, but in my tenure, I found many women hesitant to take a job or promotion,” McGarry said. “I want to help coach and mentor young professional women who want a career and to move up or start a business. I want to help young women and give back.”

Guild is headquartered in San Diego. In Q1 23, the company had $2.7 billion in originations. They will release results for the second quarter after the market closes on Thursday.

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