Rocket Promotes From Within, Names New CFO And General Counsel

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Brian Brown and Tina John are tapped to fill openings created by the retirement of two top executives, Julie Booth and Angelo Vitale.

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Rocket Companies, the parent company of the nation’s biggest mortgage lender, has named a new chief financial officer and general counsel to fill openings created by the retirement of two top executives, who will continue to serve as consultants.

Brian Brown

Brian Brown, Rocket’s chief accounting officer, will take over for Julie Booth as chief financial officer and treasurer on Nov. 15, the company announced Monday.

Brown, 43, joined Rocket in 2014 and has been “a crucial member of Rocket Companies’ investor relations efforts” since the company’s August 2020 initial public offering, “regularly meeting with investors and helping to set strategy,” the company said. Brown was previously a consultant with EY, where he worked with publicly traded financial services companies.

Tina John

On Oct. 3, Tina John took over Angelo Vitale’s role as general counsel. John joined Rocket after its IPO and as deputy general counsel and assistant secretary worked closely with the company’s board of directors. John, who before joining Rocket led the corporate governance and securities practice at Abercrombie & Fitch, has specialized in capital markets and public company guidance during her 15-year legal career.

Jay Farner

“Tina has quickly proven herself to be a great legal expert and the obvious choice to fill Angelo’s big shoes,” Rocket CEO Jay Farner said in a statement. “Since joining the company, she has worked very closely with its leaders. It’s clear that her skill, strong knowledge and ability to build a team will make her a significant asset to our business.”

In a regulatory filing, Rocket said Brown and Vitale will continue to earn $100,000 a year: Booth as a strategic advisor and Vitale taking on an “of counsel” role. Vitale also stands to receive separation pay of up to $210,000.

Rocket Companies — the parent company of a stable of brands including Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Homes, Rocket Loans and Rocket Money — slashed $300 million in expenses during the second quarter. Those cuts, driven largely by voluntary buyouts, helped the fintech giant narrowly avert a loss as it weathers a “seismic shift” to a smaller mortgage market.

Like many lenders, Rocket subsidiary Rocket Mortgage has been scrambling to cut costs as rising mortgage rates have drastically curtailed refinancing by homeowners and are also expected to put a dent in home sales this year and next.

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.

Rocket kicked off the new year by announcing leadership changes across several of its businesses and repositioning itself as a fintech platform, with the stated goal of surpassing rival Wells Fargo to become the number one retail provider of purchase mortgages in the next 12 to 18 months.

Rocket’s CEO Farner handed off his Rocket Mortgage CEO duties to Bob Walters, a 25-year veteran of the company, while Rocket Mortgage Chief Revenue Officer Tim Birkmeier broadened his responsibilities by also assuming the role of president.

Rocket had previously announced in November that 17-year Rocket Mortgage veteran Nicole Beattie, the company’s executive vice president of mortgage servicing, would succeed Brian Hughes as CEO of Amrock, Rocket’s title insurance, property valuations and settlement services subsidiary.

Rocket subsidiary Rocket Homes hired Christian Wallace, formerly head of real estate services at Better, as an executive vice president in February. A real estate brokerage that operates a real estate search site and provides referrals to real estate agents, Rocket Homes last year announced plans to hire in-house agents and enter the iBuying business.

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