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Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper: Nationstar to Change Name in August

Paging Mark Curry and lovers of largely forgotten ‘90s sitcoms everywhere: This August, millions of mortgage holders will find themselves hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.

Nationstar Mortgage Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: NSM) on Tuesday announced that it will officially rebrand its mortgage servicing and origination operations as “Mr. Cooper” this August in an attempt to put a human face on what can frequently be a cold, automated business.

“Becoming Mr. Cooper and making the home loan experience great are key in our goal of creating customers for life,” Nationstar chairman and CEO Jay Bray said in a press release trumpeting the name change.

According to Nationstar — er. Mr. Cooper? — the company rolled out its new moniker internally in early 2016 after an exhaustive process that involved thousands of potential candidates, with input from both its in-house marketing team and Phenomenon, an ad agency with offices in Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Coppell, Texas-based lender and servicer said it will start telling its base of nearly 3 million customers about the name change later this month, and has already set up a website for its new identify, MrCooper.com.

Sadly for fans of “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper,” an ABC sitcom that logged five seasons between 1992 and 1997, there’s no mention of Curry, who played the titular gym teacher. Instead, there’s a peppy video full of upbeat marketing copy that personifies “Mr. Cooper” as a champion of mortgagors who “believes in the solution” and “hates the status quo.” The video does not show a depiction of this mysterious mortgage man who insists on moderate formality, instead focusing on cartoon images of happy and unafraid borrowers.

Christen Reyenga, Nationstar’s AVP of corporate communications, told RMD in a phone interview that the company settled on a personal rebrand after focus groups revealed that the happiest borrowers had latched onto a one-on-one connection at their mortgage firms.

“When someone had a positive experience with their mortgage servicer, it was always a person who made it a great experience — it was Joe, it was Bob,” Reyenga said, noting that borrowers often need a personal touch to navigate the relatively complex world of mortgage lending.

Nationstar then tested a crop of personal-sounding names, with “Mr. Cooper” performing the best, Reyenga told RMD.

When asked about the name’s connection to ‘90s television history, Reyenga said that several folks around the Nationstar offices have made the same mental leap — especially since Bray stars in a weekly internal video series called “Hangin’ with Jay.”

A Google search for “Mr. Cooper” returned the sitcom’s Wikipedia page as the first hit on Tuesday morning.

The name change comes about six weeks after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau slapped Nationstar with a $1.7 million fine over multiple Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) violations, largely involving improper data reporting. In its complaint against Nationstar, the CFPB postulated that the servicer’s explosive growth over the last decade could have been to blame, pointing out that its portfolio of loans subject to HMDA increased by almost 900% between 2010 and 2014 alone.

The firm services reverse mortgages through its Champion Mortgage arm. Reyenga confirmed to RMD that the Champion name will survive Nationstar’s transition to Mr. Cooper. The release noted that the company’s Xome real-estate data website will also retain its name.

It’s been an eventful few weeks in the world of servicing, with competitor Ocwen Financial Corporation facing serious regulatory issues and announcing a planned deal to sell off a major chunk of its existing mortgage servicing portfolio. The soon-to-be Mr. Cooper will also present its first-quarter earnings call to shareholders and the public on Thursday; stay tuned to RMD for full coverage of the results.

Written by Alex Spanko