Rocket Companies CEO Jay Farner to retire

Rocket Companies CEO Jay Farner to retire

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Jay Farner will retire as CEO of Rocket Companies in June, ending his 27-year stint at the firm. He stepped down as member of the board of directors last week, Rocket disclosed in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission

On February 8, Farner notified the board of directors of Rocket of his intent to retire as CEO effective June 1 and as vice chairman and member of the board effective immediately, according to the company’s 8-K filing on Monday. 

Bill Emerson, who served 15 years as Farner’s immediate predecessor, will replace Farner on an interim basis starting June 1. Emerson will fill the seat on the board vacated by Farner and serve for a term expiring at Rocket’s annual meeting of stockholders in 2004 until his successor is elected.

“Mr. Farner’s retirement from the board was not because of a disagreement with the company,” the SEC filing reads.  

The board has begun a search for a permanent CEO and retained a firm to evaluate internal and external candidates, Rocket said.

“Since being appointed CEO of Rocket Mortgage in 2017, and subsequently CEO of Rocket Companies in connection with the August 2020 IPO, Jay has overseen the most rapid period of growth and profitability in our 37-year history,” Dan Gilbert, founder and chairman of Rocket, said in a statement. 

Emerson, currently serves as the vice chairman of Rock Holdings, Inc., Rocket’s majority stockholder, a position he has held since February 2017. Since August 2020, Emerson has also served as vice chairman of Bedrock, a Detroit-based real estate firm specializing in acquiring, developing, leasing and managing commercial and residential buildings. 

Emerson, who ran Rocket Mortgage predecessor Quicken Loans between 2014 and 2017, is also a member of the board of directors for several industry organizations, including the Housing Policy Council and the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Farner’s retirement comes at a difficult period for the lending giant. Rocket Mortgage was overtaken by rival United Wholesale Mortgage in the third quarter in mortgage originations and has struggled to adapt to a market with few refinancing opportunities.

Rocket, like most mortgage originators, has suffered financially over the last six months. The lender reported an adjusted net loss of $166 million in the third quarter, posting its first unprofitable quarter since going public. It hasn’t disclosed fourth quarter financial results yet, but mortgage origination volume dropped sequentially from the third quarter to $19.7 billion from $25.6 billion.

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