It was a baptism by fire, recalls Shirley Theriault. As mortgage underwriting standards first loosened in order to attract business, and then tightening after the financial crisis, Theriault has used her sense of action-reaction dynamics to bring a sense of consistency to underwriting. Her four nominators for this year’s Women of FIRE Awards consistently recognize her acumen.
Theriault, a Maine native, came to Connecticut in 1986. She started her career as a teller, worked her way up to lead teller and then branch manager during the refinance boom, spending 17 years at Savings Bank of Manchester, which became New Haven Savings Bank in early 2004. She joined Liberty Bank 10 years ago.
As the residential market heated up, loan officers seeking to establish connections with real estate agents to get their business had to offer quick turnaround while at the same time meeting all regulatory requirements. Then came the crash.
“The regulations tightened up so much,” Theriault said. “Every year there was some big change, requiring us to spend a lot of resources and time re-programming systems and training staff, but all this needs to remain seamless to our customers.”
The bank upgraded its loan origination software system effective January 2014, incorporating ability-to-repay standards. She was able to troubleshoot problems in the software that would have conflicted with regulatory requirements. One of her nominators confirms that she detected several software issues that had not been identified by the national mortgage lenders who had already tested and reviewed it.
Theriault has earned kudos for maintaining a strong underwriting team at Liberty Bank. Two of the four underwriters were there when she arrived; two have been added since. She leads by example, she said: “I will jump in there at the drop of a hat to put files together to underwrite. However, I’m really proud of my team and their ability to handle just about anything.”
Theriault was named to Liberty Bank’s President’s Team for exceptional customer service in 2013, and at her induction, comments from brokers, loan originators and compliance auditors all testified to her customer service skills. A top priority is to consistently meet a 60-day rate lock commitment and, during her tenure at Liberty Bank, she has helped move the bank from the low-30s position into a Top Ten lender, based on data from The Commercial Record.
Theriault has also been active in the community, raising more than $20,000 for the United Way and the March of Dimes.