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Obituary: PennyMac founder Stanford Kurland

By   /   Monday, January 25th, 2021  /   Comments Off on Obituary: PennyMac founder Stanford Kurland

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was updated Jan. 27 to include the fact that Kurland died of complications from COVID-19.

Stanford Kurland made a fortune from his first foray into mortgage banking, and his timely exit from Countrywide Financial came just before the housing bubble burst.

Stanford Kurland in 2014

His second foray made him even richer, but it also cemented his reputation as one of the smartest people in the room when it comes to home financing.

On Jan. 25, PennyMac Financial Services, the Westlake Village-based company he built from scratch, announced his death at age 68 of complications from COVID-19. He also had brain cancer, the announcement said.

With a market capitalization of $4.4 billion, PennyMac Financial, an originator and servicer of mortgages, is the seventh-largest public company based in the tri-county region. A sister company, PennyMac Mortgage Investment Trust, a real estate investment company, is worth an additional $1.8 billion.

“Stan leaves an indelible mark not only on PennyMac, but on the mortgage industry he helped to build and shape,” PennyMac President and CEO David Spector said in statement. Kurland was nonexecutive chairman at the time of his death.

An accountant by training, Kurland worked at Grant Thornton and then spent 27 years at Countrywide Financial, serving as CFO, president and chief operating officer. His departure in 2006 came before the company was sold to Bank of America at the onset of the global financial crisis. The collapse of the mortgage market triggered huge losses for Bank of America and investigations into Countrywide’s practices.

In contrast to Angelo Mozilo, the flamboyant, outspoken Countrywide CEO, Kurland was extremely low key. He rarely spoke to the press or in public, although his departure from Countrywide made a few headlines.

In signature low-key style, Kurland started anew in 2008, founding PennyMac in partnership with BlackRock Mortgage Ventures and what is now Highfields Capital Management. He brought a number of ex-Countrywide managers with him and a strong work ethic to the new venture.

PennyMac Financial now employs more than 6,000 people and is “one of the largest residential mortgage lenders and servicers” in the nation, according to a company statement. Kurland was president and CEO until 2016 when he became chairman. He retired from day-to-day management in early 2020.

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