Mortgage pioneer Victor Ciardelli

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Victor Ciardelli
Victor Ciardelli
The name Ciardelli is very well known in our ethnic community, and certainly in the legal community. Victor Ciardelli, now an elder and highly respected lawyer and statesman, has been a leading litigator for decades. This month we highlight the career and successes of his son, Victor. It seems lately that we are highlighting the careers of the children of our leading lights. I guess that old adage has merit: “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Victor Ciardelli, CEO and founder of Guaranteed Rate, is an innovative entrepreneur who is revolutionizing the mortgage industry. After graduating from Columbia College of Missouri and beginning his career as a loan officer in Chicago, he struck out on his own in 1992, heading up a traditional mortgage company. Eight years later, he had grown weary of the mortgage industry’s outdated methods, models and business practices, so Victor set about creating a modern, streamlined mortgage company. His ideas led to his founding of Guaranteed Rate in June 2000. Victor’s approach of offering consumers low rates and fees, an easy-to-understand process, and transparency behind the total costs of a home loan was a hit with home buyers, helping Guaranteed Rate to become Chicago’s largest independent mortgage lender within three years of its opening.

Victor continued to push forward with the company’s goals of making the mortgage process simpler, easier and faster for consumers through the use of industry-leading technology, providing a unique business model that allows loan originators the ability to close more loans faster and partnering with top realtors and supporting them with resources to help them build their business.

Today, Guaranteed Rate is the largest independent retail mortgage company in the U.S. and one of the 10 largest retail mortgage lenders overall. In 2013, the Home Purchase Experts at Guaranteed Rate funded nearly $16 billion in annual loan volume. The company’s focus on being the leader in developing and employing industry-leading technologies and processes is propelling its growth. Guaranteed Rate employs approximately 2,500 people in more than 175 offices and does business in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Victor’s efforts to transform an industry have not gone unnoticed. In 2012, Ciardelli was named the regional winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and he was named “CEO of the Year” by Mortgage Executive Magazine in both 2012 and 2013. In addition, he was named to MPA Magazine’s 2013 “Hot 100” list of the most influential people in the mortgage industry, and was a finalist for a 2014 Hubbie Award in the “Top Digital Influencer” category.

All the while, Victor has remained committed to the community, establishing the Guaranteed Rate Foundation designed to help families and their communities in times of hardship or unexpected need. The Foundation has helped more than 300 individuals and distributed more than $250,000 in aid to date related to financial hardship, acute medical needs, disaster relief funds, and scholarship assistance.

At the same time, Guaranteed Rate’s phenomenal growth, groundbreaking technology, and the unique corporate culture established by Victor have garnered the company many honors.

Inc. Magazine has named Guaranteed Rate to the “Inc. 5000” list of fastest growing privately-held companies in the U.S. for six years running, and in 2013 named the company the No. 4 private-company job creator in the nation (and the No. 1 job creator in the real estate industry) in their Hire Power Awards.

The company has been featured in Crain’s Chicago Business’ list of the largest privately held companies and “Fast Fifty” list of the fifty fastest growing companies in Chicago for seven of the past eight years.

In 2013, the company was also named as one of “Chicago’s Top Workplaces” in the Chicago Tribune’s annual survey, the third time in four years Guaranteed Rate received the honor.

Guaranteed Rate was ranked No. 1 in Scotsman Guide’s “Top Mortgage Lenders 2013” rankings, and was named as the No. 1 mortgage company in America by Mortgage Executive Magazine in 2012.

Guaranteed Rate’s online loan application received the 2013 Moxie Award from Built in Chicago for “Best Corporate Digital Innovation,” beating out finalists from major corporations including Walgreens, Hyatt, Redbox, and Crate & Barrel.

And while the list of honors goes on, Victor is never one to rest on his laurels, and continues to drive the company toward his ultimate goals: being the No. 1 mortgage lender in the country, and creating the first fully-digital mortgage for consumers. Given how rapidly Victor’s vision is being achieved, the world should expect both to happen sooner than they think.

In 2012, Victor talked about his first job in an interview for an industry publication. He said, “I was a busboy at the Carlisle Banquet Center. You’re carrying out trays of the salads for the servers to serve. You’re cleaning up, busing tables and taking stuff back and forth. A real glamorous job. I was a young kid and wanted to make money at an early age.”

When asked who has been the most influential person in his life, the younger Ciardelli says “my dad.” Those of us who have known his dad for decades are not at all surprised.

When his father was asked a possible reason for his son’s spectacular success, the senior Ciardelli says: “we were influenced by our parents and their parents, and engrained in us were the traditional values of family, integrity, hard work, and the luck. I guess our folks brought these values from the old country.” The Ciardelli family came to this country shortly before the Depression from a little town just outside of Lucca, in northern Italy. His mother’s side is from Florence, and she came to this country with her family.

As has been the case with many of our families, the grandfather Ciardelli was the oldest of a large family in Italy and came to this country to work to send money back to support the family in Italy. Of his grandfather, the younger Ciardelli says, “I never met him. He was born in Italy, fought for the Italians in World War II. He seemed like an extremely interesting guy, and I would love to have met him and know more about him.”

About Leonard F. Amari

Leonard F. Amari is a founding, co-managing partner of Amari & Locallo, a law firm that focuses exclusively on real estate tax assessment issues. He is a J.D. recipient from The John Marshall Law School, with honors. Amari has been a John Marshall trustee since 2000 and was elected president of the board in 2007. He is past president of the Illinois State Bar Association, a member of the Chicago Bar Association’s State and Local Taxation Committee, and a member and past president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers. He has received numerous honors from many organizations recognizing his service.

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