Raines Leads Fannie Mae|
Franklin D. Raines 76
Last April, Franklin D. Raines 76 became chairman/CEO designate of the home-financing giant Fannie Mae (he officially takes over on January 1, 1999). The first African American to head one of the nations top 100 companies, Raines manages an operation that numbers first in asset size on the Fortune 500, and handles more than $1 trillion in mortgages the company either oversees or owns.
Raines brings to his new position all the political savvy he gained in the year and a half in his previous job, as director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, where he presided over the reduction of federal spending from 21 percent to 19 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Even while working with a partisan Congress, Raines produced "the first balanced budget since Neil Armstrong walked on the moon," according to President Clinton.
Fannie Maes passionate philosophythat the business of financing home ownership in the United States deserves market protectionshas guided the company since its beginnings as a New Deal government agency, remaining an integral part of its makeup when it went public in 1968. While the Federal Housing Administration currently services primarily low-income home buyers, Fannie Mae handles a broad range of low-, middle-, and moderate-income mortgages, making it the largest home-mortgage financing company in the nation. In keeping with its mission to enlarge the pool of home buyers to include those not traditionally eligiblesuch as singles and minoritiesFannie Mae is exempt from state and local taxes and can borrow money at below market rates.
Raines says that Fannie Mae has everything it needs from Congress to grow and prosper, including strong bipartisan support. Unlike those who may dread the prospect of additional Washington gridlock, "We would be perfectly happy if Congress did nothing," he says. The mantras of Fannie Mae lobbyists on the Hill, Raines adds, are "Dont change things. Dont screw it up."
As for Rainess personal philosophy of work, he explains, "All of my jobs in the last 20 years have held a strong public policy interest for me." This time around that also includes heading up a company whose internal policies have recently garnered praise from Fortune and Working Woman Magazine for their advancement of women, blacks, Asians, and Hispanics. "For the most part, my jobs have not been just jobs," says Raines. "Working for a company with a clear social purpose is a real motivator."