To say automation is important in mortgage compliance efforts would be like saying air is important for people to live. Even though it is a known fact that technology is necessary and makes our daily processes run more smoothly and accurately, regulatory changes, economic uncertainty and the changing political landscape have lenders and servicers hesitant to want to consider any new innovations. However, this is the most crucial time to look to automation to remain compliant now and well into the future. Technology can help take companies to the next improved level of production.
Many of today’s mortgage companies are finally becoming acclimated to the changes required by Dodd Frank and other regulatory agencies. Companies have the systems in place to help them ensure their day-to-day processes are efficient while adhering to these regulations. It would be safe to say that technology, even though it has not been completely embraced by every facet of the regulatory industry, has in fact saved companies millions of dollars by improving efficiency, reducing errors and making sure all processes are followed. This all prevents costly and unnecessary fines that can be imposed.
The majority of systems on the market today allow lenders and servicers to meet with basic compliance requirements. Companies are working with third-party firms or hiring internal staff to complete the remaining requirements. Technology should be used to fill these gaps and automate the entire compliance process from beginning to end. Of course, there are certain areas where technology will never be automated such as the review of manually-signed documents, documents that are poorly scanned etc., which would still need the human eye for review, but those, are the areas where companies can have their staff resources shift focus.
What is next on the horizon for the mortgage industry as it moves toward complete automation? It may be described as futuristic but not for long. In addition to true e-signatures, technology such as optical character recognition (OCR) and loan data analysis, such as auto answer questions based on multiple data elements, are being used by other areas in the financial sector. Once managers understand the true value of these systems, a company can collaborate with its technology partners or add qualified IT staff to take advantage of these new features.
If we take queues from the automotive industry, after its initial investment in technology, the industry reached an optimal level. The advantages were reduced staff, improved car quality, satisfied customers and increased brand image. Complete automation of compliance efforts in the mortgage industry could and would be similar to the automotive industry. It reduces human errors, increases the quality of the loans and translates into better pricing in the secondary market. And all of this makes for happier lenders, servicers and borrowers alike.
To successfully take the next step into making these new areas of automation a reality, mortgage companies should identify the critical areas of their business where there are failures or system breakdowns and the determine adequate staffing requirements. This could help companies prioritize their needs so they can create and follow a roadmap to completely automate processes that were once tedious and time-consuming.