The New M&A Craze

There has been much talk about the digital mortgage. Many view the digital mortgage as a more seamless, customer-friendly, all electronic point-of-sale. To this end, we have seen a lot of new entrants to the POS market. However, a true digital mortgage goes beyond the POS, it spans the whole lifecycle of a mortgage.

To enable lenders to mover toward this “total” digital mortgage, we have seen a lot of mergers and acquisitions with this goal in mind. For example, Optimal Blue, operator of an industry-specific digital marketplace and provider of secondary marketing solutions, announced today acquired Comergence Compliance.

Why did they do that? Comergence is a provider of third-party oversight solutions for the mortgage industry. Founded in 2008, Comergence provides an array of third-party originator (TPO), appraiser, and social media risk management solutions that verify third-party compliance in real-time, a capability unmatched in the industry. Comergence has been widely recognized by the industry for its innovations in due diligence automation and ongoing surveillance services.

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“We are thrilled to welcome Comergence to the Optimal Blue family and we are looking forward to extending their network management platform to our customers,” said Scott Happ, CEO of Optimal Blue. “Comergence solutions help build trust and confidence among marketplace participants by verifying third-party compliance in real-time, a capability unmatched in the industry.”

“We provide the best due diligence and ongoing surveillance services in the industry,” noted Greg Schroeder, President of Comergence. “We believe that by being part of Optimal Blue we can bring the benefits of our technology and expertise to an even larger segment of the mortgage marketplace.”

Michael Stallings, Executive Vice President of Comergence said, “Recent Comergence innovations, including an analytics tool to help account executives identify new TPO opportunities and a breakthrough solution for social media risk monitoring, strongly complement Optimal Blue’s existing product offering.”

“Optimal Blue and Comergence are well-aligned around our principal mission of facilitating transactions between buyers and sellers of loans,” added Scott Happ. “We are very pleased that Greg, Michael, and the entire Comergence team will be joining Optimal Blue as we execute our shared growth plans.”

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Al in all, Optimal Blue is looking to provide a more “total” digital mortgage and they are not alone. Fiserv acquired the assets of PCLender, LLC, a provider of internet-based mortgage software and mortgage lending technology solutions. This acquisition will enhance the Fiserv suite of mortgage origination services, which enable Fiserv clients to deliver the experience today’s consumers and mortgage lenders expect. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Mortgage lenders operate in an evolving marketplace in which they are challenged to deliver a more efficient lending process in tandem with a compelling borrower experience. Fiserv is working to simplify today’s lending experience for financial institutions and borrowers, delivering powerful tools to originate, process, underwrite and deliver loans in a secure, paperless environment.

“Rapidly evolving consumer expectations require a seamless approach to banking experiences, including mortgage origination,” said Jeffery Yabuki, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fiserv. “PCLender provides Fiserv with a full digital suite of mortgage origination solutions for banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders. We welcome the existing clients and talented team members to our company.”

A complement to the existing Fiserv lending solution suite, these assets provide a set of simple, easy-to-use internet-based mortgage solutions for banks, credit unions and mortgage lenders. This fully managed, end-to-end solution simplifies origination, document collection and compliance reporting, streamlining consumer direct and retail mortgage and HELOC loan origination. The technology offers a feature-rich user experience and improved operational efficiency for mortgage lenders with existing resources. Supporting lenders of all sizes, PCLender provides solutions for lenders funding up to 5,000 loans per month.

“Joining Fiserv accelerates our ability to scale our solution, while simplifying solutions for every phase of the loan process to benefit our clients,” said Lionel Urban, Chief Executive Officer, PCLender. “We look forward to leveraging our combined expertise to deliver greater client value and an enhanced experience for their customers.”

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And more recently we saw origination vendor Ellie Mae follow suite by acquiring Velocify, a sales acceleration platform. With the acquisition of Velocify, Ellie Mae is accelerating its vision of offering a fully digital mortgage by combining Velocify’s lead management, engagement and distribution capabilities with Ellie Mae’s Encompass CRM’s unique approach to automated one-to-one personalized marketing and the Encompass Consumer Connect digital consumer experience. Together, the solution will meet the needs of today’s lenders by delivering a complete digital lead capture and conversion solution for creating interest, turning that interest into an application and then funding that loan quickly and at a low cost.

Velocify’s lead management solutions help sales teams keep pace with the speed of opportunity by driving rapid lead response, improving productivity and offering actionable selling insights. The company helps sales teams sell more by streamlining and optimizing the sales process from start to finish by enabling teams to accelerate lead engagement, and implement effective workflows, ultimately helping lenders find and convert more leads, faster. Many of Ellie Mae’s Encompass all-in-one mortgage management solution customers use the Velocify solution today.

“As part of our comprehensive strategy to deliver a “total” digital mortgage to the industry, we are helping lenders to originate more loans, reduce costs, and complete the entire mortgage process faster,” said Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae. “The combination of Velocify’s solution with our Encompass CRM and Encompass Consumer Connect solutions will accelerate our delivery of the most robust digital mortgage solution in the market. The acquisition will enable us to provide the first combined solution that helps lenders turn consumer interest into applications by offering a personalized, high-tech and human-touch experience. Going forward we will empower lenders’ sales teams to keep pace with the speed of opportunity, drive down costs of origination through greater lead capture and conversion, and improve productivity through actionable selling insights.”

“A digital transformation is occurring across the financial services industry, especially in the mortgage vertical in which Velocify has a leading position,” said Nick Hedges, president and CEO of Velocify. “Successful sales teams offer an end to end digital experience combined with as much human touch as the consumer desires throughout their buying process. The team at Velocify has built the leading software solution for consumer sales engagement during the early stages of the sales process. By joining forces with Ellie Mae we are very excited to extend that capability throughout the consumer buying cycle.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Ellie Mae will acquire Velocify for $128 million in cash. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2017 and will have no impact on third quarter financials. Ellie Mae will provide additional financial details when the company reports its third quarter results.

The bottom line is that all of these acquisitions speak to the industry’s appetite for embracing a “total” digital mortgage, and in my view that’s way overdue.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.