Will 2019 be the year technology replaces the loan officer? While this is the hot topic of conversation and the burning desire of venture capitalists, most realists have a different view, and I certainly don’t see a world where loan officers are going away anytime soon. While many homebuyers have quickly adopted tech to start the loan process, our research has shown most people still want guidance from a finance professional they can trust. Today’s borrowers want the accuracy, speed, and ease of use that they have come to expect from the always on and instant gratification that technology has enabled in their everyday lives, but they want it in tandem with advice from their chosen expert. As a result, today’s digitally inclined borrower is forcing lenders to re-think the front and backend tools they use to fund loans. With 99% of borrowers still relying on a loan officer to help close their loan, lenders who make it easier for loan officers to deliver on their borrowers’ expectations will win more volume.
The loan officer is like an air-traffic controller, juggling the needs of many stakeholders while guiding the borrower towards a successful landing, the loan funding. They are under tight schedules, have to effectively communicate with stakeholders at the right times, are accountable for the accuracy of information and most importantly – everyone is relying on them to ensure the airplane makes it safely to the gate. When they succeed, everyone is happy — the buyer gets their home loan and everyone gets paid! To help loan officers, lenders need to provide the tools to make their jobs easier.
The best technologies for loan officers will integrate well with other systems to digitally take the process from application to close. Lenders should look for web-based solutions that not only simplify the loan application, submission and closing process but also balance ease of use with compliance and security. Right from the start, the best solutions will give instant pricing, enabling faster lead response, and automatically issue the loan estimate (LE) so compliance is not delayed. Look for integrated systems that utilize machine learning and intelligence process automation to do the heavy lifting and reduce manual data entry and analysis. Loan officers that leverage technology have realized that they can build a better brand and see higher repeat and referral business.
It is important that loan officers realize that technology is not replacing what they do, it is enhancing what they do to deliver a better and faster borrower experience. Think of it as the magic that happens behind the scenes so that the star can shine!