Reshaping Lending

When Matt Hansen developed the mobile mortgage app that would become the catalyst for SimpleNexus, he wasn’t thinking about starting a company. He was trying to help solve a problem for his brother-in-law, a mortgage loan originator, who was tired of constantly having to recalculate customer loan payments by hand.One question, “Do you think you could build me an app for that?” was all it took for Matt to get motivated.

He created the mobile app on a Saturday, and, within weeks, other originators were clamoring to get a version for themselves. As Matt added features, customers followed, fueled exclusively by user referrals. It soon became obvious that what he created was much more than a passion project for evenings and weekends. It was something that filled a real market void.


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So, in 2014, joined by a handful of colleagues in the software industry, Matt turned SimpleNexus into his full-time business—and has never looked back. Today, SimpleNexus is a 100-person organization, signed with 15 of the top 25 lenders, over 180 mortgage company customers, and more than 18,000 users nationwide. More importantly, it’s a company that’s making a difference.The company’s CSO Joe Wilson shared his vision for lending and SimpleNexus with our editors. Here’s what he said:

Q: How would you describe the current state of mortgage technology in the industry? Is innovation thriving or has it stagnated? 

JOE WILSON:New mortgage technology is definitely thriving. Innovations have transformed the industry in only a few short years and enabled lenders to close loans faster, increase efficiency, and deliver a smoother borrower experience. It is clearly an exciting time of change as more and more lenders embrace the benefits of digital mortgage tools and make the move to strategically adopt them. With that said, there still remain friction points in the move to a fully digital mortgage that new technology needs to address.


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Q: What are some of those major friction points that remain?

JOE WILSON:The trend in new mortgage technology has been a heavy focus on improving the borrower experience. While borrower touchpoints are definitely a necessary target for innovation, technology solutions should not ignore or overcomplicate the experience of the other parties involved in the loan transaction. Before adopting and trying to implement new technology, lenders need to consider how it affects the processes of their loan officers and underwriters. At SimpleNexus, we built our solution around uniting loan officers, borrowers, and Realtors into a single platform.


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Q: You playfully refer to uniting all three stakeholders in the loan transaction as the Holy Grail of digital mortgage technology. Can you elaborate more?

JOE WILSON:Despite all the advancement various mortgage technologies have brought to the industry, more and more lenders are realizing that some solutions are limited by their siloed nature. What this means is that not all of the technologies function or integrate very well with their existing tech stack. More and more lenders are seeking out technology offerings that work seamlessly together to improve the experience of all parties in the loan transaction. This search for solutions that work together to unite all the loan transaction stakeholders without making things harder for one party can feel elusive. SimpleNexus provides this offering and its always exciting to see new lenders embrace a full digital mortgage strategy that addresses loan officer efficiency, borrower satisfaction, and working better with referral partners. We have clients tell us that our platform is changing the way they do business for the better. 


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Q:SimpleNexus really stands out in regards to your focus on integration partnerships. Can you share with us your approach and some of the benefits it makes possible for your clients?

JOE WILSON: An open platform is vital to our approach to delivering the most complete digital mortgage platform solution in the industry. We seek out integration partnerships with other technology providers that see the value of cooperating in order to deliver more benefit to clients. We’ve delivered on that single platform promise because of how well we integrate with other technology solutions. This results in the convenience of a single sign-on experience for the loan officer, borrower, and Realtor. Gone are the frustrations of app overload that required you to remember multiple usernames and passwords. Our integrated single platform also allows us to create unique configurations for the lender. Our white label offering enables them to customize the platform to promote their brand and deliver a customized experience for its users. 

Q: Can you elaborate more on some of your specific partner integrations?

JOE WILSON:Last year our company completed 60+ new integration partnerships, bringing additional functionality and efficiency to users on the SimpleNexus platform. We recently announced an offcicial integration partnership with Ellie Mae. This partnership provides our 200+ clients and 20,000+ loan officers fast and secure data transfer between Ellie Mae’s Encompass Lending Platform and our Mobile Originator tools. The direct system-to-system integration with Ellie Mae enables loan officers on the SimpleNexus platform to access their entire loan pipeline, order credit, run pricing, view appraisals, send pre-approval letters, and sign disclosures from their mobile device — all while syncing in real-time with Encompass. We’ve recently added VOA functionality to our platform through partnerships with FormFree and Finicity. We’ve launched integrations with MobilityRE and HomeScout to enable home search capabilities for borrowers. We also have a partnership in place with Mortgage Coach, bringing their loan comparison tools into the SimpleNexus experience. As a company, we are always looking for additional ways to reduce costs and drive efficiency in operations for our lending clients while delivering convenience and transparency to the borrowers and real estate professionals using our platform. We actively seek feedback from our current clients. We make it a priority to listen to what they want out of our platform and go to work on making those requests a reality. Listening to our customers has made our product better and our company successful. Quality integrations are a major part of the solution we offer to the industry. We love working with like-minded partners who see the importance of delivering added value to our clients.

Q: Are there areas of the digital mortgage process that you still see an opportunity for technology to improve?

JOE WILSON:Absolutely. Mortgage technology has already drastically impacted how business is managed in the industry and it is definitely not finished. There are still areas in the process that technology can improve. SimpleNexus is focused on and addressing those opportunities within the industry that technology, in general, has not yet fully delivered on. One obvious area is disclosures. We’ve just launched a new disclosure solution that we are really excited about. And again, our goal while developing our disclosure solution was to improve the experience for everyone involved. We built our disclosure offering to integrate directly with the lender’s LOS, so when disclosure documents are generated in the system of record they seamlessly sync with our platform. Borrowers immediately receive notifications regarding their e-consent and disclosure documents that they can then immediately open, review, approve, and sign electronically from their smart device. Our new disclosure offering also delivers on-the-go execution for loan officers, enabling them to electronically sign their portion anytime, anywhere. For documents that still require a wet signature, borrowers can quickly use our doc scanner tool to securely upload these portions after they have been printed and signed. And most unique, is all of this integrates automatically with the lender LOS to provide disclosure tracking for compliance peace of mind. We deliver a true mobile disclosure experience without disrupting any of the backend processes of the loan officer or underwriter.

Q: What observations can you offer overall of how lenders are adopting new mortgage technology? 

JOE WILSON:I think the strides technology has made in the past few years on the origination process overall has led most lenders to seek out solutions that will enable them to compete and thrive. It’s no longer a question of whether they should adopt technology but more a question of which is the right technology solution in order to deliver maximum efficiency and ROI. We are witnessing an industry-wide embrace of mortgage technology. We have seen this embrace first-hand at SimpleNexus. We added 80+ new enterprise clients just last year and our growth has increased 1,400% over the past three years. 

Q:In terms of ROI, what kind of value can SimpleNexus deliver to a lender’s digital mortgage strategy?

JOE WILSON:It’s important to recognize that the loan officer is the main source of revenue for a lender. A lender’s investment in technology should address supporting the LOs role fully. I mentioned previously the danger of choosing a technology solution that delivers a slick borrower experience but complicates the processes of loan officers and underwriters. SimpleNexus increases the efficiency of LOs while delivering a smooth borrower experience. Our clients are successfully recruiting and retaining top-producing loan officers by touting the benefits of our platform’s Mobile Originator tools. SimpleNexus enables a loan officer to take action on a loan any time from anywhere, thus preserving their quality of life while increasing their productivity. 

We love hearing real-world examples from our clients on how SimpleNexus is preserving a loan officer’s quality of life. We saw one example first-hand last month during our inaugural user group conference that we held at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. One of the LOs attending our conference got a request from a Realtor for a pre-qual letter. This loan officer was able to send the pre-qual letter in a matter of a minute or two from his phone while sitting at the lodge between his ski runs on the last day. The always on-call nature of the loan officers role no longer needs to interfere with the free time they spend with family or pursuing recreation on nights, weekends, or vacations.

We free the loan officer to get out of the office and build more relationships with referral partners, which in turn helps drive more business. SimpleNexus is a complete approach to implementing a digital mortgage that addresses all three stakeholders effectively. In regards to ROI, our platform reduces turn times, increases loan application submissions, and delivers more referral business. 

With SimpleNexus, traditional mortgage companies can combine the efficiency of technology with the high touch benefits borrowers receive through working with a loan officer. This human touch aspect is a real differentiator for mortgage company searching for a strategy to compete with online lenders.

INSIDER PROFILE

Joe Wilson is CSO at SimpleNexus. While it’s true that Joe Wilson has a marketing degree, his road to chief sales and marketing officer for SimpleNexus didn’t take a straight-forward path. As a newlywed, fresh out of college, Joe was focused on supporting his family. So, instead of going the ad agency route, Joe landed a job as a loan originator at a mortgage company. It was a place where his natural interpersonal skills shined.The longer Joe worked in the industry, the more intrigued he became with the technology that supported the mortgage process. After seeing the impact of the app firsthand, Joe became an evangelist for the SimpleNexus story. He joined the company in early 2017, to head the sales team, working tirelessly to spread the news about the impact it makes on its customers every day.

The Value Of Data: Leveraging Property And Borrower Data Intelligence

A few years ago, The Economist ran a now famous headline that said, “The world’s most valuable resource is no longer oil, but data.” This might have sounded absurd at the time, but it rings all too true today. Data is incredibly valuable, and there is more access to it than ever before. Technology is providing more and more ways to tap into these reserves and bring crucial data up to the surface.


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With the Internet serving as the primary source for all of today’s information, anyone can find the information they need instantly. With more processes becoming automated due to an increasing reliance on technology, electronic records are becoming the new norm for businesses.

The same is true for businesses in every industry. In mortgage lending, electronic records are becoming more common as more counties are keeping their information online instead of on paper. Lenders have access to so much property data that, in many cases, a valuation for a property can be determined without even having to set foot on it. This is just one of the many ways that an increased access to data is changing the very nature of the mortgage industry.


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Lenders also have an opportunity to access data about a borrower that can help them work quickly from origination to closing while ensuring they are meeting the borrower’s needs in the best way possible.

Making the most of your data

All this information available to lenders has sparked a change in the industry. Lenders must leverage the data available to them in order to streamline their lending process or they risk falling far behind their competition. Using automation and other technologies is no longer an option for lenders that want to be successful. All the data they need is readily available and lenders must be equipped to use it. When lenders can use the property and borrower data intelligence available to them to turn loans around more quickly and efficiently, they will become more competitive and profitable in the industry.


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With digital data comes digital processes that can save lenders time and money. Today’s technologies can compile all of the available property or even borrower information and make intelligent decisions based on that data. Technology can look at available valuation, title, credit, tax and flood information and decide if a property needs full AVM (automated valuation model) or maybe a desktop valuation if there is not as much information available online.

Having access to all the necessary data in one place keeps lenders organized and productive. Especially with loan officers in short supply, it is important that the ones that are still around can accomplish the most. When they are presented with all the information they need, they can do more with their time, keeping them productive and profitable, even when the market gets tough.


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Technology can also access data such as income and credit history in order to help lenders assess their borrowers. Lenders can leverage the data that financial institutions have about their customers and members in order to quickly and efficiently decide how much a borrower should be approved for, what their interest rate would be and so on. In the same way that property data intelligence can help lenders make intelligent decisions about the property, borrower data intelligence can aid in the decisions they make about borrowers.

With closing times steadily lengthening, borrowers and homeowners are growing increasingly impatient to close. Using technology to aid in the lending process saves a tremendous amount of time, speeding up the closing. Instead of lenders having to take days to track down financial information about a borrower and determine risk, borrower data intelligence will compile all the available information and recommend what loan would be best for them. This keeps yet another part of the lending process running smoothly and efficiently for lenders, a benefit that borrowers, and even homeowners trying to sell, can also enjoy. Technology is not only changing a lender’s interactions with a property, but with a borrower, as well.

Removing guesswork through suitability

This property and borrower data intelligence is also the fuel that helps lenders select products and solutions that are most suitable. This concept of suitability logic gathers all the available property data to help lenders choose the best product or solution for their given property and loan. Often, lenders must “stare and compare,” taking a static property report and playing a guessing game about which type of valuation or title work would be best. They go in blind and must choose on their own which solution or provider might be best suited to help fulfill that loan. If they guess wrong, they must go back to square one and all of that work must be redone.

Suitability takes the guesswork out of the equation for lenders. By gathering all the available property data, suitability logic looks at the data and makes a recommendation for what course of action would be best for a lender to take. This means more efficiency and fewer errors, which brings significant time and cost savings that lenders can then pass on to the borrower.

The important element of suitability logic is that it is not simply a computer taking in data and spitting out a recommendation on its own. Suitability logic is designed to mimic a lender’s current underwriting guidelines, which helps business to continue to run smoothly. This also means that lenders do not have to sacrifice their borrower’s experience in the name of productivity. Suitability logic can “think” like the lender, ensuring that borrowers are still receiving excellent service, while lenders are simplifying and streamlining their workload.

Using data to compete in a tough landscape

In today’s competitive landscape, efficiency is crucial. With rising rates and low inventory increasing competition and decreasing origination volumes, lenders are looking for any way to stay ahead of the game in this difficult housing market. With a streamlined workload, lenders can do more with their time, ensuring that they are able to give each borrower the best experience in the most efficient way possible. These time and cost savings lenders can experience by leveraging property and borrower data intelligence can be the factor that keeps a lender not only competitive in the industry, but profitable, even in a tough and competitive landscape. These time and cost savings can also be passed down to the borrower, creating a win-win situation for both borrowers and lenders.

Soon, leveraging this data will not be an option for lenders who want to stay in the game. With more and more electronic records, lenders must embrace the technology that can help them get the most out of their information. Soon, property and borrower data intelligence will be the norm in the industry and lenders must embrace the technology now in order to remain competitive.Between the time and costs saved, this technology is invaluable to lenders. It its true, as The Economist said, that our most valuable resource is not oil anymore, data is. Lenders must be able to tap into these reserves, and technology is the tool that they need.

About The Author

Take Your Marketing Automation Further With AI

It’s been said that artificial intelligence is the future, but I’d argue that AI is very much a thing of the here and now. It’s playing an increasingly significant role in marketing efforts, and is taking marketing automation to the next level. And during an era when customers are demanding fast and hyper-personalized service, AI-based technologies couldn’t be more critical. AI-based technologies bolster marketing automation efforts through personalized interactions. Your business can benefit on a multitude of fronts by embracing these game-changing advancements.


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Email marketing

It’s easy for emails to get lost in the shuffle of a busy day. After all, inboxes are overflowing with meeting reminders, work correspondence and plenty of promotions. Enticing a customer to simply open a marketing-related email can be challenging. But with the right tools, you can consider that challenge conquered. 


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AI-based technologies are helping marketers win the attention of potential customers in numerous ways. For instance, they’re allowing small- and medium sized businesses to improve their email marketing automation strategies by knowing who to target, when and how frequently.

Know your target:AI helps businesses understand – and foresee – customer behavior patterns, and detect which strategies email subscribers best respond to. It can also help businesses more effectively automate emails to ensure customers are receiving personalized correspondence and promotions relevant to their needs.


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Adding a personalized touch to emails pays off. A Statisa study shows that personalized emails had an open rate of 18.1 percent, compared to a 13.1 open rate for non-personalized emails. 

Engage thy customer:Of course, AI-generated emails should do more than attract customers – they should also engage them. Email subject lines can be tailored for each customer, for example, while the emails themselves might contain personalized offers. 


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Lead nurturing 

When it comes to gathering and analyzing customer information, we mortals are no match for the pace and efficiency of computers. AI-based programs are capable of processing user data at lightning speed, and can be hyper-responsive to customer needs.

Automating the data collection process can help simplify the lead-nurturing process for businesses, while AI can set the course for future marketing strategies.

Capturing information:AI provides marketers with the valuable information they need to close a sale. It tells us when someone has visited their site, which pages they visited and how much time they spent perusing products. 

Marketing teams are using this data to drive sales, and if statistics are any indication, it’s working. AI could lead to an economic boost of $14 trillion in additional gross value added (GVA) by 2035, according to Accenture research.

Automated actions:As I mentioned earlier, AI-based software doesn’t just benefit businesses in the long term — it can also be of tremendous value in the present. Through AI, valuable customer information is being captured in real time, and can be instantly used to tempt shoppers with personalized offers and targeted advertisements. Forrester has predicted that 20 percent of enterprises will begin using AI to make decisions and provide real-time marketing instructions.

Cross-selling

Successful businesses strive to equip customers with the tools and services they need. The trouble is, it can be a bit tricky to determine what those needs are.

AI aid:While automation can help track previous purchases and user experiences, AI can take that information and make predictions on the potential for additional sales. It can determine whether a customer is a good candidate for additional products or services and establish which products a customer might be in the market for next. 

Once your sales and marketing teams are made aware of your business’s cross-selling potential, they can make customers aware of those additional offerings.

Retention

A happy customer is a loyal customer. AI can help you retain your existing customer base by providing you with a better understanding of client needs. You might think you already have a handle on that front with your CRM platform, but AI can provide a more complete, more actionable picture of your current customers.

Meantime, customers will appreciate the personalized service AI-based software offers, and are more likely to become repeat customers.

Reengaging past customers

Customers come and go – and they’ll come again with the right approach. Whatever the reason for losing a customer, it’s never too late to win them back – especially with some artificial assistance.

Helpful insights:AI can provide insight into how and why a customer left, and help determine the best way to reconnect. For example, it can be used to send an email with product recommendations based on a customer’s purchase history, or inform them of any relevant price drops.

If you’ve spent any amount of time looking into customer engagement and sales/marketing success strategy, you’re undoubtedly already familiar with the ways in which automation can help your business. Now, it’s time to build on those benefits by incorporating AI-based technologies into your marketing strategy. 

Businesses are becoming increasingly competitive and to remain relevant, AI-based technologies must be embraced.

About The Author

Biz Titans Reveal How To Reel In New Year’s Resolutions Gone Rogue

As we approach the second calendar quarter, we’re entering that precarious time when many begin to flail and outright fail with their New Year’s resolutions—no matter how impassioned or well-intentioned they were at the time of inception. This phenomenon is so pervasive that a litany of studies are “peeling back the onion” to reveal exactly why so many are unsuccessful in fulfilling career, life and self-enhancing promises we’ve made to ourselves. 


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One recent Psychology Today article reveals that there may be four specific reasons“you may be standing in the way of your personal growth.” These are goals that are unclear, or feeling overwhelmed, discouraged or not ready for the change. And, while having a backup plan is an anxiety-alleviating strategy often proffered by field pundits, an Elsevier-published study titled “How backup plans can harm goal pursuit: The unexpected downside of being prepared for failure”explores the notion that “the mere act of thinking through a backup plan can reduce performance on your primary goal by decreasing your desire for goal achievement.” Speaking of anxiety, failing at New Year’s resolutions just may be impacting your emotional health. A report published by ReearchGate.net correlates the “conflict between goals (inter-goal conflict) and conflicting feelings about attaining particular goals (ambivalence)” that are both “believed to be associated with depressive and anxious symptoms.”


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Whatever the reason your own New Year’s resolution has veered off-course, it’s never too late to rally, turn the tide and start realizing some quick successes. But it does take a bit of concerted effort, ideation and bona fide grit to make those resolutions a reality. In an effort to pull back the proverbial curtain, I tapped a variety of high-achievers and “serial doers”—“Firestarters” in various industries and trades to share advice on what it takes to start, create and even disrupt in order to achieve goals. Their anecdotal circumstances and points of advice also exemplify differences between people who actually make things happen and those who only think about making impactful changes, but never quite get there.


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#1:Be Persistent with a Purpose

Best-selling author, lauded corporate executiveand sought-aftermotivational speaker Steve Pemberton recommendsunleashing “the power of persistence” with visceral determination.Having overcome a litany of adversities growing up in the foster care system to ultimately become a C-Suite powerhouse for global leaders the likes of Monster.com, Walgreens and Globoforce, Pemberton has walked the walk when it comes to “surthrival” and perseverance. Relative to the research mentioned above regarding the helpful or hurtful nature of back up plans, for Pemberton there was no such thing. There was simply no other option than to persist toward his goals, however small or large, that were doggedly pursued one at a time until, collectively, he reached that mountain peak. Then, he did it time and time again, also having spent much of his professional life helping others do the same. His childhood experiences not only gave him the resolve and tenacity to stay the course, but to do it with purpose and meaning—for Pemberton, a burning desire to “pay it forward” and help others break through obstacles in their own lives. 


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#2: Consistency Breeds Commitment

Ask people if they are committed individuals and many will say “yes,” however; commitment is often defined or regarded quite differently from culture to culture, and even person to person. Individuals often assert their commitment to their goals until a circumstance arises that knocks them off balance, comfortably absolving themselves of blame in the process. It’s no wonder a whopping 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions are purported to fail by February. “In order to remain committed to a goal or cause, one must conduct themselves with steadfast consistency in working toward it, and upholding it when you’ve achieved it—no matter what hardships present along the way,” urges social activist and acclaimed personal injury attorney Christopher Chestnut, partner at The Chestnut Law Firm. Despite Chestnut’s amazing early career trajectory, including recognition from former President Barack Obama (who was Senator at the time) for courtroom excellence, earning a National Bar Association award and winning a multi-billion dollar lawsuit against Big Tobacco, he suddenly found himself immersed in challenges threatening his reputation, livelihood and future at large. This included being in a dispute with his former mentor. While Chestnut was faced with possibly “losing it all,” having many chances to quit, his devotion to the idea of “justice because you deserve it”—the actual slogan of his law firm—gave him the emotional strength and fortitude to remain committed to the profession he worked so hard to attain. Consistency forges a path and, rather than focusing on the end destination, holding on to the ideals for “why” you want to grow can reinforce your commitment and serve as guideposts to help you navigate those inevitable bumps in the road. 

#3: Remain in Relentless Pursuit

Russian-born Eugene Gold grew up poor, ultimately immigrating to the United States with the hope of a better life. In the process, he faced setbacks too numerous to count, from financial to professional to social. But he was relentless in working toward his career goals. So much so, Gold was coined a “relentless-preneur” for his unwavering belief that rejection actually fuels success. Gold reveres failure and regards rejection as an asset. Gold points out that, “every single time you fail and every single time you get rejected, you are that much closer to a ‘yes’ and more knowledgeable at how to get there.” It’s with this maverick mentality that Gold built a business that’s grown by a staggering 4,400 percent. His incredible, fearless determination landed his company at No. 65 on the coveted Inc. 5000, also appearing on Entrepreneur 360 list twice. Producing such staggering “against the odds” results is certainly difficult, but entirely attainable with the right mindset. 
Another fast track case-in-point is Chi Ta, a self-made millionaire who grew his Airbnb business to $2.4 million upside in nine months, making him one of the world’s largest Airbnb hosts by dollar volume. He not only attributes his rapid-fire success to determination, dedication and consistency, but also by being willing to take those calculated risks and leaps of faith needed to push past the status quo and not just be good … but great. Before growing his Airbnb empire, Ta was working toward his “wealth” goals in the mortgage industry where he served for over a decade. But, when he uncovered gig economy opportunity in the homeshare space and curated what he felt was a powerful strategy related thereto, he brazenly pivoted and shifted his professional point of focus on the new pursuit. Today, Ta is one of the global leaders in his field and his now mentoring others on how to achieve just the same. Gold and Ta are examples of how quickly things can get back on track after an undesirable result. Their mega success demonstrates that people falling behind on their New Year’s resolutions can actually parlay pitfalls into renewed intentions that can reinvigorate. 

#4:Value and Demonstrate Loyalty

It often takes a strong character to accomplish things in life, and this holds true for New Year’s resolutions as well. This according to “Character Coach” Gary Waters who enjoyed a 30-year career as a NCAA basketball head coach. Waters believes that character begins by being loyal to yourself and that quitting is the most disloyal thing you can do. Loyalty means different things to different people, of course. For Waters, loyalty is about the commitment one makes to a cause. It involves a feeling of devotion or obligation to something in both good times and bad. Other definitions describe loyalty as involving faithfulness to something to which one is bound by pledge or duty. In all instances, however, loyalty is about integrity—keeping one’s word or upholding expectations as demonstrated through one’s actions, optimally in a sustained and habitual manner. Waters believes that ingraining a sense of loyalty to one’s own wants and needs is a fundamental aspect of character building. Once you’ve mastered this for yourself, you can then impart the value of loyalty on those you have an impact on—be that in the workplace, at home or on a playing field. 

Irfan Khan also knows a thing or two about loyalty. As the president and CEO of Bristlecone, a company whose size he has doubled the last four years by completely centering it around the needs and wants of his customers, Khan is an expert in “antifragility.” A concept defined by popular economic thinker Nassim Taleb, an antifragile system is one that, “instead of breaking under stress and change, thrives under it. The antifragile grow and improve from external shocks.” While typically applied to supply chain management and a consumer-centric approach and attitude in business, Khan asserts that trials and tribulations that test and attempt to undermine one’s loyalty can, and should, actually make that loyalty stronger and uncompromising. 

#5: Recalibrate When Required

It is to be expected that one will face stress and difficulties in their road to successful resolutions, but some of those roadblocks may be signs it’s prudent to rethink your goals altogether. Career coach Sheeba Forbes faced this same dilemma when starting her practice intended to help women advance in the workplace. Many times, as her business was establishing itself, Forbes had to step back and re-evaluate if a particular goal was what she actually wanted—or even needed—or if it was time to “course correct” and adapt her objectives slightly to accomplish the bigger picture of what she set out to achieve. This ability and willingness to readjust and reacclimate to new conditions and situations taught her the value of taking a break, stepping back to re-evaluate goals and ensure the “why” behind them still aligns with current circumstances and desires. To this point, Dr. Quinella Minix, a personal performance coach, concentrates on intrinsic motivation. She advocates a focus on knowing what drives you and why. Minix underscores that it’s easy to get distracted by the “wrong why,” which can lead you down a path that wastes time and energy and can often take you further away from your goal.

The demonstrated value of strategic recalibration aside, when it comes to getting New Year’s resolutions back on course, for many the secret sauce is simply a matter of maintaining one’s vision, focus and persistence. This mix is what helped former NFL wide receiver Marques Colston become the New Orleans Saints all-time leading wide receiver (one of the top 50 in NFL history for receiving touchdowns) and, today, an entrepreneur helping retired athletes and other professionals become skilled entrepreneurs and investors in their own right. “Even though I attended a small school, my ‘plan A’ was to go to the NFL,” Marques notes. “When people asked me if I had a ‘plan B,’ I would respond that my ‘plan B’ was for my ‘plan A’ to work. I just didn’t see it any other way. It was all or nothing.”  

Can this “all or nothing” mentality help the throngs of folks failing with their New Year’s resolutions reel it back in and taste victory in their own right? It seems to me that such staunch intentions can certainly be a helpful means toward that end. But reality is there’s no one single method that can guarantee goal-setting success. The insights and perspectives above can help you ascertain what’s missing in your own plight and freshen your approach, optimally lighting that fire in your belly and sustaining it until you cross the finish line. It may not be easy, but perhaps you can perceive this truth as a thrill rather than a kill.

About The Author

Our First Steps Toward Helping Realize A True Self-Service Mortgage Industry

In today’s increasingly digital, mobile-first world, consumers can quickly and easily shop for retail products, apply for auto loans and even open lines of credit through their mobile device. However, borrowers looking to apply for a mortgage may face several barriers when attempting to leverage the same channel. 

Since the technology exists to eradicate these barriers for the potential mortgage borrower, we must ask ourselves why haven’t we fully accepted this technology and implemented it industry-wide?


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To be fair, I’ve watched the industry come a long way in leveraging technology to help improve the origination process. We are closer than ever to realizing a fully digital, frictionless mortgage origination process as advances in applications, workflows and automation continue to move the needle in the right direction. Yet, when it comes to comparing the digital consumer experience of the mortgage ecosystem with that of other financial services such as retail banking, there still exists a chasm in terms of efficiency and performance. 


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For starters, we should aim to build upon the recent technological shifts witnessed in the industry. Advancements such as automation and open API’s enable us to better streamline the origination process. Should we opt to pair these capabilities with technology that facilities the use of third-party data and mobile POS technology, we can expect an expedited experience that reduces the cost to originate and saves time for all parties involved. 


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Some examples of this would be Freddie Mac’s Automated Collateral Evaluation (ACE), Freddie Edge and Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty®, which already exist and are in use, effectively reducing (or even eliminating) the need for a full appraisal on certain properties and refinance loans in the first place. For example, the Day 1 Certainty program and Freddie Edge automate the income, employment and asset validation process for lenders, making it simpler, faster and more user-friendly. By opting in with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, lenders can then work with third-party data vendors to retrieve and review all pertinent data. This reduces both the risk as well as much of the paperwork for both borrowers and lenders. 


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For anyone asking where to start, I recommend beginning with refinances. Refis offer great opportunities to help accelerate the application-to-closing timeframe. For today’s borrowers, the average time from application submission to closing remains around 45 days. However, we can generally reduce this to just 10 days or less, providing a major timesaver for borrowers and a boost in operational efficiency and profitability for lenders given much of the infrastructure is already in place.

In the not-so-distant future, we can anticipate a greater acceptance of improved digital technology to move a potential borrower through the mortgage origination process quickly. Likewise, lenders leveraging better workflow advances and GSE programs, such as those previously referenced, may further reduce friction in the process, enabling them to successfully underwrite the loan and prepare for closing in as little as 48 hours. Not quite the 30 minute/end-to-end experience of a mobile car purchase, but a vast improvement over today’s current standards.

About The Author

Make The Most Of YouTube

Are you on YouTube? You should be. In the article entitled “YouTube Marketing” Hubspot theorizes that we’ve all spent a wasted afternoon watching one silly video after another on this platform. YouTube has always been a source of entertaining content, but it’s also staking its claim as an essential tool for marketers. In fact, nearly half of all marketers (48%) plan to add YouTube to their marketing strategy over the next 12 months.


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You may be thinking: “That’s great, but my audience isn’t on YouTube.” Well, think again. One-third of total time online is spent watching videos, and YouTube has more than a billion active users. The platform is so expansive that it can be accessed in 76 different languages, accounting for 95% of the world’s population. 


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Not only is your audience on YouTube, but also YouTube can help improve your SEO and overall brand presence. YouTube allows marketers to present unique content that’s easy for viewers to consume and share.


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YouTube marketing can be an intimidating tool for brands. That’s why we’ve created this complete guide for YouTube pros and newcomers alike. Below we’ll walk through each step of marketing on YouTube.


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So, you’ve decided to create a YouTube channel. Great! We can’t wait to see the amazing content you promote. Before we dive in, it’s important to note that maintaining a YouTube channel takes a lot of time and planning. Are you ready for it?

Unlike other social networking platforms, YouTube exclusively hosts video content. If you’re creating a YouTube channel to merely upload one video and have no intention of maintaining the platform, you might want to reconsider.

You’ll need to set aside plenty of time to plan, film, edit, market, and analyze your content on a consistent basis. You’ll also need to define your brand’s goals and plan for how video can specifically help you achieve these. If you can devote an appropriate amount of time and energy into the platform, you’ll be able to create engaging, shareable content for your growing audience.

Before you start filming video content, you’ll need to set up your YouTube channel. This can get a bit complicated. As you probably know, Google owns YouTube. As a result, when you sign up for a Gmail account, you automatically gain access to a YouTube account, and much more.

Depending on your business, you may not want to tie your email to your business’s YouTube channel — especially if you need to share access to the account with team members or an agency partner. We suggest that you create a common email account that can be used by multiple people.

Now that you have a Google account, you’re ready to publish some awesome video content. But we’re not done quite yet!

You now need to set up a YouTube Brand Account. A Brand Account allows users to manage editing permissions and create a more holistic online presence. In the upper right-hand corner, take note that you’re probably already logged in. If this isn’t true, click on the blue “Sign in” button in the upper right-hand corner, and enter your new Google account username and password.

Once you’ve signed in, click on “My channel” in the left-hand menu bar. There, you’ll have the option to create a channel right away. Do not click on “Create Channel.” Click on “Use a business or other name” at the bottom. Enter your Brand Account name and press “Create.” Note: You can update or change your channel name from your account settings later, so don’t worry if you need to revise your selected label.

Start by adding a channel icon and channel art. These will be the first things users see when visiting your YouTube account, so be sure to use images that are easily recognizable and consistent with your overall branding.

A channel icon is similar to a Facebook profile picture. This image will be used across all of your Google properties such as Gmail and Google+. Consider using a company logo or, if you are a public figure, a professional headshot.

To add a channel icon, click on the default red profile picture in the upper left-hand corner of your channel. Then, upload an image. Google recommends uploading an 800 x 800 pixel square or round image. Note: It may take several minutes for your channel icon to appear after uploading.

Next, upload your channel art. Click on the blue “Add channel art” button in the center of your channel. Upload a 2560 x 1440 pixel image that will scale well — across a desktop, tablet, mobile, and TV.

After you upload your channel icon and art, add a channel description, a company email, and links to your company website and other social platforms under the “About” tab. Your description should provide more information on your company and explain what type of video content you plan on sharing. Search engines look at your description when determining how to rank your profile, so incorporate relevant keywords in your overview. We’ll talk more about how to optimize your YouTube channel description below.

With the basic profile complete, it’s time to add a few finishing touches! Before we move on, it’s important to get one thing straight — you can customize the way your YouTube channel looks to subscribers and unsubscribed visitors. This means that unsubscribed viewers would see different featured content than dedicated, subscribed viewers. 

One of the main ways you can take advantage of this feature is by creating a YouTube channel trailer. A channel trailer is the video version of your description and is shown to all your unsubscribed viewers. Your trailer should be short and sweet (around 30 to 60 seconds).

Focus on showing visitors what your channel is about and what they can expect to see. Don’t forget to encourage them to subscribe. Your trailer won’t be interrupted by ads, so it’ll keep the user focused on why they should watch more videos from your brand.

Ready to get started? First, make sure channel customization is turned on. To do this, click on the gear icon next to the red “Subscribe” button in the upper right-hand corner of your channel. Next, turn on the “Customize the layout of your channel” option and press “Save.”

Now that you’ve set up your channel for customization, upload your trailer. Click the arrow upload button in the upper right-hand corner and select your video file. Remember to add keywords to your trailer name and description. Once your video uploads, click on the “For new visitors” tab on your channel homepage. Then click “Channel trailer.” Finally, select your uploaded trailer, or enter a URL to a video you’d like to feature, and press “Save.”

Your channel may be eligible for a custom URL if you have over 100 subscribers, a channel icon, channel art, and is more than 30 days old. 

The first step to becoming a YouTube marketing pro is creating and optimizing your video’s metadata. Simply put, metadata gives viewers information about your video, which includes your video title, description, tags, category, thumbnail, subtitles, and closed captions.

Providing the right information in your video’s metadata ensures that it is properly indexed by YouTube and appears when people are searching for videos like yours. Be succinct and straightforward when filling out your metadata — your content could be removed if you try to promote it with unrelated keywords. 

Now that your YouTube channel is set up, it’s time to start populating it with content. 

About The Author

Delivering Data Decisions

To increase velocity for deploying predictive models, FICO and Equifax are introducing the Data Decisions Cloud. The new Data Decisions Cloud is an end-to-end data and analytics suite that addresses key needs across risk, marketing, and fraud to enable financial institutions to meet the needs of consumers faster and more precisely than ever before.


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The Data Decisions Cloud integrates the Equifax Ignite platform differentiated data and analytic management with FICO Cloud applications and the FICO Decision Management Suite (DMS), a digital decisioning platform. This broad strategic alignment will enable organizations to easily explore differentiated data, uncover deep new insights, build highly-predictive models and rapidly deploy decisions into production systems across the customer lifecycle. Financial institutions will benefit from an increased pace of innovation for data and decisioning, supported by incredible industry expertise and explainable artificial intelligence (AI).


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“We are energized about this broad partnership between Equifax and FICO. Two industry leaders are joining forces to help financial institutions better meet the needs of consumers and improve business agility,” said Mark W. Begor, CEO of Equifax. “Our partnership will seamlessly integrate Equifax’s differentiated data assets and Ignite platform with FICO’s market-leading cloud based decisioning software and applications.”


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“Our common mission is to empower financial institutions to leverage data-driven decisioning in all their customer interactions,” said William J. Lansing, CEO of FICO. “With this strategic partnership, FICO and Equifax will help organizations operationalize the best data with unparalleled predictive analytics and applied AI, and do so in a streamlined and cost-effective way.”


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The strategic partnership is focused on a connected, end-to-end development and decisioning management platform that allows customers to quickly explore, develop, test, and deploy powerful insights into production systems across the organization. In addition, FICO and Equifax are planning to release three pre-built solutions:

>>A connected system for real-time access to raw and trended data that enables the rapid creation and deployment of new predictive elements and promotes data science collaboration.

>>A Compliance-as-a-Service solution that enables customers of all sizes to support their anti-money-laundering and know your customer obligations across the customer lifecycle.

>>An integrated pre-screen marketing automation solution that develops FCRA-compliant campaigns to acquire and retain customers.

Liza A. Yannon, director of Quantitative Analysis at Key Bank, said, “I’m excited to see that FICO and Equifax listened … and I look forward to seeing how they help us obtain more ready access to data.”

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Homes Are Becoming Less Affordable

According to a report from ATTOM Data Solutions, median home prices in the first quarter of 2019 were not affordable for average wage earners in 335 of 473 U.S. counties analyzed in the report (71 percent).

The report determined affordability for average wage earners by calculating the amount of income needed to make monthly house payments — including mortgage, property taxes and insurance — on a median-priced home, assuming a 3 percent down payment and a 28 percent maximum “front-end” debt-to-income ratio. That required income was then compared to annualized average weekly wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.


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The 335 counties where a median-priced home in the first quarter was not affordable for average wage earners included Los Angeles County, California; Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona; San Diego County, California; Orange County, California; and Miami-Dade County, Florida.The 138 counties (29 percent of the 473 counties analyzed in the report) where a median-priced home in the first quarter was still affordable for average wage earners included Cook County (Chicago), Illinois; Harris County (Houston), Texas; Wayne County (Detroit), Michigan; Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania; and Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Ohio.


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“We are seeing a housing market in flux across the United States, with a mix of tailwinds and headwinds that are pricing many people out of the housing market, but also are creating potentially better conditions for buyers,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer with ATTOM Data Solutions. “Continually rising home prices in many areas do remain a financial stretch – or simply unaffordable – for a majority of households.


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“However, quarterly wage gains have been outpacing prices increases for more than a year and mortgage rates are falling, which have helped make homes a bit more affordable now, than they’ve been in a year. Affordability may improve because of the simple fact that homes are out of reach for so many home seekers, suggesting that prices need to moderate up in order to attract buyers. Of course, a few quarters do not a long-term trend make. The economy could slow. The impact of last year’s tax cuts could fade, and interest rates could go back up, but the signs point to the possibility of an impending buyers’ market.”


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The Rise Of Remote Notary

The mortgage industry is slowly embracing remote notarization. For example, Notary Cam has integrated with DocMagic to make this service more available. Lenders can conduct remote online notarizations (RONs) through DocMagic’s Total eClose platform. Mid America will leverage the integration throughout its retail, correspondent and wholesale channels.


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“Since 2016, Mid America’s strategy has been ‘digital first.’ As a result, we have been able to condense our application-to-closing time down to just two weeks and our closing ceremony to 30 minutes or less with our digital mortgage product Click n’ Close,” said Mid America Owner and CEO Jeff Bode.


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“RON allows us to double down on our closing efficiency while also providing additional convenience to our customers. The addition of NotaryCam’s remote notary services through our established eClosing partner DocMagic enables us to extend the value we’ve experienced to date through our digital mortgage strategy.”


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To date, NotaryCam has conducted more than 160,000 RON transactions for individuals located in all 50 states and 90 countries. Thanks to RON bills that have been passed by multiple states, Texas included, NotaryCam’s team of highly trained and experienced notaries are able to remotely eNotarize mortgage loan documents or other paperwork for individuals across the country using NotaryCam’s secure, easy-to-use platform.


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The system does not restrict the number of participants that can join a RON ceremony, allowing all relevant parties to participate in the transaction.

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