Revolutionizing The LOS

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Mortgage builder has been serving the mortgage industry for almost 20 years. The company touts that it has the highest customer retention rate in the industry due to exceptional service and support — Mortgage Builder’s first customer is still a customer over 15 years later. In September 2014, the Mortgage Builder business was acquired by Altisource Portfolio Solutions S.A. Altisource is a premier marketplace and transaction solutions provider for the real estate, mortgage and consumer debt industries offering both distribution and content. The company has big plans for Mortgage Builder. Larry Alston, the General Manager of Mortgage Builder, talked to our editor about his background and the future of the LOS space. Here’s what he said:

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Q: Larry, you came from the big data industry. What were your first observations of the mortgage industry?

LARRY ALSTON: My first observation was that it is an industry begging to be automated and renovated. What jumped out at me the most was how underserved the mortgage industry is by technology vendors. A lot of lenders continue to do things the way they have always been done — even if it’s in a manner that is less efficient and/or manual, which is often inconvenient for potential borrowers.

Right now, there is an amazing opportunity for technology vendors that are willing to look at the industry from a different perspective and innovate to deliver a much better borrower experience.

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What gets me up in the morning and excited about Mortgage Builder is that outside forces, for the first time in a long time in the mortgage industry, are going to drive innovation. These outside forces are the millennials that are hitting the marketplace with an expectation that people should be able to obtain a mortgage completely online, or at least in self-service mode, with the same type of customer experience they would have if they were shopping for clothes or buying a car online.

Consumer expectations, coupled with the regulatory environment, are increasing the competitive forces entering the marketplace. Additional examples of outside forces include advertisements talking about digital mortgages and quick mortgages.

Q: How has your knowledge and expertise from the big data industry benefited Mortgage Builder?

LARRY ALSTON: The influences I spoke about are driving lenders to look at new technology and will be based on things such as big data, consumer analytics, analytical reporting and the ability to scale.

We believe the industry will ultimately favor vendors who have the ability to scale — to work with their partners, to go out and audit partners, to deal with much higher loan volume and to properly handle the cost of regulatory compliance.

Technology will be hosted in the cloud, centered on data and providing accessibility to it. The data will not only help lenders drive business but also provide insight into how they can improve business. These are the key things that we are working on and plan to bring to the market over the next few years.

So, why does a “techie guy” from the big data business come to run Mortgage Builder? It is because I feel there is a huge opportunity to take what is happening in other industries and apply them to improving the mortgage process. Those improvements will provide our customers with a tremendous competitive advantage over time.

Q: Where can the mortgage industry benefit from change the most?

LARRY ALSTON: The biggest benefit that lenders can receive from the changes mentioned is the ability to close more loans at a higher quality using fewer resources while delivering an enhanced user experience.

We always talk about the lender wanting to close more loans with fewer full-time employees (FTEs) because everyone equates FTEs with cost. So, it is really about how a lender reduces costs. The ultimate goal of all of the changes that we are talking about, including putting data in the cloud, is to make a lending business more efficient. This efficiency will include making data more accessible to end users, closing more loans at a higher quality while adhering to regulatory compliance — and doing it at lower cost in a predictable manner.

Q: What should lenders look for when switching to new loan origination software?

LARRY ALSTON: Today’s ever-changing mortgage market demands more from lenders and their staff. There are more rules and regulations, increased pressure to produce results with fewer resources and intense competition for prospective borrowers. There is more urgency to increase profitability while mitigating risk. Today’s online borrower simply demands more, which is why selecting the right Loan Origination Software (LOS) provider is about so much more than just technology.

For many, an LOS is nearly a commodity, but there is significant churn in the market. Transitioning to a new LOS is time-consuming and disruptive, so why do they do it? Lenders do not switch LOSs for a shiny new button or a sexy new user interface. They switch because their LOS vendor has let them down.

Yes, the platform has to meet configuration, end-to-end and scalability needs, but most LOS options do. The real question when selecting a new LOS is whether the vendor is the right partner for your business. Here are six areas to consider if you are partnering with the right LOS vendor. Here’s what they should demand from their LOS:

1) Customer Service

Having the best technology doesn’t matter much if customers are not fully supported or if the vendor doesn’t have the expertise to meet the ever-changing lending requirements.

The right LOS provider understands the importance of a strong partnership. It’s about developing relationships and fully understanding a customer’s business model to consistently provide the ongoing support and service needed to achieve goals. It’s about maximizing resources and your customer’s expertise. It’s about driving productivity through a partnership that allows you to demand more.

Some questions you should consider about your vendor include: If you have an issue that is preventing a customer from closing loans, how quickly will it be addressed? Will the customer be stuck in a never-ending phone system call queue or will they be getting answers from a live person that is fully vested in their success? Customer service is so much more than just a phone number and a ticketing system. The right partner goes above and beyond to deliver more to ensure customers are continuously satisfied.

2) Mortgage Expertise

Technology is important, but how technology is used is more important. Giving customers software and pushing them out the door is fraught with danger. How will customers improve upon their existing business efficiency? Even if they are happily deployed, what happens when they grow or diversify?

Customers need a team of experts who will support them through the transition. It doesn’t matter if you have great technology if it isn’t successfully implemented. It should start with a unique discovery and needs assessment process as well as proven implementation programs, and it should carry through everything the vendor does to support your needs.

Supporting customer needs includes live support, work groups, development of super users, knowledge transfer and annual tune-ups to ensure the sustained success of customers. Partnerships with providers should evolve with you and your lending needs to provide a superior user experience.

The provider must demonstrate extensive industry experience, take the time to listen to the customer’s needs and learn how it does business by applying best practices and designing workflows to make the business more efficient. Providers need to be there from day one and throughout the contract to advise customers on how to improve efficiency so they can close more loans with fewer FTEs.

3) Compliance

It is critical to partner with a provider that has the resources, expertise and depth of understanding to constantly monitor, update and offer expert advice on changing rules and regulations. Some questions to ask yourself about your current provider are: How well did they support you during the TRID changes? Did they proactively offer insight and guidance about how to properly implement the required changes or were you left scrambling to meet deadlines? Are you still struggling to properly respond to TRID? Are potential penalties and fines looming? If TRID was any indication of how they handle regulatory changes, are you set up properly for the next regulator change?

You need an LOS partner that employs compliance leaders that truly understand how the regulatory changes will impact business and proactively work with your teams to deliver solutions well ahead of regulatory deadlines.

4) Growth

If you plan on growing your business as a lender — whether through new lending channels, M&A or other growth-related initiatives — the right provider needs to be there every step of the way. Partners must demonstrate an unwavering dedication to constantly enhancing their products, support and services to allow you to face these ever-changing market conditions with confidence. Providers need to be committed to developing solutions that keep the industry and your business moving forward.

5) Product Direction

Think about your current provider and answer these questions: Is your current provider dictating future product direction that you are forced to accept or do you have a say in what you need the solution to deliver? Do you truly have a voice? Future product direction should be done in a highly collaborative manner that allows you to provide key insight and input to a group of talented mortgage experts that are passionate about working with you to deliver solutions that propel your business forward.

6) Company Viability

The influx of new rules and regulations has severely taxed many LOS providers. Ask yourself: Does your current provider have the proper resources, financial backing and ability to deliver solutions going forward?

Many LOS providers with limited resources were barely able to meet regulatory requirements let alone deliver new and innovative solutions to meet the demands of today’s borrower. A provider’s long-term viability is a key requirement when selecting a new vendor. The right partner delivers more than just advanced technology.

Q: What do lenders have to focus on if they want to deliver innovation to potential borrowers?

LARRY ALSTON: Technology can’t do it by itself. Things are changing and lenders can’t keep doing things the same way just because it’s how it has always been done. Lenders are going to have to adapt to the technological changes that are occurring if they want to be able to deliver innovative products and services to borrowers.

Software alone can’t do that for lenders. For instance, when a lender implements a new LOS, it is an opportunity for that lender to rethink and change its business operations. If all a lender is doing is taking its current processes and automating them, it is missing an opportunity to improve. There is no value in automating a broken or inefficient process.

Lenders have to rethink their processes when they adopt new technologies. It is an opportunity, not a burden.

We are going to see national-scale lenders become much more aggressive in the marketplace. What people must realize is that these lenders are going to be able to offer more sophisticated products in a low-touch manner. That competitive pressure is going to become tangible — and the need to reinvent and retool is going to become more and more pressing.

Q: Where do you see the industry going in the next two to five years?

LARRY ALSTON: There is going to be increased consolidation in the industry over the next couple of years. There will be fewer lenders and much of that reduction will be driven by the increased competition from the lenders that have successfully scaled. In addition, the industry will experience continued regulatory pressures, which, during TRID, clearly favored those lenders that could scale and properly meet regulatory burdens. Without the right technology partners, it is going to be very difficult for lenders to remain competitive.

INSIDER PROFILE

Larry Alston is the General Manager of Mortgage Builder, which is an Altisource business unit. In his role, he is responsible for all aspects of the Mortgage Builder business and strategic direction. He has a track record of success in enterprise B2B software, most recently in his position as president of FuseSource Corporation, an open source integration and messaging company (acquired by Red Hat in September 2012). Before FuseSource, Alston held senior management positions at EnterpriseDB, IONA Technologies, and eXcelon Corporation.

INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

Larry Alston thinks:

1) I expect to see a continued influx of new rules and regulations.

2) Borrowers will continue to demand easier user interfaces.

3) Self-service will continue to play a growing role in mortgage technology.

Mortgage Builder can be found online HERE.

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

Why Tear Down That Wall?

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Ronald Reagan knew that tearing down walls Trumped building them. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton were both widely known as master communicators. Their extraordinary communication skills were a key element that made them wildly popular and successful as presidents. During this highly partisan, crazy political season, much can be learned about how to improve the way we do business in the mortgage industry by studying either of these former presidents.

Regan was dubbed The Great Communicator. “What made him the Great Communicator was Ronald Reagan’s determination and ability to educate his audience, to bring his ideas to life by using illustrations and word pictures to make his arguments vivid to the mind’s eye,” opined Ken Khachigian, former Reagan speechwriter.

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Clinton was known as the Explainer in Chief. Media analyst and syndicated columnist Steve Adubato, Ph.D., makes the case that Clinton used two key techniques that contributed to his success as Explainer in Chief. Clinton used the terms “we” and “us” more than “I” when explaining even the most complex geopolitical or economic issues to the electorate. And he employed liberal use of the Q&A approach. Adubato points out, “The former president consistently asked ‘why?’ something was the case and then quickly and confidently answered that question. For example, Clinton asked; ‘Now why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict? Because nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day.’”

What Builds Walls

It’s not a question, and it’s not “who” builds walls, but “what” builds walls. In the mortgage industry, we tend to undertrain and under-explain. We tend to state the “whats” without the “whys” and inadvertently build walls. Let’s use a simple loan origination example to understand this point. When an underwriter provides an approval condition on a loan, he or she typically states what is needed. The processor and the loan originator scurry about to meet the underwriter’s demand and often become extraordinarily frustrated when the underwriter then asks for more information or rejects what is provided as inadequate. The reason often lies in an underlying lack of understanding of why the item was needed by the underwriter. This lack of full communication and understanding the why behind the request leads to additional cycle time for the loan file, additional labor expense for unnecessary back and forth and general inefficiencies. Perhaps more important, simply stating “what” without “why” is an insidious separator that builds walls between colleagues and erodes the culture of companies and our industry overall.

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Why Educates and Motivates

It has been my long-held belief that we should train everyone to have (and everyone should have a keen interest in having) a working knowledge of performing the role at least two steps beyond theirs in order to fully understand and be effective in their own role. To extend the example, if the processor and loan originator have a full understanding of not only the underwriting guidelines that prompted the underwriter’s condition, but also of the secondary market’s risk factor experiences that prompted the guideline to begin with, the condition likely would have been fully resolved far more easily and efficiently. Ultimately, the borrower would have been hassled less, the processor and loan originator would have been more productive and the underwriter’s relationship with the production staff would have been stronger. The wall never would have been built had the why been adequately understood with what.

In Regan’s famous 1987 Berlin speech he did not simply say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” In a mere 2,600 words, he made his demand, provided historical context of the building of the Berlin wall and then explained not only how, but why it had failed to achieve its purpose. Then he invited his foes to join him to work together. Toward the end of the speech, he focused on the unity that could be achieved in tearing down the wall by saying, “and I invite Mr. Gorbachev: Let us work to bring the Eastern and Western parts of the city closer together, so that all the inhabitants of all Berlin can enjoy the benefits that come with life in one of the great cities of the world.”

We all know that the Berlin Wall fell, the cold war thawed and the European Union was eventually formed where the wall formerly stood. It did not happen simply because of the demand to tear down the wall. It happened because of the persuasive context of why. What can you do in your organization to improve efficiencies and cohesiveness using the techniques of the Great Communicator and Explainer in Chief? Consider requiring everyone to explain why each time they state what. Imagine the power and benefits why can offer your organization if consistently used.

About The Author

Daniel Jacobs
Daniel Jacobs is the EVP and managing director of national retail lending for MiMutual Mortgage. With nearly 20 years of experience in the mortgage industry, he has previously had senior positions at American Financial Network, Residential Finance Corporation and Freedom Mortgage Corporation. Jacobs can be reached at djacobs@mimutual.com.

Not All Marketing Tech Is Equal

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Today’s demanding lending environment challenges lenders to find creative ways to consistently engage potential new borrowers, maximize LO’s efficiency, and drive new business to the point of sale. Marketing automation is a powerful tool in meeting these challenges, but not all-marketing automation is created equal.

Many lenders are fed up with increases in pricing for their marketing automation technology, especially when the technology lacks new features, is deficient in delivering current and relevant mortgage specific content, is difficult to customize, and most importantly has low LO utilization rates.

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Lenders don’t want to pay a per user fee (at increased cost) with continued low LO utilization rates. Centralized Corporate Control differentiates marketing automation solutions by utilizing “Set it and forget it” technology which allows corporate marketing managers to consistently drive high quality business to the LO without the LO having to directly launch marketing campaigns.

In the mortgage industry, where loan officers find themselves operating in an increasingly complex and regulated environment, “set it and forget it” Marketing Automation is more urgently needed than ever. After all, you want your LOs to focus 100% on what they do best: originating and closing loans.

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Raise Productivity To A New Level

Roller coaster interest rates … constantly changing rules and regulations … heightened competition for borrowers … extreme pressure to produce results …

How will your company continue to thrive in such a demanding environment? It wont be by using overpriced and outdated marketing automation.

Beyond CRM & Generic Marketing Automation

The right marketing automation solution delivers lenders a reduction in the cost per lead, increases the ROI from marketing campaigns and significantly improves borrower acquisition rates. In today’s highly competitive and highly regulated lending environment, lenders must not only be able to quickly and effectively generate new business, they must also do it in a compliant manner. This is the promise on which enterprise-level mortgage-specific marketing automation delivers where traditional CRM and many generic marketing automation couldn’t.

Compliance And Control

These days we’re all operating in a stringently regulated environment. Communications with leads, customers and even referral partners – whether driven from the center or by loan originators – must be controlled, but without inhibiting genuine creativity and individual initiative.

One of the most distinctive features from advanced marketing automation is that it establishes a controlled environment in which ingenuity and enterprise are able to flourish. It does this by providing five levels of management control – including outright prohibition, online alerts, real-time oversight and comprehensive reporting. A unique built-in authorization loop ensures that your nominated managers approve all marketing materials – for example: compliance officer, brand supervisor – before being made available for use. When anything is created, copied or changed, these managers are notified by system-generated e-mail. They are free to approve, amend or even delete the item.

Analytics and reporting

Revealing Mission-Critical Metrics.

In the end it’s all about results. That’s why advanced marketing automation delivers a wide-ranging analysis of your company’s and originators’ production and tracks marketing activity driven through the system. The solution intelligently delivers essential information – including the value of your clients, referral partners and other sources of business – and readily reveals opportunities for incremental sales.

Predefined reports include:

>>Production Analysis

>>Mailing Activity

>>Source of Business

>>Branch Productivity

>>Loan Officer Productivity

>>Realtor Referrals

Post-Close Marketing Automation

Foundation For Your Long-Term Success.

Automated Programs maximize the retention of current clients and the revival of past clients. These pre-determined sequences of strategically timed marketing communications typically run for up to three years (or more) and can be extended at any time. Experience over many years has demonstrated that a well-configured Automated Program lays the firmest possible foundation for long-term success – not only by generating a steady flow of referrals, repeat sales and cross-sales from a loyal audience, but also by ensuring maximum response to on-demand Custom Campaigns.

What Is Advanced Marketing Automation? 

According to Gartner: “Marketing Automation will remain the highest growth sales and marketing software sector with a 10.7% CAGR through 2016, thereby reaching just under $4.7 billion market value.” Why this upsurge of interest in Marketing Automation? It’s because, for the first time, there’s robust technology that frees your loan officers to focus on what they do best: originating and closing loans.

Gartner (www.gartner.com) identifies three distinct segments within the broad category of “sales and marketing” software:

>>Marketing Automation

>>Customer service and support

>>Sales (including CRM products)

Marketing Automation is an enterprise-wide application. Driven by central marketing, the system does the work so that your loan officers don’t have to. Outbound communications addressed to new leads, applicant’s in-process, closed customers and referral partners are precisely targeted, highly personalized and compliantly fulfilled via print and electronic media.

Unleash Your Company’s Marketing Genius

It’s time to unleash your company’s marketing genius with a truly unique Marketing Automation platform. Marketing managers are empowered to drive “set it and forget it” programs across the enterprise, while maintaining regulatory compliance and brand consistency. C-level executives are presented with sophisticated and easy to use tools for more effective oversight and management. Loan officers are freed up to originate and close more loans.

Unleash a marketing solution that brings your creative genius to life, one that provides the power to quickly and consistently execute your marketing objectives while compliantly meeting the ever-changing demands of the mortgage industry. Energize your marketing with mortgage specific marketing automation that is both easy for you to use and extremely powerful. Mobilize a partner who delivers you 15 years of experience in driving growth in the mortgage industry, a trusted advisor that is a difference maker in your business.

At TTP, we bring you the mortgage industry’s most advanced marketing automation solutions that compliantly address every aspect of your lending business from prospect, to in-process, applicant, and closed loan marketing programs. Since 1995, TTP has developed an industry leading reputation for setting the pace, and solving the marketing and communication challenges of lenders to consistently deliver results.

TTP’s MACH3 is a proven enterprise-wide marketing automation solution that supports you and your specific initiatives to address these market conditions. Each person in your organization that is involved with driving growth is empowered to focus on what they do best.

For example, Loan Officers are free to close more loans, instead of trying to create marketing materials. C-level executives are presented with sophisticated, yet easy to use tools for more effective oversight and management, while marketing managers can demonstrate their marketing genius and compliantly maintain brand consistency across the organization.

“Set it and forget it” technology drives high-quality business to the point-of-sale and accelerates long-term profitability. Not all marketing automation is created equal.

About The Author

Brandon Perry
Brandon Perry is President at The Turning Point. Brandon oversees all operational and administrative activities of TTP. Brandon brings over 16 years of experience in various financial services industries to TTP which enhances the Company's ability to maintain it's position as industry leader in providing customers with an advanced marketing solution.

Are You Licensed?

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I am extremely privileged to be part of two professions. As a true aviator for the past 25 years, I first took flight at 16. While I love to fly, I decided to pursue a second wonderful and fulfilling career as a Certified Residential Appraiser almost 13 years ago. I am currently a Lead Quality Control Review Appraiser with AXIS Appraisal Management Solutions and the Chair of the USGBC, United States Residential Green Building Committee.

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Both of my industries, aviation and residential property appraisal, have expressly stated their eligibility requirements for professionals to pursue each career. Allow me to provide you a critical assessment as to the differences and challenges of being a Certified Residential Appraiser compared to becoming a Commercial Airline Pilot. This comparison chart lays out the main requirements of each profession:

TME616-Your Voice Chart

For appraisers, the set of application procedures provide applicants quite a tedious challenge. Bearing in mind that a Certified Residential Appraiser’s work is to mainly perform residential real property appraisals, the requirements seem to be disproportionate when compared to obtaining an Airline Transport Pilots License (ATPL).

It is crucial to note that there is a great disparity in terms of the requirements in the application for an ATPL considering the fact that every pilot is burdened with a vital responsibility not only in keeping the aircraft in good condition; but more importantly, in ensuring the safety and security of the passengers of the aircraft.

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Having been exposed both in the field of commercial aviation and residential appraising, as a pilot who has been in command of a 100 million dollar aircraft with 180+ souls on board and as a current certified residential appraiser who can perform a valuation on a property that can be as low as $5000, the disparity between the eligibility requirements seems to be excessive.

While I am fully aware of the duties and responsibilities of a Certified Residential Appraiser, I highly regard that the application procedure and eligibility requirements that are being set are excessive. To this effect, excessive regulation on their qualification criteria, it is claimed, limits the ability of the appraisal industry to hire and entice competent individuals as they are easily discouraged by the requirements.

About The Author

Rick Sagoo
Rick Sagoo is a Certified Residential Appraiser (and a commercial pilot) and is the QC Lead Appraiser for AXIS Appraisal Management Solutions, a nationwide appraisal management company headquartered in San Rafael, CA. AXIS is now seeking appraisers to join their panel. Find out more at www.axis-amc.com. Rick Sagoo can be reached at RSagoo@axis-amc.com.

Keep Your Eye On The FinTech Firms

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The fintech industry witnessed an enormous growth in 2015. Around $7.6 billion were invested in fintech companies last year, a substantial increase from the $4.7 billion in 2014. There is no doubt that this momentum will continue this year. The growth of capital being invested in fintech companies illustrates how technology and the web are changing the very nature of financial services and how money is being handled.

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Below are three fintech trends to be on the look out for:

Trend 1: The Impact of Millennials

Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, is the largest generation in American history and is shaping the fintech industry as we know it. According the Millennial Disruption Index, banking show that 68% of respondents say they see the way one accesses their money will change in the next five years, while nearly half are counting on tech start-ups to overhaul the way banks work. They believe that innovation to banking will not come from within, but from outside. Millennials are looking towards fintech start-ups to disrupt the banking industry.

These companies are sitting up and taking notice. Many of these fintech startups emerging on the scene are relying on millennials for their success and are leveraging technologies popular among young adults, such as mobile apps and social media. Since 2010, startups in the digital banking sector have attracted more than $10 billion. Many of these hottest fintech startups geared towards this demographic are mobile-app only – to include Acorn (an investment platform), Robinhood (analyzes stock information), and Earnest (offers merit-based loans). There is no question that it is an exciting time to be a financial start-up.

Trend 2: The Role of Digital Transformation

Digital transformation goes well beyond providing simple technological solutions; it requires a deep understanding and analysis of an organization’s culture and business model. More importantly, going digital requires customer first thinking. Banks are facing a new reality where the ever changing consumer preferences and rapidly evolving financial technologies are dictating how business should be conducted. If properly implemented, digitization is one way for banks to remain relevant in an increasing competitive and fast-changing industry.

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According to a study on digitization by A.T. Kearney, there are three areas that separates digital banking leaders from the rest of the pack: they understand the importance of mobile in a digital strategy, they are developing models that are more agile, and they have handled the need for internal cultural shifts. A number of fintech players are paving the way when it comes to digital banking. Instead of focusing solely on financial services and products, these companies are offering enhanced user experiences by leveraging technology and design.

Trend 3: InsureTech

There has been a massive outpouring of innovation and investment spread throughout the financial sector – from mobile banking to business lending. However, there is one glaring area ripe for innovation and that’s insurance. The insurance industry, one of the largest in terms of revenue, is a bit tricky to break into as it is heavily regulated. Nonetheless, it presents a huge opportunity for financial disruption.

There have been a few players that have attempted to take a crack at the insurance market, such as Lemonade, Oscar, and Metromile. Lemonade wants to offer insurance via a peer-to-peer platform, effectively acting as a middleman. Oscar aims to revolutionize health insurance and improve the customer experience through technology, data, and design. Metromile, on the other hand, sells pay-per-mile car insurance. These organizations offer an accessible user interface as well as consumer-friendly business models.

In essence, blockchain is a public record of every bitcoin transaction that has ever happened and it is believed that blockchain technology will significantly alter the financial services infrastructure. Earlier this year, NASDAQ claimed it documented a private security transaction that was successful via its ledger platform Linq. This apparently was the first real use case of blockchain technology.

Last year was considered as the year of the blockchain app; this year will usher in further innovation and rapidly evolving technology. One company that is capitalizing on the growing interest in blockchain technology is San Francisco-based Blockstack.io. Their platform offers four functions: 1) asset insurance to represent real-world assets; 2) a private ledge that is optimized for high transaction volume; 3) transaction management allowing users to describe transaction flows between parties; and 4) multi-signature wallet security. Blockstack.io is just one in a new wave of blockchain-first tech firms looking to partner with various financial institutions to utilize blockchain technology.

The rise of fintech companies will continue going forward.

About The Author

Joya Scarlata
Joya Scarlata is a senior analyst at InterraIT, a San Jose-based technology solutions and services company, working in the areas of market research and marketing. She loves tracking current technology and marketing trends.

Listen Up Candidates

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Have you been following the Presidential Election? Most people have. Why? It’s outlandish. Earlier this year presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton an “unbelievably nasty, mean enabler” who “destroyed” the lives of her husband’s mistresses.

The comments, made during an evening rally in Eugene, Ore., marked the sharpest tone he’s taken against the Democratic frontrunner since becoming his party’s presumptive nominee, and the first time he’s been so direct in referencing Bill Clinton’s affairs in months.

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“She’s been the total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives,” Trump said. “She was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.”

In exchange, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton condemned Donald Trump’s criticism of U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is overseeing lawsuits involving Trump University, during a conversation with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

“This racist attack on the judge is just another example of how he is absolutely impervious to the values of America, to the progress that we have made over many, many decades,” Clinton said of Trump’s comments. “He’s trying to demean, and defame a federal judge who was a very accomplished federal prosecutor who was first appointed by a Republican governor in California.”

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Trump has said Curiel, who is presiding over two of the three cases against Trump’s now defunct for-profit school, cannot be fair in the ruling because Curiel is “a hater,” “very hostile,” and “Mexican,” and Trump wants to build a wall along the border with Mexico. Curiel was born in Indiana and is American.

I know, the level of discourse it’s unbelievable. With the presidential elections fast approaching, one in five Americans (21%) say a candidate’s housing and finance policies will influence their vote, according to new research conducted for loanDepot. Nearly two out of five (36%) also think the presidential candidates are doing a bad job of articulating their housing and finance policies, and 35 percent would like to hear more from the candidates on these topics. Among those interested in hearing more, 56 percent are Democrats, 39 percent are Republicans, and 29 percent are Millennials.

Americans also weighed in on their economic and housing priorities for the 45th president’s first 100 days, electing to keep housing more affordable and interest rates low. Making homeownership more affordable for middle and lower income families topped the list with 37 percent of Americans, including 32 percent who are Millennials, 64 percent who are Democrat and 32 percent who are Republican. Keeping interest rates low (34%) and making more credit available to small businesses (11%) are second and third priorities. There was bi-partisan agreement on keeping interest rates low during the next president’s first 100 days with Democrats and Republicans at 47 percent and 49 percent respectively.

“People across the nation told us they want to hear more from the presidential candidates about their housing and financial policies on issues like income, access to credit, interest rates and affordable housing,” said loanDepot Chairman and CEO, Anthony Hsieh. “The candidate who does a good job in communicating their policies moving forward has an opportunity to influence millions of potential voters.”

Same Old Same Old? Maybe Not ?

Most Americans expect their financial situations to stay the same or get worse as a result of the upcoming presidential election, which could be due to a lack of information from candidates about these key policies. While the majority of likely voters (66%) don’t expect the election will impact their personal finances, nearly one quarter (24%) think they’ll be worse off financially. Of those who expect be worse off, 56 percent say the candidates have done a bad job of articulating their housing and financial policies. More Democrats (50%) expect to be worse off financially as a result of the elections than Republicans (44%). Only six percent of all voters expect to be better off as a result of the general November election.

Millennials May Miss Out?

With Millennials now outnumbering baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation of consumers, their entrance into homeownership has been anticipated as a welcome boost to home sales, especially starter homes. However, while 38 percent of home loans closed by Millennials in April 2016 were FHA loans1, the survey revealed many are still discouraged about their incomes and the election’s impact on their access to credit. In fact, more than one third (36%) of Millennials say their primary financial concern is not making enough money, and 46 percent are concerned about how the elections will impact their ability to access credit. Two out of five (40%) Millennials said making homeownership more affordable to middle- and low-income Americans should be a priority for the next president’s first 100 days.

“As more Millennials enter the housing market, we expect to see a higher priority placed on better borrowing options for first-time homebuyers,” said Hsieh. “loanDepot is one of the five largest FHA lenders in the country and we remain focused on helping borrowers, including Millennials, access the credit they need to finance home purchases.”

Accessing Credit: Perception vs. Reality?

The loanDepot research found perceptions on financial trends sometimes don’t match reality. For example, 38 percent of Americans said they think it’s harder to get home loan today than it was immediately after the financial crisis in 2008. In fact, while guidelines have tightened since 2008, applications for purchase mortgages were more likely to be denied in 2008 than in 2014, the most recent year for which Federal Reserve2 data is available. Denial rates for home purchase loan applications hit 18 percent in 2008, while denials in 2014 topped out at 13 percent. Denial rates for home refinance applications in 2008 were 38 percent and dropped to 31 percent in 2014.

About the Survey?

The survey was conducted by OMNIWEB using the KnowledgePanel in a national online omnibus service of GfK Custom Research North America. The KnowledgePanel is the only commercially available online probability panel in the marketplace making the sample truly projectable to the US population, which sets it apart from traditional “opt-in” or “convenience” panels. A total of approximately 1,000 interviews were completed, with 500 female adults and 500 male adults. The margin of error on weighted data is +/- 3 percent for the full sample.

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.

The Mortgage Technology Revolution

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In a not-so-distant past, lenders were pushing paper around on carts, hoping their intern or temp staffer was properly classifying files, and wishing there was a better way. Crazy to think this was reality just before the turn of the century – with some riding far into the 2000s with this approach. Now, it’s almost expected that our entire world be digital. Not just digital, but truly advanced in a way that supports even the industry’s leading lenders’ competitive goals. In our world, we call this “enterprise-grade” technology. The definition has changed throughout the ages; let’s travel through time to take a look back at enterprise-grade and what is required now to earn the title.

As early as the late 80s and early 90s, we started to see traction from Application Service Providers (ASPs) who would host custom applications on behalf of customers. At the time, customers understood that ASPs could offer improved efficiencies in hosting these applications, so that they could focus on subsets of their technology portfolio that were more difficult to outsource and those that were more critical to daily operations.

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Still, with new technology, came skepticism, leading many financial institutions to insist on hosting their own proprietary solutions to maintain control and security. The dominant thinking over the subsequent 10-15 years among the largest financial institutions (including those in the mortgage industry) was that the benefits of having their own, in-house solution outweighed the benefits of ASPs.

However, during this period, something notable started to happen in smaller and more nimble organizations. They chose to embrace Software as a Service (SaaS), which is widely considered the successor to the ASP trend of 20+ years ago. Similar to ASP, the provider hosts the software, but under a pure product model: one version of the code for all customers.

The acceptance of SaaS trended as one would expect. Driven by the high visibility and success of Salesforce.com, organizations first used SaaS in non-mission-critical and non-sensitive applications like Customer Relationship Management tools. As customers with mixed technology portfolios experienced more and more success with SaaS, the contrast grew between this and the reality of the costs, risks, and distraction of maintaining and hosting their own applications, further accelerating the adoption of SaaS.

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Fast-forward to today and SaaS is the new standard for all applications (even mission-critical) for all mortgage organizations (yes, including top-tier lenders!).

SaaS is only part of the answer, however. Top-tier lenders need the benefit of SaaS without giving up the flexibility and extensibility that they’ve come to expect with one-off solutions. This means that the solution must be highly configurable, allowing the lender to remain adaptive to changing business pressures and objectives – also known as enterprise-grade technology.

So what does enterprise-grade mean in 2016?

Compliant. Aside from all the expected, cross-industry benefits of SaaS, when applied to the US mortgage industry, the model gives customers assurance that they can remain compliant. Due to the frequency and breadth of regulatory changes, providers can only apply the changes to the latest release of the platform, and non-SaaS models make it far too easy to fall behind. PC-based software, multiplied by the hundreds or thousands, is a needless hurdle in this fight to stay current. Each version that is delayed increases the risk of non-compliance.

Current. When customers stay current on the latest release, they benefit from all the latest enhancements, not just those required for compliance. As lenders know better than anyone, every advantage in the mortgage market makes a difference. True enterprise-grade providers publish a release schedule, make training and documentation accessible, and are available at every step to make sure even the largest organizations can reach, and stay, in a cadence of change. Ask your current or potential platform provider for a list showing the number of active versions of their software and the number of customers on each version. If the list contains more than one active software version, it should be a big red flag that the provider lacks the processes and rigor to keep their customers current, and the next customer that falls behind at their peril may be you.

Scalable. If you are truly partnering with an enterprise-grade solution, your provider is likely growing their customer base at a quick pace. You shouldn’t experience any growing pains, however, thanks to the provider’s multiple tiers that scale quickly and efficiently, both out and up, as required.

Secure. With increased reliance on web-based solutions, providers that offer enterprise-grade technology stand above the rest by backing their solutions with global best practices and standards related to security.

Reliable. When designed properly, cloud technologies are the perfect building blocks for mission-critical solutions. Enterprise-grade technologies have maximum uptime to ensure users experience fast and reliable service. Multiple datacenters with independent backups are essential in order to guarantee uptime in case of server failure.

Integrated. For ease-of-use, lenders are seeking fewer integration points that are theirs to manage and control. An enterprise-grade system includes a combination of the needed third-party integrations and a wide range of web-based and API connectivity points that allow lenders to make the required connections to back-end systems.

Enterprise-grade technology, regardless of size and business model, reduces risk, provides configurability to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach, stays current with industry expectations, and is always available. When enterprise-grade technology is obtained, previous obstacles are removed. Removing obstacles empowers people and allows businesses to thrive.

About The Author

Paul Wetzel
Paul Wetzel has led Product Development and Product Management activities through most of his 20-year enterprise software career – over the last 10 serving the Financial Services industry. In his current role, Paul manages both customer and industry requirements to drive product enhancements while also ensuring Mortgage Cadence leads the way in innovative loan origination technology. Paul began his career with Accenture in software development where he rose to the level of Director, Business Development for an Accenture subsidiary. Before joining Mortgage Cadence in 2009, Paul spent several years with FICO in product marketing and corporate strategy roles.

Getting That Big Customer

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Every mortgage technology company is looking to get that big customer. They want a top 50 lender. This doesn’t have to be a fantasy. There is a way, but you can’t become comfortable.

Many small business owners have developed a comfort level with the clients they serve. They’ve found the “goldilocks” position of “not too big; not too small.”

But what if you could double your company by securing one new customer? Let’s call this customer your whale.

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Who are 5 potential customers you could court that if you won their business would double your business over the next 12-24 months?

Who are they currently buying from and how do you stack up relative to this other party?

How do you stack up on:

>>Value?

>>Experience / track record?

>>Price?

>>Flexibility?

>>Reputation?

>>Quality?

Why do they buy from their existing vendor or supplier that you want to replace? What are their areas of dissatisfaction? What are the most important criteria that they use to make a buying decision? Who on their team is the decision maker? Who are the influencers?

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As you can see, gathering this information will take an investment of time and effort. But once you have it, you can craft your strategy to get in the door.

In an article entitled “4 Strategies to Land a Whale and Double Your Business” written by David Finkel, he offers up some tips. Here are 4 strategies to land your new whale:

Strategy One: Come In Through the Side Door

Look at the list of influencers in the buying decision process for your potential whale. How can you build a relationship with one or more of the key influencers? Can you arrange to meet them at a trade show or industry gathering? Can you get someone in your LinkedIn world to introduce you? Can you reach out to them with something of great value, for example, a great idea to solve a tough challenge he or she is dealing with? Sometimes the easiest door to come into to land a whale is the side door your key influencer can open for you. As we all know, the mortgage industry is about relationships. You have to get out there and “know” the people in this space. Find out who they are and how their business works. Lenders don’t want a blanket pitch, they want something more personal and tailored to their specific needs.

Strategy Two: Offer a Pilot Project on Extreme Terms

In essence this strategy says you are willing to put your company’s product or service on the line through a pilot project where you prove your ability to add massive value to your prospective whale’s world. Frame the pilot project offer as your way to earn the right to either take on some of their business, or to at the very least, to be their “Plan B” partner (see below.)

This strategy worked for Windswept Marketing, a specialty branded products company based in the southeastern USA. Just over 4 years ago they kicked off a pilot project for a key customer for a new product they created called “Indirect Embroidery” and that program lead to them landing hundreds of thousands in annual sales from Home Depot, the NFL, and other marque “whales.” And it all started with a small pilot program that was a massive success. How can this work in the mortgage industry? Some vendors have a lab where they invite lenders to come in and try the software with their data already in the system. The lender gets to test it out.

Strategy Three: Ask to Be Their Plan B

Find the right person at your whale to ask permission to earn the right to be their “plan B”. Say something like, “Mike, I know you’ve been using STR, Inc. for over 4 years now as your main vendor. I respect your loyalty to them. In fact, it’s that very loyalty that has me so hungry to earn the right to be your plan b should anything ever happen in that relationship. I know that if you ever did shift to work with us that would be because you’d have reached a point that you just were no longer getting the value you’d expect from STR, am I right? Of course. May I ask you Mike, what do I need to do to earn the right to be your back up plan just in case?”

Of course, hearing them out you need to invest the energy to be their perfectly situated plan B. Over time your perseverance and contact will go a long way to giving you an opening to pounce on to win the business. When that opening comes, you just need to seize it. In my experience, most lenders are willing to listen if you know what you’re talking about.

Strategy Four: Find the Whale that No One Knows Is in the Market

Remember that boy or girl everyone assumed was going to prom so no one asked them to go, only to later find out that they stayed home? Well right now there is likely a whale in your world who would be a great customer, and to whom you could bring extraordinary value if only you reached out to them. From a practical standpoint, this is usually a whale who is doing what your product or service does in house or with an inferior indirect competitor.

For example, STS, a software company based in Arizona, serves hospital blood banks, selling validation tools that automate the testing of their tests. Most of their “whale” customers (large hospitals and hospital groups) were doing their own validation work internally as a manual process, or hiring an outside consultant to come in and manually validate. Both of these solutions (manually doing it themselves or hiring an outside consultant) were “indirect competitors.” Well for the almost the same cost of one manual validation the hospital could get a software solution to do it faster and for almost the same price, with each subsequent automated validation being a huge net savings for the hospital. Over the past several years STS has grown rapidly landing multiple whales their competitors were overlooking because they assumed they were “going to the prom already.”

So, you need to stop being comfortable with your existing clients and really ask yourself who are your potential whales? And which of the above strategies will be your best way of landing them? You can get that top 50 lender if you try.

About The Author

Michael Hammond
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at mhammond@nexleveladvisors.com.

Flipping Is On The Rise Again

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Data from RealtyTrac shows that 6.6 percent (43,740) of all single family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips, a 20 percent increase from the previous quarter and up 3 percent from a year ago to the highest rate of home flips since the first quarter of 2014.

TME1616-Chart One

For the report, a home flip is defined as a property that is sold in an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period based on publicly recorded sales deed data collected by RealtyTrac in more than 950 counties accounting for more than 80 percent of the U.S. population (see full methodology below).

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The 6.6 percent share of total home sales that were flips in Q1 2016 was still 26 percent below the 9.0 percent share at the peak of home flipping in Q1 2006, but was 55 percent above the recent trough in home flipping — 4.3 percent of total home sales in Q3 2014.

TME0616-Chart two

“After faltering in late 2014, home flipping has been gaining steam for the last year and a half thanks to falling interest rates and a dearth of housing inventory for flippers to compete against,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. “While responsible home flipping is helpful for a housing market, excessive and irresponsible flipping activity can contribute to a home price pressure cooker that overheats a housing market, and we are starting to see evidence of that pressure cooker environment in a handful of markets.

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Home flipping hits new all-time highs in 7 percent of markets

Counter to the national trend, the share of home flipping reached new all-time highs in Q1 2016 in nine of 126 metropolitan statistical analyzed (7 percent) including Baltimore, Maryland; Buffalo, New York; Huntsville, Alabama; New Orleans, Louisiana; and York-Hanover, Pennsylvania.

TME0616-Chart three

Other markets where the share of home flipping has reached new highs since home prices bottomed out in 2012 include Seattle, Washington; Virginia Beach, Virginia; Bakersfield, California; and San Diego, California.

Flipping share up from a year ago in 60 percent of local markets

Home flipping as a share of total sales increased from a year ago in 75 out of 126 metropolitan statistical areas analyzed for the report (60 percent). Among markets with a population of at least 1 million, those with the biggest increases in the rate of flipping were New Orleans (up 45 percent), San Antonio (up 34 percent), Nashville (up 26 percent), Cleveland (up 26 percent), Columbus, Ohio (up 23 percent), and Dallas (up 22 percent).

Markets with the highest share of flipping in the first quarter were Memphis, Tennessee (13.3 percent); Clarksville, Tennessee (12.5 percent); Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida (11.8 percent); Fresno, California (11.3 percent); and Visalia-Porterville, California (11.1 percent).

Progress In Lending
The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

6 Trends That Small Business Should Follow

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2016 is a promising year for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The development of modern business technology gives small businesses the opportunity to develop low-cost, enterprise-quality products and services.

Social media, Internet marketing and ecommerce empower your business to reach potential customers in untapped markets all over the world. Staying informed on the latest trends in small business is crucial to maintaining relevance in the ever-evolving world of commerce.

Here are six small business trends you should be aware of in 2016.

1) Millennials

With its oldest members now entering their early 30s, the millennial generation is reinventing the way businesses manage the workplace and its employees. A report published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce describes the social and economic impact posed by the people born between 1982 and 1999.

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Millennials demand comprehensive leadership and opportunities for growth within every position they fulfill. Transparency, collaboration and a seamless work-life balance are vital not only to their comfort, but also to their success within the workplace. Millennials also effortlessly adopt new technologies as they’re announced, therefore erasing the awkward adjustment phase every previous generation of offices has endured after a computer and equipment update.

In regards to millennials’ relationship with technology, brands and services —”what used to be a one-way conversation is now multifaceted, 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week dialogue between brands and their customers.” In return for improved products and services, 86% of millennials are willing to provide insight on their consumer habits and decision-making processes, often through the use of online surveys.

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For entrepreneurs from the millennial generation, the ability to rapidly spread information is key to successful marketing. Millennials are also more conscious about the social responsibility exhibited by their employees or employers. In an effort to maintain that impeccable work-life balance, they actively seek workers and workplaces with shared ethics and ideals.

And because millennials place so much value on quality and ethics, they prefer to use technology to take care of the busywork — online meeting and web conferencing services such as ClickMeeting and Huddle (both virtual communication platforms), as well as workflow optimization and project management platforms such as Memit and WorkflowMax are just a few tools millennials rely on for collaboration and productivity in the workplace.

2) Web presence

The availability of Internet-based technology gives small businesses more control over brand development, marketing and customer engagement. While tech start-ups traditionally benefit most from these services, Internet tools provide affordable and attainable solutions for small businesses in every industry.

The Independent We Stand (IWS) campaign reports that 97% of Internet users conduct online research on local products and services before committing to a purchase. Reviews and testimonials, a business’s website and other public information play important roles not only in a customer’s decision to buy a product but also in whether they share that product with others online.

Despite this, Local Search Association Insider (LSA Insider) reports that nearly half of small business owners’ websites are not accessible via mobile, and Hibu reports that 45 percent of small businesses don’t have a website at all.

Now is the best time to make a change. Small business owners on a budget can build clean websites with programs like Wix and Squarespace, which even support online storefronts and integrated messaging services. Various social-media platforms, discounted print-out shipping label services and other valuable online resources are available to Internet users for free or for minimal cost.

Business owners can also choose to outsource labor they struggle with or don’t have time for. 99 Dollar Social posts fresh content to a business’s social-media pages daily, and Hootsuite delivers advanced social-media optimization tools like the ability to schedule posts across multiple platforms within one unified dashboard.

All-in-one services like Infusionsoft, which generates personalized marketing software for small businesses, and Yodle, which which maintains a business’s online presence, help small businesses with everything from appointment-setting to social media.

3) Ecommerce

Online storefronts, which allow for the movement of electronic commerce, draw Internet users to the Web in masses. Retail spending is on the rise in the U.S., and shipping fees are driving factors in customers’ decision processes.

When presented with offers for free shipping, 58% of consumers say they are willing to add items to their virtual shopping carts to meet the free-shipping threshold. Simply offering a perk for shopping at your online store can mean more money in your pocket.

You can create and develop your business’s ecommerce platform with a vast selection of Internet tools, such as Magneto and Shopify. 3dcart is a great solution for small business owners who need to develop an online storefront on a tight budget. Vend, a leading point of sale system, generates a cloud-based mobile optimized online store for your business in a matter of minutes.

Other developing areas of ecommerce include mobile commerce — or mcommerce — as well as social ecommerce. Because many consumers can now make secure purchases using their smartphones, mobile devices are becoming the most used platform for looking up information on goods and services. According to a report conducted by Forrester, mobile payments in the U.S. alone will generate $142 billion.

4) EMV payment security

EMV, or “Europay, MasterCard, and Visa,” is vital to business security in 2016. The national migration to EMV payment standards (popularly recognized as microchip debit and credit cards) is virtually guaranteed to safeguard small businesses and their customers against fraud over the next year. As of October 2015, merchants in the U.S. are liable for any fraudulent transactions processed without EMV-enabled terminals. The government-mandated requirement was expedited as a result of large-scale data breaches and an influx of counterfeit cards in the U.S.

Protecting the security of your business and its customers should be your number-one priority. According to Creditcards.com, while only 25 percent of U.S. debit cards are currently chip-equipped, and an estimated 12 million point-of-sale terminals still need to be upgraded to support EMV, small businesses accepting antiquated swipe and sign payments are “held 100% liable for claims of fraud or wrong-doing” according to Finance Magnets.

If your business still accepts face-to-face transactions without EMV, not only are losing credibility among your customers, but you’re facing some serious financial risk as well.

5) Online lending

A Harvard Business School paper titled “The State of Small-Business Lending” analyzes one of the most significant trends for small businesses — online lending. This innovative trend in small-business lending is driven by the “simplicity and convenience of the application process, speed of delivery of capital and a greater focus on customer service.” While traditional banks view small business lending as high-risk, many online lenders award funding exclusively to small-business startups.

A few different online lending models are available for small businesses. Peer-to-peer lending platforms connect institutional investors to your small business through services such as Lending Club and Prosper. Fundera and Biz2Credit connect borrowers with alternative and traditional lenders through comprehensive online marketplaces.

As a result of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act of 2012, the trend in online lending has shifted toward investment crowdfunding opportunities. You can launch your own campaign through a variety of popular crowdfunding websites, including AngelList, Indiegogo, Kickstarter and Fundable.

6) Business Intelligence

Business intelligence (BI) software gathers fragmented data sets and translates it into information you can use to improve your business. BI has historically been used by large enterprises to curate, store and visualize what’s known as big data. The growth of Internet technology and big-data solutions make it possible for small businesses to take advantage of BI solutions.

Leading business dashboards like Cyfe deliver advanced analytics, monitoring and tracking your business’s data in real-time, through a dashboard which integrate with almost every platform. This includes marketing automation, sales, search engine optimization and even a dashboard for social media analytics. Small businesses require more simplified solutions to BI than those required by large enterprises.

With so many changes coming to the entrepreneurial world in 2016, standing apart from other small businesses can be both exciting and challenging. Most of the services listed in this article offer free trials and tiered pricing plans to help your business get its foot in the door.

About The Author

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is a serial entrepreneur, mentor, investor and co-founder of YoungEntrepreneur.com. He is co-author, with his brother Matthew, of “Kidpreneurs” and “Small Business, BIG Vision: Lessons of How to Dominate Your Market from Self-Made Entrepreneurs Who Did It Right” (Wiley). He's based in Phoenix, Ariz.