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Divide And Conquer: How A Data-Supported Work Environment Saves Employees Time And Increases Productivity

We have experienced a fundamental shift in technology during the past two decades. In both our personal and our work lives, there is a whole new set of technologies available and companies are taking advantage of these technologies to gain advantages in their markets. In fact, individual and enterprise access to numerous new tech tools is the new normal.


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According to a McKinsey study, more than 90% of enterprise companies will adopt intelligent process technologies to turbocharge their operations by 2020, creating an Intelligent Work Experience for employees that can significantly drive down costs and increase their productivity.Adopting new technology is the only way for mortgage companies to compete over the long term by shifting from people-powered business to a software-powered business. You’ll see solutions that will help close loans faster, at lower costs, while speeding up cycle times, and providing better experiences for customers and employees. Innovation in consumer portals have helped improve the online application process over the past several years, but the costs of originating a loan continue to skyrocket, and the length of time it takes to close is still not fast enough. 


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Big data and AI can provide significant advantages for mortgage companies that harness technology’s power to make employees more productive. Data is at the heart of getting a mortgage. The borrowers apply for a loan by providing information about income, credit, and assets. The lender then uses this collection of data to make a decision about the loan. When the loan closes, the lender sells or retains the loan in the portfolio. The loan data could subsequently be leveraged to drive repeat business at a later time.


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It is worth noting, however, that while “big data analytics” has suddenly become a go-to catchphrase for many in our industry, our own experience in the space suggests that the challenges associated with implementing and realizing value from big data are more subtle. 

For the past 14 years, we’ve been helping clients collect, validate, and leverage the data to drive workflow automation and improve productivity in the mortgage process. We have an intimate knowledge of the pain points in this process. There remains a series of key friction points that must be addressed for the mortgage process to truly be reinvented, and we’ve been innovating on our clients’ behalf to improve the end-to-end mortgage experience for every user who touches the loan.  

Creating an intelligent process leveraging data and AI helps mortgage companies get leaner, faster, and more profitable. As one of the most complex, largest financial transactions most people make in their lives, getting a mortgage requires the gathering of information, validation and coordination with multiple parties to make a decision, while also meeting multiple regulatory requirements. Many legacy systems are outdated and face several big challenges in the race to modernize. 

Those who succeed will master the harvesting and delivery of relevant data at the right time so every user in the loan process — borrowers, loan officers, underwriters, processors, closing specialists, and delivery — are provided with the tools they need to manage their workload easily and make decisions quickly. This will remove friction in the loan process that bogs most lenders down operationally. With an intelligent document and data management system that provides user-friendly tools to empower its employees, lenders can have confidence in their data quality and can operate with full transparency to accelerate decisions and dramatically increase productivity and lower costs — all without having to rip out existing infrastructure for rapid deployment.   

For example, using a combination of business process improvements and next-generation tools can remove repetitive, replicable, and routine tasks, creating workflow automation with high accuracy rates. Up to 80% of manual processes could be eliminated without replacing existing operating systems, driving significant improvements across nearly every function.

Data-driven technology that creates an intelligent work experience increases employee productivity with automation while helping lenders scale quickly and do more with the same number of employees. Moving from a labor-intensive human powered process to a software-powered model also lowers risks and costs, helping companies survive and thrive in the new era of technology. At the end of the day, the key to innovative technological innovation is about making things easier for our most valuable assets — humans.

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3 Approaches For Lenders Adapting The Next-Gen Mortgage Model: Build. Buy. Renovate.

The mortgage industry is going through a technological transformation. Gone are the days of paper applications; today, 43% of mortgage shoppers start their applications online. Lenders have been racing to modernize their front-end portals to provide a digital experience for their tech-savvy customers — and those tech-savvy millennials comprised 91% of the home purchases in June 2018, according to the Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker report. 

However, while lenders have made significant investments to “improve the customer experience,” this hasn’t fundamentally improved the end-to-end process process. Closing a loan still takes an average of 40+ days, and costs continue to rise. Some savvy lenders are now evaluating automation, which speeds up closings and drives down origination costs. Focusing on improving back-end operational efficiency will take the modern mortgage experience to the next level for both borrowers and employees.


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Choosing the right solution to drive operational changes is not always straightforward, but waiting to modernize and making the wrong move can be costly. To name just a few casualties of this attitude, remember Blockbuster, Dell and, more recently, Toys ’R’ Us?


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Based on what we’ve seen with clients and industry leaders, we believe there are three main options open to lenders and homeowners alike. Here’s an interesting way to think about them: When you know your home no longer meets your needs, your choices are to: build a new house, buy a different house or remodel your existing house.

So what does that mean for the next generation of mortgage platforms? 

Much like a homeowner who’s building a house, some lenders might have a specific vision that none of the solution providers can meet. So one option is to build your own solution. 


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You start by drawing up a blueprint, getting it approved, hiring the contractor and then building your home piece by piece and step by step. The upside is that you get what you really want — a custom solution — but it could be costly and will take longer than buying something that already exists. Still, building your own solution could be the right decision if you have the time and the resources to invest. 

Keep in mind that when you build a home, having a strong foundation is critical. In this example, the strong foundation for your mortgage loan solution would be data. 

Data is at the heart of getting a mortgage. The borrowers apply for a loan by providing information about their income, credit and existing assets. The lender then uses the data collected to make a decision about the loan. When the loan closes, the lender sells or retains the loan in its portfolio. The loan data could subsequently be leveraged to drive repeat business at a later time. Many legacy systems face issues of multiple sources of data, lack of transparency, and difficulty in accessing that data for insights.

Like having a strong foundation for a house, a data-driven solution is core to building a modern technology platform because it gives you confidence in data quality that allows you to accelerate decisions, speeding up the transaction process. And you don’t have to do it alone. General contractors bring in experts like electricians to help them build components of the house. Look for solutions to help ingest data, map data for accuracy, and provide tools to make the data accessible.  

The second option is buying a different house — for example, another existing home in a neighborhood with better schools. It may be easier than building your own, with faster speed to market, but with an existing house, you don’t have the opportunity to customize each room. You may not like the layout of the kitchen even though you got the three bedrooms you needed. 

Important factors to consider when you buy an existing solution include: 

>>Length of time for implementation and configurability options 

>>Smart automation capabilities to minimize mundane tasks for maximum efficiency

>>Whether it has the ability to meet requirements for compliance 

>>Most important of all: Whether this single solution meets your short- and long-term business goals. 

Like buying an existing home, you might just have to live with the awkward kitchen layout, but there is also a third option to consider. 

That third option is to renovate. 

Let’s say you bought a house built in the 1950s. The kitchen is outdated, the bathroom has a pink sink, and the whole place needs a fresh coat of paint. 

Renovating is like a makeover of your existing infrastructure. In my experience working closely with mortgage companies for the past 15 years, we’ve been building technology that leverages data to address major pain points in the end-to-end loan process. By automating up to 80% of the manual, repetitive tasks throughout the loan process, lenders are able to create an intelligent work experience that significantly increases employee productivity, drives down costs, and reduces risk without sacrificing confidence in data accuracy — essentially remodeling your existing infrastructure. This approach can be smart and cost-effective if the goal is to see immediate gains on efficiency and ROI.

In recent years, the common theme around the “renovation” approach has been  focused on the front end for a modern, fresh consumer portal. But mortgage companies with strategic long-term thinking are also examining their options more holistically to improve the end-to-end mortgage experience for both borrowers and employees… because conventional wisdom tells us if you only replace the faucet but keep the old pipes, your kitchen is still not functioning well. 

Whether mortgage companies choose to build, buy or renovate to implement the next-gen mortgage experience will depend on their strategic objectives, resources and timeline. Whatever approach is chosen, one thing is for certain: As competition grows more fierce and the industry experiences consolidation and layoffs, now is the time to invest in the future. 

Those who make the decision to automate and invest in the right technology will gain a competitive advantage and will thrive. 

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Perfecting The Borrower Experience Is All The Rage

As the industry is securely in a purchase market, improving the borrower experience is a key differentiator for lenders looking to close more loans. Prominent mortgage industry executives gathered in Washington, DC at the 8th Annual PROGRESS in Lending ENGAGE Event sponsored by Get Credit Healthy, QuestSoft and Optimal Blue, to really drill down on this industry trend. How can lenders offer a better borrower experience? Here’s what was said:

In talking about other companies outside of mortgage that do it right, Denis Brosnan, CEO at DIMONT, said, “My Dad is Amazon’s best friend. So, when people in this industry say that older folks won’t do things online, they’re wrong. What people don’t want is to call a call center. The biggest thing is to reach out to people. You need to be a professional advisor.”

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“When you think about the customer experience, you really need to white board and draft out the entire process first,” noted Elizabeth Karwowski, CEO at Get Credit Healthy. “From there you need to ask what else can you be doing to get the borrower more engaged. Bring in other folks from outside the industry to give their perspective. We have to create a better journey for the borrower.”

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“Borrowers are with you for 30 days, but LOs are with you for life,” added Joe Wilson, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SimpleNexus. “We need to ask: How can LOs create a better experience for borrowers? You have to enable LOs and others within your organization to think more about the borrower if the process is ever going to improve.”

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“We can start by doing a better job with the upfront validation piece,” concluded Eric Christensen, Chief Strategy Officer at LERETA. “The industry has done a great job at the point-of-sale, but that’s where it stops. You can’t just offer the borrower a good experience there and stop. We need to perfect the whole process, including the backend, as well.”

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Who Cares About The Digital Mortgage Anyway?

As the focus turns to increasing efficiency, reducing cost and maintaining compliance, the mortgage industry has become keenly focused on going digital. Prominent mortgage industry executives gathered in Washington, DC at the 8th Annual PROGRESS in Lending ENGAGE Event sponsored by Get Credit Healthy, QuestSoft and Optimal Blue, to really drill down on this industry trend. Why is the digital mortgage such a big deal? Here’s what was said:

Doing a digital mortgage means that you are originating a more compliant loan. “We have 10% post closing QC now, but that’s archaic,” says Leonard Ryan, President at QuestSoft. “We have pushed all that compliance to the frontend. We are not doing that to stop the loan, we’re doing it to get things done right as early in the process as possible. That’s what a digital mortgage does for you.”

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“If you think about it, there are a lot of disparate systems in the mortgage space that all have different functions and purposes,” added Michael Kolbrener, Chief Technology Officer at PromonTech. “A mortgage is the biggest financial transaction that people will do in their lifetime. So, you have to approach it from the standpoint of creating the most efficiency. All of the systems should work together to get and validate the data needed to do that loan. We are in a data business, so we need to use technology that is truly data driven.”

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“Also, we’re dealing with people. A mortgage is very personal and a digital mortgage does not negate that,” continued Jim Obsitnik, COO at Capsilon. “Here at Capsilon we look at the process end-to-end and the common thread is the data. There are a lot of native data sources that we can access. Data is key. You need to drive ROI for the borrower, for the lender, for the LO, for the investor, for everyone. The digital mortgage allows you to achieve that goal.”

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So, how do you do that? “Artificial Intelligence or AI is very new to the mortgage industry, but it’s going to play a critical role,” pointed out Alok Bansal, Vice President and Business Head at Wipro Gallagher Solutions. “We talk a lot about the borrower experience in mortgage today, but this industry is really playing catch up. Take Uber for example, they have automated the entire taxi/transportation process and it’s all transparent to the end user. AI is going to help that happen for mortgage lending.”

The last part of the puzzle is eClosing ad eNotarizing. When will that get broad industry adoption? It’s happening today according to Kelly Purcell, EVP. Marketing and Business Development at NotaryCam. “I’ve been on the eSigning bandwagon since the beginning. D-Day for eSigning really happened back in 2000, but eSigning still didn’t go mainstream right away. We had to educate the industry and move adoption one lender at a time and it was painful at times. Sometimes I felt like I was working at a not-for-profit. I see eNotarization and eClosing the same way. We have reached D-Day and now we’re educating the industry. The difference is that lenders really want to listen and move on this. Full digital mortgages are happening and it is for the betterment of everyone.”

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Finicity And Capsilon Partner To Modernize And Digitize Mortgage Origination

Finicity, a provider of real-time financial data aggregation and insights, has an integration agreement with Capsilon, a provider of intelligent process automation software for the mortgage industry. Under the agreement, Finicity’s Verification of Assets (VoA) solution has been integrated into the Capsilon platform to improve the speed, user experience and economics of the mortgage process.

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Finicity’s VoA solution provides bank-validated insights into borrower assets, enabling reports to be generated in only minutes. The solution reduces fraud, frees up resources, shortens time to close and is now integrated with Capsilon borrower and loan officer workspaces to automate asset verification. This further streamlines the loan application process — borrowers no longer need to search for bank statements, and loan officers have more time to focus on higher value activities, such as getting more loans.

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“We’re excited to work alongside Capsilon with the shared goal of transforming the difficult manual mortgage origination processes of today into a modern and digital experience of the future,” said Steve Smith, Finicity CEO. “Finicity’s VoA reports are a key part of the next-generation mortgage process.”

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Capsilon builds intelligent tools that transform the way mortgage companies work. The end-to-end platform uses data and AI to automate manual tasks and enable better, faster decision-making.

“The mortgage industry is undergoing radical transformation driven by technology. Those who invest in the right technology now will gain a competitive advantage to help them minimize risk and accelerate growth as the market changes,” said Jim Obsitnik, Chief Operating Officer of Capsilon. “We’re thrilled to partner with Finicity to help mortgage companies speed up the application process and deliver better borrower and loan officer experiences.”

Both Finicity’s asset and income solutions are delivered under the CRA framework, which allows borrowers to directly obtain information on reports or submit disputes. Finicity’s status as a registered CRA is a symbol of its commitment to safeguarding consumer privacy and dedication to the mortgage lending space.

Finicity is an authorized, integrated provider of asset verification reports within Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter (DU). This gives lenders a validated asset report through Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty initiative. Finicity is also part of the Single Source Validation (SSV) pilot, meaning Fannie Mae will utilize transaction data from Finicity reports to validate assets, income and employment. A broader rollout of SSV is planned later this year and will build on Fannie Mae’s Day 1 Certainty initiative.

Finicity is also an authorized Freddie Mac asset validation report provider, and Freddie Mac and Finicity are working together on new methods to validate income from payroll deposit data from bank statements.

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Capsilon Launches Capsilon IQ, Moves From Docs To Data

Capsilon has launched Capsilon IQ platform and Capsilon Data Audit app, and the rebrand of DocVelocity. More than 160 mortgage companies rely on DocVelocity for mission-critical business operations, and 15% of U.S. mortgages touch the system each year. Mortgage companies are under increasing pressure to deliver faster, easier mortgages at a time when margins are at their lowest point in years. Companies who want to compete need to evolve their businesses and transform how they work. To meet this need, the company is expanding the Capsilon platform to harness new technologies that drive this evolution.

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Introducing Capsilon IQ

Capsilon IQ is the platform at the heart of the next-generation mortgage operating model. Formerly known as DocVelocity, Capsilon IQ evolved from enterprise-wide document management to an end-to-end mortgage automation engine. It combines Intelligent Process Automation with patented data recognition and extraction technology to create efficiencies at every stage of the mortgage lifecycle. Capsilon IQ enables users to create intelligent work experiences that make people more productive and existing systems more powerful.

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Capsilon IQ: Document Edition includes the core document management functionality that solves key workforce productivity challenges of managing and manipulating documents. It speeds up loan intake and reduces the manual work associated with handling inbound documents.

Capsilon IQ: Docs & Data Edition includes all of the features of Document Edition, plus a new set of tools to help mortgage companies do more with their loan data. It includes Capsilon Mortgage Data Management, a data repository that companies can use to power their mortgage business. The platform absorbs millions of data points from documents and digital sources, standardizes them into a consolidated record for each loan file. With Mortgage Data Management, companies can ensure data integrity across all business applications.

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Companies can also extend Capsilon IQ with productivity boosting apps that speed up teams and their tasks, solving the biggest pain points that weigh mortgage companies down.

NEW Data Audit App

A major pain point for many of customers is the dreaded ‘stare and compare’ process that frustrates staff and takes up valuable time. Capsilon’s new Data Audit app frees up staff time spent searching for docs and data. It provides a single place to see and compare data across sources, including the LOS and supporting documents. Capsilon Data Audit flags data mismatches for review so staff can instantly spot where supporting documents and data don’t match.

Capsilon Data Audit boosts data integrity and drives productivity gains across functions.

Tackling Industry Innovation

The PROGRESS in Lending Innovations Award Winners gathered to talk about the future of mortgage lending. Over 100 mortgage executives came together to attend PROGRESS in Lending Association’s Eighth Annual Innovations Awards Event. We named the top innovations of the past twelve months. After that event, we wondered what would happen if we brought together executives from the winning companies to talk about mortgage technology innovation. Where do they see the state of industry innovation right now? And what innovation is it going to take to get our industry really going strong? To get these and other questions answered, we got the winning group together. In the end, here’s what they said:

Q: Some say innovation has to be sweeping change. Others say innovation can be incremental change. How would you define innovation?

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MICHAEL KOLBRENER: At PromonTech we are very careful with the word “innovation”. While we strive to be innovative, whether or not we succeed isn’t our call, but our clients’ and the market’s. At the end of the day, innovation is in the eyes of the user. And innovation can manifest itself differently; it can be a “big bang” like Apple’s iPhone, or it can occur more gradually and quietly like Internet availability. Fannie Mae and FormFree are great examples in our industry of how significant technology opportunities require time in order to be realized. Day 1 Certainty is destined to be a game-changer, but adoption may take time. Just like it took time for the amazing tools in FNMA Desktop Underwriter to be appreciated. As technologists, it’s our job to celebrate the important technology opportunities and help our user communities keep working on adoption.

JOHN PAASONEN: Innovation, especially in our industry, takes many forms. Innovation pushes forward a process, changes a mentality, or reforms the way something is thought about or done. We’re seeing all forms of this in mortgage, whether it is Day 1 Certainty, upfront underwriting, or shared-equity financing. The best kind of commercial innovation sweeps people along with the change in the present, not 10 years from now, bringing actionable ideas to market quickly, iterating those ideas, and ultimately delivering meaningful impact to the experience, P&L or relationships in a business.

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PHIL RASORI: Traditionally, I would say that innovation in our industry has been more of a gradual, step-by-step approach with new products, services and enhancements being launched as vendors identified demand and areas for improvement.  However, the introduction digital mortgage movement, which has been rapidly building over the past few years has been sweeping, with an array of fintechs and new ideas being spawned to build a better overall lending process. The trick now is going to be the rate of borrower and marketplace adoption of these new technologies.  Think about this: even adoption of now comfortable mainstays such as online shopping with Amazon or online trading with Schwab didn’t happen overnight. Adoption took time, and it will in the mortgage space, too.

GARTH GRAHAM: At STRATMOR, we see the innovation as a combination of People, Process and Technology, a variation on the classic 3Ps of People, Process and Product. You can have innovation that applies to any of the three, but it’s best is when it’s applied to all three together.  In fact, that was a key message in my presentation at the most recent MBA Technology Conference — that changing across people, process and technology is what drives big changes.

SANJEEV MALANEY: I would describe innovation as significant positive change resulting from fresh thinking that creates value for its user. It’s a result. It’s an outcome. It’s something one works toward. There are no qualifiers for how groundbreaking or world-shattering that something needs to be, only that it needs to be better than it was before. Innovation is evolutionary, not revolutionary — like Einstein’s theory of relativity.

KELCEY T. BROWN: At WebMax, we believe that innovation means identifying a problem and coming up with a unique solution. Whether it be sweeping or incremental, that unique solution changes things for the better. Innovation, especially in mortgage technology, has been defined by streamlining processes, reducing operating and origination costs, and delivering a better borrowing experience.

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ADAM BATAYEH: For us, it’s all about progress. Almost any amount of progress will do no matter how incremental the change is. If you create something that is cool and trendy but doesn’t necessarily push things forward in a way that betters people/process/industry, that “innovation” was more novelty than anything and will likely find itself extinct.

So in terms of impact, the amount of impact/progress isn’t as important because of all that happens downstream that we may not see immediately. You could make an incremental change that has monumental implications years later. In our space, it’s sort of like the butterfly effect.

LUKE WIMER: Innovation is the achievement of a consistently better outcome for time invested in an activity. I think creative problem solving needs to be encouraged, so we need to think of it as incremental change, and then allow for sweeping change to be the aggregation of persistent innovation. In our industry context, we might refer to the ability to electronically sign a mortgage as an innovation and the ability to digitally process a mortgage end-to-end as the sweeping change we are all driving toward.  Innovation is also often the result of fostering a culture of continuous improvement. In our company, we set long-term aspirations, then we ask everyone to set improvement or innovation goals for the next quarter or half year. We don’t specify how to improve; we don’t want people to be constrained. Then we measure results, talk about what happened, and set goals for the next round, rewarding examination and striving rather than hitting the target itself. The pace of creativity is increasing as people get comfortable taking risks.

NEIL FRASER: Innovation, in most cases brings incremental change. Over time many incremental changes bring about what can appear to be sudden sweeping change. As the mortgage industry moves towards the sweeping change being called the Digital Mortgage, many innovations have been, and continue to be tried and tested. This is the necessary process for moving an entire industry towards a significantly different model.

At Paradatec, we are continuing to innovate in an effort to support the industry’s long term move towards a more efficient and accurate process for originating, servicing, and auditing mortgage loans.

More specifically, we define innovation in our particular niche as “the application of artificial intelligence to the problem of document recognition”. This could mean the creation of a new, more automated, document classification solution for a servicing world where scanned images of documents, that were originally paper, are still key, or it could mean the creation of new recognition capabilities for e-signed documents that never were paper. Regardless of the application, we at Paradatec are committed to an ever-expanding document recognition stack that covers origination, servicing and auditing mortgage loans.

Q: How would you define the state of innovation in the mortgage industry? Is it thriving or in a state of decay?

MICHAEL KOLBRENER: The mortgage industry is in an unprecedented phase of technology adoption. There is no doubt that Rocket Mortgage deserves lots of credit for truly introducing the “Internet” to the mortgage industry. Rocket has shown all lenders that technology is an integral part of the future of mortgage originations. Additionally, we are seeing lots of new technology companies competing in the mortgage space (including PromonTech!) We’re just beginning to realize the many opportunities to improve efficiencies.

JOHN PAASONEN: Twenty four months ago, my answer may have been different. But today, it is a thrill and a privilege to participate in the transformation occuring in the mortgage industry. For nearly a decade — in the wake of the financial crisis, the passage of Dodd-Frank, the creation of the CFPB, and major regulation like TRID — investment dollars were poured into compliance, not advancement. I’m incredibly encouraged by the increasing openness to the work of many innovators, from both inside and outside the industry, to incite progress. Innovation is alive and needs to be spurred forward.

PHIL RASORI: Post the mortgage crash and subsequent introduction of a myriad of new rules and changing regulations with Dodd-Frank and enforcement by the CFPB became a huge concern and instantly drew everyone’s attention to compliance adherence, which arguably distracted from technology innovation. Now more than ever, the mortgage industry is on a fast-track to achieve far-reaching changes via new technology, which is being fueled by anticipated demand for borrower automation and lenders’ positioning themselves to remain competitive, thus driving innovation across the board. We’re not only thriving right now, but some say we’re drinking from a firehouse. Again, adoption will be key to these innovations becoming reality.

SANJEEV MALANEY: The industry is ready for innovation and we’re starting to see major transformation impacting the end-to-end mortgage process. New companies are flush with venture capital. Lenders are funding innovation centers using their own capital investments. People from outside the industry with diverse sets of skills and experience are being hired to drive this transformation. We’re going to see more innovation in the next twelve months than we’ve seen in years.

KELCEY T. BROWN: Innovation in the mortgage industry is thriving thanks to the continuous flow of new ideas and products, and growing interest in technology from lenders. We’re seeing point-of-sale products become more intuitive and borrower-friendly, and financial data retrievers’ rules engines making loan processing faster and more efficient. Lenders’ interest in digital mortgages continues to grow as today’s home buyers lean more and more toward a digital borrowing experience. That said, a great deal of the industry still needs to transition to digital mortgages. Growing interest, paired with a sizable unaddressed market, makes a perfect storm for thriving innovation.

As much blame is put on regulation for technical stagnation, we like to thank it. It put our backs against the wall and forced companies to make major changes that they couldn’t handle or weren’t willing to take on. It led to that consolidation, and most importantly, it led to massive amounts of investment in what we like to call “foundation over feature” and that has helped increase transparency, accountability, and more. It’s what laid the groundwork for all the innovation you are seeing today.

ADAM BATAYEH: Innovation is thriving, thriving, thriving. If this were 2013, the answer would have been massive decay. The thing is, that decay was necessary and led to all of the innovation we are seeing today.

LUKE WIMER: Mortgage is a bit late to the innovation party compared to payments or online banking, so we are still more focused on automation and efficiency and just starting to affect true change to the consumer experience.  But we should not underestimate the potential for change and innovation. The industry has been gearing up over the years with steps toward digitization, creative partnerships, driving new standards, and these will allow a fast pace of change once the scale is tipped. I am thinking of how one of Hemingway’s characters went bankrupt: “Gradually, then suddenly.”

NEIL FRASER: Innovation in the mortgage industry is definitely thriving today. For the last twelve years, we at Paradatec have focused on building our mortgage technology through advanced OCR using artificial intelligence and an ability to learn over time and provide increasingly more significant innovations.

In the last twelve years, we have not only increased our ability to innovate, but have further greatly accelerated this ability to innovate from our partnerships and integrations with others in the industry. This is a trend we expect to continue for years to come.

GARTH GRAHAM: I think that innovation is truly accelerating, but too often people define innovation as simply technology. They think the next software product, the next shiny object will transform their business. At STRATMOR, we often see companies with good people and good process being able to overcome substandard technology, but rarely do we see a company with great technology that can overcome poor people or process. This does not mean tech is not important, in fact I believe that we don’t spend enough on technology — but if you don’t have the people and process lined up to implement change, then the technology alone will not drive the results you seek.

Q: Lastly, if there was one innovation that you would say the mortgage industry desperately needs to happen over the next twelve months, what would it be?

MICHAEL KOLBRENER: All of us, in lending, need to evangelize the potential of technology and encourage our user audiences to understand the role it can play in the future of originations. Over the next 12 months, we need to keep pushing data providers to make applicant data more readily available, particularly around income verification (and tax supporting docs). At PromonTech that’s where we believe that next big breakthroughs will come.

JOHN PAASONEN: We’re just beginning to see the early signs of moving beyond “digital paper.” Over the last 10 years, the mortgage industry has largely taken a paper-bound process and digitized it. A loan application acted much like its paper counterpart, just with the ability to type answers, for example. In the next 12 months, regulators, lenders, investors and innovators need to continue to push forward with initiatives to all-together remove the tremendous burden on borrowers, loan officers, processors, appraisers and others created by our legacy of paper-driven process. The winners will be those who realize first that data availability and fidelity is too rich, and computing power too strong, to be ignored.

SANJEEV MALANEY: While we have witnessed significant innovation over the past year, there remains a series of key friction points that must be addressed for the mortgage process to truly be reinvented.

Perhaps the most critical enabler in our space (not unlike other verticals) is the use of data, and by extension, how to extract insights from that data to make faster and better decisions, which is where Capsilon is focusing its innovation efforts. It is worth noting, however, that while “big data analytics” has suddenly become a go-to catchphrase for many in our industry, our own experience in the space suggests that the challenges associated with implementing and realizing value from big data are more subtle.

For the past 14 years, we’ve been helping clients collect, validate and leverage the data to drive automation and improve productivity in the mortgage process. Those who succeed will master the harvesting and delivery of relevant data at the right time so every user (borrowers, LOs, underwriters, processors, closers) in the loan process are provided the information and tools they need when, where, and how they need it to remove friction in the loan process.

KELCEY T. BROWN: Faster adoption of digital mortgages. The faster lenders adopt digital mortgages, the better off their business will be, from their balance sheet to borrower satisfaction. It is evident that through technology, lenders can close loans faster, with more efficiency, for a better cost. At the same time, that boosted efficiency means borrowers get in their homes faster and are more satisfied with their mortgage experience. Real estate agent satisfaction grows as their listings get filled and closed faster as well, which can boost referrals. Imagine that your company waited to adopt email, how would that have worked out?

ADAM BATAYEH: To use our internal phrase again: foundation over feature. It seems that everyone is racing to be first with the next big thing and it’s very tempting to follow trends. At the same time, it can confuse lenders and can make it harder on them to make a decision. We can create all the new features we want, but if they’re hard to integrate and implement, we’ll find ourselves pigeonholed.

An example I can give is Windows vs. Mac OS and their respective web-browsers. The Operating System was the “foundation” and the web-browsers were built as “features”. Buy the OS, get the browser for free. The browser would work flawlessly with its respective OS.

Google Chrome came out of nowhere as it’s “foundation vs. feature” priority was the reverse. Knowing the future was in the Cloud, they built an agnostic browser, which resulted in Windows and Mac users collaborating in a new way. As Microsoft and Apple built browsers that were feature-focused and complimented their foundational Operating Systems, Google was busy playing the agnostic game and with Chrome has quickly emerged as the leader.

LUKE WIMER: There are so many different needs. I would like to see clarity on where federal regulators are headed. I would like to see some of this mortgage application automation technology make its way further into the loan origination process. We appreciate the need for increased security and rigor in vendor management, and are pushing for increased acceptance of SaaS and the tools many of us are making available to offer plug-in solutions. I believe it will be a collection of innovation and providers, which will be needed to really transform. It is a resilient sector that rolls with the punches, and is complex enough that no single innovation will win or solve the problems of every player. Therefore I am glad there are many of us working on improvement from different angles.

NEIL FRASER: Accurate data which reflects the terms, borrower, lender, and property information from Mortgage loans’ source documents will continue to be a critically important requirement. As a result, there will continue to be a need to audit the accuracy of the data as it relates to the legally definitive required source documents. As loans and their servicing rights are passed from investor to investor and servicer to servicer, a more efficient process for efficiently and accurately onboarding these loans as these transactions occur is desperately needed. At Paradatec, we are continuing to innovate and this need is one of major focus for us in the coming year.

GARTH GRAHAM: So, there certainly has been a significant amount of technology innovation at the point of sale — dynamic applications are more commonplace.  I think it’s what occurs BEFORE the application that is critical for the next year.  The reason is that we are pivoting to a heavy purchase market — only 25 percent refinance — down from roughly 50 percent refinance (or more) for the past 20 years.  This is a MAJOR difference and will really stress originators who are not equipped to handle purchase opportunities.  At STRATMOR we have a methodology of creating a digital roadmap for lenders, and we often find that they are not adequately valuing the tools that are required prior to application. We refer this to Lead Engagement — the ability to interact with purchase consumers across multiple touch points and for longer periods of time.   We also feel that price competition will become more acute going forward.  Thus, we think innovation needs to tackle the functions that typically are considered CRM functionality — managing customer interactions over long periods of time — as well as presentation to clearly show what customers are going to pay for their mortgages.

Also, we think that there is going to be a lot of industry consolidation, both for mortgage origination companies and for the technology vendors that support the lenders it.  At STRATMOR we are active in M&A and have never been busier with lenders looking for strategic alternatives, and with buyers who are well positioned for the future, and are actively looking to acquire other entities to gain market share during this difficult period.  Vendors are finding a similar climate, and some smaller vendors are seeking capital partners. New capital is entering the market to acquire additional technology capabilities.

PHIL RASORI: I hate to use what many feel is an over-used term these days, but acceptance of the “digital mortgage” and what it encompasses will be key to much of what is to follow. We are seeing that successfully be streamlined right now at the point-of-sale for borrowers. Digitization of the secondary market is also picking up speed, which is what we at MCT have been focused on. Technology integrations are essential for lenders to keep systems operating in real-time, while automation is streamlining processes. Digital whole loan trading is revolutionizing the loan sale process. Embracing the digital mortgage at every step in the process is helping lenders to increase efficiency and profits.

Working Together, We All Win

As anyone who has hailed a cab, booked an airline ticket or purchased goods online can attest, technology has the ability to transform established industries, seemingly overnight. Yet other industries appear immune to the impact of technology, with customer experiences that appear frozen in time.

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Heading this dubious short list would be the healthcare and mortgage industries, which bear interesting similarities. Both represent a significant share of the economy, impact a majority of the population and feature a customer experience that is ripe for change. So why isn’t it happening more quickly?

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Some would point to the complexity of each industry’s “delivery system.” In the case of healthcare, coordinating the activities of employers, government agencies, insurers, providers and life science companies, each with their own processes, is clearly challenging. In reality, it is likely the approach to change that is to blame for the slow pace of innovation. In each industry, early efforts to “reinvent the wheel” typically involved a single player seeking to develop and deliver a revised end-to-end process, with technology a key enabler. Unfortunately, these early efforts ultimately collapsed under their own weight, given the required cross-industry expertise and investment.

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This end-to-end approach was quickly followed by the emergence of specialized point solutions, each aimed at a specific component of the industry value chain. In healthcare, this took the form of patient engagement apps and in mortgage, the borrower mortgage application experience. While promising on their own merits, addressing only one component of the issue does not solve the larger problem. It still takes an average 40+ days to close a mortgage.

Fortunately, a “third way” has emerged.

In healthcare, firms such as Change Healthcare are integrating their own best-in-class point solutions, such as secure transaction processing, with those of their partners to create a seamless, end-to-end process and a superior customer experience. Within the mortgage space, Capsilon is adopting a similar approach, investing to integrate best-in-class partner solutions, such as Optimal Blue’s pipeline and rate lock management APIs, with its own. Here the integration of Optimal Blue’s rich feature set with Capsilon’s loan officer portal enables loan officers to perform more of their day-to-day tasks within the intuitive and user-friendly Capsilon platform. The net effect? Loan officers are able to run real-time pricing and loan scenarios, and can instantly lock rates, making it possible to complete an application and issue a pre-approval in half the time, delighting borrowers and real estate agents alike.

The “moral of the story?”

Those who are willing to collaborate with and leverage the expertise of partners, while investing the time and effort necessary to create a seamless, integrated solution, will be successful. Like-minded technology leaders will ultimately provide tremendous value to the borrower and drive the mortgage industry forward.

In such a collaborative environment, we all win.

About The Author

Vendor Expands Its Digital Platform

Capsilon has expanded its digital mortgage platform through the addition of big data capabilities and a new set of smart tools designed to improve back office workflows and accelerate loan production. With this new data audit functionality, Capsilon can reduce manual data entry and speed up data auditing across the loan process. Here’s how:

The company claims that this new functionality enables companies to automate up to 80% of manual processing. In addition, Steve Viarengo has joined Capsilon as Senior Vice President, Product Management. With more than 20 years’ experience, Viarengo brings to Capsilon a deep expertise in building enterprise software solutions that not only scale, but also drive significant process innovation. Viarengo was most recently Vice President Product Management at Oracle HCM Cloud.

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“Capsilon has made an extensive investment in building its digital mortgage platform, which enables the development of new tools that use deep learning technologies and automated workflows. This is the first in a series of product rollouts intended to leverage Capsilon’s proprietary intelligent process automation capabilities, and I look forward to driving the next generation of tools that transform how mortgages are delivered,” says Steve Viarengo, SVP of Product at Capsilon.

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Capsilon seamlessly integrates all stakeholder workflows, from the borrower to loan officer and underwriter, to third party originators and servicers, to deliver cost and time-saving improvements. For every mortgage, Capsilon collects data from direct sources and documents. Its patented data recognition and extraction software distils this data into accessible, user-friendly information. That, combined with Capsilon’s proprietary rules engine and intelligent datasets, powers its back office workstations so that each stakeholder can make smarter, faster decisions, at the right point in the process. With the new data audit capability, the platform can dramatically reduce manual processes across functions.

“By automating manual workflows and acting as a data clearinghouse, Capsilon ensures the best data goes into our loan origination system,” says Kevin Peranio, Chief Lending Officer at Paramount Residential Mortgage Group (PRMG). “This maximizes our investment in our existing infrastructure, improves the efficiency of our LOS and accelerates our loan production.”

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“We’ve been working towards this level of process improvement since we launched Capsilon more than fourteen years ago,” says Sanjeev Malaney, Capsilon’s Founder and CEO. “We began by solving the problem of document management, which gave us a unique understanding of the complexity of data and how that information can be used to make mortgage decisions. It is this knowledge that has laid the foundation for this next evolution of productivity built on our digital mortgage platform. We now have the complete architecture to power a more streamlined way to deliver a mortgage, and it doesn’t stop here.”

And The 2018 Winners Are …

Prominent mortgage executives gathered to see who the Executive Team of PROGRESS in Lending named the top industry innovations of the past year at the Eighth Annual Innovations Awards Event. This honor is the Gold Seal when it comes to recognizing true industry innovation. All applications were scored on a weighted scale. We looked for the innovation’s overall industry significance, the originality of the innovation, the positive change the innovation made possible, the intangible efficiencies gained as a result of the innovation, and the hard cost and time savings that the innovation enables industry participants to achieve. The top innovations winners are:

Lodasoft

PROGRESS in Lending has named Lodasoft a top industry innovation. To address the CFPB requirements of improving the borrower experience, the first big wave of innovation has come out of Silicon Valley. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in the consumer facing aspect of the borrower application. The term “digital mortgage” has been coined and a flood of shinny new mortgage websites and apps have been created to deliver borrowers an Amazon type borrower experience. However, the majority of dollars invested, have focused almost solely on the online application for borrowers. The problem is that mortgage lending is significantly more complicated than just a shinny new app. The right digital mortgage platform helps to drastically reduce the chaos in daily lending processes while improving communication to help lenders close more loans faster. Therefore, in 2017 Lodasoft introduced its truly innovative “Digital Mortgage Platform” featuring Intelligent Loan Manufacturing to address these industry challenges head on.

Capsilon

PROGRESS in Lending has named Capsilon a top industry innovation. A truly innovative mortgage process means more than borrower-friendly loan selection and document submission, it is an end-to-end solution that keeps all stakeholders in the loop throughout the process. In 2017, Capsilon introduced Point of Sale Portals (POS), enabling the creation and delivery of quality loan packages that streamline every process step from application to closing. Capsilon’s POS Portals are powered by Intelligent Process Automation to supercharge loan production from intake to delivery of complete and compliant loan packages. This is an industry first, dramatically improving loan quality and speed, while drastically reducing production costs. Lenders are pressed to meet the challenges of production, compliance and profitability, as well as soaring borrower expectations. Instead of simply streamlining the traditional loan process, in 2017, Capsilon launched Point of Sale Portals that are fully integrated with its patented back-end technology to deliver on the promise of a true digital mortgage.

WebMax

PROGRESS in Lending has named WebMax a top industry innovation. According to Inc. Magazine, Millennials make up 66% of first-time homebuyers and 66% of them plan to buy a home in the next 5 years. Moreover, the same report found that Millennials associate home ownership with the American Dream more than any other generational demographic. The October 2017 composite forecast of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association for 2017 mortgage origination volume is approximately $1.8 trillion. If Millennials compose 50% of this mortgage volume, and two-thirds of them apply online via digital applications, that represents $600 billion in digital mortgage origination. This number is massive. Better yet, it’s conservative. Millennials expect mobile-responsive mortgage lending sites and applications with a responsive layout from their potential lender. They want their mortgage application to be as easy as buying a t-shirt from an online retailer. Therefore, WebMax developed its innovative point-of-sale solution in 2017, called START, to not only meet the demands of borrowers, but to exceed their expectations and revolutionize the entire process. With START, WebMax provides a single location for the loan to exist for both the borrower and loan officer. There’s no shifting documents back and forth or waiting for verifications. START’s integrations to mission-critical third parties allows for the technology to do the work, streamlining workflows, reducing costs, and minimizing frustration.

Paradatec

PROGRESS in Lending has named Paradatec a top industry innovation. Other OCR solutions typically expect relevant data points to consistently appear in the same locations (or ‘zones’) on a document. If the data shifts due to changes in layout (again, think of bank statements), the zone-based approach will fail unless another layout template is created, making for a greater administrative burden with these solutions. A high volume, scalable OCR automation initiative requires the flexibility of Paradatec’s Advanced Mortgage OCR solution to process an unlimited number of document layouts without needing to develop specific templates for each layout variation. This capability is unique to Paradatec and a vital feature for creating an effective unstructured document classification and data capture solution. Paradatec’s Advanced Mortgage OCR solution is designed to make mortgage lending faster and more accurate. In 2017, Paradatec’s Mortgage OCR solution processed over 1,500,000,000 images (representing over 2,500,000 loans), helping lenders and servicers streamline their onboarding and compliance obligations.

Asurity Technologies

PROGRESS in Lending has named Asurity Technologies a top industry innovation. In 2017, MRGDocs was acquired by Asurity Technologies and introduced MRGDocs’ cloud-based platform which revolutionized the security of its dynamic document generation software featuring a secure system infrastructure to increase the protection of consumer data and deliver safer, faster, and more user-friendly systems while maintaining the content and support quality that has long been the hallmark of MRGDocs’ services and document packages. This solves for several mortgage industry challenges: the costs to secure big data, protecting the myriad of personal identification information collected, and managing compliance through a hyper secure platform. In 2017, MRGDocs built a comprehensive data security capability on a robust foundation that allows for the type of growth and expansion needed to serve even the largest of financial institutions, implementing a hyper-converged, virtual server platform with 24/7 SIEM-managed security monitoring.

STRATMOR Group

PROGRESS in Lending has named STRATMOR Group a top industry innovation. MortgageSAT is an online customer satisfaction measurement program that allows consumers to provide direct feedback on their satisfaction with the mortgage process, and provides lenders actionable insights from the results, all available via an online portal. Put simply, it’s Business Intelligence based on consumer insights. Why did STRATMOR create MortgageSAT? For many years, mortgage lenders have struggled to capture actionable feedback from borrowers by means of post-closing email or closing-table-completed surveys. By means of its powerful borrower satisfaction management tool called MortgageSAT, developed in partnership with the CFI Group, STRATMOR has led the way to fundamental change the way lenders manage and apply borrower feedback. MortgageSAT is the first and only borrower satisfaction monitoring tool to score satisfaction at all levels of the organization as regards retail, consumer direct and broker production. As a consequence, many MortgageSAT clients tie their employee reviews and, in some cases, compensation both to these scores and a review of borrower comments. When everyone’s performance review includes a measure of their contribution to borrower satisfaction, a borrower-centric culture is fostered that is aligned with the emerging competitive paradigm of “optimizing the borrower experience.”

Maxwell

PROGRESS in Lending has named Maxwell at top industry innovation. No matter how digital the process, every mortgage is saddled with documents and data, over 500 pages, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. As a result, an average of 20 days during the mortgage process is consumed by the search, preparation and review of those documents. Maxwell, the leading digital mortgage solution for small and midsize lenders, removes this friction with its platform. Sitting as the digital interface between the lender and their borrowers, Maxwell manages collaboration through the loan process, significantly reducing cycle times and driving delight. Originating teams on Maxwell are able to focus on what they do best, advising and coaching clients through the largest transaction of their lives, while Maxwell’s technology handles the rest. As one head of production attested, “Maxwell allows us to focus on what we love: working with real people. While loans get done faster and my team is happier.”

PromonTech

PROGRESS in Lending has named PromonTech a top industry innovation. The Borrower Wallet is the first offering from Promontory MortgagePath’s technology arm. From a lender’s perspective, the Borrower Wallet captures leads and fosters borrower/lender collaboration to drive enterprise efficiency and improve loan pull-through. In addition, its built-in collaboration tools deliver high-quality data and documents needed to feed and accelerate the downstream underwriting process. As a white-label offering, the Borrower Wallet makes the latest technology accessible and affordable to mid-size and smaller lenders, enabling them to compete with mega lenders. PromonTech’s culture of mutual respect between “techies” and mortgage industry experts made it possible to create a mass-market POS where both consumer and lender needs are equally important. The Borrower Wallet is not the first digital POS, but it’s the first to engage consumers while anticipating lender needs in such a balanced way. It combines creative design, industry analysis and data governance to create a unique user experience.

MCTlive!

PROGRESS in Lending has named MCTlive! a top industry innovation. Over the past year, MCTlive! developed a major mortgage technology advancement with the addition of what the company branded its “Bulk Acquisition Manager” (BAM) solution, which is accessible via MCTlive! BAM is a Digital Loan Trading solution. BAM completely automates the process of packaging and transferring bulk loan bids, which benefits investors, lenders and MCT’s team of in-house mortgage loan traders. The result is a much quicker pricing process for bulk bid tapes, greater data security, better communication between counterparties, increased transparency for all parties, process consistency for investors within their existing platform, and centralization of data. BAM helps facilitate digitize loan trading on the secondary market. The effectiveness of the BAM technology has already gained 100% adoption by the ENTIRE investor community on the secondary market — across the board. And the level of transparency it offers between buyer and seller is hugely attractive and makes investors and lenders feel at ease.

Ellie Mae

PROGRESS in Lending has named the Ellie Mae Encompass NG Lending platform a top industry innovation. The Encompass NG Lending Platform allows lenders, service providers, and independent software vendors the ability to build custom applications in the cloud, integrate external systems and data, and extend Encompass in order to meet any and all industry challenges. Mortgage lenders and mortgage service providers can build, integrate, or customize solutions, and get them to their customers and market quickly. Lenders, partners, and third-party providers gain access to data and systems across the mortgage ecosystem. In the end, all participants can easily view and share loan date, sales pipeline, loan events, documents, and order services. A shared system of record allows all parties in the loan process to see the same up-to-to-date information in the same format. Everyone in the ecosystem can easily share, interact, and collaborate without having to create and support new channels.