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LERETA Selects Eric Christensen As Chief Strategy Officer

LERETA, LLC, a national provider of real estate tax and flood services for mortgage servicers, has tapped Eric Christensen as the chief strategy officer for the company. Christensen is responsible for product development, corporate strategy, marketing and M&A transactions.


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Christensen, who most recently was the founder and managing director of Credit Data Solutions, has spent his career developing knowledge around financial software, predictive modeling and analytics, credit risk technology and decisioning software. His expertise extends in fraud management, competitive strategy, business planning, sales and marketing as well as risk management and regulatory relations.


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“Eric’s deep and varied experience in the financial industry makes him perfect to help usher LERETA into a new era where technology and people help provide the best level of service to our customers,” said John Walsh, CEO of LERETA. “We welcome his knowledge and passion for bringing positive change to the industry.”


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Before Credit Data Solutions, Christensen had different executive positions at several financial services companies, including Interthinx/Strategic Analytics, FICO, Fannie Mae, E*Trade and LoanPerformance/CoreLogic. In addition to his success, Christensen has a Certified Mortgage Bankers (CMB ®) designation through the MBA.

Taking eClosing End-To-End

Pavaso has unveiled a new, complete suite of eClosing tools for mortgage lenders that includes Remote Online Notary and SMART Note capabilities. The Pavaso Platform now provides a one-stop digital closing shop that empowers all parties involved in mortgage transactions to consistently increase efficiency, eliminate errors, improve workflow and create more informed consumers, leading to faster, more efficient closings.

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Powered by Pavaso’s eClosing platform, Pavaso’s full suite of eClosing products enable lenders, title companies, agents and borrowers to electronically eDeliver early disclosures, eSign documents, remotely eNotarize documents, eClose loans, execute full eNotes and deliver closed loan files to an eVault.

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Pavaso CEO Mark McElroy said, “Our unified and collaborative portal in addition to tools like Remote Online Notary and Pavaso SMART Note will not only help lenders attain the digital transformations they are looking for—they will also help lenders deliver the ultimate customer experience.”

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The Pavaso Platform includes Remote Online Notarization (RON), Pavaso’s newest tool that enables remote closings to be conducted anywhere, on any device, in as little as 15 minutes. With RON, Pavaso commissions qualified, experienced closing agents to remotely notarize documents, helping lenders, title companies and consumers experience a faster and more convenient closing.

“Never have we seen so much excitement over a technology like RON, which satisfies a key requirement for lenders that wish to make a digital transformation,” said Pavaso’s vice president of partner relations and government affairs, Nancy Pratt. “RON is already being used in four states that allow remote notarizations. With more states adopting remote notarizations, we expect demand for RON will continue to grow. This year alone, five more states have adopted legislation around this technology.”

The suite also includes Pavaso SMART Note, a tool that generates compliant, tamper-sealed SMART Doc eNotes to increase collateral control.

In addition to RON and Pavaso SMART Note, the Pavaso Platform includes:

Digital Close Enterprise – A unified, powerful array of closing products that enables collaboration between all stakeholders to conduct seamlessly complete digital closings.

Digital Close – Provides homebuyers and sellers access to review documents anytime, anywhere, and from any device prior to the closing, so they can close loans quickly.

Pavaso eSign – A modern, convenient way to eSign documents from anywhere with ease on any device.

eDelivery – Enables parties to electronically deliver all required compliant documents to other stakeholders, from early disclosures to the final closing package.

PavasoDocs – A complete SMARTDoc library of loan documents that ensures compliant, secure, data-portable loan files throughout every stage of the closing process.

Pavaso eVault – Securely stores all Pavaso SMART Notes and ensures the accuracy of all documents delivered.

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.

Top Lender Selects New LOS

PrimeLending, a PlainsCapital Company and top 10 mortgage lender that originated more than $14.5 billion in mortgage loans last year, has chosen the Blue Sage Digital Lending Platform as its new mortgage origination platform. Here’s why:

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The Blue Sage Digital Lending Platform is a completely cloud-based, highly scalable solution capable of supporting any mortgage channel, including retail, wholesale and correspondent lines of business.

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“We are laser-focused on delivering the best mortgage experience and, in our opinion, Blue Sage gives us a tremendous advantage now and in the future,” said Tim Elkins, CIO, EVP of PrimeLending. “Because of Blue Sage’s unique combination of mortgage industry expertise and open architecture capable of seamless integration and automation capabilities, we will be substantially better positioned to evolve and improve efficiencies over time. Blue Sage was a great fit – there is simply nothing else on the market like it.”

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The Blue Sage Digital Lending Platform is event-driven. The platform handles pricing, underwriting and decision-making from the point-of-sale stage all the way to the closing and funding of the loan. Because Blue Sage can be easily integrated with third party services due to its APIs and integration options, an unlimited number of third party vendor services, such as appraisals, title and flood insurance can also be ordered online through the Blue Sage platform. Blue Sage also includes mobile applications and CRM tools geared to helping loan officers increase sales.

“We are beyond thrilled that a powerhouse lender like PrimeLending has placed its trust in the Blue Sage platform,” said Joe Langner, CEO of Blue Sage. “Based on its large origination volume, a lender the size of PrimeLending can achieve enormous savings by leveraging our digital mortgage technology. We look forward to a long and productive relationship with PrimeLending.”

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.”

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.

ComplianceEase Adds New Home Equity Audit Functionality

ComplianceEase has updated its flagship platform—ComplianceAnalyzer—so it is now able to audit home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) for state licensing requirements in most states.

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ComplianceAnalyzer with TRID Monitor has been able to audit both closed-end and open-end mortgages for federal, state and local requirements, including TRID compliance, and for state predatory lending issues for some time. ComplianceEase has now enhanced the system to allow non-banks, banks and credit unions to audit all liens in most states in which they are licensed. Currently, the system covers more than 80 licensing types in the 42 states that account for more than 90 percent of home equity originations in the United States.

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Depending on the state license, the system can test HELOC originations for:

>> Interest rates

>> Restricted fees

>> Late fees

>> Grace periods

>> Prepayment penalties

“According to TransUnion, approximately 5.5 million HELOCs were originated in the last five years, and that number could rise to 10 million over the next five years,” said John Vong, president of ComplianceEase. “With rising home prices creating equity, one estimate says that 44 million homeowners now have more than $6 trillion in ‘tappable’ equity and could be candidates for home equity lines and loans.”

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Vong added, “Not surprisingly we are seeing a growing interest from banks and now non-banks in this category. From a compliance perspective, however, the patchwork of different state regulations for both real estate and consumer lending has presented challenges for lenders with multi-state footprints. Our new enhancements to ComplianceAnalyzer mean that lenders can now use their preferred system for first mortgage compliance to reduce exposure to potential state licensing rules for HELOCs as well.”

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.”

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.

Wells Fargo Takes On eNotes

Wells Fargo Home Lending has entered into an agreement with eOriginal, a digital solution provider for the mortgage industry, to enable the acquisition of eNotes through Wells Fargo Funding, their correspondent channel. As the nation’s leading residential mortgage aggregator, Wells Fargo’s launch of eNote capabilities represents a major step forward in the continuing digitization of the mortgage industry.

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“Our expansion in the digital lending space is larger than just our ability to purchase eNotes. It’s a move to broaden our approach to serving consumers and clients as we transform our mortgage business,” said Michael DeVito, Head of Wells Fargo Home Lending. “We’re committed to delivering innovative solutions throughout the mortgage lending process. With eOriginal providing eVault services, we’re aligned with a company that has earned the trust of the digital lending community.”

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“Lenders transitioning into digital mortgage can move forward knowing a trusted technology partner is aligned with the industry’s leading aggregator,” said eOriginal CEO Brian Madocks. “This agreement with Wells Fargo facilitates a new, essential outlet for lenders to deliver loans with eNotes into the secondary market. The capability will make digital mortgages accessible to a broad spectrum of lenders who can realize the advantages of going digital, such as increased efficiency and improved execution while reducing risk.”

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Wells Fargo will begin purchasing eNotes from a select group of lenders, to be followed by a broader market offering throughout 2019. This is the second significant digital initiative launched by Wells Fargo Home Lending in 2018. Earlier in the year, Wells Fargo introduced an online mortgage application for its retail origination consumers.

INTEGRA, New Penn And Freddie Mac Set Out To Improve The Borrower Experience

INTEGRA Software Systems is collaborating with New Penn Financial and government sponsored enterprise (GSE) Freddie Mac to launch a one-click submission of loan data to Loan Product Advisor, the GSE’s automated underwriting system (AUS). The solution will provide seamless integration that will help New Penn increase efficiency and maximize secondary market execution by allowing data to be simultaneously submitted to both GSE AUSs at point of sale.

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“Our collaboration with New Penn and Freddie Mac will increase productivity, improve accuracy in the loan decisioning and underwriting process and reduce the overall origination cycle time,” said Rick Allen, Senior Vice President of Operations, INTEGRA Software. “The seamless integration between our systems will allow for more efficiency, including configuration to identify loans eligible for data validation for income, assets and collateral so New Penn can identify the loan that is most favorable to the borrower.”

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INTEGRA’s web-based Epic solution allows lenders to submit loan-data via a single click to both Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s AUSs, enabling lenders to see the full view of options available to their borrowers and ultimately leading to an improved borrower experience. The Epic solution provides real-time data information which improves lender efficiency while streamlining the residential real estate transaction.

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“We are always looking for technology that provides our team with tools to better serve our customers,” said Dena Kwaschyn, Chief Fulfillment Officer at New Penn Financial. “With results from both GSE AUSs, we can give borrowers access to more options, like appraisal waivers, so they can save money and shorten the time it takes to close a loan.”

“AUS-Neutral Design (#AND) is an innovative movement supporting the idea that lenders should run both underwriting systems to identify the best path for their borrowers and, in many instances, the optimal processing path for themselves. It is a win for everyone and we’re happy to support this positive change in the industry,” said David Fulford, Vice President of Strategic Technology Integration at Freddie Mac for the Single-Family Business.

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.

Innovating The Mortgage Process

As the story goes, when Matt Hansen developed the mobile mortgage app that would become the catalyst for SimpleNexus, he wasn’t thinking about starting a company. He was trying to help solve a problem for his brother-in-law, a mortgage loan originator, who was tired of constantly having to recalculate customer loan payments by hand.

As Matt added features, customers followed, fueled exclusively by user referrals. It soon became obvious that what he created was much more than a passion project for evenings and weekends. It was something that filled a real market void. So, in 2014, joined by a handful of colleagues in the software industry, Matt turned SimpleNexus into his full-time business—and has never looked back.

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Today, SimpleNexus is a 75-person organization, signed with 15 of the top 25 lenders, over 180 mortgage company customers, and more than 18,000 users nationwide. More importantly, it’s a company that’s making a difference. Our Editor talked with Ben Miller, President/COO at SimpleNexus, to get his take on the mortgage industry.

Q: Why has the role of the loan officer been a primary focus at SimpleNexus from the beginning?

BEN MILLER: Our CEO, Matt Hansen, built the first version of the app at the request of his brother-in-law who was a mortgage loan originator tired of constantly recalculating customer loan payments by hand. Matt developed a simple solution over the weekend for him that garnered significant interest from additional originators in the ensuing weeks. The early focus at SimpleNexus was on creating a tool for the loan originator to support the vital role they play in the loan process. We still believe in loan officer’s role today and recognize the value their human touch plays in the loan transaction. SimpleNexus enables loan officers to close loans more quickly, increase Realtor referrals, and gain a competitive advantage. The platform turns loan originators into mobile originators, allowing them to stay productive and take action on a loan anytime, anywhere. We have built our platform around enhancing, rather than replacing, the loan officer’ role and have witnessed an industry wide embrace. We have 18,000 plus loan officers and over 180 enterprise mortgage companies now using our platform!

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Q: How has listening to customers guided the evolution of your platform?

BEN MILLER: In August we were named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies. We have grown 1,405% in the last three years alone. That’s an achievement that we attribute directly to our lenders’ success using our platform. We value their ongoing feedback of what they want out of our platform and have repeatedly made those requests a priority as we further develop our digital mortgage technology. Listening to our customers has made our product better and our company successful. One specific example is when one of our customers came to us regarding handling appraisals. They explained they had and AMC but their loan officers were having issue with the appraisal since the needed info was being filtered through three different people and took a week to get to them. We took that feedback and went to work developing a direct integration with the AMC. We were able to remove steps in communication process and increase efficiency of the appraisal process to enable the loan officer to take action immediately.

Q: How should lenders vet technology partners to better support their digital mortgage strategy?

BEN MILLER: We at SimpleNexus think that lenders should ask the following questions:

What LOS, applications and software can the digital mortgage platform integrate with? Look for a platform that integrates as much of your existing technology and third-party provider applications as possible. If it can’t integrate with your LOS, pricing and credit systems, and critical third-party applications, then move on.

Can the user access all of these systems with a single sign-on? The idea is to streamline access to everything your users need to do their jobs.

Is there both a web-based and mobile element to the digital mortgage platform? Mobility is critical for giving loan officers access to the information they need to quickly respond to borrower and Realtor requests from anywhere, without circling back to the office.

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Can the digital mortgage platform be used with referral partners and borrowers? Many platforms and applications are borrower-centric. Although the customer experience is paramount, the opportunity to create stickiness with Realtors, builders, and other referral partners will add to the value of the platform.

Does the digital mortgage platform give loan officers borrower insight? While it is essential to give borrowers and Realtor’s transparency into loan status, to maximize value, the platform should also provide a way for loan officers to monitor borrowers’ engagement levels.

Is it easy to use? If you add a platform or introduce an application that’s just “one more thing to learn,” you won’t get the return on your investment. Loan officer adoption is everything, which means the platform has to be intuitive and easy for your originators to use, without a lot of training.

Finally, talk to other lenders that use the product, particularly those that use the same LOS and third-party providers. Ask about their experience with the implementation, their loan officers’ reaction and their return on investment, as well as the level of service they’ve received post-sale. Most importantly, don’t stop with one phone call. Speak to as many different companies as possible to get the user perspective of the platform.

Q: How is your approach to integrations unique and what kind of value does it deliver to your users?

BEN MILLER: Our goal in each integration we develop is how we can provide more value to our customers. We look for partners who share the desire to co-develop technologies that create value for the end user. It’s typical in the industry to adopt a revenue-sharing model to cover the costs of building the integration. The issue with this model is it actually increases the cost to originate. At SimpleNexus we choose to take a different approach to integration partnerships. We want to create value for our customers by creating integrations that reduce costs to lenders and in turn borrowers. The partners we choose to work with on integrations have the same desire of creating this type of value.

Q: Your platform also touts the deep connection it makes between loan officer, Realtors and borrowers. Can you explain why this is an important differentiator?

BEN MILLER: It’s common for new technology within the mortgage industry to focus solely on the customer. The borrower experience is vital but a true digital mortgage strategy also needs the technology to address the loan officer experience in addition to bringing the Realtor into the platform for maximum efficiency and ROI. SimpleNexus unites all three parties into a single platform so they stay connected as they exchange data, documents, and communicate throughout the loan lifecycle. Our lenders are reporting faster closing times, more online loan application submissions, increased referral business, and world-class NPS and customer satisfaction.

Q: Can you explain how connecting loan officers, Realtors and borrowers improves communication?

BEN MILLER: The SimpleNexus platform gives unprecedented visibility to the loan officer, Realtor and borrower during the entire loan process. Delivering transparency and data when and at the time the desired party needs the information. This solves the pain point that each party feels when they are uncertain about loan status and have to email or call to find out.  This saves everyone time while delivering a dynamic customer experience.

SimpleNexus’ enhanced communication features work together to improve the borrower experience, which means better reviews and more referrals for loan officers and their Realtor partners.

Q: Why does SimpleNexus emphasize bringing Realtors into a lender’s digital mortgage strategy?

BEN MILLER: Realtors have a more extensive network of valuable connections needing loan services and it’s no secret that a borrowers first point of contact for purchasing a home often starts with a real estate agent. Our digital mortgage platform includes the Realtor component for several reasons. First, real estate partners are the most productive source of referrals for a loan officer. By giving Realtor partners an easy-to-use app they can share with their borrowers, you increase your referral opportunities significantly. Second, our platform is whitelabled and can easily be co-branded for each individual Realtor partner. They can add their own custom links such as customer reviews and a home search and becomes a value add to the partnership. Finally, the app provides a smooth borrower experience, which the Realtor will appreciate. Borrowers can easily upload documents, use the convenient communication features and know next steps – all while the Realtor stays informed with transparent loan status updates of where their borrowers are in the process.

Q: How does a platform like SimpleNexus help as a recruiting tool for lenders when looking to attract top loan officers?

BEN MILLER: It is important to find a technology solution that empowers your loan officers. The tool should help originators close loans faster, so they can sell more and make more money, without putting in additional hours of work.

After finding the right solution lenders need to demo the tools for their prospective employees (i.e. loan officers), show them how it will make their lives easier. SimpleNexus clients have found success in recruiting meetings by showing their prospective employees how the platform works, how the app can be custom branded to each individual LO and co-branded for Realtor partners.

Technology demos during recruitment can go a long way in showing how the company is invested in helping loan originators work more efficiently, earn more, and have a better quality of life. With SimpleNexus, LOs don’t need to spend their nights and weekends catching up at the office; they can close more and spend their off time with family and friends.

Top producing loan officers are in high demand, so providing them with tools to make their job easier and more productive is critical to attracting and retaining them. The ability to use the SimpleNexus platform on mobile devices gives loan officers the freedom to work with borrowers from anywhere with a few keystrokes. The platform sends a file back to the LOS automatically, so compliance is also assured. Being able to take quick action keeps borrowers satisfied, which builds trust with referring partners.

Q: How does SimpleNexus increase efficiency for the borrower?

BEN MILLER: One of the most frustrating aspects of applying for a mortgage is the collecting of documents by the borrower, trying to email or mail the documents to the lender and keeping track of all of the documents that were provided. The SimpleNexus platform lets borrowers use their mobile device to upload documents or photos of documents in a one-step process that ends the paper chase. This significantly improves the borrower experience while reducing friction points in the application process.

Q: You have mentioned a single branded platform numerous times.  Why is that so important for lenders?

BEN MILLER: Traditionally, processing a mortgage loan isn’t a one-system, one-click sort of job. It’s a complicated process, requiring access to your LOS, to your CRM, and also to credit bureaus, pricing engines, and other third-party providers to make things happen.

Wouldn’t it be great if you had a mobile app that brought all of these resources together in one, convenient hub—along with fast access to your Realtors and borrowers?

SimpleNexus makes this vision a reality.

Our easy-to-use mobile app connects lenders with everything and everyone that is needed during the mortgage process, right from the loan officer’s mobile device.  That means loan officers work more efficiently, spend less time in transit, and more time actually getting things done.

Keeping the lender and their loan officers name front and center is easy with SimpleNexus. The app is white labeled, so instead of promoting our company, it promotes yours. You can brand the app with your information and offer your Realtors their own co-branded versions, for that one-two marketing punch. Every interaction keeps your name at the forefront, building your brand as you build your client base.

No matter the device you use, a seamless, omni-channel experience awaits.  Providing a great borrower experience means making that experience consistent, across all channels, and points of contact. With SimpleNexus, information flows seamlessly between web, phone, and tablet. So, if your borrower starts a mortgage application on the website, they can pick up where they left off on any mobile device. The origination process is identical across all channels, and only requires a single user login and password.

If your prospects or Realtors are in a rush, they don’t have to waste valuable time searching the app store to download SimpleNexus. Instead, you can text the app to them—either from your phone or originator dashboard. And, if you want to scan documents with the app, but not assign these to a specific borrower file, no problem. When you’re ready, the documents will be waiting on your originator dashboard.

INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS

Ben Miller Thinks:

1.) Personal touch and experiences for borrowers will continue to set companies apart from their competition.

2.) Companies with better technology supporting their loan officers will recruit and retain the best talent.

3.) The industry will continue turning to technology to drive backend process efficiency for managing cost in a raising rate environment.

INSIDER PROFILE

Ben Miller is President/COO at SimpleNexus. Ben joined SimpleNexus in 2014 as one of its original employees. Today, as COO, Ben runs the operations side of the house, which ranges from setting up strategic partnerships to managing implementations, to developing employee benefits programs. His mission is keeping the company efficient as it scales, expanding partnerships and bringing the right mix of people onboard.  Just seeing the impact that SimpleNexus is making on the industry is his motivator to constantly do more.

The Power Of Artificial Intelligence In The Mortgage Industry

These days, it’s hard to miss the buzz about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on industries such as health care, automotive, education, financial services and retail, to name just a few. From the ability to diagnose diseases – to the development of driverless cars – the potential applications of AI are extraordinary. In our daily lives, we already are experiencing the use of AI when we communicate with customer-service chat bots, ask Apple’s Siri for information, perform Google searches, or use navigation apps to help avoid traffic, as a few examples.

Despite all the recent discourse about AI, this technology is certainly not new. There are countless examples of AI use over the past several decades, including the reliance of commercial jet flights on AI to power autopilot, and internet bots that index web pages. But the more recent interest, innovation and investment in AI are due to a combination of factors – including greatly increased computational power, big data, greater infrastructure speed and scale, open source technologies and advancements in machine learning techniques.

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And today, the mortgage industry is able to reap the benefits of this incredible technology. For example, HeavyWater, which was recently acquired by Black Knight, is a provider of AI and machine learning-based capabilities specific to the financial services industry. The company has already built a platform that completes business tasks using synthetic read-and-comprehend analysis and conclusion skills, and applied these capabilities to the loan origination process.

What is Machine Learning?

The terms “machine learning” and “artificial intelligence” are often used interchangeably, however, there is a distinction between the two. Using a very broad definition, artificial intelligence replicates human reasoning through learning, problem-solving and pattern recognition. Machine learning is a subset of AI and is a process by which AI deepens its knowledge through continually performing tasks and processing information.

Let’s consider a simple, industry-specific example. AI-powered machine learning enables technology to “remember” standardized forms. For example, it can review thousands of paystubs and determine exactly where the pertinent income data is located. When the system comes across a paystub that presents an anomaly, it will apply its previously gained understanding to infer the location of the income data needed. Once the technology receives feedback that its inference was correct, it incorporates that information into its knowledge base. The next time it comes across that type of paystub, the system will automatically know where to find the pertinent data.

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Machine learning also leverages big data to gain insights. The more data that is collected and reviewed, the better machine learning solutions become at making predictions.

Applying AI and Machine Learning to Reduce Costs and Turn Times

AI and machine learning already can make a difference in two of the biggest challenges faced today by mortgage originators: costs and cycle times. With the ability to read, comprehend, and draw conclusions based on context, AI and machine learning can perform operational functions more efficiently and at scale.

In fact, machine learning can work on many of the labor-intensive, “stare and compare” tasks performed by humans – such as verifying income, assets and insurance coverage. Machine learning is used to perform these manual activities much faster and more accurately than humans – a task that takes employees hours to complete can be reduced to just seconds with machine learning.

By automating manual routines, machine learning not only expedites the origination process, but also increases volume. While humans can only work a certain number of hours before mistakes begin occurring, machine learning has no limits to the time or energy it can spend performing these tasks. By increasing loan processing volume and reducing mistakes, imagine how machine learning can drive down origination costs – and risk.

AI-powered systems enable processors and underwriters to dedicate more time to addressing exceptions and solving problems, which will improve transaction turn times. Also, AI can help avoid last-minute delays by prompting a lender’s staff to take early action when there is an issue, keeping the origination process moving forward. Additionally, by delegating work to AI-powered technology, a lender’s staff can focus on delivering a more positive and personalized consumer experience.

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As AI and machine learning are used to perform manual, repetitive tasks, allowing mortgage professionals to work on more value-added responsibilities, lenders can increase their focus on their company’s growth strategies. As they scale and reduce the cost per loan by keeping staffing levels flat, lenders can invest more in product development, marketing, infrastructure, and other growth-oriented initiatives.

Additional Applications of AI

AI can also leverage visual recognition to image and index a wide variety of documents that are typically reviewed by processors and underwriters, such as tax returns, W-2s, property titles and appraisals. A lender could even use AI and machine learning to better manage vendors. Based on past performance and cost, AI could provide recommendations on which vendors would be optimal for each loan going through the origination process.

Voice-integrated AI brings further opportunities to create efficiencies. This technology could look at information under review, evaluate results and automatically employ interactive communication bots to advise employees of any issue that may need attention. Additionally, via a conversational interface, processors and underwriters could ask for information they need – just as we use virtual assistants like Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa or Microsoft Cortana to get answers. These capabilities certainly could help move a loan through the origination process faster.

Leveraging AI to Enhance Customer Service

Of course, most of us have experienced first-hand how AI is applied in retail to deliver a more personalized consumer experience. For example, when we shop online, we receive targeted product recommendations the next time we visit that site; or receive faster service though chat bots.

To help personalize and enhance the borrower’s experience, lenders can leverage voice capabilities. A mortgage virtual assistant that engages customers by answering questions, walking them through the application process and even offering advice could be employed using voice-integrated AI.

Impact on Jobs

When the subject of AI in the workplace is discussed, it inevitably raises questions about its impact on jobs. Will jobs be lost as a result of these technological advancements?

There is no perfect answer to this question since the utilization of AI is different from company to company. But, it seems certain that future skill sets will be required to support this shifting technological paradigm. As it applies to the mortgage industry today, however, AI can enable professionals to spend less time on remedial work, becoming knowledge workers instead of task executors, and provide additional value to a company.

The Future Is Limitless

AI and machine learning offer tremendous potential to advance the mortgage industry, and we are just beginning to experience the technology’s capabilities. As AI-powered systems ingest more data and perform an increasing number of tasks though machine learning and other techniques, the possibilities are unlimited.

Imagine the power of AI as it learns to handle the entire point-of-sale process and speaks to an applicant directly through a mobile phone; or as it systematically searches a lender’s portfolio for qualified prospects and offers a customized home equity loan or line of credit, and so on. As we all know, the average cost to originate a mortgage loan is exceptionally high – today it is nearly $8,500 according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Quarterly Mortgage Bankers Performance Report, and the typical time to close a loan is 41 days. Any opportunities to reduce costs and increase process efficiencies will add value to lenders and consumes.

What’s more, the transformative power of AI doesn’t stop in the originations space. Servicers will also be able to reap the benefits of this advanced technology. For example, the technology could learn how to detect risk and any compliance issues before they occur, enhance loss mitigation decisioning, provide voice integration capabilities to help staff work faster and smarter, and so on. What’s amazing is that these examples only scratch the surface.

Of course, human interaction will always be needed to originate and service loans, as people will still decide how they want to leverage technology and determine the problems that must be solved. Humans must also still play an active role in loan decisioning, identifying which kind of data to consider and determining risk appetite. Furthermore, research indicates that despite all the advances in point-of-sale technology, consumers still want the comfort of human interaction at some point in the process of purchasing what is most likely their largest and most important investment.

AI and machine learning offer great promise and will likely usher in a new era of production excellence. Lenders that take advantage of this advanced technology will be choosing a bold new way to address origination costs, improve turn times and transform their origination processes to support a brighter, more successful future.

About The Author

Soofi Safavi

Previously CEO of HeavyWater Inc., the mortgage-focused Artificial Intelligence (AI) provider recently acquired by Black Knight, Inc, Soofi Safavi now serves as Managing Director of Black Knight’s Applied AI group, bringing leading-edge AI and computing capabilities to the Black Knight product portfolio. With over 20 years of experience in mortgage and banking technology, and deep expertise in IT strategy, architecture and machine learning, Soofi is uniquely suited to discuss AI’s role in the mortgage industry.