Posts

Give Your Customers Wings

While life in the drama, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” may have been wonderful for the Baileys back in the day, jump ahead many decades and Uncle Billy and Mr. Potter are the least of George’s worries at the Building and Loan. George’s biggest concern would likely be keeping up with the Joneses, in today’s competitive mortgage marketplace. Today’s mortgage consumers have ever-evolving customer experience expectations that are expensive to deliver, and survival will take a lot more than some divine intervention from Clarence Odbody.

Mortgage consumers, their real estate professionals, and their loan originators have a common goal: a smooth and efficient process that results in a timely closing. This process creates a good experience for all parties involved. Most regional banks and successful non-depository mortgage lenders have mastered the art of personal customer service, but today, everyone involved expects a high level of communication and technology throughout the process. An emphasis on service and technology is critical to attracting new customers and even more important to retaining a customer base as well as talented loan originators.

Featured Sponsors:

 

Bringing that necessary technology to the market requires that lenders streamline and improve internal processes and offer self-service technology and multi-device functionality to consumers. These efforts require resources as well as a dedicated and experienced staff to execute. There are some lenders that are not keeping up. Not for lack of want or need, but simply because the current marketplace and the return might not warrant the investment.

After investing heavily in the staff, processes, and systems to meet the regulatory challenges posed by guidelines like TRID, many banks and non-depository lenders find themselves needing technology to enhance the customer experience and maintain market share in what has been an increasingly competitive mortgage market place. While there are the behemoths rocketing the online consumer experience into the future, there are also a few other players delivering big gains in technology and process enhancements to the customer experience. It is proof of the “technology” concept.

Featured Sponsors:

So what do you do when investment seems impractical but necessary?

A consumer relationship is a hard-earned, expensive proposition for any lender, be it a bank or non-depository lender as consumers are increasingly being enticed by the shiny concept of “technology.” In addition, finding and retaining the most productive sales staff is equally as challenging and expensive – you cannot let quality employees go.

Okay, are you ready for a financially viable option?

It’s simple – outsource your technology, processing, underwriting and closing functions.

The revelation of outsourcing might bring a gasp of disbelief, rather than a ringing of a bell, but this is not a new proposition. The question remains – can you trust anyone else to maintain your expected service levels while adding technology and remaining compliant?

Featured Sponsors:

Two banks that are ranked the highest in customer satisfaction in New England by JD Powers and Associates for 2017 did just that. They outsourced their technology needs and they outsourced their processing, underwriting, closing and secondary market functions. They did this while improving market share and their compliance posture, all while maintaining their award-winning customer service levels. These banks gained immediate market advantages and did it without making a capital investment in mortgage-related technologies.

So, it is possible to keep up with the Joneses in this race for mortgage technology that could be likened to putting a man on the moon, all while maintaining the personal service levels that have built your brand. It’s just a matter of finding the right partner.

About The Author

Kurt Noyce

Kurt Noyce is President of Embrace Home Loans. Founded in 1983, Embrace Home Loans is a direct lender for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, approved by FHA and VA, and an issuer for Ginnie Mae. Embrace Home Loans has remained a prominent leader in the industry, having helped hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families purchase new homes, and lower their monthly payments since its inception. Operating 40+ offices across 46 states, Embrace has been recognized seven times as one of the Best Medium-sized Companies to Work for in America by Fortune, four times as one of the Fastest Growing Companies in America by Inc., and recognized as the Most Community Involved Company in Rhode Island by Providence Business News.

Lender Launches Homecoming Campaign To Reunite Separated Military Families

Embrace Home Loans announced the launch of its Embrace Coming Home campaign. Inspired by the dedication and commitment soldiers give to our country, the initiative seeks to provide surprise homecomings to those dealing with the hardships of deployment, reuniting at least five families in 2017.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
The campaign is driven by three of Embrace’s core values including love, community and courage, and the company looks to give back to military families who embody all three. Any member of the public is eligible to visit Embrace’s website and nominate a deserving family. Once a service member and their family are selected, Embrace will begin to arrange travel and a surprise meeting for the family in their hometown, and a day of surprises for the family will follow. Expenses for the surprise reunion will be paid by the lender, who will keep the homecomings a secret.

Featured Sponsors:

 
“Our goal is to bring happiness into the lives of those who have sacrificed so much for their country,” said Meghan Handy, customer experience manager at Embrace Home Loans. “By partnering with friends of military families, we’re excited to raise support and awareness of the sacrifices that military families make for each of us. The surprise homecomings will allow us to give back to our community in a way that is unique and memorable.”

 
Embrace and its employees have helped support not only military members and Veterans, but also local families in need, school supply drives, the families of active military members, and friends and families of Embrace employees who have had sudden emergencies such as a medical crisis, to name just a few. The national lender has raised thousands of dollars through its simple tradition of giving.

“While local communities are important to us and we remain dedicated to supporting them with their home financing needs, military personnel and Veterans have a special place with us,” said Handy. “As implied by our name, we ‘embrace’ the men and women that serve our country as well as their families, and we strive to improve the quality of their lives. We’re honored to bring joy to the lives of a few families across the nation this year in order to show our gratitude.”

Embrace Home Loans Hosts Embracing Our Veterans Event

Embrace Home Loans is sponsoring the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation’s B-25 World War II medium bomber plane appearance at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Wings ‘n Wheels show on June 10, alongside other partners including Revere Bank, Lowe/Tillsen Insurance and Fitzgerald Auto Malls. Visit Embrace’s table or see an Embrace employee to sign up for rides on a B-25 World War II medium bomber plane, the Panchito. In order to have the Panchito flown in for the event, Embrace Home Loans made a donation to the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
The B-25 was one of the most widely used medium bomber aircrafts during World War II, and this plane, the Panchito, will be taking flight during the Wings ‘n Wheels show. During the Embracing Our Veterans event, Panchito crew members and Embrace employees will be helping the Delaware Aviation Museum Foundation with the event. In addition, for every six or more members who fly together, ten percent of the proceeds will go back to the Veterans’ nonprofit association. The plane rides will begin at 10:30 a.m., lasting approximately 30 minutes each, and the team anticipates around four plane loads of passengers taking flight at this event.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Bill Rozek, a senior loan officer at Embrace’s Rockville, Md. branch, organized the Embracing Our Veterans event. With over 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry, Rozek has been with the Embrace team since 2009, and works closely with the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors. Rozek is a volunteer for the Delaware Aviation Museum and he is a member of the crew.

Featured Sponsors:

 
“In the past, we have offered rides to Veteran passengers who actually flew in B-25s during World War II. Their experiences have often been very exciting and emotional ones, full of nostalgia,” said Rozek. “My hope for this event is that we will provide a similar experience for Veterans who are visiting the Wings ‘n Wheels show. We want them to feel celebrated because we are deeply grateful for their service. At Embrace we love to give back, and we’re very excited about proceeds from the plane rides being gifted to the Veterans’ nonprofit association.”

Embrace and its employees have helped support not only military members and Veterans, but also local families in need, school supply drives, the families of active military members, and friends or families of Embrace employees who have had sudden emergencies such as a medical crisis, to name just a few. The national lender has raised thousands of dollars through its simple tradition of giving, and Providence Business News has recognized Embrace as the Most Community Involved Company in Rhode Island.

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.

Embrace Home Loans Expands Washington, D.C. Presence

As growth and demand continue to rise in Washington, D.C., national lender Embrace Home Loans expands its presence, adding a new branch to accommodate and connect with new buyers. The branch is located at 1001 Connecticut Ave. N.W. Ste. 405 Washington, D.C. 20036, and will be led by mortgage professional and branch manager, Margie Hennessey.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Home sales and prices continue to increase in metropolitan Washington, D.C. According to the Housing Market Update from the Metropolitan Regional Information System, home sales increased by 26.7 percent and the average price of homes sold increased by more than five percent in March of 2017 compared to March of 2016. Throughout D.C., property taxes are low, property values are high and new buyers are moving out of the suburbs and into the district.

Featured Sponsors:

 
“With this expansion, Embrace will be able to better serve homebuyers in the district and recruit expert loan officers to our team, ultimately helping us further demonstrate our reputation as a trusted and experienced lender throughout D.C.,” said Hennessey. “Our goal is to not only cultivate relationships with local real estate agents and buyers, but also to serve the diverse cultural needs of D.C. and the surrounding communities. We pride ourselves on our ability to serve a wide variety of groups, as our team is fluent in American Sign Language as well as Spanish.”

Featured Sponsors:

 
With more than 13 years in mortgage lending, Hennessey has served as mortgage professional and branch manager gaining a wealth of loyal borrowers through the purchase and refinancing processes. She is an accredited life coach, coaching her team of loan officers on how to excel in business and provide customer-centric service. In addition to her work, she is fluent in American Sign Language and a native to the American Deaf Culture.

For 34 years, Embrace Home Loans has prided itself on being a market leader by differentiating the experience it creates for its customers, clients and employees. The lender’s unique approach has resulted in industry-leading customer satisfaction scores, several national and state employer-of-choice awards, and a doubling of the company’s sales force in the last few years.

“With the recent increase of homebuyers in D.C., there is a need for trusted home financing solutions and Embrace’s expansion will support this increased demand for home-buying,” said Jeff McGuiness, Chief Sales Officer, Embrace Home Loans. “We are confident Margie and her team will continue to provide unparalleled service for both borrowers and real estate agents while maintaining a strong brand presence in the area. We look forward to continuing to support this market and developing relationships with local homebuyers.”

On July 24, Embrace Home Loans will be a platinum sponsor at the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors (GCAAR) Realtor Fest annual convention. The event will be held at Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C. Embrace Home Loans will be the main underwriting sponsor, and the event will include a silent charity auction. All proceeds will go to support nonprofits in Washington, D.C. committed to providing housing-related services to individuals and families in the community.

Embrace Home Loans Sponsors Charity Event

Embrace Home Loans is sponsoring the 5th Annual PinkTie.Org 2017 event on Monday, May 22, at The Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, NY. Embrace Home Loans’ Hauppauge, NY branch has committed to being a Silver Sponsor for the event. Proceeds will benefit the Don Monti Memorial Research Foundation, a premier organization dedicated to eradicating cancer through research, fellowship and education.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Since 2012, PinkTie.Org – Business Professionals Networking for a Cure, has united Long Islanders in the fight against cancer and other diseases affecting families throughout the community. The annual event held each May continues to make a positive impact on the community and has become the backbone of Long Island’s philanthropy movement.

Featured Sponsors:

 
“At Embrace Home Loans, we are devoted to supporting our local community,” said Embrace Home Loans’ Hauppauge branch manager, Bryan Smith. “We chose to support PinkTie.Org because of the significant impact they have on the Long Island community helping to fight against diseases that disproportionately affect our loved ones. We are honored to sponsor this year’s event, and to further enrich our philanthropic company culture and our commitment to helping others in our communities.”

Featured Sponsors:

 
Mike Cave, who founded the charitable organization, was grateful and appreciative for the mortgage lender’s tradition of giving. “We are very excited to welcome Embrace Home Loans into the PinkTie.Org family, and we thank them for their support and generosity as Silver Sponsors of the 5th Annual PinkTie.Org Event,” said Cave. “They are true Go-Givers!”

The event anticipates more than 3,000 guests with an evening of networking, raffle prizes and more in a first-time-ever partnership with Scott and Jaclyn Stapp’s Charm Foundation Inc. Guests will also enjoy an exciting live performance by Scott Stapp, the Voice of Creed.

Embrace employees have helped support local families in need, school supply drives, the families of active military members, and friends and families of Embrace employees, who have had sudden emergencies such as a medical crisis, to name just a few. Embrace has raised thousands of dollars through their tradition of giving and dedication to helping others.

Embrace Home Loans Assists Banks & Credit Unions In Outperforming The Industry

While the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) indicates industry volume rose 16 percent in 2016 from the prior year, financial institutions supported by national lender Embrace Home Loans more than doubled that national average. Additionally, all financial institutions supported by Embrace received favorable regulatory and internal audit examinations, demonstrating the lender’s outstanding performance as well as its adherence to regulatory guidelines.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Mortgage lending continues to be costly, risky and complex, forcing many financial institutions to exit. In fact, MBA President and CEO David Stevens wrote an open letter to The Wall Street Journal last year, explaining that the pullback of traditional banks from the lending business has been primarily due to a tightening regulatory environment. While these regulations serve to protect borrowers, many organizations continue to struggle to remain compliant, causing many banks and credit unions to rethink their role in the mortgage industry.In response, Embrace Home Loans has partnered with several banks and credit unions to provide a private-labeled operational support program, creating an exceptional experience for the institution’s customers, referral-partners and employees.

Featured Sponsors:

 
According to Armando Carvalho, senior vice president of Rockland Trust, a partner of Embrace Home Loans, “Rockland Trust’s partnership with Embrace Home Loans has allowed us to focus on developing strong relationships with customers and referral sources, versus the loan processing, underwriting and closing functions. It is like having a large loan production center supporting our business without the costs and infrastructure associated with it.”

Featured Sponsors:

 
The member and customer experience is crucial to the long-term success of any institution – and this is particularly the case for financial institutions like Rockland Trust, who have prided themselves on providing exceptional, personalized service. Mortgage products are no exception. Embrace Home Loans’ customer-centric approach versus process-centric places an emphasis on communication, creating a better experience and ensuring superior service. The lender operates at a 98 percent customer satisfaction rate, and their service-oriented culture goes hand in hand with the missions of community banks and credit unions across the country.

Embrace Home Loans is also 100 percent committed to the mortgage industry with no other business lines to divert its attention. In fact, John Brodrick, senior vice president of Eastern Bank, another partner of the lender’s, said, “The team at Embrace is an exemplary business partner. Top down, there is a can-do attitude, a commitment to excellence and an honest desire to both listen as well as improve on a daily basis. Embrace Home Loans is committed to the mortgage business and to getting loans to closing in a compliant way. We are very pleased with the way our relationship continues to develop.”

These institutions have experienced tremendous growth since partnering with Embrace, surpassing the industry averages. Rockland Trust, for instance, increased business volume 42 percent in 2015, and 38 percent in 2016 to now originating over $400 million annually. Additionally, Eastern Bank increased volume by 24 percent in 2016 well exceeding $500 million.

Entering its 35th year in business, Embrace has matured in the mortgage business, not the outsourcing business. This distinction is crucial in how Embrace serves their clients, and their client’s customers and members – recognizing the essential needs for honoring service, efficient operations, enabling technologies, with competitive products and pricing – all from the perspective of a lender, not a wholesaler. The lender centric operations show in the financial institution’s service scores and sales professional retention rates.

Embrace Home Loans offers customized fulfillment correspondent solutions for banks and credit unions originating volumes ranging from $15 million to $65 million per month. To learn more about how Embrace is uniquely positioned to provide community banks and credit unions with a solid mortgage solution, please call Kurt Noyce, President.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

The Balancing Act

website-pdf-download

A generation or two ago just about everyone owned a Craftsman tool purchased exclusively at retail behemoth, Sears, Roebuck and Company. The tools were rock solid and “guaranteed forever.” And if your first day of school was sometime in the 1970s, odds are you hit the playground during recess wearing some, at the time, very fashionable Toughskins. The pants were a conscious effort on the part of Sears to develop a garment that a kid couldn’t wreck. The pants were so “tough” that they were sold with a guarantee that kids would grow out of their Toughskins before the pants wore out. Tools “guaranteed forever” and clothes your kids outgrow before they wear out seem like a recipe for retail success. With that kind of value and commitment to customer satisfaction, why would consumers ever shop anywhere else?

Featured Sponsors:

 

Recently, Sears, that anchor store for just about every American Mall built in the last few decades, sold the Craftsman brand in a desperate attempt to survive declining sales. Amazon is likely finishing them off after Walmart and Home Depot beat them up pretty good. It is also pretty damn near impossible to find a pair of Toughskins on any playground, but if you look you can find them in remarkably good condition on eBay.

Featured Sponsors:

So what happened to Sears and what does it have to do with anything relating to mortgages?

If you think about it, Sears was the Amazon of the 20th century. In the 1890s, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck founded Sears, Roebuck and Company, publishing the first of its soon-to-be-famous catalogs. The company grew phenomenally by selling a range of merchandise at low prices to rural communities that had no other convenient access to retail outlets. Sound like Amazon in this century?

Featured Sponsors:

But in the mid-1920s, new technology made Sears change course. Cars were making retail outlets in urban areas more accessible to consumers in the suburbs and rural communities. Sears tried to exploit this opportunity that technology was presenting, opening the first Sears retail store in Chicago in 1925. It was far more fun to drive to the store and get almost immediate satisfaction, than to flip through the hundreds of pages of a catalog, fill out a form, send a payment by mail and wait for the postman to deliver your goods what could be two or three weeks later. Sear’s retail store sales topped mail-order sales by the early 1930s. Over the next few decades the number of stores increased rapidly and Sears became America’s retailer.

Any kid that had a pair of Toughskins likely watched Dad scour the pages of the Sears catalog for that Craftsman tool before jumping in the station wagon and heading to the store. They, like their parents, their parent’s parents and maybe a generation before them didn’t realize they were living in a nexus, just waiting for technology to bring it all together. The paper catalog at the time was the best way to identify what was available at the Sears store. It weighed about seven pounds even with its micro-print, but its color images and the 800 phone number were the best technology had to offer. Sure, you could still mail order, but jumping in the car and driving to the local Sears store was the quickest means to an end. It met the consumers’ wants, needs and desires even if occasionally you did need to order and pick up in store a few days later.

But then, in this century, technology flipped things around and put it all together, changed some things and left other things pretty much the same. The Internet, electronic payment systems and second day free shipping made it more fun and convenient to shop online than to jump in the car. Catalog shopping was resurrected. With a swipe across a smart phone screen or the click of a mouse, all the material world has to offer is at your fingertips. It is so much easier to search and browse thousands of online catalog pages. Amazon exploited that technology and without the overhead of a brick and mortar retail store brought every convenience technology had to offer and lower prices to the market.

Lenders who have made a name offering value with a commitment to customer satisfaction are going to find consumers tempted by technology. Finding that balance, that Sears didn’t, will be critical to success. The obvious value an experienced loan originator brings to the transaction may not be enough to overcome conveniences technology has to offer.

About The Author

Kristopher Barros

Kristopher Barros is the Regulatory Audit Manager for Embrace Home Loans, a direct lender for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, approved by FHA and VA, and an issuer for Ginnie Mae.

A Lesson From Sears: Balancing Customer Satisfaction And Technology

A generation or two ago just about everyone owned a Craftsman tool purchased exclusively at retail behemoth, Sears, Roebuck and Company. The tools were rock solid and “guaranteed forever.” And if your first day of school was sometime in the 1970s, odds are you hit the playground during recess wearing some, at the time, very fashionable Toughskins. The pants were a conscious effort on the part of Sears to develop a garment that a kid couldn’t wreck. The pants were so “tough” that they were sold with a guarantee that kids would grow out of their Toughskins before the pants wore out. Tools “guaranteed forever” and clothes your kids outgrow before they wear out seem like a recipe for retail success. With that kind of value and commitment to customer satisfaction, why would consumers ever shop anywhere else?

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Recently, Sears, that anchor store for just about every American Mall built in the last few decades, sold the Craftsman brand in a desperate attempt to survive declining sales. Amazon is likely finishing them off after Walmart and Home Depot beat them up pretty good. It is also pretty damn near impossible to find a pair of Toughskins on any playground, but if you look you can find them in remarkably good condition on eBay.

Featured Sponsors:

 
So what happened to Sears and what does it have to do with anything relating to mortgages?

If you think about it, Sears was the Amazon of the 20th century. In the 1890s, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck founded Sears, Roebuck and Company, publishing the first of its soon-to-be-famous catalogs. The company grew phenomenally by selling a range of merchandise at low prices to rural communities that had no other convenient access to retail outlets. Sound like Amazon in this century?

Featured Sponsors:

 
But in the mid-1920s, new technology made Sears change course. Cars were making retail outlets in urban areas more accessible to consumers in the suburbs and rural communities. Sears tried to exploit this opportunity that technology was presenting, opening the first Sears retail store in Chicago in 1925. It was far more fun to drive to the store and get almost immediate satisfaction, than to flip through the hundreds of pages of a catalog, fill out a form, send a payment by mail and wait for the postman to deliver your goods what could be two or three weeks later. Sear’s retail store sales topped mail-order sales by the early 1930s. Over the next few decades the number of stores increased rapidly and Sears became America’s retailer.

Any kid that had a pair of Toughskins likely watched Dad scour the pages of the Sears catalog for that Craftsman tool before jumping in the station wagon and heading to the store. They, like their parents, their parent’s parents and maybe a generation before them didn’t realize they were living in a nexus, just waiting for technology to bring it all together. The paper catalog at the time was the best way to identify what was available at the Sears store. It weighed about seven pounds even with its micro-print, but its color images and the 800 phone number were the best technology had to offer. Sure, you could still mail order, but jumping in the car and driving to the local Sears store was the quickest means to an end. It met the consumers’ wants, needs and desires even if occasionally you did need to order and pick up in store a few days later.

But then, in this century, technology flipped things around and put it all together, changed some things and left other things pretty much the same. The Internet, electronic payment systems and second day free shipping made it more fun and convenient to shop online than to jump in the car. Catalog shopping was resurrected. With a swipe across a smart phone screen or the click of a mouse, all the material world has to offer is at your fingertips. It is so much easier to search and browse thousands of online catalog pages. Amazon exploited that technology and without the overhead of a brick and mortar retail store brought every convenience technology had to offer and lower prices to the market.

Lenders who have made a name offering value with a commitment to customer satisfaction are going to find consumers tempted by technology. Finding that balance, that Sears didn’t, will be critical to success. The obvious value an experienced loan originator brings to the transaction may not be enough to overcome conveniences technology has to offer.

About The Author

Kristopher Barros

Kristopher Barros is the Regulatory Audit Manager for Embrace Home Loans, a direct lender for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, approved by FHA and VA, and an issuer for Ginnie Mae.

Lender Gets Chief Data Officer

Realizing the growing significance of data in the mortgage industry,  industry veteran, Anthony Branda, has joined Embrace Home Loans as its Chief Data Officer. In his role, Branda will build an integrated omnichannel platform to strengthen Embrace’s data intelligence to not only support continued growth, but also enhance the customer experience.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
Under Branda’s leadership, Embrace will develop a new data infrastructure with more intelligence and customer insights for not only better data decisioning, but also better support its overall mission of providing exceptional service. In addition, he will create a digital nervous system to communicate digitally with customers and prospects, as well as provide marketing automation to drive more customer outreach and increase acquisitions.

Featured Sponsors:

 
“It’s not just about technology or data for technology’s or data’s sake. It’s all about the impact,” said Branda. “My goal at Embrace is to build out the necessary capabilities internally to have the competencies to grow organically. We’re intelligently and methodically combining technology with big data to create a CRM that improves the customer experience, both online and offline. This digital nervous system is critical to engage with consumers through the channels they prefer and have the intelligence to make better decisions. It’s an exciting time and I’m glad to be a part of it.”

Featured Sponsors:

 
“We’re pleased that Tony has joined our team and confident he will bring a great deal of value to both our organization and our customers,” said Kurt Noyce, president of Embrace Home Loans. “It is critical to have the ability to quickly mine data to make better decisions and also provide an exceptional experience. Embrace has long been an industry leader in optimizing and modeling consumer data in effecting our marketing and sales initiatives. As those consumers shift their buying behaviors, Tony’s expertise and leadership will ensure we remain dedicated to preserving our customer-centric model in today’s digital economy.”

Branda brings nearly 25 years of experience working in customer intelligence and analytics for the financial services industry.  He is a recognized industry leader with the ability to execute digital, direct and database marketing programs and all associated analytics. He has worked in executive roles at several large-scale national financial services organizations, including AIG, Bank of America, Citibank, RBS Citizens and Wells Fargo. Most recently, he served as CEO of CustomerIntelligence.net, a full-service marketing and analytics consulting firm that worked with several digital lenders and universities. Previous to that, Branda was a chief analytics officer for Citibank North America’s Consumer Bank, where he oversaw the retail and mortgage analytics center of excellence, staffed by 100 marketing and analytics professionals in North America and India.

Aside from his career accomplishments, Branda serves as an adjunct professor of digital marketing and customer intelligence at Pace University’s Lubin Graduate School of Business. Currently, he is pursuing a Doctorate in Business Administration in Marketing and Analytics.

Lenders Speak Out

website-pdf-download

The mortgage industry is changing. Purchases increased to 65 percent of all closed loans in June, up from 62 percent in May according to the latest Origination Insight Report released by Ellie Mae. This is the highest closed loan purchase percentage since August of 2014. Refinances represented 34 percent of closed loans in June, down from 37 percent in May. Additionally, the 30-year note rate dropped to 4.04 from 4.06 in May, the lowest point in over a year.

Featured Sponsors:

 

 
The average time to close all loans increased to 46 days in June, up from 45 days in May. The time to close a purchase rose to 46 days in June, up from 45 days in May, and the time to close a refinance rose to 47 days in June, up from 44 days in May. Similarly, the average time to close FHA loans rose to 47 days in June, up from 45 days in May. Time to close VA loans increased to 50 days in June, up from 49 days in May.

To reflect on the changes going on in mortgage lending we assembled a panel of well-respecting lenders. (Left to right) Daniel Jacobs, the EVP and managing director of national retail lending for MiMutual Mortgage, Joe Detmer, branch manager for Churchill Mortgage Corp.’s San Diego branch, and Jeff McGuiness, chief sales officer for Embrace Home Loans, shared their views on the state of mortgage lending.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Q: How has mortgage lending changed since you first entered the space?

JOE DETMER: I entered the space in 1994. One thing that has changed dramatically is the rates. It is more affordable to buy vs. renting. People are finding safe haven in real estate. Guidelines have also changed that makes it tougher to get a loan and home prices haven’t gone up much, but housing is very affordable. I also think TRID was a good thing because it pushed out the people that were just in the industry to make money vs. those that are interested in taking care of their clients.

JEFF MCGUINESS: First, the most obvious change is that consumers are more educated. There is more accessibility to education around product types and what the implications are.

DANIEL JACOBS: When I got into the business it was very structured and dominated by sophisticated mortgage bankers and then it went wild. Now I think it has returned to the mid 90s. I feel like I’m back in the beginning of my career whereby everyone is older and more educated.

Featured Sponsors:

 
Q: In your opinion, what does a lenders have to do in order to be successful these days?

JOE DETMER: You have to be competitive with rates and products, but there are so many new things available to borrowers. We have to offer world-class customer service. During your lifetime you are likely to have six mortgages, so you want to be their lifelong advisor. You have to have the heart of a teacher because most people don’t know what we know.

JEFF MCGUINESS: It comes down to one word: efficiency. Regulatory compliance is very complex and those that can absorb that efficiently into their process will win the day. We are all selling the same products so you have to be more efficient overall in how you get those products to market.

DANIEL JACOBS: If we go back to talking about how consumers are more educated, everyone is more sensitive to the experience. To be successful you have to focus on the feeling about the experience among both your borrowers and employees. You have to be focused on the end user experience.

Q: How can lenders do a better job reaching out to Millennials and new borrowers?

JOE DETMER: You have to understand their preference of communication. Kids are growing up in a digital world and you have to be respectful. I’m 54 years old so that was hard for me to adapt to at first. I thought that I had to talk to everyone, but they are okay getting texts. Also, there is so much information out there so you have to distinguish yourself.

DANIEL JACOBS: We talk about that every month in our marketing meetings. The habits of the Millennials are different as compared to our traditional borrowers and they always change. You need to use social media and alternate forms of communication. I think my kids communicate one way only to find that method is now out of style and they’ve moved on to another form of communication. These days we have to provide various options for communication.

JEFF MCGUINESS: You also have to address the complexion of our sales force to make sure that they are serving the borrower. We have an aging employee base. So, you have to have people at the front of the process to relate to new borrowers. Our employees don’t necessarily have to be young, but they do have to know how to reach out and engage younger people.

Q: What’s your take on TRID 2.0 and the overall regulatory burden?

JOE DETMER: I love it. For a long time we created the perfect loan process. TRID has created a flight plan for the clients to know what’s going to happen next if it is communicated correctly by the loan officer. TRID has clarified the process. Second, it got the fraud out of the industry. I don’t see the fraudulent actors anymore. The rules have made lending a more professional industry.

JEFF MCGUINESS: The way we choose to handle compliance is to participate in the industry through the MBA and other outlets so we understand what’s going to happen and how we will be impacted. We don’t argue the point, we spend our time getting ready. You can’t wait until the eleventh hour. The other key is understanding the impact on your people. We have very standard roles in our industry and we have to analyze how these new regulations impact their job. These regulations as administered can be burdensome on our people and we’re concerned about potential burnout. We want to be sensitive to the overall process changes around compliance and how our people are impacted.

DANIEL JACOBS: That’s right. We want to be different without being the pioneer that changes roles completely so everyone feels satisfied in their roles. There are timing differences that arise around when something has to be done and checked. So, what does that mean to our employees? This is a question that we’re always asking because we have to have that balance. A lot of what used to done pre-closing is now getting done at the front of the process, which is changing traditional roles.

Q: What new technologies should every lender be embracing?

JOE DETMER: If lenders are not using Mortgage Coach, I think they are missing the boat. The technology has been around, but it gives the borrower the total cost of the mortgage. It allows you to generate a full wealth presentation. I use it with all of our borrowers. I can give every borrower a total cost analysis of the loan now and over the next few years. Also, you need an active database technology to make it easy for you to keep in touch with your clients. There are only so many clients out there, so you want to keep them so they keep coming back to you. These are not new technologies, but not enough lenders use these tools.

DANIEL JACOBS: Lenders need to spend some time deciding how they are going to monitor and control the use of social media by their employees. That is the biggest compliance risk because there isn’t much oversight and regulators are going to start looking closely at this. So, what is the balance between employee privacy and compliance? Every mortgage company needs to focus on this area. Ignoring social media is a dangerous strategy.

JEFF MCGUINESS: Our LOS systems are challenged to do much more as compared to what they’ve ever done prior. We expect so much of them. It used to be that you could use a subpar LOS and work around it, but you can’t do that anymore. The reliance on the LOS is becoming greater and greater.

Q: Looking to the future, how do you think lending will change over the next few years?

JOE DETMER: You will see a consolidation among smaller mortgage banks. The consolidation won’t be of companies, but rather of mindset. People that don’t wrap their minds around the fact that we’re here to serve the clients will be pushed out. You have to truly serve the homebuying and home owning public.

JEFF MCGUINESS: We have been operating at artificially low rates for some time and that will change. There is also a lot of demand for homeownership. So, how do we meet that need without low interest rate? Are we going to see ARMs come back as a result? Coming off an over-dependence on the agencies, I think we’ll see more private capitol coming back into our space over the next few years.

DANIEL JACOBS: In the short term the mortgage industry will be boring and steady, especially as compared to the Presidential Election. But in the future mortgage lenders will have to learn how to compete with each other just like restaurants do. The wave of the future is how to capture market share.

Insider Profile

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

Insider Profile

Joe Detmer is branch manager for Brentwood, Tenn.-based Churchill Mortgage Corporation’s San Diego branch. Detmer brings more than 26 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Churchill, he worked as a consultant for Land Home Financial and Skyline Homes (previously Rancho Financial), where he established partnerships with local industry affiliates. He has served as regional sales manager for U.S. Bank Home Mortgage and was instrumental in increasing the bank’s production volume by 600 percent in the San Diego region and surrounding counties.

Insider Profile

Jeff McGuiness is Chief Sales Officer for Embrace Home Loans, an approved lender for FHA, VA and an approved seller servicer for FNMA, FHLMC and GNMA. Embrace Home Loans has remained a prominent leader in the industry, having provided hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families with mortgage loans, and now helping banks to provide home financing through its Affinity and Assisted outsourced mortgage solutions.