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Executive Spotlight: John Walsh of LERETA

John Walsh - CEOIndustry pioneer and visionary John Walsh is now CEO of Covina, Calif.-based LERETA, a national provider of property tax and flood hazard data for the real estate industry. Walsh leads an executive leadership team focused on providing the mortgage and insurance industries accuracy, responsiveness and innovative technology. In a long-ranging interview, John detailed his vision for the future of mortgage lending.

Q: What trends do you expect in the mortgage lending industry over the next few years?

JOHN WALSH: There are several critical topics facing the mortgage industry over the next few years. According to Fannie Mae, the number one risk concern for mortgage lenders and servicers in 2016 is compliance. Will the hyper-regulation that has existed for the past several years continue or will the pendulum swing back to a more reasonable approach? Recently, one of the presidential candidates suggested that new regulation should require an ROI analysis. How does the cost of the new regulation, to both the government and the affected industry relate to the anticipated benefit? It’s an interesting idea. However, even if adopted, it is unlikely that the mortgage lending industry will see relief for several years. In the interim, regulations will continue to increase costs for both originators and servicers. This may be a particular problem in servicing where the revenue side of the equation is fixed. The obvious threat to both the mortgage industry and borrower is if this trend results in fewer firms willing to service or originate mortgages.

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Again, according to Fannie Mae, the number two risk concern in 2016 is mortgage origination levels. During the last four years mortgage originations have declined from $1.9 trillion to $1.6 trillion. This year the forecast is $1.5 trillion. At the same time, there is some room for optimism given housing starts have been steadily increasing since 2009. Today, they are currently less than 45% of the peak years of 2005 and 2006 and only 60% of housing starts in 2000. The average origination volume during the last 18 years is about $2.1 trillion. If the purchase market continues to grow, and can replace the refi market that the industry has been surviving on for the past several years, there is an argument that $2 trillion might be a “normal” origination level at some point in the future. However, if you eliminate the “boom” years of 2002 to 2006 from the equation, the average is only $1.7 trillion. Regardless, we are hearing from many of our clients that their intent is to grow their origination volume, particularly online, either based on overall market increase or increased market share.

Q: Do you see the landscape changing for vendors to the industry?

JOHN WALSH: Vendor management will continue to be a critical task for lenders and servicers and as a result, compliance will be a primary focus for vendors. This presents vendors with the same increasing cost challenges as lenders, but also creates opportunities to provide clients with better and innovative solutions for compliance. One downside of this is that the cost and complexity of vendor management has/is causing many lenders to limit the number of vendors they can engage. This is obviously a benefit to established firms such as LERETA that already have a solid market share. Regardless, the unintended consequence is that it has become harder for new vendors to enter the space. Over the long run, I think this will reduce the innovation introduced to the lending industry. Clearly this is not good for either the industry or borrowers.

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Q: What do you see as the LERETA’s current value proposition to the mortgage industry?

JOHN WALSH: This year is LERETA’s 30th year providing tax services and 25th year providing flood services to the mortgage industry. Today, we serve more than 4,000 lenders and servicers and add 10 to 15 new clients each month. Today, based on client count, we are the largest provider of tax services. We have achieved this success for a couple of reasons. First, compliance is obviously critical for all participants in the mortgage lending industry today. It is also fundamentally about protecting the lender’s asset but also protecting the homeowner. These challenges are compounded because of the complexities of tax service and the small number of staff firms can dedicate to tax service. LERETA provides clients with solutions that are compliant with all regulators. Second, our goal is not to sell an off-the-shelf product. Our clients have important and difficult jobs. Our focus is to help our clients do their jobs better and also to make their lives easier. We do that by working with them to understand their unique problems and then providing the solution that meets their needs. This may mean flexibility in the product, flexibility in technology and integration and flexibility in pricing terms. Frankly, this is unique in tax service. Part of this is just a mindset and commitment. Part of this is also the ability to understand our clients’ business. What allows us to do this better than others is our complete focus on tax and flood. We do not sell AVM’s, BPO’s appraisals. We just sell and service tax and flood. On average, our managers have more than 20 years’ experience in mortgage lending.

Q: Where do you see LERETA in the next couple of years?

JOHN WALSH: During the last five years, the company has increased in size fivefold. Our primary target market has been medium and regional lenders. As one of only two national tax service vendors, and the only one focused on this market, I expect our growth in this market to continue. On the other hand, up until the last couple of years, LERETA was not large enough to effectively compete for the largest lenders. That means that for about the last 10 years the largest lenders have had only one choice for tax service. Obviously having only one option for any product or service is not in the best interest of the customer. Sellers without competition have little incentive to innovate, little incentive to improve service and little incentive to provide a competitive price. In addition, some of these lenders are telling us that having only one option for a service that is critical to the lending process creates vendor management problems with their compliance groups. In short, we believe we can introduce a new level of competition to this market that will benefit of both lenders and consumers.

Q: How would you define mortgage industry innovation?

JOHN WALSH: I’d define mortgage industry innovation as products or services that make the lending process easier or faster; identify and/or reduce risk for lenders, investors and servicers; or materially reduce the cost of the lending process.  I would add the caveat that innovation is only if it is adopted.  We have seen numerous “innovative” solutions that sounded good, but for whatever reason they failed to achieve any meaningful adoption by the industry. Today, there is a significant focus on compliance solutions and services that may be siphoning off attention from other areas of innovation.  This is clearly a response to what lenders and servicers want and need.

Operational Excellence Must Include Innovative Technology

Tammy Alvarez, Senior Vice President, Operations at Bank Leumi, and BNY Mellon declare that keeping everyone in the organization informed and aligned on process excellence initiatives with enterprise impact will drive operational excellence success and returns for them in 2016. Here’s what they said:

In the recent PEX Network interview ‘4 Leaders of OPEX in the Financial Services’ Tammy states, “You know you have a ‘good’ handle on operational excellence when people within the organization aren’t talking about it.” Good operational excellence within financial services for BNY Mellon is a culture that embraces continuous improvement.

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Tammy goes on in the article to identify Bank Leumi USA’s biggest challenge as leveraging technology. She states, “I am always interested in learning about the latest innovations in technology and business processes”.
PEX Network Director, Karen Magnusson has also commented on this issue, stating, “It is imperative to harness innovative technologies to drive business growth. It is this forward thinking attitude which is pushing companies such as BNY Mellon and Bank Leumi to become leaders in Operational Excellence.”

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Tammy Alvarez will be speaking at the Operational Excellence in Financial Services Summit taking place March 7 – 9, 2016 at the Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge, New York, which will welcome over 150 Senior VPs and Directors of Operational and Performance Excellence to learn how to keep the entire organization aligned and productive during a period of enterprise-wide transformation in a dynamic business environment, such as the financial services, with continuous regulatory changes and increased customer expectations.

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An Interesting Thought

I occasionally come across something out of the ordinary that stands out to me that I like to share with you. In this case I learned that Coin Reverse Inc., New York based cryptocurrency trader announced today that it has put a “can’t say no to” offer on the table for Bitcoin sellers, as it’s revealing its new cryptocurrency investment policy and appetite. The company has launched a market break-through offer on Bitcoin trade, sustaining a buying rate which is 15% higher than Market’s official rate.

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The company has developed a sophisticated payment platform, offering instant payment services towards its customers. While having also developed partnerships with many international banks, CoinReverse is able to provide online automatic and instant payment, via its web-site platform, for bank transfer and Paypal payments, conditioned that the customers correctly provide their payment details.

The offer has been promoted with no time-frame, although the company explained that, according to its policy and the capacities targeted, it is likely that the offer will be just dropped, with no prior notice, the moment when sales target is reached.

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CoinReverse Inc. was founded in July 2014 by former banking professional Tom Juno, who has seen the opportunity and future financial market development going on the way of technology, while cryptocurrency will flourish. “It will eventually go mainstream within the financial system and we’re not very far from that point, it’s only a matter of few years,” declared Tom Juno, the company’s CEO.

The company has started as a moderate cryptocurrency buyer and investor, having seen great business opportunity in the emergence of alternative currency markets but with no means of putting uncertainty risk at the core of its business development, up until now.

Tom juno has on-going negotiations for becoming the first Bitcoin exchange house serving a couple of major consumer goods online vendors who are now turning their faces and policies towards Bitcoin acceptance. Along with those, discussions are getting close to signing with an important online Casino, also willing to implement Bitcoin use for its services.

Who knows, maybe this technology/currency can have some mortgage application.

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Successful Lenders Will Innovate

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As we all know, it has been a bumpy ride in the mortgage industry. The run up to TRID was very stressful for many. With that behind us, the most successful lenders will now innovate. Here’s an example:

In the eight minutes it takes a space shuttle to reach orbit, Americans will now be able to receive a full mortgage approval online with Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. More than 500 Detroit-based developers, designers, QA technicians and business analysts from QL Labs — Quicken Loans’ technology innovation team — have worked for over three years to completely redesign the highly complex mortgage process. Rocket Mortgage brings the home loan experience to the fingertips of consumers whether they are at their desktops or using a mobile device.

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“We changed the mortgage industry when we created the first 50-state online retail lending platform that has since helped millions of Americans achieve their home financing goals, while experiencing the best client service in the nation,” said Bill Emerson, Quicken Loans Chief Executive Officer. “Today, we took another monumental leap forward with the launch of Rocket Mortgage, which brings simplicity and clarity to the home loan process like never before, while delivering solutions at unimaginable speed.”

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Rocket Mortgage users will:

>> Experience the cleanest, easiest and quickest mortgage application ever created, complete with e-signature.

>> Visually compare and customize interest rate, mortgage term, monthly payment and fees based on individualized financial information and goals and current underwriting guidelines for numerous products with real-time pricing.

>> View their individualized three-bureau credit report, analysis and score in a format that is concise, understandable and digestible.

>> Import and verify asset, property and income information – all online via proprietary interfaces designed by QL Labs with numerous partners and databases throughout the country, eliminating the need for consumers to provide supporting loan documents manually.

>> Receive full approval in minutes on conventional, FHA or VA mortgage products with the click of a button from Quicken Loans’ proprietary interface to agency underwriting engines.

>> Lock their interest rate.

>> Conveniently view all loan documentation and details online, anytime, anywhere. Users no longer need to rely on information relayed over the telephone, email, face-to-face or through the mail.

“Rocket Mortgage simplifies the largest, most complex and important financial transaction most consumers experience in their lifetime,” said Linglong He, Quicken Loans Chief Information Officer. “Our team at QL Labs has worked tirelessly to ensure that Rocket Mortgage users have the same award-winning experience that has made Quicken Loans an eight-time J.D. Power top-rated mortgage lender for client satisfaction.”

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An Innovator Gets Recognized

We at PROGRESS believe that recognizing innovation will cause others to innovate, hence the Innovations Awards Program. We hope that you will apply. But our awards aside, Capsilon has earned the prestigious Gold status in the Golden Bridge Awards for its Capsilon DocVelocity platform. Here’s what this means:

The coveted annual Golden Bridge Awards program encompasses the world’s best in organizational performance, innovations, products and services, executives and management teams and more, from every major industry in the world. Organizations from all over the world are eligible to submit nominations including public and private, for-profit and non-profit, largest to smallest and new start-ups.

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Capsilon was recognized with a gold award for its recently introduced automated data extraction (ADE) technology, a new capability of its flagship product, Capsilon DocVelocity. The ADE technology offers mortgage lenders an innovative alternative to current labor-based approaches to access, validate and evaluate critical loan data by extracting the data required by mortgage companies to enable rich data-driven audits. The breakthrough technology is used by some of the nation’s largest mortgage companies for automated loan evaluation that eliminates costly labor, speeds loan turn times, and helps manage compliance.

The extracted data is automatically transformed into Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization (MISMO)-compliant data points for consumption by automation engines and saved in the DocVelocity electronic loan folder for quick reference at any time during the life of the loan. Links to the original document from which the data is extracted are always maintained, so it is simple to track back to the “source of truth” for the data.

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More than 40 judges from a broad spectrum of industry voices from around the world participated and their average scores determined the 2015 Golden Bridge Business Awards winners. The winners were honored during the awards dinner and presentation on November 16, 2015 in San Francisco attended by the finalists, industry leaders and judges.

“To win Gold status in the Golden Bridge Awards in the ‘Innovations in Technology’ category is especially meaningful because our mission is to automate key steps along the mortgage lifecycle through technical innovation,” said Sanjeev Malaney, chief executive officer of Capsilon. “Our automated data extraction technology enables large mortgage companies to automate labor-intensive, time-consuming loan evaluation and audit tasks, improving loan quality while accelerating time to close and reducing total loan production costs.”

APPLY HERE TO BE NAMED A TOP INNOVATION BY PROGRESS IN LENDING

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Don’t Reject Progress

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TME-TGarritanoI’m a history buff and a political junkie. There have been times in our country’s history where revolutionary change and advancement has occurred. When I think of huge change, I often think of the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was a period in history when mankind found innovative and efficient ways of producing goods, manufacturing services and creating new methods of transportation. That sounds great, right? Well, it wasn’t embraced by everyone.

The industrial revolution was not without opposition. The most violent opposition was lead by a group called the Luddites. General Ned Ludd and the Army of Redressers began to send threatening letters in early 1811 to manufacturers in Nottingham. Workers were extremely angry that factory owners had lowered wages and were replacing skilled workers with unskilled workers (cheaper labor). They began to break into factories and destroy machines. Typically the destruction was aimed directly at mills and factories, but on a few rare occasions extended to people. The government responded quickly and forcefully. A large reward was placed in exchange for information regarding the identity of the luddites. In 1812 they passed a law making the destruction of machinery a capital offense. After troops were sent to the area, about 20 people were executed and many more deported from the country.

The second major event related to the opposition is known as the Peterloo Massacre. As workers became interested in politics for the first time, they began to make requests that included less government corruption, better wages and working conditions, and universal suffrage. Henry Orator Hunt and Richard Carlile arranged a meeting to occur in Manchester. The meeting drew a crowd of over 50, 000 people which caused the magistrate to panic and they called in the military. They responded by charging the crowd and killing several and wounding several hundred more. The government backed the military even though it was reported that most of the soldiers were drunk and out of line.

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So, change isn’t easy, but nonetheless it is necessary. The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history; almost every aspect of daily life was influenced in some way. In particular, average income and population began to exhibit unprecedented sustained growth. Some economists say that the major impact of the Industrial Revolution was that the standard of living for the general population began to increase consistently for the first time in history, although others have said that it did not begin to meaningfully improve until the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The Industrial Revolution began in Great Britain, and spread to Western Europe and the United States within a few decades. The precise start and end of the Industrial Revolution is still debated among historians, as is the pace of economic and social changes. GDP per capita was broadly stable before the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of the modern capitalist economy, while the Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in capitalist economies. Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals, plants and fire.

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The First Industrial Revolution evolved into the Second Industrial Revolution in the transition years between 1840 and 1870, when technological and economic progress continued with the increasing adoption of steam transport (steam-powered railways, boats and ships), the large-scale manufacture of machine tools and the increasing use of machinery in steam powered factories.

So, yes, there was opposition, but the benefits of the Industrial Revolution far outweigh the cons. My point is that you can’t fight progress and hope to be on the winning side. You will be a big loser. Who would have thought that a wristwatch could ever monitor your pulse, but now it can. Technology moves on. Back in 1600 the Qing Dynasty introduced a fully functional abacus on a ring, which could be used while it was being worn. Today we’re talking about the new Apple Watch. Apple calls this the company’s “most personal device yet.” The company goes on to state that, “our goal has always been to make powerful technology more accessible. More relevant. And ultimately more personal. Apple Watch represents a new chapter in the relationship people have with technology. It’s the most personal product we’ve ever made, because it’s the first one designed to be worn.”

Why is the Apple Watch so sought after? Apple says, “Each interaction is quick and light. Right from the watch face, the Glances feature gives you real-time views of the information you check most often, like the weather, stock quotes, upcoming calendar events, and more. Apple Watch notifications take on a whole new feel because they discreetly come right to your wrist. And they’re designed to let you address or dismiss them just as subtly.”

In addition, the watch does things that the usual watch doesn’t. According to Apple, Apple Watch gives you a more complete picture of your all-day physical activity because it measures more than just the quantity of your movement, such as the number of steps you take. It measures the quality and frequency as well. The three rings of the Activity app show your progress at a glance and provide the motivation you need to sit less, move more, and get some exercise. There’s also a separate Workout app for dedicated cardio sessions. Over time, Apple Watch can use what it learns about the way you move to suggest personalized daily fitness goals and encourage you to achieve them. So you can live a better day and a healthier life.

My guess is that Apple Watch will be a big hit. Why? Because more and more people are open to change. As I think about things like the Industrial Revolution and the Apple Watch, I see an ever-changing world. So, I ask myself: Why hasn’t that change hit the mortgage industry? The hard truth is that the mortgage industry hasn’t changed because our industry is resistant to change. It’s a shame that it has taken the mortgage meltdown and the government takeover of our industry to make change happen. Regardless, change is finally touching the mortgage space.

There’s a lot of complaints about the new integrated disclosures set to hit our industry in August. The more people complain, the more I shake my head. Why complain? It can’t be avoided. As the old saying goes: If you can’t beat them, join them. It’s time for our industry to stop resisting progress. Lenders shouldn’t be waiting around to be told how to advance, they should be advancing every day. Hopefully some day this mindset will change.

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Success = Vision Experience & KnowHow

The late great Steve Jobs was nothing if not a visionary. With the introduction of the original Apple PC in 1984 to Macbooks, the iPod and likely his most transformational invention, the iPhone, Jobs and his core crew of technologists forever changed the global computing landscape delivering innovation that leapfrogged competitors’ imaginations. So how does someone garner so much clarity of vision and how do they translate that vision into tangible benefit?

Despite potentially stating the insanely obvious, I contend that technology innovators garner vision from decades of experience and translate concepts to reality by surrounding themselves with like minded, highly talented “do-ers” who are driven to deliver game changing results.

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One of Steve Jobs’ key tenets was always, “Don’t beat the competition at their game; Redefine the Game.” In the 1990s, Jobs gained valuable experience with both the technology and usability of smaller mobile computing devices with the launch of his “Newton.” While this product failed to capture mindshare, Jobs did capture valuable experience, biding his time until technologies matured. In the early 2000’s he launched the iPod, mastering core data synchronization functionality; and a few years later in 2007 he announced the iPhone whose time had finally come. Based on prior experience and technical knowhow, Steve could clearly envision a world of handhelds enabling real-time infotainment rather than mere person-to-person conversations. The rest is history.

I believe the mortgage landscape is on the precipice of similar upheaval and firms who have the Vision, Experience and Knowhow to deliver will similarly redefine the game. So, who will these firms be? What will they deliver? and How can we recognize them? If we follow the Steve Jobs formula they may have the following profile:

Their Vision

To win the precious few new borrowers in today’s lower margin, stricter regulatory environment, lenders need a Transformational Digital Origination Platform. This platform should be designed with flexible modules that work together seamlessly or can “plug in” as independent components to “jumpstart” a specific piece of outdated functionality. The multi-channel solution will connect all parties to the transaction, automate product eligibility, pricing and fees, use workflow to dramatically improve productivity, enforce upfront compliance through data validation and calculations, and significantly lower costs and maintenance headaches all while helping lenders maximize customer satisfaction.

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Their Experience

These firms will be comprised of mortgage veterans with a track record of innovation and success working with the most demanding lenders to deliver highly scalable solutions that dramatically improved business processes and outcomes. They have the DNA to see solutions to problems before others see the problem exists.

Their KnowHow

At their core, these firms solve puzzles. They are unable to rest on their laurels and they thrive on leveraging the latest proven tools to bypass prior limitations. They maximize the use of Cloud-Based technologies, Web Frameworks, Open Standards and proven Mobile solutions to deliver an integrated digital platform that mirrors their vision for the industry.

In 2008, Steve Jobs’ iPhone vision became reality with 11.7 million units sold. In 2014 that number grew 1600%. He and his teams transformed the way we all interact with information and each other. Similarly, it feels like the time is right for mortgage technology solutions to redefine the way our industry operates, sending it on a new growth trajectory.

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A New Type Of Industry Event

On April 7th, in beautiful New Orleans, Mercury Network hosted the first Techlab@CRN in conjunction with the Collateral Risk Network’s quarterly meeting. Techlab@CRN was an interactive, invitation-only meeting amongst experts in the valuation vendor management industry, with the objective of gathering expert feedback on the design and function of the new tools Mercury Network is planning, well before they’re released to world.

Why is this event, and others like it, important to the industry at large? With market challenges and the onslaught of new regulations, we desperately need innovation that empowers mortgage lenders to maximize their profits and ensure compliance. We can do incredible things through technology, and help mortgage lenders gain market share and be more successful – but only if it’s technology they want to use.

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We’ve learned first-hand that labs like these, where you can get invaluable industry opinions on software designs early in their development, are critical to successful innovation.

Through our participation with PROGRESS in Lending Association’s Lender Advisory Panel, we’ve already seen the benefits. Every year at MBA Annual, PROGRESS offers the opportunity to sit down with their Lender Panel for a 90-minute meeting, to get their unfiltered opinions on anything we ask. The specific, concrete takeaways from those labs (we’ve done it three consecutive years now) are unbelievably valuable and have directly impacted Mercury Network’s success. That’s why we’re very excited to launch Techlab@CRN to open even more feedback channels.

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This focus on the customer’s opinions early in development doesn’t just work well for Mercury Network. Every technology company should be seeking early feedback on software design. Steve Blank has an article in Harvard Business Review that does a great job of explaining how the customer-focused methodology works, and how it will help companies successfully innovate rapidly to better serve their customers and become far more successful.

PROGRESS readers are probably already aware of the design revolution inside many of our industry’s technology companies. In our digital age, everyone knows that a technology company can’t just have great marketing and excellent sales people. Since anyone with an Internet connection can find out what their peers really think about various software solutions, the product has to speak for itself. Poor software design, no matter how powerful the tools behind it are, will break even the best façade built by marketing and sales, in a matter of seconds.

The good news is that customer-focused, well-designed software is already proving to outperform older methodologies across virtually all industries. Check out the recent Design in Tech Report published this month at SXSW.   Design-driven technology companies are surpassing others because they’re designing software that solves people’s problems, that real people want to use.

That’s our objective for Techlab@CRN. We’re excited to see what the experts at our inaugural meeting think about the appraisal management, quality control, and appraisal compliance tools we’re building. Rest assured, we’ll listen closely, implement their feedback, and continue to release powerful solutions that collateral risk managers want to use.

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Talking Innovation

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TME-MHammondPROGRESS in Lending is celebrating its 5th Annual Innovations Awards Event. The mortgage industry really needs innovation these days, but often technology vendors don’t know how to go about innovating because they’re too busy keeping up with regulatory change or with their competitors. It doesn’t have to be.

In an article called “The Innovation Game,” the author asked readers to imagine you show up to work one day and someone asks you if you are interested in running with an idea that you have, “sure” you say. You are then given a little red box, inside you find a pre-paid credit card for $1,000, some notebooks, and an innovation guide that walks you through a six-step process to go from idea to product. You are also able to reach out to people at Adobe for help, coaching, and mentorship through a two-day innovation workshop. That’s it. Just take the money and show the company what you were able to come up with.

This isn’t make believe, it’s real. This is the new KickStart innovation program launched by Mark Randall, the VP of Creativity at Adobe.

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Companies have long struggled with innovation, oftentimes relying on just a few people within the company to come up with the greatest ideas for products and services. The traditional innovation process also doesn’t allow for too much iteration and development. Mark echoes this quite well by stating:

“One of the challenges that large corporations have is trying to drive employee motivation to innovate. KickStart was an attempt to resolve that by looking at the history of what companies have done and then removing the obstacles that have stood in the way.

Once employees come up with a prototype for their idea the next step is to pitch it to executives at the company just like an entrepreneur would pitch venture capitalists. According to Mark only one executive needs to say “yes” to the idea which means you can pitch 10 of them, and if the 10th one says yes, then you’re in business and are given the much coveted “blue box.”

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What is the value of this type of innovation?

No obstacles

As Mark mentioned above, one of the goals of this new innovation process is to entirely remove obstacles that stand in the way of creativity and innovation. Thus making it much easier to go from idea to something tangible.

Create more innovations

If you think about it 100 employees can create 100 prototypes for $100,000, which is what many companies spend on a single prototype that oftentimes doesn’t make it to the next level. In this new scenario the company can invest the same amount of capital and get far more potentials for success.

Build new skills

Even if the employees who participate in the innovation program don’t get their ideas funded, think about the skills they learn that they can bring back to their team. Being able to think through the process of creation and innovation is a very powerful skill that every employee within the company can benefit from. So this is also a form of employee training.

Engage employees

Remember, this entire innovation program is opt-in, meaning employees volunteer to take part in this process. Many employees want to be given the opportunity to take on new challenges, to experiment with their ideas, and to be entrepreneurs. This creates a much more engaged and active workforce that literally shows up to work ready to bring their all.

Retain talent

Oftentimes employees leave their current roles to purse their new ideas, this means losing valuable talent and if there’s anything we know about today’s business landscape it’s that the war for talent has never been greater. This type of an innovation program allows employees to stay within Adobe while simultaneously giving them the opportunity they crave to become entrepreneurs.

Create an adaptive organization

When you have a network of people at your company who are constantly thinking of new ideas, your organization becomes more adaptable and relevant and can stay one step ahead of the competition.

Some of the ideas that Adobe has mentioned include:

>> Creating a real-world game in which users participate in creative challenges in locations they discover through global positioning systems (GPS).

>> Creating video stories that sync images and music with mood and emotion.

>> Bringing paper homework assignments into the digital world.

Every organization should have a look at their current innovation process and ask themselves if every employee is given the resources and the opportunity to innovate. When we think about the future of work it’s not hard to see why innovation should be the responsibility of everyone within the company.

Too often I hear buzzwords like end-to-end, dynamic documents, MISMO 3.3. What do these things really mean and are they innovative? As an industry we need to take valuable tools like MISMO and find a way to use it to recreate the process.

If we just stay on the topic of MISMO, there are so many innovative things that can be done with this robust data standard to innovate and improve the product, yet people treat it like something to be checked off as just another feature that they have instead of talking about its benefits and how they are using MISMO to comply with RESPA-TILA, for example.

Innovation should be fun, like the game I discussed. It should be creative. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are practical reasons why certain things can’t be done no matter how innovative they are but that shouldn’t stop us from dreaming and looking beyond the normal everyday industry acronyms to find deeper meaning and a truly better way to originate loans.

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Good Technology Makes A Difference

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Innovative technology is getting recognized. For example, FormFree Holdings Corporation, a provider of automated deposit and asset verifications, is excited to announce that Wells Fargo, the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., has announced acceptance of FormFree’s AccountChek Asset Report for ALL product types for correspondent delivery according to the Jan. 26Th Wells Fargo “Newsflash” bulletin.

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“We are delighted to receive official acceptance and be named in Wells Fargo’s recent Newsflash publication. AccountChek is leading the charge in third party asset verifications with our patented solution,” said Brent Chandler, CEO of FormFree. This announcement is the latest in a series of investor approvals including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Chase, PennyMac, and others.

The first and only patented verification of deposits and assets (VODA) solution in the marketplace, AccountChek collects data directly from virtually any financial institution and provides lenders and investors with ATR/QM compliant electronic verifications in an easy to use format that is generated within minutes. Designed to be used in tandem with credit reports, the AccountChek Asset Report includes a borrower’s running balances, deposits and withdrawals, non-sufficient funds and large deposit notifications and many other details, giving lenders and investors a clearer picture of a borrower’s finances and simplifying the underwriting decision process.

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With greater accountability around ATR and QM, lenders and GSE’s are focused on fraud mitigation and regulatory compliance (by accessing direct source data). AccountChek streamlines the current method of paper-based asset verification. AccountChek increases efficiency, reduces buyback exposure and improves borrower satisfaction with the lending process. Good technology makes a difference.

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