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Market Analysis: The LOS Saga

*The LOS Saga*
**By Tony Garritano**

***It always seems to me like there are too many loan origination systems to choose from. How do they all survive? In the end, I guess, they all have their unique strengths and weaknesses. To this end, PROGRESS learned a few months back of a new entrant that hopes to put their spin on this already crowded space. Now they’re staffing up to try and take the market by storm. Here’s the full scoop:

****LendingQB, an enterprise-class end-to-end Web-based LOS), has added Holt Crowder and Brian Smith to its business development team. Both new hires will be dedicated to introducing the new LendingQB LOS to the mortgage industry.

****“We are excited about Holt and Brian joining our team to help launch the LendingQB platform,” said Binh Dang, president of LendingQB. “We’ve spent the last couple of years operating in an R&D mode to engineer a one-of-a-kind end-to-end LOS that delivers functionality and value above and beyond anything that is commercially available on the market today. Holt and Brian will play a major role in demonstrating to lenders why our enterprise-class LOS is unlike any other. Their knowledge and experience working in the mortgage technology space is why we brought them on board; I’m confident they’ll be major contributors to our growth.”

****Holt will be responsible for managing new opportunities with banks, credit unions and lenders in an outside sales capacity. Holt brings more than 20 years of experience to LendingQB having worked at mortgage banks, mortgage technology providers and as a consultant. He has held various positions at Loan-Score Decisioning Systems, Mortgage Cadence, Portellus, PCLender, Paramount Residential Mortgage Group, Aames Home Loans, NovaStar, PHH Mortgage and others.

****Brian will manage the upfront sales process working with prospective clients to communicate LendingQB’s value proposition. He has experience working at mortgage technology providers Loan-Score Decisioning Systems and LoanSifter. While at Loan-Score, Brian was instrumental in building a book of business that grew the company’s client base at a rapid rate, which helped make it attractive for acquisition by Calyx Software, Inc. in 2010.

****LendingQB was in development and testing for several years, and is now being successfully implemented at mortgage banks that are realizing enterprise-wide efficiencies and greater profitability. The platform was officially launched in December of last year and has experienced a significant amount of attention as a result of its unique features and capabilities. I’ll keep you posted on their industry penetration as I get that news.

Powering Today’s Lenders: Level The Playing Field

*Level The Playing Field*
**By Daniel Liggett**

***The latest ‘Lender Spotlight’ shines on Torrington Savings Bank, whose innovative use of technology has allowed them to level the playing field against larger lenders. This is the third installment of the series where we have asked lenders to tell their stories about their technology choices in their own words. Here’s what Torrington had to say:

****Torrington Savings Bank is a $700 million community bank headquartered in northwest Connecticut. In 2007, they set out to become a self-described leader in mortgage technology. They wanted to be able to achieve a level of technology previously available only to larger lenders. The impetus for this plan began with the search for a loan origination system to replace the aged and functionally challenged existing LOS.

****Jeff Geddes of Torrington said, “We made a list of important items that the new LOS should provide in order for us to meet our goals. These included having an increased level of functionality, providing us with a fair amount of flexibility and possessing user-friendly attributes that would help spur productivity. A short list but a tall order for sure.

****“When we first looked at RemoteLender, a hosted solution using rules-based technology, we saw that it possessed many benefits that could help us achieve our goals. We were particularly impressed with its workflow enhancements, integrations with third-party providers and its ability to be easily changed and edited using business rules.

****“Another thing was the cost savings that a hosted system like RemoteLender would provide a bank like ours with limited IT resources. We saw that we could have a top-notch online system that would rival that of larger lenders at a fraction of the cost. All of the IT responsibilities such as hardware and software upgrades and backups as well as maintenance are handled by the vendor, who, through economies of scale, provide better services than we can for the money.

****“After a thorough evaluation of the LOS, including the people developing and implementing it for us, we chose RemoteLender and have been live on the product for two years now.

****“RemoteLender has delivered on all of its promises and we are learning new things and capabilities of this product all the time. From the little things like tab control or mouse control options when navigating screens to the feature that permits us to enter multiple bank deposits for a single borrower in a single entry rather than one at a time, or even multiple borrowers on a single loan record. Storing information in tables helps speed up processing as does the ability to run amortization tables and functions right from the loan record.

****“We also like the ability to attach items to a loan record, this helps us move toward a goal of paperless lending. Today’s borrower has tons of paper files. RemoteLender allows us to attach items such as email, appraisals, or whatever we want to scan directly to the loan record. And the integrations with third-party providers allow us to order credit without having to leave the system. We make a click or two and get result already attached to the loan file which is a huge time-saver.

****“The refinability of RemoteLender has provided us a great advantage over the competition as we can quickly make desired or necessary changes in a short period of time. For example, we traditionally followed the standard 1003 format and were able to have our screens and workflow stages mirror this. Our operators had an advantage of familiarity rather than the frustration of starting over. And the staging for printing saves paper. We can print an entire ‘stage’ of documents or a single one. This increases productivity while saving us dollars.

****“RemoteLender’s multi-level security options allow us to assign access rights by whatever method we desire. We can assign by duties such as processor, underwriter, etc, or even view-only access depending on the individual or group.

****“RemoteLender not only helped us exceed our goals, it also helped us win the Innovative Lender of the Year Award where we beat out a bank that was exponentially larger than us.

****“We were rookies in the technology game, but we kept our sights on the goal, performed due diligence and partnered with vendors who were experienced and knowledgeable in their disciplines.”

Xetus

Xetus provides comprehensive, feature-rich solutions to the mortgage industry by enabling lenders to process mortgage loans online via the Internet, from initial application through funding and secondary transfer. XetusOne, our cloud-based “software as a service” (SaaS) loan origination system, allows all participants in the mortgage funding process to connect seamlessly. This collaboration spans data input, verification, document sharing, quality control, and management. Our customers include leading banks, credit unions, community banks and credit union service organizations. Some of the significant benefits our customers experience in using XetusOne include:

>> Ease of use

>> Simultaneous collaboration across all participants in the mortgage fulfillment process

>> Rapid, inexpensive and easy start up and deployment

>> Dramatic reduction in processing costs

>> Tighter data integrity and fraud prevention

>> Pay-per-loan pricing

The company can be found on the Web HERE.

Market Analysis: Simplifying LO Comp

*Simplifying LO Comp*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Yes the new Loan Officer Compensation rules are behind us, but compliance is still hard at times. Technology vendors realize that lenders are struggling. As a result, PROGRESS in Lending has learned that Ellie Maehas released Encompass Commissions, an automated solution to calculate, communicate and reconcile loan officer (LO) commissions for banks, mortgage banks and credit unions using Encompass360® mortgage management software solution. Here’s the scoop on the new tool:

****Encompass Commissions is more accurate and efficient than manual processes and provides significantly greater transparency for LOs. It automates every aspect of the variable compensation workload so that sales people can stay motivated and focused on originating and back office staff can save time with more accurate commission calculations.

****Encompass Commissions enables lenders to deliver a 24/7 Web-based commission pipeline, where sales agents can continuously monitor estimates and time disbursements. Now LOs can log in at any time and see their pipeline of earned commissions and understand how they were calculated. This reduces errors before checks are cut and prevents misunderstandings that can damage sales force morale. Encompass Commissions also supports LO compensation compliance policies, documenting and providing a complete audit trail of all paid commissions.

****The solution is fully integrated with Encompass360 so it captures commission data seamlessly and on a real-time basis. Once commissions have been reviewed, managers can export the information easily into payroll and accounting systems.

****Specifically, it:

****>> Pulls data from the Encompass360 database and other sources, such as accounting ledgers, and automatically calculates the commission.  The process reduces human error and back office expenses;

****>> Sets up adjustments and draws using flexible parameters and automatically applies the net adjustment to the appropriate commission cycle;

****>> Accommodates “splits” and can automatically schedule them;

****>> Automates transmittal and LO approval workflow;

****>> Offers a configurable dashboard to help management understand past, current and future commissions pipeline—providing total transparency;

****>> Provides for error resolution prior to cutting and disbursing checks; and

****>> Can be used to test potential compensation plans against past production data to determine how each LO would be affected by the change.

****Encompass Commissions is patterned on DataTrac Commissions, an established solution that has been available since 2009 and is currently being used by a number of DataTrac’s largest clients.

****Matthew Pineda, chief executive officer at Castle & Cooke Mortgage, LLC, Salt Lake City, UT, and an early DataTrac Commissions user, said: “We pay commissions to our LOs twice a month, and before we installed this software, it took four employees the better part of four days a month to manually do the calculations, reviews and payroll adjustments. Now two employees—one in secondary marketing and one in payroll—pull the data directly from our system of record and allocate, review and pay the commissions in just a few hours.”

****Janet Fell, senior vice president, at William Raveis Mortgage, LLC, Westford, MA, said her company ordered Encompass Commissions in anticipation of complying with new federal regulations for LO compensation. “As a mortgage banker, we need to be ready to comply with the new rules that require us to document our LO compensation plan and demonstrate that we have followed it. So in the event of an audit, we’re ready. Encompass Commissions appears to be a cost-effective, affordable way to leverage technology to bring greater efficiency to the commission payment process and automate compliance.”

****“Compensation is a huge factor in attracting top performing loan officers, and it is also one of the areas that has come under significant scrutiny through new regulations,” said Jonathan Corr, chief operating officer at Ellie Mae. “Encompass Commissions automates payments to loan officers accurately and quickly, reducing back-office costs and giving lenders another recruiting and retention tool. At the same time, it documents compliance with new compensation rules and provides an audit trail.”

Market Analysis: Getting Ready For ULDD

*Getting Ready For ULDD*
**By Tony Garritano**

***The Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset is a major change in the way the mortgage industry not only delivers loans between lenders and investors, but is also a significant development in how loan data is verified, analyzed and evaluated. By having the individual data elements of each loan available in a standardized digital format to compare and study, investors can more easily review files to ensure greater data integrity in each loan. Analysis and reporting are greatly improved, bringing much-needed transparency and quality to the capital markets, leading to greater liquidity and reduced costs for all stakeholders in the process. Initially applying to loan deliveries involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the ULDD effectively sets the stage to become the new industry standard upon implementation. And PROGRESS in Lending has learned that one LOS is already compliant. Here’s the story:

****Mortgage Builder has already received certification from the GSEs that it is in compliance with the new Uniform Loan Delivery Dataset (ULDD) requirements, well ahead of the April voluntary loan delivery date and the July 23rd mandatory delivery deadline. The agencies pushed back the mandatory date from March to July to allow vendors and lenders more time to prepare for the change, but Mortgage Builder clients can familiarize themselves with the changes immediately.

****By being early with its readiness for the ULDD, Mortgage Builder allows its clients greater preparation time to meet the requirements of the new system and its differences. “There are many new data fields and it will take clients some time to become acclimated,” according to Liz Fafette, Mortgage Builder’s vice president of operations. “We have made every effort to make the transition as seamless as possible for users by giving them an advance view of the changes as far back as November, so that helped,” she explains. “The upload websites for Fannie and Freddie are different, but we have worked hard to make the user experience as consistent as possible with the current Mortgage Builder environment.” She notes that more than 600 data fields were involved in the conversion to ULDD, and the newest version of MISMO-standardized XML (Extensible Markup Language, standardized by the Mortgage Industry Standards and Maintenance Organization) made the effort a significant undertaking.

****“ULDD brings greater standardization to the process for each transaction,” observes Keven Smith, president and CEO of Mortgage Builder. “ULDD brings improvements to the existing methods of electronic delivery that we anticipate will reduce issues around completeness and acceptability,” he says. “There is a checking feature that warns of possible problems or conflicts with Freddie or Fannie, and prompts users to fix them before uploading. This saves the GSE and the lender time, and the overall precision of the ULDD package will help boost transparency,” Smith predicts.

****Mortgage Builder was required to demonstrate that its system’s ULDD met the requirements and quality standards for the GSEs through a series of test cases with each agency. Now, with that process complete and Mortgage Builder duly certified, the company is releasing the new version for client download and implementation. “Our technical support staff is available to assist wherever required,” says Liz Fafette, but she feels that the effort put in by her operations department will make the transition remarkably painless. “With the implementation of ULDD by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the mortgage industry is officially in the digital age,” she says. “We’re glad to help in the effort to bring new levels of data integrity and transparency to the mortgage industry, and Mortgage Builder is ready to go – months ahead of the deadline.”

Market Analysis: It’s All About ROI

*It’s All About ROI*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Why do technology vendors and service providers integrate? There’s a variety of reasons, but the biggest one is to provide their customers with more efficiency and cost savings. For example, PROGRESS in Lending has learned that LendingQB and FirstClose Title have a partnership that combines instant ‘cash to close’ quotes with real-time automated underwriting and loan pricing all within a unified loan origination platform. The integration enables mortgage lenders to reduce closing costs for borrowers and simulatenously populate guaranteed GFE data within the LendingQB loan origination system. Here’s the story:

****FirstClose Title is a national provider of title services with a unique business model. They compare rates from a wide range of major underwriters and provide the lowest price to borrowers and lenders in a transparent manner. “We actively seek out best pricing among major underwriters to deliver pure, unaltered comparative rate quotes,” said Cynthia Waterman, president and CEO of FirstClose Title. “This allows us to present quotes which average $500 to $1000 below competing GFE quotes, providing lenders with a ‘cash to close’ advantage that makes their offer more competitive and secures a relationship with a potential borrower more quickly.”

****The integration between LendingQB and FirstClose Title makes it easy for lenders to generate a GFE quote directly within the LendingQB loan origination system. Lenders can quickly retrieve quotes for title insurance, settlement charges, recording charges, and transfer taxes and automatically populate the data to the GFE on their loan file. Lenders can save between 15 and 30 minutes per loan file using the integration. But more importantly, FirstClose Title guarantees the accuracy of the GFE data, which protects lenders from having to cover costs due to poor GFE data entry.

****“As a loan origination system, our goals are to increase a lender’s efficiency and maintain data integrity,” said Binh Dang, LendingQB’s managing partner. “The integration with FirstClose actually goes beyond these goals and has a direct impact on a lender’s ability to drive revenue. It makes lenders more competitive by improving point of sale pricing and increasing consumer selection.”

Technology Spotlight: Lender Looks To Clean Up Its Approach

*Lender Looks To Clean Up Its Approach*
**First National Bank of Pennsylvania Profiled**

***In an effort to get rid of several front end and back end systems, PA-based First National Bank of Pennsylvania has opted to switch its LOS to Avista Solutions. First National Bank, the largest subsidiary of F.N.B. Corporation (NYSE: FNB), recently launched the Avista Agile LOS retail platform. Here’s why they chose Avista:

****First National Bank previously managed its mortgage lending operations from two separate front-end and back-end systems, which led to a less than optimum workflow process. The bank launched a search for a new system that could offer full transparency of information and in turn increase efficiency and data accuracy. After whittling its candidates down to four, the bank chose Avista Solutions as its best fit.

****It wasn’t just transparency that tipped the scales in Avista’s favor – the system’s web-based, software as a service (SaaS) model was also a deciding factor for First National Bank. Avista’s web-based format allows loan originators to easily take work into the field and keeps the bank from having to tap into its own internal servers for hosting purposes.

****DataMart, Avista’s onsite data storage and reporting tool, was another feature that won over First National Bank. The bank wanted the ability to produce a variety of reports that could be moved onto its servers quickly, and Avista’s DataMart stood out among competing reporting tools. Additionally, Avista’s data mining capability was important because of its potential to enhance cross-sell opportunities.

****Avista also offered a flexible implementation process that impressed First National Bank decision makers.

****“We chose Avista because the system has an infrastructure that can accommodate our growth,” First National Bank of Pennsylvania Senior Vice President and Real Estate Services Manager Rhoan Hernandez said. “Also, we can streamline and create an efficient, virtually paperless credit process. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it will also ultimately improve the level of service we offer our customers.”

 

Our POINT Of View: Beyond The Buzz

*Beyond The Buzz*
**By Ted Hicks**

***Our industry loves buzzwords. But those buzzwords have created a lot of confusion in the market concerning technology as definitions vary greatly. Two of today’s most common buzzwords are “web-based” and “end-to-end”.  When we consult with lenders, we find that sometimes think that they want one thing but their actual need speaks to a different option.

****We hear a lot about the need to be “web based.” What does that really mean? Our lenders typically ask for web-based technology to have anytime, anywhere access and easier deployment without the need for resource-intensive applications.   But what they don’t realize is what they are asking for is already available—through the use of their current client-server model or even mobile applications.

****The term client server is lumped in with terms like antiquated and rigid. That’s just not the case. The client-server model has become flexible enough that client server can now be deployed over the Web as an ASP.   Client servers can enable off-line activity and automatic uploads of off-line files to the server upon the next login.

****Mobile applications, although not widely accepted or used in the mortgage industry right now, provide global 24hour access without unwieldy installations.  Mobile applications are, in essence, client server applications, not web applications viewable on a mobile screen.  These “mobile servers” are designed to keep us plugged in wherever we are without the performance, control and security issues that they can sometimes experience with a true web-based system.

****Our second buzzword du jour, “end-to-end” has also created a stir among our clients.  Let’s talk a bit about what end-to-end really means. End-to-end is different as compared to all-in-one. When you are talking end-to-end you need to define the starting point and the stopping point. You can be end-to-end when it comes to processing only, for example, or you can stipulate the starting point as the 1003 and the stopping point as the 1st payment after closing.  “All-in-one” is a complete package that includes all forms, documents, services, and servicing.

****That means a system where just one vendor provides every single one of the services for which you would normally use best-of-breed third-party vendors.  Look at it this way:  you would typically expect an LOS to offer expertise in mortgage origination software.  If you see one that also claims to be a document services company or a flood certification company, what is the likelihood that it is going to be able to provide excellence in all business models at the same time? More often than not, quality will suffer in one or more of the “businesses.”  If you find a system touted as “all-in-one” and look closely at its capabilities and functionality, you’ll find that they just don’t have what it takes to be “all-in-one.”

****What does all this really mean to you?  It means that there are options for you.  Rather than immediately jumping on the buzzword bandwagon, truly analyze your functional needs in a platform.  You may find that you already have what you want and need.   But you won’t know until you move beyond the buzz and get to the facts.

Powering Today’s Lenders: Tracking The Real Needs Of Lenders

*Tracking The Real Needs Of Lenders*
**By Daniel Liggett**

***This week, our ‘Lender Spotlight’ is on the Savings Institute Bank & Trust Company (SIBT) of Willimantic, CT. This is the second installment in our series where we share stories from actual lenders about how they selected and implemented technology initiatives. When the $950 million SIBT began their search for new loan origination technology, they set out to create a list of the capabilities that were essential in meeting their future lending requirements. One was to have the LOS and the accompanying data reside on servers within the bank’s existing internal IT infrastructure. The second was to process both mortgage and consumer loans from a single system. The remaining requirements on the list were derived from experiences with past systems. These included flexibility, customization, and vendor integrity.

****SIBT’s year-long search culminated in the selection of PowerLender, a business-rules-based LOS, with Specialized Data Systems (SDS) of East Haven, CT. providing the implementation and configuration services. SDS and SIBT designed an implementation plan and refined PowerLender to meet the bank’s specific way of doing business.

****We understood our workflow requirements. We have a mix including Conventional, FHA, 203K, Connecticut Housing products, EquityBuilder products and Rural Development products. Our operation is like many banks in the region and SDS had a firm grasp of our business and helped us implement it into PowerLender in a rapid fashion. It didn’t take long for us to discover that with PowerLender, anything we needed we could do.

****The project began in January and we went live with PowerLender in June. PowerLender helped streamline our workflow by providing third-party integrations with Desktop Underwriter, mortgage insurance providers and credit bureaus. The ability to attach documentation to a loan record reduced the resources we devoted to compiling and tracking these items.

****Our point-of-sale operations include both face-to-face and online using LoanQuoter by DataVision. Our plan is to take advantage of PowerLender’s web services which allow seamless, automatic transfer of loan data between the consumer-facing portal and the LOS. Thus data entered by the consumer goes directly into PowerLender and loan-status updates are available on the web.

****Aside from the large number of technical and business requirements that PowerLender was able to handle, it’s still a user-friendly system. I manage 16 people who touch PowerLender on a daily basis, including originators, processors, underwriters, closers and post closers. They are all involved in the process, and their input is extremely important.

****We achieved our lending technology requirements of an in-house system that could handle multiple lending products including consumer, and deliver integrations to streamline the point-of-sale.

****Technology that provides flexibility, adaptability and ease of use is a key to a long-lasting LOS. Having a vendor who understands our business as well as theirs is just as important to achieving success. And when you achieve a comfort level among all stakeholders, it allows for rapid acceptability and real achievement.

****The next ‘Lender Spotlight’ shines on an innovative lender who used technology to compete on a higher level.

Market Analysis: Look At The Landscape

*Look At The Landscape*
**By Tony Garritano**

***Excuse me today my friends. I’m a bit tired. I was up until 3 a.m. waiting for the results of the Iowa Caucus. My friends know that I’m a political junkie. What happened yesterday in my view was amazing. A conservative state voted for a candidate that didn’t match their ideals absolutely. Why did they do that? Because Iowans realized that it’s not about who is the most conservative, it’s about who can save our country from the failed policies of this White House. Kudos to Iowans for reassessing the landscape and taking a second look to pick the most electable, and competent, candidate. Similarly, prominent mortgage technology vendors are always reassessing the best way to serve this ever-changing mortgage market. For example, PROGRESS in Lending has learned that Franklin, Tenn.-based Wipro Gallagher Solutions has redefined its fulfillment offerings to more clearly meet the demands of loan originators and servicers for middle- and top-tier lenders. What does that mean? Here’s the scoop:

****For originators, WGS has revised its BPO offerings depending on the lender’s volume of originations and service offerings. WGS now offers originators its services through the following packages:

****>> Platform BPO Fulfillment Solution– offers an end-to-end mortgage origination fulfillment solution including all services from the point of application. Utilizing shared resources and technology based out of the Nashville Delivery Center.

****>> Integrated BPO Solution– tailored to meet the client’s specific needs and is inclusive of support-functions in the areas of loan processing, loan underwriting analysis, closing, funding coordination and post-closing delivery. The delivery staff works within the client’s existing technology and workflow process.

****>> Traditional BPO Solution – provides support for lenders on full functions within the loan process such as processing or post closing or sub-functions of these roles. Clients provide the standard loan lifecycle processing functions while WGS’ global team provides integrated back-office support. Work is performed based upon client-specific processes and procedures.

****For loan servicers, WGS now offers the following product suites tailored to fit their needs:

****>> Complete Subservicing Offering– supplies a complete private-label solution in partnership with a leading U.S.-based sub-servicer. This end-to-end offering enables significant per loan cost savings to each client.

****>> Back Office BPO Solution– supports full functions within the servicing stream including payment processing, reconciliations, loan modification, loss mitigation, and more. The delivery staff works within servicer’s existing technology and workflow process.

****“Wipro Gallagher Solutions has reorganized its private-label BPO offerings into packages that are simple to understand and are tailored to specific markets,” said Narayan Bharadwaji, business head for WGS. “The new packaging better serves our customers to fit their specialized needs and provides more flexibility to enable our customers to focus on their core business and target markets.”