Growing FinTech Companies Partner To Revolutionize Digital Lending

WebMax, a digital mortgage solution provider, and FinLocker, a financial data and analytics platform, have finalized a partnership as a result of successful execution on their five joint customers. The partnership aims to build on 17 months of collaborative efforts to further propel lenders into the digital mortgage revolution.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, between 2010 and 2017, mortgages took 70 percent longer to close and origination costs skyrocketed 80 percent as the burden of regulatory compliance grew.

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“The best ideas, especially in technology, are born out of the need to solve a problem. Home buyers need a faster, easier way to get a mortgage. Lenders need a more efficient, less costly way to originate loans. The combined solution of WebMax and FinLocker makes that happen,” said Curt Tegeler, president and CEO of WebMax.

WebMax streamlines the mortgage application process with a range of products, including enterprise-level mortgage websites, graphic pre-qualification forms, and point-of-sale (POS) applications. FinLocker automates previously manual loan processes by collecting, verifying, and analyzing crucial borrower information like assets, employment, income, taxes, credit and more. Essentially, WebMax provides a portal for borrowers and loan officers, while FinLocker integrates with the portal to automate slow and costly back end loan processes.

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“Based on marketplace feedback – what our customers told us – this partnership provides the leading solution to improve the home buyer’s experience while significantly reducing costs for the lender at the most cost-effective price,” said Peter Esparrago, CEO of FinLocker.

“We created a task force team last year that was made up of business leaders from originations, compliance, operations and executive management with the goal of finding a best in class provider to provide a digital customer experience and improve loan efficiency. We looked at over 20 different providers in the space and determined that the combination of WebMax/FinLocker was the best in class provider that allowed us to achieve the digital customer experience and reduce loan manufacturing costs,” said Mike Goldman, COO of AmCap, a mortgage lender with 900 employees across 120 branches and 30 states.

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WebMax’s POS application, START, makes borrowing easier with smart data entry, auto-fill fields, and a user-friendly interface that walks applicants through each step of the loan application. START is reactive, meaning that it intuitively adapts to each borrower and condenses the application into the shortest possible version.

Unlike other data providers, FinLocker does far more than collect and supply financial information. FinLocker verifies and analyzes the borrower financial data. It utilizes its advanced rules engine and intelligent algorithms to sift through the data, identify irregularities and red flags, and determine vital loan processing and underwriting factors such as qualifiable income. This advanced data analysis automates manual and time consuming processes to significantly reduce lenders’ costs while allowing for faster loan approvals for the home buyer.

“When FinLocker identifies red flags, loan processors can go right into START and communicate with the borrower to solve the issue. It’s a one-two punch,” said Tegeler.

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

Get Smart About Your Point-of-Sale

Imagine this, you invest in creating a state-of-the-art website to compete in today’s digital mortgage revolution. Your website conveys the most critical parts of your brand and maintains a consistent theme throughout every page. However, there’s a problem. When a borrower types “mortgage” or “mortgage application” into Google, thousands of results come up in the search. Because of this, you decide to employ search engine optimization tactics. Great, you are more visible on Google and traffic is being driven to your site. People are so impressed, they decide to fill out a pre-qualification application or even apply for a mortgage. Let’s say a couple begins to fill out the application, they enter in their names, their dates of birth, and all required information. The couple clicks and continues to the next page and then, something happens. They realize that they forgot to put the middle initial in one of their names. The couple tries to go back but is unable. Frustrated, the couple abandons the application. That right there is the scariest part of the digital mortgage process. You invest money in a beautifully designed site, spend time boosting your Google search results, and lead a client to apply for a loan all to have them abandon the application before it’s even completed. This is the reason that having a strong digital point-of-sale (POS) application is so critical in providing a digital mortgage experience to turns leads into loans.

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There are five key components that separate a point-of-sale in today’s most advanced digital solution. The first major component is cleanliness. Your POS needs to be clean on every level. Let’s start at the software level. Any imperfection in the software will result in hiccups that make borrowers abandon the application. Borrowers need to breeze through a digital application with ease. There are too many other things they can get distracted by on the Internet. If you give your applicant one second of difficulty, or one second to contemplate whether they want to complete the application, you risk losing them. Competing for people’s attention isn’t easy, especially in the digital landscape. This is the reason it is so important to keep your users attention at all times.

Clear labeling, prompts and directions tell applicants how to properly input information and guide the borrower step by step. Your digital loan application must also be easy to complete by even the least tech-savvy borrower. It’s easy to get lost with so many different pages, tabs and lines of information to fill out. Your POS must not only guide borrowers through each step, but afford them the ability to go back and forth and jump around. Moreover, borrowers should navigate the application with ease through a dashboard or content map.

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The digital mortgage experience entails much more than having a website where borrowers can enter their information. It envelops integrating with mission-critical third parties, verifies borrower information in real time and streamlines the loan origination process. The digital mortgage affords loan officers and borrowers alike the most valuable asset and that is time. By expediting the loan origination process, they avoid waiting for weeks on end to verify assets and other pertinent information. If your POS doesn’t integrate, then you don’t have a digital POS. A POS that doesn’t integrate is a data collector at best, that merely changes the application process from handwriting information to typing it. A POS that integrates transforms the application process into the digital mortgage, where data gets verified in real time and more loans get closed.

Integrations include, but are not limited to: pricing engines, loan origination systems, customer relationship management systems, credit bureaus, asset verifiers like FinLocker and Account Check for bank accounts, and location pre-populators such as Google Maps. Integrating with these third parties means that the POS does the work for the borrower and loan officer. Integrations with credit bureaus verify borrower information while he/she fills out the application; integrations with asset verifiers connect all of a borrower’s bank account information with the ease of logging into your bank account; integrations with pricing engines do the math and determine proper, compliant loan terms. The list goes on and on. The main point is when all of these tools come together, it creates a dynamic POS and powerful digital mortgage experience.

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Along with integration comes the need for automation. Automation delivers some of the most useful impacts of technology. With automation, technology does the work for you. You don’t have to guide it, direct it or check up on it. Automation streamlines the loan origination process and strengthens your integrations. Automation tells your POS to communicate with Google Maps when a borrower types information into the “Address” field of the application. This allows the field to pre-populate addresses as the borrower types. With each character the borrower adds, Google Maps automatically adjusts and refines the pre-populated addresses. Automation alerts borrowers when they fail to properly input information or skip a step. Automation creates loan terms based on applicant information computed through algorithmic calculations, ensuring proper risk-reward balance and the production of compliant loans. Basically, automation ties together all your integrations. Automation should follow integration, wherever it is.

Automation also drives real-time capabilities. If your POS doesn’t verify data while the borrower completes the application, then it’s not fast enough. A borrower should be able to complete your digital application in seven minutes or less. Basically, once a borrower completes an “Address” field, the POS should recognize and verify that address in seconds. If the application requests a social security number at the first step of the application, it should be processed and back-checked within minutes by the end of the application. If your POS doesn’t boast real-time capabilities, you’re giving your potential borrowers more chances to abandon the application. Borrowers can get pre-qualified for a mortgage within ten minutes of filling out a form. Millennials dominate the home buying market right now, and they demand speed. The Internet, text messaging, social media, and all things digital deliver information so quickly and so readily that it shifted their expectations and perceptions of how things should operate. Applying for a mortgage is no different. The millennial borrower wants to know how big of a mortgage they can get at what rate, so they can launch a new tab and start searching for homes.

Let’s imagine your POS offers all the above: cleanliness, integration, automation, and real-time capabilities. With these components, chances are your borrowers are going to complete their application. But, what happens after the application is completed? The mortgage application began online; the rest of the process should operate online, too. Moreover, the post-application process should operate within the POS application. Mortgages entail the handling of people’s most sensitive information and processing one of the biggest transactions of their lives. Thus, processes and communication among a borrower and loan officer need to exist in a secure environment. Loan officers should not email a borrower to follow up on a completed application. Rather, POS’s should equip borrowers with a secure log-in to return to their application and even provide them a easy to use dashboard. There, they can return to the application to look over and edit any information, and also communicate to their loan officer and upload any pertinent documents. The optimal POS is so much more than just a 1003 application. It’s a borrower portal to handle all things mortgage, from getting pre-qualified to signing a closing contract. In order to deliver an advanced point-of-sale, it’s not just strictly about the technology. There has to be someone that actually understands the life-cycle of the loan process for overall improved loan experience.

If you invest in the right POS application, you’re bound to see a return on your investment. If you choose the right POS, it’s like hiring an employee. POS’s done right streamline workflows and automate processes. It does so much for mortgage companies and loan officers, it easily becomes your most valuable employee. Imagine that: An employee that never makes incorrect calculations, automatically maintains compliance, and gets things done in seconds that takes minutes, hours, days, or weeks for others. I think you’d pay up to match that employee’s salary. So, don’t think of investing in a digital POS as an added cost. Think of it as a cost reducer, compliance manager, and business streamliner. In the end, you are not only saving money on origination costs, but you are making more money through closing more loans.

About The Author

Kelcey T. Brown

Kelcey T. Brown is Chief Strategy Officer & Executive Vice President at WebMax, LLC. Brown is responsible for developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategic initiatives. He acts as a key advisor to the company’s president on critical changes in the competitive landscape, internal employee development and the external business environment. Brown has worked for nine years in the Real Estate and Mortgage Technology Industry.

Lending In Today’s Digital Era

In today’s mortgage market, you can’t pick up a trade publication or attend an industry event and not see or hear something about digital lending. While there is a great deal of hype about digital lending, instead of adding more fuel to the fire, let’s discuss what borrowers are actually looking for and lenders are actually implementing in their digital lending solution.

Anyone who has gone through the mortgage process knows that it is extremely document driven, including loan files that can sometimes exceed 500 pages. For applicants, successfully navigating the mortgage process takes time and patience, as they struggle to fill out dozens of forms, dig up documents and financial records and then send in the mail, fax or scan them to their lender. Naturally, all this back and forth adds days of extra time, the potential for errors, and confusion to the closing process for the borrower.

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Providing dynamic and easy to use digital lending solutions enhances the borrower experience and provides originators with the chance to clearly explain product options and loan terms to eliminate confusion for the borrower. Lenders are eager improve the borrower’s experience while streamlining the lending process and reducing manual steps and costs. Let’s dive into some of the key components that lenders are seeking in their digital lending solution and how that improves the borrowers lending experience.

One group that is driving this move to digital is the millennial buyer. Lenders understand that the millennial generation represents a significant opportunity for the mortgage industry in the form of first time homebuyers. Studies have proven that millennials are more likely to start their search for homes and the finance of homes online.

By providing a unique digital lending experience, mortgage companies can easily accommodate the digital demands of the millennial buyer. This enables the loan officer to take more applications and spend more time creating and cultivating relationships. One of the main accommodations that millennials are hoping to find throughout their experience is being able to conduct business electronically using a single access point. They are also looking to be able to sign documents electronically and access them on their mobile devices, ensuring the process is as fast and transparent as possible. As part of a tech savvy generation, the last thing millennials are looking for is the inconvenience of sorting through hundreds of documents at the lenders office at a time of day that doesn’t work for them.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, technology has helped individuals understand loans better. Because of this, they felt more confident about the digital process. This insight is important because it tells us that digital lending isn’t a service only suitable for millennials but almost any consumer. Increased efficiencies can reduce costs and these savings can be passed on to the borrower further improving their experience. Lenders can see a monetized value in this technology as well as new opportunities for lenders to expand their business and find ways to effectively communicate to the consumer. The right digital lending solution gives the lender control over that borrower experience so that they can continue to exceed expectations.

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Today’s advanced digital lending solutions enable lenders to provide borrowers with an enhanced level of service, one that is more timely, convenient and provides the borrower with the ability to interact with the lender when and how it is most convenient for them. The digital lending experience must bring together numerous data points from multiple sources into one location to deliver a seamless lending experience to the borrower while delivering key business intelligence to the lender. To be able to deliver on this promise, the right digital lending solution delivers the ability to easily integrate multiple systems. More and more companies are publishing application program interfaces (APIs) to accommodate this need for seamless connectivity.

APIs enable third-party developers to create helpful services and tools that customers can utilize. The introduction of API’s provides lenders and borrowers access to all data from all programs in real-time, ultimately providing them more accurate and up-to-date information. Through using this solution, customers are not only able to compare and save but also have access to more personalized resources for making the right decisions regarding their mortgage.

Constant communication is also key in creating a successful digital lending experience. Adding video technology and instant messaging provides informative information to the borrower through a distribution method that they are accustomed to using. Constant access to check loan statuses, upload the necessary documentation, sign documents electronically and maintain a digital system of records are key aspects that can give borrowers the digital experience they are seeking.

When done right, digital lending is a simple and easy to follow process that educates the borrower through each step of the lending journey. This allows the overall process to become more self-guided and enables borrowers to seek out information on their terms. This empowers the borrower and improves their lending experience. While the borrower is doing some of work themselves, the role of the loan officer is not diminished but instead allows them to be more accessible when critical questions arise.

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Loan officers can assist at any point in time and can confirm the accuracy of the borrower’s data. Digital friendly applications streamline the process even more and confirm that information remains secure throughout providing improved levels of accountability. Borrowers can read and sign off through any device to move through it seamlessly. Manual tasks are then reduced and costs are significantly reduced for lending companies because of error reduction while delivering a better lending experience.

The user experience is an important factor as potential borrowers are applying for a loan through different channels. Reducing the time it takes to complete loan processes and enhancing the overall loan experience for the borrower differentiates one lender over another.

Technology is providing borrowers a faster, more transparent, mobile-friendly experience. By leveraging design and directing to source connectivity, applicants can navigate a self-guided experience and be offered real-time assistance from their loan officers.  The right digital lending solution significantly enhances today’s borrowers lending experience.

About The Author

Curt Tegeler

Curt Tegeler is responsible for providing direction for action to all employees and business initiatives. Tegeler’s main responsibilities include communicating and implementing the company’s vision and mission; leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of executive leaders; formulating and implementing the strategic plan; forming, staffing, guiding, leading and managing WebMax; evaluating organizational success; and represents WebMax in civic and professional activities.

Building Loan Officer And Realtor Relationships

Real estate agents may have the opportunity of obtaining a cash buyer from time to time, but in most cases homebuyers will require a mortgage. As a loan officer, it is important to build a trusted, long-term relationships with agents to keep the volume up. This means it is necessary for loan officers to build relationships with realtors to the best of their abilities. Forming these relationships in business takes time and effort, but the outcome can make a significant difference in the success rate.  Here are some useful tips to not only build a foundation but to improve interactions among real estate agents by helping loan officers and real estate agents stand out from the competition.

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Communication plays a significant role in forming a strong relationship among the loan officer and the real estate agent. It is important to be able to provide reliable facts to both the clients and Realtor. If a real estate agent is not accurate about a loan, the potential amount of time lost during the pre-approval process could be drastic. This not only keeps the deal from closing but can potentially have a damaging effect on the relationship between the loan officer, Realtor and client. One of the most useful opportunities for a loan officer to work closer with a real estate agent is to remember that you are both on the same team. The goal of a real estate agent is to please their clients. In doing so, they’ll promote business to you if they see you are eager to help them achieve this goal.

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Today, there are advanced forms of technology available that enhance the communication experience among loan officers and real estate agent. These features include the sharing of realtor pages that interact with loan officer pages. This enables leveraging to the realtor sites that fully interact and have the capability to share data together. Social media platforms are also becoming the ‘norm’ and almost required to build business relationships. Today, one of the best things both real estate agents and loan officers can do to communicate more effectively and expand their brands is to have a presence on social media. By using these platforms, businesses can not only stay connected but also use each other for support. One key feature of social media is the ability to be able to share content. This tool is useful in not only branding your business but in building relationships among clients. Today, thousands of people are using social media to stay in contact in their industry. Social media is a great place to enhance and nurture relationships among others in your field.

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There is no question that forming a strong relationship among both the loan officer and the Realtor ensures a higher success and performance rate among existing and future clients. Building a relationship amongst a loan officer and a real estate agent is fundamental in the mortgage industry. What we can agree on, is that everyone has the same goal to close the loan and the best way to do this is to improve communication between loan officers and real estate agents. Loan officers and Realtors need to come together as a team to guarantee success.

About The Author

Kelcey T. Brown

Kelcey T. Brown is Chief Strategy Officer & Executive Vice President at WebMax, LLC. Brown is responsible for developing, communicating, executing, and sustaining strategic initiatives. He acts as a key advisor to the company’s president on critical changes in the competitive landscape, internal employee development and the external business environment. Brown has worked for nine years in the Real Estate and Mortgage Technology Industry.

The Future Of Digital Mortgage Technology Innovation

High-powered mortgage executives gathered at the Seventh Annual ENGAGE Event in Denver, Colo., to discuss the future of the mortgage business. The discussions that happened were both lively and informative. Here’s how they see the future of digital mortgage technology innovation:

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“We have to move this industry forward by streamlining the process, and cutting the cost to originate,” said Michael Hammond, Chief Strategy Officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and the Founder and President of NexLevel Advisors. NexLevel provides solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. “This is far more then just hype. This is something that the industry has to do and it is not just about one technology or one platform, it is about coming together as an industry.”

Neil Fraser, Director of U.S. Operations at Paradatec, believes that this will be an evolutionary process. “You don’t need a revolution to convert the document into data that you can believe. You need technology to read the documents, and convert that to data that can be both read and understood. I see that as an evolutionary step in mortgage technology innovation.”

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Paradatec is a mortgage OCR technology organization that automates the data entry operations of large lenders through intelligent document analysis. Neil was Paradatec’s first U.S. employee and has grown the organization every year since the company incorporated here in 2002.

As the mortgage industry embraces innovation to become more digital, everything starts at the point-of-sale. Realizing this fact, a lot of new POS vendors have emerged claiming to offer the true digital mortgage experience. Curt Tegeler, President of WebMax, warns lenders not to be fooled by vaporware as they march toward more digital processes.

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“There’s a lot of buzz today around the digital POS. Why is that? We’ve found that 90% of homebuyers start the process online,” Tegeler notes. WebMax’s digital lending platforms expedites the borrowing process, helps maintain compliance, delivers dynamic online lending tools, and provides a highly innovative borrower experience. “Make sure that the executives behind your POS have deep mortgage experience. You have to understand the market so you know what you’re fixing.”

One area that everyone agrees needs fixing is the appraisal process. If the industry is going to move to a more data-driven process and a fully automated point-of-sale, slower processes like the appraisal need to be addressed.

“Appraisals were really left on the side,” noted Arturo Garcia, the Senior Vice President of Account Management at Mercury Network. He leads all customer retention efforts and strategies for the company, responsible for continuous improvements and increased returns for customer investments and overall satisfaction. “Appraisals didn’t get a lot of attention. However, it’s antiquated to send an appraiser out to the field time and time again. I envision a day when you have a system that can automatically flag issues with the appraisal, fix them or send them right back to the appraiser for fixing.”

The big takeaway from this discussion was that the digital lending process is coming and must touch all parts of the mortgage process in order to make a difference in how loans are done.

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

Preparing For The Digital Mortgage Revolution

Are you engaged in the digital mortgage revolution? If not, are you prepared to jump in? Just as Google replaced encyclopedias and credit cards replaced cash, technology is transforming all facets of the mortgage industry. From shopping rates online, to finding a lender, to getting approved, the mortgage application process is moving from loan officers’ desks to computer screens, tablets, and smartphones. As the mortgage application process is evolving online, so has the competitive marketplace. The traditional methods that led to loan origination success in the past are less effective today. Lenders are struggling to attract new borrowers, let alone satisfy today’s borrowers’ digital needs.

New competition has emerged from the digital revolution and is quickly capturing market share and revenue from traditional lenders. Some lenders haven’t gone digital yet because they don’t know how to deliver on the digital experience. Others dipped their toes in the digital water but focused only on the user experience and have failed to deliver on a truly digital lending process.

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Even more challenges accompanied the mortgage industry’s move to digital. While regulations and costs increased, loan originations decreased. According to Black Knight, overall mortgage originations dropped by 34% in Q1 2017. The addition of constantly changing rules and regulations, heightened scrutiny, and the risk of costly penalties and fines for non-compliance added overhead for lenders has ultimately increased the cost to originate loans.

Despite these challenges, no one can dispute the value and necessity for lenders to embrace digital mortgages. Lenders that can deliver on the digital lending experience by automating the entire lending process will be able to streamline the application process, decrease origination costs, increase loan officer productivity, and improve the borrower experience. As borrowers interact with the front end of the application process the digital mortgage platform has the ability to verify that information through integrations with mission critical third-party vendors. This key function, one of many digital mortgage perks, allows loan officers to spend less time verifying information, less overhead for mortgage originators, and a simpler and quicker process for the borrower.

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The traditional transaction timeline in the mortgage industry is highly inefficient compared to other industries. The average time for loan approval is 18 days and 50 days to complete the full process. The cost for mortgage companies to pay employees to complete repetitive tasks is about $8,000 and these inefficiencies have been passed onto borrowers. With no desire to transcend their services, the mortgage application process is an unattractive chore and no longer fits in the lifestyle of the technologically adept consumer. Lenders need the most dynamic lending tools to truly deliver on the digital mortgage experience.

What options do lenders have in enhancing their lending platform to deliver on the digital promise?

With online lending, the industry is making a digital transformation by taking the borrower into a world of digitized processing at all stages of the loan lifecycle. More and more borrowers are consistently looking for the digital mortgage experience. With innovation and digitization, borrowers look to complete the 1003 application, digitally in less than 10 minutes with greater speed and accuracy.

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This type of Innovation doesn’t only improve the consumer experience, it also has major bottom-line benefits to Mortgage companies. The digital experience increases the amount of money flowing into mortgage companies.

Today’s digital experience must provide borrowers with a compliant, aesthetically appealing, and user-friendly web solution that includes key program integrations. With the right solution borrowers immediately gain access to a network of Mortgage and Real Estate professionals that can offer a swift online purchasing process. The key aspects that make this experience possible are:

>>Integrations with mortgage critical third-party programs and well documented application program interface (API), which allows for a variety of software components to interact effortlessly. This enviably simplifies and accelerates the borrower process and user experience.

>>A digital graphical prequalification application and 1003 application that streamlines mortgage processes including both the point of sale stage and loan origination.

>>A content management system that accomplishes compliance from the corporate level down. The system is controlled from one centralized location to eliminate reputational risk and any violations of compliance standards.

>>Lead generation and referral partner relationship building tools with the ability to provide affinity websites for mortgage partners such as accountants, charitable organizations, large employer, realtor sites, and more. These websites have mortgage sponsored banner ads and/or applications in place.

>>State-of-the-art technology that considerably reduces the application abandonment rate by catering to the borrowers needs and overall experience.

>>A customer portal, which allows the loan officers to keep all parties, associated with the loan process up to date with the status of the application. Parties included on this are the borrower, title company, co-borrower, and realtor.

>>A tailorable online lending platform that allows lender the ability to easily configure the platform to their specific lending process.

The mortgage industry’s strict compliance standards pose unique challenges that other industries lack when converting to digital. Therefore working with a provider that has deep mortgage experience can be the difference between success and failure. Mortgage origination entails handling borrowers’ sensitive information. In addition to compliance, cyber security measures are vital. This includes applying a secure sockets layer to website domains, obtaining a SOC 2 audit, and partnering with cloud providers and third-party vendors that share your same security standards.

Industry leaders realize that in order to achieve digital mortgage success, it is crucial to automate the mortgage process while delivering a dynamic online lending experience. By implementing today’s most advanced digital platform, lenders will experience increasing market share, protect their corporate brand, meet strict compliance requirements and expand their digital footprint to attract more borrowers.

Over 75,000 individuals in the mortgage industry are benefiting from this type of innovative technology solution. These solutions deliver user-friendly, compliant, security, and efficiency to enhance the digital mortgage experience for borrowers, lenders and real estate agents.

At WebMax, mortgage is in our DNA. With 30-plus years of experience, we leverage our lending know-how to calibrate lenders transition to digital. WebMax’s digital experience expedites the borrowing process, helps maintain compliance, delivers dynamic online lending tools, and provides a highly innovative borrower experience.

About The Author

Curt Tegeler

Curt Tegeler is responsible for providing direction for action to all employees and business initiatives. Tegeler’s main responsibilities include communicating and implementing the company’s vision and mission; leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of executive leaders; formulating and implementing the strategic plan; forming, staffing, guiding, leading and managing WebMax; evaluating organizational success; and represents WebMax in civic and professional activities.

Delivering On The Digital Lending Experience

As I talk to lenders throughout the country and attend industry events, everyone wants to discuss digital mortgage, which is great. Unfortunately, there is a lot more people talking only about the consumer facing side of things. The shiny apps and very consumer esque experiences seem to catch our eye. While all of those things are good, let’s not forget about how we accomplish a truly digital lending experience – streamlining the entire lending process in a digital world.

For years, even decades, lenders met with clients in person, put pen to paper, and shifted documents from person to person. Now, the entire process is being streamlined across the digital landscape. As a lender, if you hesitate to deliver on the digital experience, which includes not only the streamlining of the borrower application, and loan origination process, but also all of the back-office processes, competitors will leapfrog you in obtaining highly sought after new borrowers.

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As a result, lenders must adapt accordingly or be left behind. However, regulations inundate the mortgage industry. Loan officers need to comply at every step of the loan origination process. Lenders can’t merely throw a bunch of technology at their loan officers and hope to succeed. They need technology that streamlines the loan process while complying with regulations and protecting the borrower.

That’s why mortgage expertise is so vital in providing a quality digital mortgage experience. We understand the rules and regulations because we’ve been in the industry for so long. We realize all of the in’s and out’s such as, handling fluctuating rate environments, new HMDA requirements, UCD changes and the constantly rising cost to originate. Technology should augment and improve the digital mortgage experience, not override it and threaten its integrity.

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Mortgage lenders that purchase the new online lending app from a provider that does not have deep mortgage experience to properly handle compliance are like a new shinny car that has no engine; lenders can not truly deliver on the digital mortgage without compliance. If they try, they face regulators and the potential of fines and penalties for failing to comply with industry standards.

Before the 2008 financial crisis, lenders and brokers alike-approved mortgages for just about anybody. After the fall, lenders faced strict scrutiny and were required to verify borrower information. Often this information comes from a multitude of third-party sources. While today’s technology can connect lenders to third parties with ease, mortgage experience determines which third party affiliates provide the most accurate, seamless, and secure data exchanges.

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Applying for a mortgage online leaves a lot more room for error. Digital lending solutions can pre-qualify a borrower in minutes. Thus, lenders must assure that their approval mechanisms produce quality mortgages. Assuring the production of quality mortgages takes mortgage expertise, not just tech savvy apps.

Although mortgage lenders must meet their borrower’s digital needs, the mortgage comes first. Bringing compliance, integrity, and credibility to digital lending entails better loans, happier borrowers, and more productive employees. Technology streamlines the mortgage process. Mortgage experience structures the digital lending process. It makes the digital mortgage possible.

About The Author

Curt Tegeler

Curt Tegeler is responsible for providing direction for action to all employees and business initiatives. Tegeler’s main responsibilities include communicating and implementing the company’s vision and mission; leading, guiding, directing, and evaluating the work of executive leaders; formulating and implementing the strategic plan; forming, staffing, guiding, leading and managing WebMax; evaluating organizational success; and represents WebMax in civic and professional activities.

A Look Into The Future

Let’s consider the future of the mortgage industry. What once was an industry that thrived off paper, is today transforming into a paperless, digital process. The borrower demand for this change is rapidly increasing each day. Technology exists and is as convenient as being in the form of your mobile device. The ease and success of a mortgage company’s adaptation to this forthcoming truth means the transformation of moving forward as an adaptor. It is important for mortgage companies to listen to their borrowers and take the necessary steps to not only producing self-servicing platforms for everyone, but also keeping in mind millennials. The industry needs a determined effort to keep the overall process as accommodating as it can be. This exceeds generations and is an obvious obligation in many features of the mortgage process. Although some generations may not have similar outlooks as Millennials, the incorporation of contributions such as cutting-edge Web designs and skilled call center employees that promote mobile and paperless choices are encouraged by all.

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Some originators have already begun this progression. This innovative technology is key because it provides the consumer a faster and easier approach to the buying and selling experience. The mortgage industry needs a cohesive strategy to back a full-service, online experience. Today, mortgage companies need to appeal to millennials, while still appealing to key borrower markets. This is exciting for an industry that has struggled to go paperless for some time. The Real Estate industry has been close minded and considered it a risk to make such transitions during the credit crisis. Nevertheless, technology has proven that a larger quantity of deals closes at a much faster rate, and there is steady compliance after all.

Putting the need for innovative technology forth is crucial to provide clients a less stressful, more effective home buying and borrowing experience. Today, a self-serving platform for every contract and part of the borrower process has the potential to make a significant impact on the future. This is going to be an obligatory feature to remain relevant in the industry. Often, firms become absorbed in the cost of investing in the technology, but the key is to take a closer look at the consequences of not adapting. Taking a chance on timing the market and pushing significant changes to the side is a hazardous intention for buying and selling a home. The same applies to investing in important technology to remain competitive and up to date.

It is important to make sure you have the right tools for the job. Companies such as Optimal Blue and Nylex provide convenient pricing engines. Others such as Velocify and Velma enable an effective customer relationship management system that is beneficial to the lender and the borrower. The mortgage feature of these systems is just one part of the online real estate experience, and normally comes after all other elements, such as searching for a home. Some are convenient options being presented and others are more necessary, such as enabling access to documents and accepting electronic signatures. Mobile devices are at the core of most technology initiatives. As effective communication and connections improve the need for customer service and compliance, the mobile device is developing as the tool for enabling all contributors in the goal of communicating in a timely manner. The capability to be able to transmit forms at each phase guides the process to become more transparent and submissive.

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Some brokers are hesitant to these methods and look at them as more of a risk than an advantage. There is no question that mortgage brokers have certain rules and guidelines they are required to act on since TRID (TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure) came into place. TRID requires the need to accelerate timelines for acting on documents. Therefore, the initiation process needs to be moving at all hours. Online and mobile access to documentation is turning into a crucial and truthfully, the only option to meet these deadlines. There is opportunity to store, access and organize data in a much more accommodating process that could not be done using paper.

There have been firms that have built technology teams separate from creating loans. Every group should integrate a tech professional on their staff. Building the business takes technology skilled individuals, which is not in every case found in a loan officer’s skill set. Lending firms are building technology friendly teams and providing a more tech minded mission. They are not trusting their rank to make technology and vendor partner decisions. The tech team is beneficial and devoted to driving business through using objectives of a loan officer.

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If putting together a tech team is too difficult – the next best option is to establish a focus group of employees and customers. This provides an opportunity to determine the technology that is available for each group. Teams can research topics such as, the information they’d like to obtain from each other.

It seemed that in the past, technology and the mortgage industry lacked any sort of relationship. It became natural that each mortgage entailed hundreds of pieces of paper and that relying on stamps and office visits was the only possibility to complete a transaction. It is clear that over the years, obstacles have been faced and boundaries have been removed. The mortgage industry has become driven to let technology handle more of the responsibility. Because of this, things have improved significantly. The quicker a firm closes on a loan, they quicker they are ready to start the next loan. The client is ready to help, it is up to you to provide them to tools to do so.

About The Author

Zachary Rosenberg

Zachary Rosenberg is Chief Technology Officer at WebMax, LLC. Rosenberg has more than fifteen years’ experience with software development and coding. He is responsible for overseeing all technical aspects of the company and its clients. He works with executive management to grow the company through the use of technological resources and works to attain the company’s strategic goals. Rosenberg also manages client relations from a technical standpoint, conducts research for the enhancement of our products, and development tasks.

WebMax Enhances Loan Origination And Borrower Experience With Optimal Blue

WebMax has chosen Optimal Blue as their partner to provide a unique digital mortgage experience with lender-specific, real-time, compliant pricing, rates and product eligibility through the Optimal Blue API.

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This integration will allow WebMax to provide accurate, instantaneous data at the time of application submission, further enhancing and providing a better path to completion, as well as increased efficiencies for the lender and enhancing customer satisfaction.

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“WebMax is thrilled to work with Optimal Blue to increase the seamlessness of the borrowing experience,” said Curt Tegeler, President and CEO of WebMax. “Current and future clients can now benefit from the enhancement of the borrowing life cycle through this integration. Through our website solution, pricing and rates are provided to the borrower immediately upon submission of our digital application.”

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Optimal Blue’s eCommerce platform consumes product and pricing content from the industry’s largest network of investors, provides intelligent selection and customization of that content as desired by lenders, and distributes the personalized results to leading technology providers via RESTful APIs – wherever, whenever it matters most.

“This is an exciting partnership for Optimal Blue and WebMax,” said Chazz Huston, Strategic Alliances Manager for Optimal Blue. “It benefits everyone in the loan lifecycle. Borrowers and lenders are seeking a simplified, accurate and streamlined mortgage experience, and this integration does just that.”

Progress In Lending

The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries

The State Of Innovation


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

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

LEONARD RYAN: I would define innovation as more of a process improvement over current methods. Sometimes major breakthroughs happen after a lot of thought on process improvement. Today when we talk about innovation, it often means computer programs and their contribution to making the mortgage process faster, more secure, less complicated or instant. Thirty years ago an innovation was printing a 1003 on a laser printer. That would hardly qualify today since that is now an everyday process. In terms of your awards, it seems the more significant the process improvements, the more likely to be recognized.

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REBECCA MAYERSON: No change in mortgage banking can be sweeping due to the layers of regulation and compliance by federal, state, GSE, and big banks. So innovation must be incremental due to the risk/reward.

TIM ANDERSON: Incremental. Because the mortgage business is a highly regulated one consisting of a multitude of participants each adding a step and receiving their cut of revenue to get from point A to Z it is a hard business to affect sweeping change. Still too many players, steps touching too many different disparate systems in the process to affect sweeping change or significant impact by itself.  Because of this I don’t see a company developing something like the iPhone coming into the mortgage space with a whole new app or mobile device that is singularly going to revolutionize this business.

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The GSE’s because of their critical role in financing and market share (aggregator) have been the ones to affect real change in this business. If you look at their Uniform Mortgage Data Program, (UMDP) it’s a phased in approach at developing systems to better evaluate critical data elements to reduce risk. They moved the traditional post-closing pre-funding QC process to pre-closing QC and leveraging their new technology and regs like TRID (with three day delivery rule) to support this trend. Also because the mortgage process has very distinct processes with siloed departments dedicated to the mortgage manufacturing process, (POS, origination, processing, underwriting, closing, secondary marketing, servicing) each re-entering the same data that introduces a lot of steps, divisions, (overhead, operational costs and risk) vendor players and participants all have to agree to change their processes and automate to affect real change and ROI in this business.

CURT TEGELER: Innovation can be both sweeping and incremental. Innovation must be persistent and a mindset. It is a necessity to remain relevant in any industry and to enhance the products and services we offer. This involves implementing new strategic ideas, creating dynamic products and improving existing services. In having an innovative approach, you are increasing the probability of success and development in your business.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: Innovation is creating an impactful solution to a problem. The innovation process can’t be boiled down to just listening to customers, though. Only through continuous and meaningful engagement can you identify real problems and execute effective solutions. It doesn’t become an innovation until the unmet need has been overcome by an appropriate and well-executed solution. Rarely is innovation the product of an individual person experiencing an “aha” moment. Ideas are easy, execution is hard and it is what makes any idea tangible.

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RICK TRIOLA: I think we all want sweeping change that solves problems quickly and delivers on the promises technologists have made and that consumers all want, but unfortunately we don’t see that, at least not in our industry. Most innovation fails because it never gets to the end user because the innovation can’t get passed through all the gatekeepers and entrenched stakeholders.

For example, the mortgage industry had the opportunity to adopt eSignatures as soon as the Federal ESign Act was signed into law in June 2000. Instead of leapfrogging over the antiquated paper processes and skipping a generation by heading directly to digital lending, too many players decided to invest instead in scanning and faxing devices and processes. Borrowers, buyers, sellers — everyone — would have loved the opportunity to just eSign instead of papering out and couriering documents all over the place, but instead our industry took more than a decade to move in the right direction.

We wish innovation would sweep down on our industry quickly, but the extensive eco-system here combined with and entrenched and outdated status quo results in new innovators being forced to ‘stand down’ while the industry accepts incremental change.

JOHN VONG: In other industries, change and innovation can happen simultaneously and dramatically. However, because the mortgage origination process is very complex, innovation in our industry tends to be more incremental and less sweeping. Take, for example, e-mortgages. As an industry, we’ve been talking about doing e-mortgages since 2000. It’s seventeen years later and less than one percent of originations are e-mortgages. One of the key reasons for this was that there were differing and competing priorities from parties within the mortgage origination and closing ecosystem including lenders, investors, warehouse banks, county recorders, notaries, and GSEs, among others, and not everyone was on the same page about digitization. Customized closing processes throughout the country is another impediment to innovation. Finally, the average borrower gets a new mortgage or a refinance infrequently compared to other common financial transactions, so they are willing (or at least have been in the past) to put up with inefficiency and inconvenience.

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

CURT TEGELER: Innovation in the mortgage industry is stronger than ever. The industry is so far behind in technology innovation that it can only advance from here. There are countless opportunities to embrace innovation and the industry is becoming more and more digital. Every phase of the mortgage process is evolving, from the consumer experience to the lender experience.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: As is the case in all industries, there are firms which innovate and those that don’t but rather choose to follow. The firms which continually innovate maintain close ties with their clients and the market, always searching for a better way to do something or to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem. The state of a firm’s innovation status is largely a function of the culture and the value placed on listening to clients and doing the math to unearth needs which are not clearly identified by the client.

RICK TRIOLA: Despite the fact that I feel our industry moves too slowly in general, we’re actually at a very exciting place right now. While we had the technology to do end-to-end digital lending a decade ago, lenders weren’t ready and consumers weren’t pushing for it. Today, consumers are ready at the same time investors and regulators are pushing for it. Even loan officers we’re talking to are excited about doing digital.

And they want to share all of the benefits of digital with borrowers, that means closing the loan from anywhere. We know this is possible because we have now completed tens of thousands of online notarizations and cracked the code around the ‘last mile’ friction of having to appear in person.

I believe that over the next few years, we’ll see a great influx of lenders moving into fully digital lending and realizing cost and time savings at the same time they offer better experiences to consumers. In 5 years, no one will deliver a mortgage on paper.

TIM ANDERSON: I think now that we have gotten past TRID this has freed up resources and initiatives to implement some change and innovation. I give Quicken Loans a lot of credit as well because everyone now wants their version of Rocket Mortgage and push to better qualify and verify the loan quicker and faster with initiatives like FannieMae’s Day One Certainty initiative and FreddieMac’ s Loan Quality Advisor tools to streamline the process. We are also seeing a major rise in finally implementing the Digital Mortgage and eClosings to complete the eProcess and deliver not only a better consumer experience but a replicatable, repeatable automated QC process that provides electronic evidence of compliance along the way.

REBECCA MAYERSON: Innovation is at the highest level in over a decade and surging. The need to lower expenses while improving the process for the customer while still protecting risk is driving innovation at a high speed.

LEONARD RYAN: Innovation in the mortgage industry is “making a comeback.” The mortgage crisis and subsequent regulations forced vendors with traditional products to spend resources on implementing those regulations. Only new companies or entrepreneurial minds during those times seemed able to develop substantial changes in process. However, I now see the start of vendors looking to make substantial changes to the process. I believe most of those changes will result in vastly reduced lender costs.

JOHN VONG: From the perspective of a technology provider, it’s thriving. Every loan origination system and service provider is enhancing its technology or developing new solutions.

From the lender perspective, however, cyclicality trumps innovation. When the rates are low and demand is high, lenders are often too busy to focus on technology and innovation. Instead they throw bodies at the problem. When volume declines, there is often a reluctance to invest. Instead, loan production is the top priority. That’s why it takes the mortgage industry a longer time to adopt or upgrade technology than other financial services sectors.

Of course, over the last few years, the risk management and compliance areas are an exception because lenders have more of an incentive to protect their companies from regulatory scrutiny after the meltdown.

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

REBECCA MAYERSON: Any of the Day One certainty steps that would allow All investors beyond Fannie to accept would be great for our industry.

TIM ANDERSON: A closing collaboration system that exchanges the data between the title system of record and lenders not only for TRID or final CD but the upcoming Uniform Closing Dataset (UCD) requirement coming September 25th. Most lenders look at these as separate compliance initiatives but the proper collaboration should start at time of application with the initial Loan Estimate, automatically check for compliance tolerances anytime the data or disclosures change, conduct a final reconciliation and comparison three days prior to Closing Disclosure and keep tracking 90 days after closing of any changes. This should not only include the CD but all the closing documents and then once approved be able to do a full eClosing to ensure data and document quality, integrity and compliance.

CURT TEGELER: Digital mortgages are significant for the mortgage industry. With millennials becoming a large percentage of homebuyers, being able to complete the mortgage process online is important. Bringing the lifecycle of the process from a lead to a buyer is crucial. Essentially, Realtors should have the ability to advertise and turn leads into homebuyers and borrowers digitally. Even a hybrid approach where the front-end process becomes digitized is a step in the right direction. With procedures and an evolving industry ahead of us, the ability to be move quickly is critical to long-term success, and this is done through being digital.

CRAIG ZIELAZNY: Ball games are rarely won because of home runs… It’s the team that strings together singles and doubles that will win. Our industry is no different. Each innovation will contribute to the overall improvement of the industry and the benefits delivered to the various members. If we listen to our customers and probe for a deeper understanding, we will all become innovators and help move the industry forward.

JOHN VONG: The existing traditional origination process is not geared to cater to Millennials, who have different expectations and are more tech savvy than previous generations. They don’t want to spend ninety days to get a mortgage with a traditional loan officer. Millennials want to go to online, fill out their basic information, and get instant decisioning, as well as shop for competitive rates. Traditional lenders need to significantly rethink the customer experience they offer if they want to be relevant to this growing customer segment. Moreover, both traditional and FinTech lenders are going to have to find ways to qualify non-perfect borrowers and do so in a more digital fashion.

RICK TRIOLA: From the lender’s perspective, we desperately need technologies that will reduce their costs and increase their profits in an environment with tightening margins. At the same time, they need tools that will help them compete more effectively as rates rise, refinances disappear and competition heats up.

There has never been a better time to adopt technology that will answer these needs. In my mind, it’s going to be all about online closings, anytime from anywhere, which exactly what eClose360 offers. In fact, we just ran the numbers for a new client and found that using the eClose360 platform would add $18 million in bottom line profits over the next 12 months. That’s the kind of innovation lenders need now.

Progress In Lending

The Place For Thought Leaders And Visionaries