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Technological innovation is transforming our lives: how we communicate, shop, bank, make payments, and even obtain our entertainment have all changed. And now, the mortgage industry is transforming. While traditional mortgage brokers have been slow to adapt to this new transformation, new technologies have offered a solution to long-existing problems in the mortgage world. Technological innovation to date has driven companies to focus inward on improving the interactions between various players and optimizing internal processes.

Approximately two years ago, the mortgage industry received a wakeup call. Early adopters invested in digital mortgage platforms to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Recent results have been breathtaking. Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage® generated ~$7B in closed loan volume in 2016 - the equivalent of a top 30 lender. Started in 2007, Movement Mortgage, transformed their business to become the 7th largest national purchase lender. In a few years, their mobile app has hit 20K+ users. As results continue to be phenomenal, mortgage brokers are now making a big push to implement digital mortgage platforms because this capability is imperative to survival in the industry.

A significant benefit to going digital now: it’s not too late to become part of the Early Majority implementing digital mortgages. In fact, similar to the wireless vs. the wired network lessons learned a decade ago, it may be a great time to leapfrog the competition and avoid the mistakes made by early adopters. Follow these 5 keys to winning customers and your firms will be able to win in the new age of digital-first mortgages:

1. Transform the Customer Experience

In order to gain a competitive advantage in today’s evolving mortgage industry, firms must transform the customer experience. A positive customer experience can have profound impacts on the growth of your firm. An awesome customer experience is a long-term competitive advantage you can use to differentiate yourself in a crowded market. While this may sound daunting, companies are revitalizing their customer experiences every day. How can you?

Study each touch point you have with customers. How do your competitors interact? How do firms in different industries and across different channels interact? Rapid technological change is shifting customer expectations across all industries. When customers have a phenomenal experience with one company, they expect a similar experience with all the companies they interact with, regardless of the industry. Understand borrowers desires, needs, obstacles and address those as you continue to evolve their experience. While customer expectations can change quickly, we have to carefully manage our teams. Change may be required for both lenders perspectives and the overall culture of the organization for a successful transformation. A few tips to incorporating strong change management elements into your transformation plans:

1.    Develop executive support and sponsorship

2.    Provide continuous communication

3.    Evangelize internal champions

4.    Perform routine training to ensure success.

2. Invest in Borrower Convenience

One of the most important decisions individuals make is also one of the most difficult, cumbersome, and stressful experiences they will make: applying for and obtaining a mortgage. Sound risk management and governmental regulations place significant burdens on both the lender and the customer, especially for proof related documentation. While government-issued requirements are hard to alter, companies can alter their processes through transformative technologies which reduce the burden on the borrower and streamline the lender's processes. A digital mortgage platform is an investment in borrower convenience which will allow your firms to be rewarded with significant increases in both loyalty and referrals. These transformative technologies allow your borrowers to apply online while you pull their tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. Additionally, you can provide customers digital options to close their mortgages such as mobile e-signatures. First-time home buyers can digitally access step-by-step guides and videos explaining the mortgage process. These technologies also allow customers ways to routinely check the status of their mortgage.

3. Make the Process Transparent

It is easy to get lost in the mortgage process – even for the underwriters. Due to different regulations and niche mortgage roles, there are a plethora of disparate parties involved in the mortgage process. Subsequently, the systems utilized to originate mortgages are highly specialized and fragmented. Today, lenders struggle internally and borrowers struggle externally because the processes and data associated with each customer’s loan transaction is scattered and difficult to access.  Rather than navigating through complex, disconnected processes, borrowers can access a single 360-degree view of the process through technology platforms which provide long-term benefits to both the lender and borrower.

4. Drive Borrower Engagement and Lender Efficiency through Technology

Previous technology investments focused on enhancing internal mortgage processing. The next evolution will transform the experience for borrowers as well as loan officers: adding speed, convenience, and value to how they interact to secure a new home. Leveraging legacy investments while providing a dramatically different process and experience can be difficult. However, adding efficiency to the borrower and lender experience increases capacity to expand production and reach more borrowers. While the early adopters had to invest and test extensively, lenders today are able to reap the rewards of currently available technologies that are mature and stable. Technology is available today to enable a seamless customer-first digital mortgage experience across the entire origination process. While these technologies are available from some established industry technology partners, the key is to find the right collaborator. One who:

1.    Hosts technology that meets your requirements

2.    Easily integrates into your current systems

3.    Continually invests in their solutions

4.    Demonstrates expertise to ensure success

Since digital mortgage technology is customer facing, it needs to be easy and intuitive for the borrower while augmenting your current architecture.

5. Do it Right

Given the pace of lenders introducing digital mortgages in the marketplace, you may be tempted to make an impulse decision, but it’s more important to do it right. We advise you to take your time and understand the customer experience you want to deliver as well as the target loan officer experience. From there, defining prioritized requirements is clearer.  You need to evaluate and select technology collaborators that understand what you want to accomplish and can guide you to achieve your vision. Plan both the customer experience and the internal transformations in a roadmap. Clearly define your strategy and vision, and continuously communicate with your stakeholders throughout your digital mortgage transformation journey. In the end, the transition will make your business stronger and far more competitive in the future.

Summary

Traditionally mortgage firms have fought to keep the status-quo - constantly adding to their current processes to survive government regulation and maintain roles and responsibilities across multiple required parties. This process of survival will no longer be sufficient. Some mortgage firms are empowering a new future, where digital-first transformation is providing a faster, seamless experience that puts the customer at the center. Enhancing borrower and lender experiences are essential to the growth and efficiency of your company. They will create satisfied customers who will generate continuous referrals. The time is now.

To learn more, join us at Digital Mortgage 2017 in San Francisco. Use promo code SF100 to save $100.

Additionally, to get greater insight into building a successful digital mortgage, read our mortgage ebook.

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Chuck Lisinski is a Certified Mortgage Banker (CMB) with over 30 years of mortgage experience.