Innovation in the mortgage space is advancing at a rapid rate and playing a fundamental role in transforming the customer experience. No doubt, it is critical to solve for the customer experience as it can lead to greater returns, better customer engagement, and productivity gains. Innovations, such as web-portals and apps, have already accelerated production efficiency by enabling the borrower for self-service. If front-end innovations are driving back-office efficiencies, then we must allow ourselves to imagine the behind-the-scenes impact that operational innovation will have on customer experience transformation. Beyond customer experience, innovating for the sake of your operation is also worthwhile; operational innovation done right can accelerate timelines, simplify processes, improve origination quality, engage your employees, and reduce costs.
By taking a broader view of the role innovation plays in the mortgage industry, lenders will be able rethink how lending is done and create new processes, tools, and technologies. Here are four reasons to bring your organization along for the innovation ride:
- Process Simplification
If you’ve been working in the mortgage industry for a long time—or for just a single day—you already know that the business of originating loans isn’t exactly simple. It is often complicated by regulation, data, documents, and timelines.
Innovating new ways to simplify and accelerate some of the more cumbersome processes is one of the biggest opportunities for the mortgage industry. While there have been significant reductions in days-to-close and noteworthy advancements in process automation, there are still ample opportunities for improvement around process simplification, hyper-automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence. Until originating a mortgage is as easy as originating an auto loan, the mortgage industry must continue to aggressively seek out opportunities to simplify back-office processes within the mortgage value chain.
- Innovation for Supply Chain Optimization
The mortgage industry has an incredible ecosystem of businesses, partnerships, and third-party service providers. These providers often contribute niche expertise on a specific aspect of the mortgage value chain. However, unless lenders are integrating quickly and seamlessly with their providers, there will always be opportunities for innovation. Luckily, innovation to streamline the mortgage industry supply chain is already taking place. Plug and play APIs are rapidly becoming the new way for loan origination technology platforms to enable lenders to easily add and remove new services to ensure they remain competitive in the emerging mortgage market. In addition, more lenders are implementing collaboration tools to ensure complete visibility into its service providers’ involvement including greater coordination for appraisals, title and closing, better reporting and metrics, and faster time-to-close. A streamlined supply chain translates to greater cost-savings, faster cycle times, fewer set-backs, and customer happiness.
- Innovation for Customer Analysis & Underwriting
Underwriting has certainly evolved over time, but the opportunity for even greater change is still ahead. Significant advancements in technology and social media—most notably, big data—are set to change the game. Unstructured data and data derived from previously unmined sources such as social networks, e-commerce and buying patterns, business and banking data, PDF document extraction (OCR), electronic devices, and the internet of things (IOT) present a significant opportunity to accelerate underwriting and improve accuracy. The application of big data and analytics for risk analysis will enable lenders to project forward the performance of a loan by gauging borrower behavior and the ability to pay over a long-term period. Moreover, big data innovations that will improve access to data will eliminate long wait times for information and help lenders tailor their solutions and processes to meet a unique borrower profile. There is no limit to the benefits of big data, but the main ones include precision in underwriting, fast turn times, delivery of tailored products and processes, and ultimately greater profitability.
- Employee engagement
By redefining “customer” to include internal stakeholders and employees, lenders will be able to improve overall staff engagement and enthusiasm, which will ultimately improve customer service and drive productivity for the lender. As lenders move forward in selecting technology and tools or innovating new approaches, it is critical to keep in mind how the innovation will impact the person doing the work. Will adopting a new web portal or mobile app require them to manage multiple disparate platforms or will it integrate seamlessly? As the millennial generation is entering the workforce in droves, lenders with a modern tech-driven origination approach will successfully attract and retain new talent while driving the type of excitement that will lead to new contributions and innovations.
As customer facing technologies and fintech solutions gain popularity, it is important that the mortgage industry recognize the need for balance. There is a symbiotic relationship between operational innovation and customer innovation. By broadening our perspective and identifying the impact that back-office innovations can have on the customer experience and vice versa, the mortgage industry will be able to connect more dots and create more connections so that one innovation will inspire another, ultimately shaping a new mortgage landscape.