John Dunnery serves as VP-Government Loan Servicing at Community Loan Servicing LLC, managing the company’s non-performing GSE/agency residential loan portfolio. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Horsham, Pennsylvania; Bedford, Texas; and Tucson, Arizona, Community services and subservices approximately 160,000 loans in 50 states and Puerto Rico, totaling more than $44 billion in loan balances.
In his role as VP-Government Loan Servicing, Dunnery is responsible for the management and oversight of the government loan portfolio to regulatory and servicing guide requirements, including electronic data reporting, investor reporting and loan accounting, servicing advances and claims. He has been in mortgage banking and financial services for more than 20 years.
Prior to joining Community, he held senior loan servicing roles with Pacific Union Financial LLC, Chase, and Wachovia, as well as serving as Senior Director-NSO with Fannie Mae.
The MReport recently had a chance to chat with John regarding the state of the industry and how the landscape will be for servicers entering 2022.
How should servicers be working to best assist homeowners who are coming out of forbearance or are still struggling?
Dunnery: One of the keys to preparing to assist impacted homeowners has been the level of consistency of communication as customers became more delinquent during eligible periods of payment forbearance or loan non-performance.
Servicers invested in capabilities to handle base increases in inbound call volume, and to manage spikes in call activity resulting from planned or unplanned governmental announcements regarding COVID policy responses. This allowed for improved speed-to-answer times, abandonment rates, and one-time call resolution rates–all important to providing a useful customer experience. Whether it was obtaining homeowner information regarding COVID or non-COVID financial impacts, educating the customer on forbearance and possible resolution paths, or alleviating the stress that accompanies the challenges customers experienced during the pandemic, the high rates of contact consistency servicers were able to achieve set up both the customer and servicers for better outcomes coming out of forbearance periods.
Servicers were also able to employ lessons learned during the 2008 financial crisis to better target outbound call contact with unengaged customers, and follow up with those who initiated contact with the servicer through a non-call method, such as website visits. Combine this contact consistency with the early adoption by our governmental partners to allow extended contact methods through e-mail, text, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) automation, and the result was a significantly higher customer engagement rate. Once we have the homeowner engaged, the ability to positively assist with a resolution that will get them back performing, and an opportunity for long term re-performance is the outcome.
What sort of changes do you see on the regulatory front in 2022?
Dunnery: Given that we will remain in a post COVID forbearance period for most of 2022, a challenging economic situation concerning housing–lending, refinance, pricing, and availability, and as an election year, I do not anticipate much will be coming out from federal regulators regarding major new initiatives or changes to the current regulatory framework.
The one area of increasing federal regulation could be around fair lending and enforcing equal opportunity to residential loan finance. I think we will see the start of industry participant reviews by regulatory agencies to assess how we handled the COVID pandemic assistance programs, and implemented announced rules and procedures.
Also, since work-from-home (WFH) will continue to dominate the business environment, I see continuing action by state regulators to reduce requirements around WFH restrictions, specifically in the customer contact function, and increasing adoption of electronic means to execute, notarize, and record documents.
Why are in-person events and conferences such as the Five Star Conference 2021 in Dallas this fall so important? What were some of your biggest takeaways from attending the event?
Dunnery: Conferences are the place for real-time discussion by industry participants about what is happening, how they are overcoming challenges, and an opportunity to share best practices that move the industry forward.
Conferences and in-person events are essential to innovation within our industry, and is the preferred forum for the exchange of ideas and constructive criticism. They also present a showcase for the dynamism of the industry, and the individuals and groups that elevate that dynamism.
The biggest takeaway for me at the recent Five Star Conference was the ability to listen to the various speakers and attendees, and have the ability to ask real-time, relevant questions. The ability to bring that information back to my co-workers, and share it all with my staff is invaluable.