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Mortgage Industry Leaders Discuss Leveraging Tech, Tools, and People

work from home, remote, technology, computer, laptop, online, internetThe latest addition to the MReport Webinar Series, “Leveraging Tech, Tools & People: Finding Balance in Capacity Management,” went live today and featured insights from three mortgage industry leaders.

The webinar, which was sponsored by Altisource, included Brian Simon, President of Trelix, CastleLine, and Lenders One as moderator, along with speakers Matt Clarke, CFO and COO of Churchill Mortgage, and Michael Fontaine, COO and CFO of Plaza Home Mortgage. Simon opened the discussion by pointing out how the industry’s focus has shifted due to COVID-19. 

You can view a recording of the webinar by clicking here.

“Most executives and mortgage companies are focused far more on how they handle the workload in the volume today than they are necessarily on the efficiency, which is contradictory to most people who run mortgage companies and are extremely focused on efficiency,” Simon explained. “But, of course, we've lived through an environment this year where the margins are at a level almost never seen before. And rightfully so, mortgage lenders are trying to figure out how to pick up all the opportunities that are in front of them.”

Brian Simon went on to discuss how lenders can improve efficiencies, handle increased workloads, normalize costs, and stabilize hiring processes.

“There's definitely going to be a reckoning with all of the costs, and we'll see some sort of a cliff-like event, who knows when, sometime towards the end of the next year,” Simon remarked on normalizing costs. “Executives and mortgage companies and operations managers are going to have to look around and reconcile their costs with their margins at that point.”

Simon then led the discussion of how Matt Clarke and Michael Fontaine have each approached capacity management challenges within their companies this year. Clarke stated that offshore outsourcing and outsourcing, in general, has been a major component of capacity management at Churchill Mortgage.

“I think one of the things that we recognize with outsourcing was it's not a short term fix,” Clarke said. “The strategy that we took, really ending last year going into this year, was a long term view for outsourcing as an embedded part of our business and our operations to both leverage technology available to us, and just operational resources available to us from a global perspective.”

Another major challenge that the mortgage industry has had to confront this year is talent acquisition and training. This was made difficult when mortgage industries had to suddenly transition to work-from-home environments in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The industry experts discussed how retaining talent in a competitive field has been a challenge.

“How do you attract talent? You attract talent with culture,” Clarke explained his approach to finding and keeping qualified and capable workers. “Attract new talent with money and you're going to get a short term lift and a long term expense.”

Another way in which mortgage companies have been making an effort to expand their workforces is by recruiting recent college graduates and those who are new to the mortgage industry. While learning the ropes of a new business is always difficult, especially when training remotely, Michael Fontaine emphasized how technology can make the training go smoothly.

“I think it boils down to recognizing that as smart as we all think we are, it's not rocket science we do,” Fontaine said. “There are very simple ways to document our processes, our steps, and keystrokes if you just stay focused on the ability to train people. We've brought in brand new folks from sales, to processing, to underwriting, to pipeline management in closing, as well as post-closing and secondary. The key, there has been that you have to commit to the training.”

Fontaine also echoed Clarke’s statement on how culture plays an important role in retention and capacity management. 

“Treating people right is how you retain them,” Fontaine said. “It's not all about money, it's about the work environment, the corporate culture of the company, how they feel about the company, the management, the direction, etc. When training them, as I mentioned earlier, you're taking people right out of school and training them into a new role, a new career. There's a lot of opportunities for advancement.”

As the mortgage industry continues to grow, leveraging new technologies, building strong business partnerships, and making an effort to create a welcoming corporate culture will help ensure successful development, even in times of uncertainty.

About Author: Cristin Espinosa

Cristin Espinosa is a reporter for DS News and MReport. She graduated from Southern Methodist University where she worked as an editor and later as a digital media producer for The Daily Campus. She has a broadcast background as well, serving as a producer for SMU-TV. She wrote for the food section during her fellowship at The Dallas Morning News and has also contributed to Advocate Magazine and The Dallas Observer.
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