Technology does not override the importance of personal touch. To illustrate, a recent A16z podcast took on the implications of automation technology on the modern workforce. One of the key takeaways presented during the discussion was that technology should replace tasks, not humans. Consider this: Most jobs that are made up entirely of strict rule-based tasks have already left the modern workforce in the form of outsourcing or robotics (e.g., the modern car assembly line). Now, most technology is being designed to augment one’s job function, not completely automate it away altogether.
There’s a big distinction between augmentation and automation, when it comes to B2B mortgage software. Tasks that follow consistent rule-based decisions, like where to send a document or when to schedule a meeting, are perfect use cases for automation technology. Augmentation, on the other hand, combines the benefits of technology automation with the soft skills of humans for guidance and relationship building. Today, the mortgage industry is finding this to be a winning formula, especially when there’s zero room for error due to regulatory and revenue risk.
Modern technology like Snapdocs has been rapidly flooding the heavily regulated and process-centered mortgage industry. Closing operations teams, however, are a camp divided when it comes to embracing new technology. Surely, some are afraid at first glance that their jobs will be replaced. But the dynamic teams understand that taking time-consuming, rule-based tasks out of the hands of humans will open up resources for more service-oriented, white glove initiatives. In an extremely competitive landscape, service and reputation will be the only way companies are going to be able to differentiate themselves.
The aforementioned podcast discusses modern personal financial advising as an example. Today, complicated portfolio allocation is in auto-drive thanks to software. As a result, the hours financial advisors had been draining by manually pulling the levers is now spent counseling their clients and adding value beyond stock picking. Technology is augmenting their ability to spend less time on tedious tasks and more time on optimization and relationship building. And most importantly, clerical errors as to where money is allocated are non-existent. Can you imagine a personal financial advisor promoting the fact that they rarely accidentally put money in the wrong mutual fund?
For mortgage closing operations professionals, the priority is to close a loan package swiftly and pleasantly, without mistakes. The discussion on the table shouldn’t be, “How can technology replace human involvement altogether during the loan closing process?” It should be, “How can we arm our teams with the right tools to promote a new level of service and consultation to our clients and take risky, manual tasks off their plates?” Competing on low error rates and ability to pass audits will soon be a thing of the past. Mortgage companies committing today to arm their workforce with a modern tech stack that augments day-to-day work will surely have a head start on the competition.
As someone tasked with selling mortgage technology, this analysis may seem self-serving. However, fully automating —not just augmenting—my craft (sales teams) is constantly written about, as well. But rather than aiming to replace people, I actively invest in technology for our team to cut down time-consuming tasks like prospecting, data entry and reporting. By leveraging technology to bring rare and valuable skill sets to the forefront, my team is more productive and fulfilled. It’s a mindset that can apply to any industry, and I’ve been lucky to bond with leaders in the mortgage industry who are on the same page.