MReport June 2020

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M R EP O RT | 31 EXPERT INSIGHTS tions for extensions or forbearance agreements in what seems like more of an automated approach. Unfortunately, I still see a lot of the fine print that says, "We've received your request. We'll get back to you in 7-10 days" which implies that the backend is still manual. And that's the disap- pointing part. The potential for automation is there, but we're still spinning the dialer and adding FTEs through staffing campaigns. The burden on call centers is immense, which implies that we may still be behind in dealing with the volume from a sustainable, auto- mated, intentional way. This is one macro event, but it's not going to be the last macro event. We've seen a lot of chal- lenges certainly from the mortgage crisis, but there are also the hurri- canes. We're so focused on helping people out of COVID-19, but we're heading into hurricane season. 2017 was one of the most challeng- ing years for hurricane relief and billions of dollars in damage, and a lot of customers needed help there as well. The solutions require more precision. It requires a lot of time and investment to create a play- book that is not one size fits all, but very responsive to the specific hardship, and the severity of that hardship, and really understanding what it means to help a borrower fix the problem. It takes a lot of time and a lot of investment. There has been a lot of financial investment around automating credit origination because the focus is typically on revenue generation. The back office always suffers. We've short- changed our customers as a result of that, and here we are again without technology advancements to help through a crisis. What is Constant doing to help automate the hardship process? ROBB // This is a passion of mine. There are real people in the middle of this. As a servicer, whether you're prepared or not, whether you're offering complex relief options or not, you still have to remember that you're dealing with people's lives. A person's home is the most important asset to them. At Constant, we've leveraged all of our experience servicing customers seeking hardship relief. You don't have to engage in large staffing campaigns. With the competition for FTEs, you may not even find them or be able to train them in time. Technology and AI can help with this problem and in a very sustained, controlled way. That's what we've done at Constant. This is not about brand recogni- tion for us. It's about doing better. There are millions of people that need help. We've really tried to apply a lot of logic, a lot of integration work, and leverage our partnerships to say, "We can help you because we can understand what you're asking for. We under- stand your financial position" and be very prescriptive about how to unwind that. This could be the time to sell your home. It could be a short sale, it could be a modification. Modifications don't just have to be on mortgages. We can look at the affordability and the ability and the willingness of a consumer to repay their debt and structure very precise, sustainable solutions by engaging with that borrower and applying some automation and technology to that process. What did you learn during your time at TD Bank that you are utilizing at Constant? ROBB // Constant is a culmina- tion of my experiences, both at TD and at other points of my career. I was a consumer advocate for a while, and a bankruptcy paralegal prior to joining TD. One thing I learned is that you have to be cognizant of the consumer and the different flavors and aspects of a hardship. The second is that in- frastructure is not going to be the same. You can't design a solution that integrates with the Cadillac API-based servicing platform that can handle any level of automa- tion. We had to develop some- thing that can integrate and accept that servicing platforms are going to be at various levels of maturity. It doesn't mean you can't improve your self-service game with a partner that's good in that field. The last thing is preparedness. It's not a lack of goodwill or good faith intentions to help customers out of the problem. It's not that anybody is sitting there saying, "We don't want to help," or, "we don't want to take the time to help." It's just that when you come out of something like the last recession, where we were dealing with mas- sive volumes of foreclosure media- tion, short sales, right through 2016, it takes a lot out of you in the back office. It takes a lot out of your collection staff, your servicing staff, your loss mitigation underwriting staff, your foreclosure team. When you get a little bit of reprieve from that, because delin- quency trends start to improve, the foot comes off the gas pedal. But this is actually the time when you should keep your head down and prepare. Do post mortems and prepare for the next event. Had we done that a bit better after the last recession, I think we'd have been more prepared for COVID-19. Not the events, not the crisis itself, but the financial reso- lution, the technology solution for how we navigate the mass influx of customers that need help. "I wish we were a bit further along. The playbooks feel very similar and that's disappointing." —Carissa Robb

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