MReport January 2021

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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Page 23 of 67

22 | M R EP O RT FEATURE FEATURE have to be a disruption. Having a greater affinity for innovative resources can help any company weather this storm. Many firms that were really ready for the pandemic are thriving. By adopting tools like e-conferencing, electronic binders, and other systems before they were even needed, businesses have been able to run mostly unencumbered. This principle will surely hold true for the future as well. Companies must continuously innovate, because when they don't adapt and grow with the changing market, they risk becoming irrelevant or suffer- ing uncompetitive margins. That's why innovation is the cornerstone of any hopeful mortgage strategy. Going forward, the industry will need to fully integrate with eClosing systems and use Remote Online Notary (RON) as a matter of course. This would allow consumers to eSign all closing documents and would eliminate the need for face-to-face interac- tion. Using video conferencing, multifactor authentication, and eSignatures, customers can get their loan documents processed and notarized from their home. From a digital standpoint, there are many other ways to improve the process for homeowners and originators. Mortgage companies need to implement these to allow us to help more people with less cost. Lenders should investigate all avenues of progress possible, but tech for tech's sake can be an ex- pensive trap if we're not careful. If the goal is to build technology that really helps deliver value, then it is something worth investing in. The Consistency of Change T he key to adapting in un- certain times is to expect constant change and to strive for constant improvement. The mortgage industry should take this to heart, because we never know what will be thrown at us. Everything changes, and the current environment is the perfect example of this. But the pan- demic isn't the only example. The Great Recession, 9/11, the dot-com bubble are all events that catapult- ed the market into uncertainty. It's important to be aware of the change and be prepared to adapt accordingly at a moment's notice. Though we all want the silver bullet, software app, or magic wand that fixes everything, lowers errors, increases margins, and works 24/7, such a thing does not exist. Mortgage companies can certainly do their best to be on top of the latest technology and tools and ensure they are up to date, but at the end of the day, there is no replacement for experi- ence and knowledge. Don't Forget Your People I n the mortgage industry there is a constant pull between auto- mation and human relationships. If lenders don't keep pushing change and implementing technol- ogy, they may suffer inefficiency. If they spend too much on tech- nology that they're not prepared for, they will suffer inefficiency, and if they only value technology, they will alienate their people. It's a tough balance. The future for the mortgage industry depends on us striking the right balance. We need innovation, but people are integral for a healthy business. In our hyper-specialized world, no one can function alone. In mortgage, there are a whole host of professionals with specific skill sets. From originators to underwriters, processors, funders, closers, and more, they all have tasks to perform and ideas to share. Corporations must allow space in their strategy to build, nurture, and constantly up-skill their teams. Continuing to put emphasis on team development will be key for mortgage compa- nies in the current market boom. However, there will always be cycles when there is no money or "negative money" in our sector, the most recent being 2018. This is when corporate culture and values come into play the most. Mission and vision statements serve to provide purpose because the best employees don't just work for the money. It's true the mortgage industry is going through unprecedented times, but it is also an incredible opportunity to build what we have and plan for future growth. It's a complex world out there, with every problem encapsulated within it. Managing issues rang- ing from public policy, business cycles, geopolitics, monetary risk, operation risk, credit risk, brand risk, legal risk, compliance risk, and more is a challenge to which we must rise. The important thing is to not be paralyzed by it, but to embrace it, develop scenarios and plans, then innovate and adapt. . SCOTT GORDON is the CEO of Open Mortgage, a retail lender offering wholesale and correspon- dent services for banks and credit unions. Gordon has a professional education in software engineering and an interest in start-ups and business investing. He previously served as Founder and CEO for various tech startups and is currently a board member or investor for financial organizations across the country. Technology will continue to drive the momentum for the industry for the foreseeable future. The virus will eventually go away, but the need to continue evolving the tech of our industry will not.

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