MReport June 2021

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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34 | M R EP O RT FEATURE connected world? Every lender answers this question from their own unique perspective and must consider carefully how to mitigate risk in the future. The first step to answering this question is to accept the need for change. Trying to find a way to maintain the status quo will not be effective. Lenders are merely existing within this mortgage eco- system today. The key to success will be to find a way to operate there more effectively. In many ways, these kinds of revolutionary changes are simpler in the mortgage industry than in many others. Every move must meet strict compliance guidelines and requirements. This need for compliance offers industry executives some protection from overreacting to change. On the flip side, sometimes the need for compliance forces change. Above all, regulatory oversight forces executives to think carefully about the changes they embrace. Without this forethought, lenders could run the risk of repeating the mistake of investing in too much new technology that will not add value to the institution when a future downturn occurs. Partnering for Success E volutionary change, though potentially jarring at first, can generally be handled by any organization with the courage to face the future. However, revolutionary change is something different; had the industry not come together as it did during the pandemic, the outcome might have been much different. It's easier to deal with revolu- tionary change when you have strong partners. This will cer- tainly be true as the industry goes through the tech tool shakeout coming with this next revolution. A preparatory step that many lenders are taking now is to sit down with their technology part- ners to map out their institution's near-future approach to lending technology. A good technology roadmap allows executives to protect their institutions through careful planning and implementa- tion of required tools. Finding the partner could be challenging, but less so for those who take the following consider- ations into account: 1. Is the prospective partner native to the industry? There will always be vendors who wish to capitalize on the upheaval that comes in the wake of revolution. They will rush in to offer solutions that have yet to be fully tried and tested, counting on beleaguered buyers to grasp at the first thing they see that might address their challenges. On the other hand, a technol- ogy partner who is native to the mortgage industry will have the experience to know what is likely to work and what will be pos- sible to implement within budget and on time. 2. Is the prospective partner well connected in the space? Prior to the pandemic, when the concept of a connected mortgage ecosystem was still mostly a pipedream, strong connections with other vendors and service providers in the space was a nice-to-have, but not absolutely required. Today, it is critically important that the lender's technology partner knows the other companies operating in the space, the specifics involved in integrating with their systems, and the people to call when problems arise. 3. Does the prospective partner have a track record of success? Knowing about the past prob- lems your technology partner has helped solve and the other institu- tions that have benefited from its expertise is vital. Fortunately, most lenders already have a protocol for uncovering this in- formation built into their vendor management due diligence. Revolutions involve changes that may not be welcome or even anticipated. However, for those who are prepared to adapt quickly, they can ultimately deliver benefits much faster than evolutionary change. Knowing that our institu- tions must embrace the coming change is the first step to success. Choosing the right partners is the second phase. With the right team and a well thought out technology roadmap in place, the likelihood of a successful outcome markedly increases. . NICOLE VALENTIN- SMITH is Director, Client Management, Digital Lending and Origination at Fiserv, Inc., a leading global provider of financial services technology solutions. She can be reached at nicole.valentinsmith@ What had been a smooth evolution of new technologies into the marketplace suddenly went into overdrive when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Overnight, nice-to-have technologies became essential as loan officers, underwriters, and processors took their work home.

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