MReport June 2022

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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28 | M R EP O RT FEATURE value and comparable residences. Also of critical importance: APIs can support data accuracy and regulatory compliance. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and RPA Provide Real-World Value D ocument handling. Verifying application forms, pay stubs, and tax returns. For mortgage lend- ers, repetitive tasks are as sizable a part of the application process as interest rates and closing costs. Some sectors of the financial services industry had already integrated artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and robotic process automation (RPA) in a widespread manner before the pandemic made remote work a necessity. The mortgage indus- try wasn't as quick to adopt the technologies but is rapidly trying to make up for lost time. A Forbes survey of 200 senior executives from the U.S. mortgage industry found that 55% believe AI will make their firm—and the industry overall—more competi- tive. A greater percentage of ex- ecutives (59%) said AI's impact on the industry is now a key focus in strategic planning. Augmenting existing solutions with human intelligence, AI, ma- chine learning, and RPA can ease the document-intensive process of applying for a home loan. From the use of chatbots and voice assistants to document organiza- tion, risk management, and fraud detection, these technologies are providing value at each stage of the homebuying experience. During loan origination, a largely manual phase that involves the identification and resolution of errors, RPA can perform high- volume, repetitive tasks that clean up mistakes and lead to faster approvals. That, in turn, enhances customer satisfaction. The Cloud Moves to the Forefront T he ability to finalize docu- ments remotely is no longer a perk that is only offered by in- novative lenders. It's a necessity. Employees, many of whom are working from home, require secure, scalable access to files and tools that help them perform their jobs. Enter the cloud, where enterprise content management and content services solutions can be optimized to suit a lender's unique needs and requirements. Cloud-based solutions offer easier technology upgrades, greater flexibility and scalability, and can remove many of the headaches in- volved in the compliance process. There's also this combination (one that is not pie in the sky): working in the cloud can reduce costs and provide revenue-gen- eration opportunities. The latter is realized when lenders, boosted by improved processes, can move loans from application to funding in a shorter amount of time. Omnichannel Is Where It's At A larger number of homebuyers are young, tech-savvy, and ac- customed to digital banking. They might not remember the last time they visited their favorite financial institution. By effectively deploying the aforementioned technologies, lenders can communicate with them on their preferred channels. Consumers expect a quick re- sponse to their inquiries, whether it's via chatbot, email, mobile app, social media, or even a phone call (remember those?). They also prefer a quick preapproval, a locked-in rate, and easy access to documents and online tools such as mortgage and closing cost calculators. An omnichannel experience—one that provides personalized, end-to-end service—isn't just an effective way to manage the customer relation- ship. It's a competitive advantage. A consumer lending study by Aite-Novarica Group found that 67% of the respondents who were interested in a one-stop home- buying experience would want to know more about receiving discounts on closing costs and rebates of a real estate agent's commission that could be ap- plied to such costs. The majority of those respondents were also interested in an omnichannel experience that would allow them to manage everything associated with purchasing a home—from selecting an agent to searching for a home and saving comments on the properties they liked. Lenders that offer these servic- es, the research showed, can miti- gate some of the sticker shock "by saving consumers money across the entire process" and providing "a less stressful experience." A Personal Touch: Still Priceless E very mortgage application is different. Many borrowers have standard, consistent incomes. Some are self-employed. Others might be real estate investors. Evaluating and selecting the right IT vendor is critical to lend- ers' ongoing success. The same goes for finding and assessing gaps in existing processes and developing a plan to address any inefficiencies. Automation can do a lot of the work, but a human touch will always be needed for exceptions and complex transactions. Today's lenders, according to an Ellie Mae survey, communicate 20% more with their customers. Human-led support supple- mented with a seamless digital experience is a heck of a tandem for lenders. The consumer lending study by Aite-Novarica Group found that there is "a widespread lack of knowledge across various aspects of the homeownership process." As a result, lenders have a chance to "create additional stickiness" by educating consumers about the homebuying experience. Technology can do a lot of the heavy lifting in the homebuy- ing process, leaving humans to coordinate the most important tasks that make moving day a reality. STEVE COMER is an AVP of Financial Services and Insurance Sales at Hyland. Lenders that offer these services, the research showed, can mitigate some of the sticker shock "by saving consumers money across the entire process" and providing "a less stressful experience."

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