Lending in the High Tech Age

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Feature "Any time the loan is transferred from one servicer to another, it can be scary for the customer." —Dana Dillard, Nationstar Mortgage approach . . . instead of just moving through a process." That's not to say there haven't been some concerns with what's coming down from the regulatory agencies. For some, the guidelines and their enforcement are a hazy matter, and others have expressed apprehension about the influence they may have on servicer/borrower interactions, which can be complicated enough already. "A lot of the CFPB and the [attorneys general] settlement guidelines are pretty descriptive. They tell you the exact language to use, and some of that language can make your letters seem less customer friendly and more legalese," Dillard said. "It's wise 26 | The M Report to take the spirit of the [regulations] and figure out a way to convey that to the consumer." Similarly complex are servicing transfers, which Dillard says can unsettle customers and make them feel as if they've done something to make their servicer want to drop them. In order to make the transition as clear and painless as possible, she says servicers should make it a point to establish a relationship as soon as the transfer is complete. "Any time the loan is transferred from one servicer to another, it can be scary for the customer," she said. "Through our outbound efforts, we're trying to allay their fears that anything's wrong, let them know that it's going to be business as usual, and keep them informed about the timelines. A lot of it is having very clear communication to the borrower and having a good timeline where you're communicating as information is available to them." Focusing on the 'I' T he next five years may not be quite as turbulent as the last, but it's a fair bet that today's momentum will continue. Looking ahead, many experts agree that outreach professionals will keep honing their focus until it's squarely about the customer's role instead of the servicer's. "Everything we have in technology is set up for us: iPhone, iPad. Everything is about the person," Dickard said. "I think for us to do a better job in the industry, we're going to have to make that customer feel like 'I.'" Another big shift is not how customers are being addressed, but when. According to Dillard, it's becoming a more common practice for companies to sit down and counsel borrowers during the homebuying process in an effort to prevent future problems. "I think we'll continue down that path where it's less talk about 'What happens when I'm about to lose my house' and more talk about 'Before you get the house, here's how you can manage your money," she said. Finally, there's the impact that the changing economy is having on how companies are operating on a fundamental level. With job growth slowly improving and the housing market seeing some stability, the number of borrowers to reach out to has dropped off significantly, necessitating staff changes at many banks. This has already been seen at JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America, who have both cut back their servicing staff in the past several months to focus on burgeoning originations. Those that are left will have to be used more strategically, Olsen says. "I think you'll continue to see the silos—the departments where people are responsible for a very specific kind of outreach," he said. "For example, I know some of our banking clients have an entire department dedicated to just social media escalations. I think you're still going to see those departments exist, but they're going to shrink down in size." However servicers adjust to the changing environment, Dickard advises them to get comfortable with the new order of things. "This is a cyclical industry, but some things have changed forever," he said. "I think it's only going to get better from here."

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