April, 2012

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FEATURE four-year horizon, says Kent Conrad, director and technol- ogy advisory for McGladrey & Pullen LLP in Minneapolis. So any technologies should blend into the lender's long-term strategic plan. "A lot of lenders don't do their homework," adds Conrad. "They let vendors sell them a lot of bells and whistles that they don't need. You have to do a cost- benefit analysis." One area that has helped small lenders, according to Matt Clarke, Churchill COO, is that many technologies are available on a per-user license. So Churchill will purchase a small number of licenses in order to test a technol- ogy's effectiveness before going full scale. "Technology levels the playing field," Jones adds. "But a solution has to be available at the right price. Maybe things out there look really cool, but we have to test it in order to prove the concept." Technology and strategic Dollars and Sense: The Top Tech Solutions for Smaller Lenders What tools, strategies, and platforms are effective now for small to midsized companies working to grow their originations business while protecting their bottom lines? By Phil Britt S mall to midsized lend- ers face special chal- lenges when investing in technology. They need a certain level of it to compete with the larger lenders but don't have the financial wherewithal to make the same technology investments, and they do not have any additional margin with which to absorb the costs of mis- taken technology purchases. Experts say there are several critical factors in capitalizing on technology without breaking the bank—even for non-depository lenders. Planning T he first step is establishing a strategic technology plan to determine what technologies the lender needs, technologies to be outsourced, and the priorities of those technologies. "The bottom line is that we have to do what we do smartly," said Dan Jones, VP of technol- ogy for Churchill Mortgage in Brentwood, Tennessee. "We don't want a technology just because it's neat and new. It has to help us increase our business." Part of smart planning is to look at technologies with a three- to planning experts should be part of the planning process. If the lender is too small to have a chief technology strategist, it should look to a vendor or consultant who can help the organization with its technology strategy, recommends Brad DeBroux, VP of software development at Fairway Mortgage in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, a lender with $3.6 billion in annual loan volume. First Things First P rioritizing the technologies is another essential element of the planning process. Some solutions, such as those necessary to meet compliance rules, are required. After the recent housing and credit downturn and the on- set of tighter regulations and scru- tiny, compliance-related solutions consume more of the technology budget than ever before. Regulatory requirements are driving much of the technology investments for the small and midsized lender. THE M REPORT | 29

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