February 2016 - The Industry's Best Kept Secret

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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16 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY "Coming over to Navy Federal definitely opened my eyes in terms of our focus, par- ticularly around member services," Parker said. He continued, "Most financial institutions would tell you that customer service or member service will be their No. 1 priority or one of their main priorities, but at Navy Federal member service is ingrained in our culture, decision making, and critical-thinking process. Everything we do starts with 'through the eyes of the member.' Having the fulfillment of working with a credit union and the nature of our members and how they feel so attached and engaged with us is a remarkable feeling. It gives us a ton of fulfillment and definitely a great atmosphere to work in." On the other hand, Garcia grew up in Vienna, Virginia, the same city where Navy Federal headquarters are located. Much of his experience in mortgage banking has been with Bank One, which was acquired by JPMorgan Chase, and more recently BB&T. Garcia noted that "Navy Federal has the best training department in the industry and locally. A lot of people have gotten their training here and then left to go to commercial banks, only to, in retrospect, decide they were probably better off staying here at Navy Federal." Looking Ahead N avy Federal hopes to keep up their 2015 momentum by focusing on first-time homebuyers this year. Approximately 60 percent of all of Navy Federal's purchase originations are first-time homebuyers. This number is double the industry-wide average. "First-time homebuyers are a huge priority for us—they need the education, the hand holding, and they need the types of products we offer—the 100 percent conventional financing, the 100 percent VA financing. That's my focus. We want to talk to first-time homebuyers, appeal to first-time homebuyers, and be the lender of choice for first-time homebuyers." Parker agreed, "We're here to be the lender of choice when it comes to first-time homebuyers. We also want to be the lender of choice when it comes to military members and their families and continue to focus on member services. In 2016, we're going to focus on capitalizing on being the trusted advisor within the industry—for our families." XHEVRIJE WEST is a writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. She has worked for a number of publications including The Syracuse New Times, Dallas Flow Magazine, and Bellwethr Magazine. She completed her Bachelors at Alcorn State University and went on to complete her Masters at Syracuse University. research, you know the first thing you go out and do is research—and if I'm looking at anything new, I'll Google it, and read about it, and maybe I'll go out and call or visit, but the first thing you do is re - search. So we want to get informa- tion out there to be able to educate millennials," Miller explained. Miller's colleague, Garcia finds that many first-time homebuyers require some extra education. "We understand that there's a lot of stress from their point of view, and we try relieve that stress as much as possible by being their confidante and holding their hands and making them feel like they have a partner throughout the whole process," he added. Like everyone else in the mortgage industry, Mission Federal is also trying to understand what Millennials want from a mortgage lender. "I'm finding it's really having a good Web presence, being very transparent with your fees and interest rates, and explaining what type of pitfalls you can fall into," Nowicki noted. "Millennials have to have that transparency, they have to be able to open up an account online, have to be able to make their payments on the Internet, and try to do as much of their research as possible—down to even applying for a loan—from the comfort of their home." Staying Ahead of Competition C ompetition among financial institutions, or in any indus- try for that matter, is a healthy way for businesses to maintain a competitive edge. It elevates business, increases bottom lines, and enriches membership. "As a direct lender, we pride ourselves on being able to stay in control throughout the entire loan process," McDonald said. "Our members will always know us as the servicer of their loan—even if it's sold. This level of contact allows us to partner with the member for years." Harmon advises credit unions to build a better widget to stay ahead of the game. "Develop simple products based on what members need, instead of trying to place everyone into the same box. Make the application and approval process simple and easy. Most of all, gain the member's trust that you are always going to do the right thing for the member," he noted. Golden 1 Credit Union's Popp takes a different approach to competition. "We mainly compete with banks and mortgage companies, providing market pricing but our real edge is focusing and educating people on the credit union difference," he said. "Credit unions maintain a community base. We're also able to make changes more quickly if necessary. We can respond to market forces a little bit more quickly because we're smaller and because we're more centralized," Nowicki explained. "To make wholesale changes at a Bank of America or Wells Fargo, you can imagine there is bureaucracy, politics, and red tape. Being agile, a little bit quicker, and being able to make those changes and keep in step with the changing market—that's our competitive edge." Nowicki continued, "We have all the same types of things that every bank and credit union can offer as far as products and our prices are typically a little bit better, rates a little lower, and our fees are a little bit lower than the bigger banks. We do have a lot of give backs because we're not-for- profit organizations—we have to take any excess capital and the profitability that we make and give back to the members." "It's the service aspect among credit unions, so it's the fact that you're not just a number, not just an application, you're a member," Miller said. "It's not just a one- time loan with us, it's part of your relationship." Kevin Parker, Katie Miller, and Paul Garcia deep in discussion regarding the company's first-time homebuyer outreach strategies. 3MReport.indd

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