January 2017 - The World's Local Bank

TheMReport — News and strategies for the evolving mortgage marketplace.

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18 | TH E M R EP O RT COVER STORY what has made all the difference. "HSBC is a very large organiza- tion, but also very small and very personable," Gates said. "They treat you as an individual, they understand, and they listen to you. That's one of the reasons I've been here for 30 years. I'm very happy every day coming to work, and I think it's because of the cul - ture … being a very large institu- tion but at the same point in time being a close-knit community." Creating a Customer- Serving Team S imply having a love for what you do or who you work with is not enough to be a successful team or institution, Gates says. According to him, building a great team starts at finding people with an innate sense of transparency. "Because a lot of people won't be transparent," Gates said, "I really look for people that are open minded, willing to take that personal risk to do the right thing for the customer, and willing to speak up." Muralidharan also says that a team-player mentality is crucial in serving the mortgage consumer right. "Everyone needs to work together to make sure the cus - tomer's needs are being met," Muralidharan said. "You need to have everyone up and down that chain be really customer-focused." Muralidharan says it's this combination of teamwork and transparency that fuels the HSBC origination division's success—and that he works daily to ensure focus is never lost. "Making sure that we maintain that while we grow our business significantly is a big challenge," Muralidharan said, "one that I focus a lot of time and attention on." For HSBC, this customer-first mentality doesn't just benefit the buyer. In fact, Gates says it's the secret to keeping on long-term employees, too. "If you look at the tenure of our people, we've stayed together a long time," Gates said. "This is more than just a place to work. From my perspective, we treat everyone like a big family. That's been the way that I've managed, and that's the way HSBC's taught me to manage. You need to respect and treat everyone individually." Gates' perspective emulates the values established by HSBC: to care about individuals and their progress, to show respect, to be supportive, and to be responsive. "Our biggest strength is our people," Gates said. "Because of that, we have a lot of people that are working very hard day in and day out to do the right thing for our customers. We treat this as our family, and it's really our home. That's the way that people like to be treated. That's the strength we have in this business. I look at other companies out there, and people are moving in and out. I think we've been blessed with a very strong team that gets along and really is focused on doing the right thing for customers and for the family, which is the business." Staying on Top of Tech S tanding out from the competi- tion in today's industry takes more than just a customer-centered approach though. According to Balkin, keeping on the cutting edge of technology also plays a big part. "From an industry standpoint, I'm excited about how that technol- ogy is going to improve to make getting a mortgage easier," Balkin said. "I'd love to see the day where you can have a seamless customer experience on your smartphone, to connect with your originator and get a mortgage. I don't think that day is that far away." Muralidharan agrees that inno- vation is key to a great customer experience. He says automated asset and income verification plat- forms are particularly interesting, offering lenders a way to easily authenticate financials without re- quiring the customer submit a ton of paperwork and documentation. "For me, though, the most important trend is a greater and greater focus on the customer and finding ways to meet the customer's needs in a better way and while continuing to lend in a sustainable fashion," Muralidharan said. Second to that, Muralidharan says that embracing technology, along with direct and multi-channel delivery is part of what consumers expect when getting a loan. "Customers want the ability to start an application anywhere and finish it anywhere," Muralidharan said. "They like the convenience of using mobile technology and the internet, as well as the fact that things such as asset and income verification can be done directly to really build a multi-channel, customer-focused platform." Muralidharan says that a plat- form like this should be low-cost and stocked with people, employ- ees, and team members who really care about the customers. He cau- tions, though, that trying to stay on the leading edge of origination tech does come with some caveats. "There are some things we need to guard against as an industry, including increases in the LTV that lenders are providing at the expense of credit quality," Muralidharan said. "As an industry, we need to be really careful that we continue to put people in homes that they can sustainably afford, and make sure we're doing the right thing for our customers not just at that moment in time but over the long term." But keeping that in mind as new tech emerges is just another way Muralidharan's team is keeping the customer at the heart of it all. "[Muralidharan]'s just got a re - ally wonderful team who, in spite of industry challenges, love coming to work and love getting back to basics, which is what mortgage is all about," Balkin said. "It's helping people achieve their human ambi - tion, helping realize homeowner- ship and wealth creation, and a burgeoning middle class. That's what this is all about, and that is what is really powerful. You can see it in the team. That's really a competitive advantage that others in the industry could learn from." And it's that dedication that helps HSBC's customers, employ - ees, and the organization's success as a whole. "The people who win over time are the people who are going to be better at serving the cus - tomer in a more efficient and low cost way, where what's low cost is also good for the customer," Muralidharan said. KENDALL BAER is a Baylor University graduate with a degree in news editorial journalism and a minor in marketing. She is fluent in both English and Italian, and studied abroad in Florence, Italy. Apart from her work as a journalist, she has also managed professional associations such as Association of Corporate Counsel, Commercial Real Estate Women, American Immigration Lawyers Association, and Project Management Institute for Association Management Consultants in Houston, TX. Born and raised in Texas, Baer now works as the online editor for DS News. "This is more than just a place to work. From my perspective, we treat everyone like a big family. That's been the way that I've managed, and that's the way HSBC's taught me to manage." —David Gates, Head of Mortgage Sales and Originations, HSBC USA

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