The role of technology in the mortgage industry

#CMPTalk chats with Community Trust on the future of mortgage technology and introduces their recently launched broker portal Café. Learn how Community Trust uses feedback from broker communities on developing its digital tools and finds solutions on how to seamlessly adapt technology to existing processes.

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Narrator: [00:00:03] CMP Talk, the Canadian Mortgage Professional Podcast. This episode is presented in partnership with Community Trust. In this episode of CMP Talk, Eric Larocque, Managing Director of Sales at Community Trust, provides insight on the major trends that are to emerge in the tech space and how community trust is adapting to the changing landscape with the launch of its new broker portal.

Fergal: [00:00:38] Hello again and thanks for joining us for another edition of CMP Talk. I'm Fergal McAlinden, news editor for Canadian Mortgage Professional. And today we'll be taking a closer look at technology in the mortgage space. Some of the main reasons that became so important in the industry over the past two years on the trends that are likely to emerge in the near future. Our special guest today is none other than Eric Larocque, managing director of sales and marketing originations at the alternative lender Community Trust. Here to share his insights on what the company has been keeping top of mind in technology and how it's met the unique challenges of the last couple of years. Eric, many thanks for joining us today. How are things with you?

Eric: [00:01:13] Very well. Thank you Fergal. Thanks for having me today. I'm very excited to be here.

Fergal: [00:01:16] Thanks for coming on with us today. I want to start with just the topic of technology in the mortgage industry in general. And I wanted to ask you, what were some of the main reasons that the importance of technology grew so much during the COVID 19 pandemic?

Eric: [00:01:32] Yeah, I think I think it's a great question. I think first and foremost, it was really driven by the need for safety and accessibility. But really, when I think about it, the technology really wasn't something that was new, but the behaviors were and it really forced individuals to take different behaviors to achieve the outcomes, the desired outcomes. And now for many of them, it meant adopting to new ways of doing business and adopting new technology. But the reality is, is the technology was already there. It just really needed to be put in play to deliver on the needs of the Canadians during the pandemic.

Fergal: [00:02:10] And there were obviously significant challenges that came with that. The fact that people can no longer work in the same office together, they were no longer able to see clients in person. They weren't able to see colleagues or partners in person. But in terms of community trust in particular, what were the main challenges that the company faced on the tech front over the past couple of years? And were there any ways in particular that to address those?

Eric: [00:02:33] The reality is, is once we started using the technology, we actually realized that we were much closer than we than we thought we could be. We weren't removed. In fact, we were closer and more accessible to one another than we had ever been before. So in many ways, it's really helped to bring us closer and to enable a free exchange really at any time and quickly as well. And to me, that is really one of the bigger components of what technology has brought, especially within the alternative lending world, is is really speed and accessibility as well. Some of the challenges we had, again, things were new. These were new ways of doing business and we really had to ensure that there was a true value exchange being offered. If we are going to ask our partners to change their business or to try something new, we had to ensure there was a value back to them and essentially answer the question What's in it for me? We found along the way some were open to it, others weren't as open, but really it was about ensuring that their needs were met and the only way to do that was to really ingrain ourselves in understanding what their pain points were and in bringing a true value proposition that would address those pain points. Once you can solve for that and you can show them the ease and how it plays back to satisfy their own objectives, it was easier to get them to adopt to some of the new ways we were. We're going about doing our business.

Fergal: [00:04:06] So there have obviously been significant advancements in how the company has interacted with its broker partners as well. And I know that last year the company launched Community Trust Cafe, its broker portal. Could you tell me a little bit more about the thinking behind that and some of its features?

Eric: [00:04:22] The thinking behind bringing Community Trust Cafe into the hands of our brokers was really to provide a more consistent approach that was inspired by transparency, accessibility and speed of service. We wanted to ensure that every interaction we had with our broker partners was meaningful and allowed them to get further and further along the path of what they were looking to do, whether it was closing on a transaction, whether it was seeking information on products or policies, or whether they simply needed to connect with somebody a community trust. This was all powered through Community Trust Cafe and again, inspired by ensuring that every opportunity was a meaningful experience for our broker partners.

Fergal: [00:05:04] Excellent. And I know that one of the recent developments with Community Trust Cafe was its expansion to a mobile app. Could you tell me a little bit more about that decision?

Eric: [00:05:15] Yeah. The mobile app was really in response to our broken community, and I'd like to share that. The Community Trust Cafe is, is a tool for our brokers that was built by our brokers. We have an excellent community of mortgage brokers who partner with us, who continue to share feedback in terms of how we can improve on their experience through the cafe. And the mobile app was just one of those things that would allow us and would allow them to continue on this journey of ensuring transparency and again, meaningful interactions when they needed it at the time they needed it and the way that they needed it. The mobile app really delivered on a more customizable approach to how we provide notifications to our broker partners by really tapping into the device's capabilities as well. So extending our own technology with known technology.

Fergal: [00:06:04] That's interesting to hear because I always hear from brokers and mortgage professionals in general about this changing landscape, the fact that tech is ever evolving and the platforms and the things that they use to interact have changed so dramatically over the past couple of years. So does the launch of that portal and its expansion to the app kind of take that changing landscape into account?

Eric: [00:06:28] Absolutely. Absolutely. It's about unifying the experience and really breaking it down and providing them. Our goal is to really provide a transparent approach, end to end approach to these transactions, whether it's getting through the decision, getting to a quick yes or a quick no, whether it's understanding what's it going to take to get this deal done. What are the conditions that are standing in the way of my customer attaining the mortgage and securing the financing they need? You know, by bringing that end to end approach and really ensuring that the broker has not just visibility but really more control over that process and insights throughout all of it to ensure that they can provide the best service overall service experience for their customer. Whether the whether the ball is with them or whether it's with somebody else who's partnering in this transaction.

Fergal: [00:07:29] And Eric, are there any updates that you have in store for Cafe coming down the line or anything that you're able to share about what's happening this year? 

Eric: [00:07:37] We continue again, we continue to to be inspired by the needs of our broker partners, and they continue to, again inspire the future Roadmap for Community Trust Cafe. What I can tell you is we're never going to be satisfied with the product that we have and we will continue to iterate and continue to bring new tools and services to our partners. The Cafe is really just the foundation of which we can really build on. But as things change, you can you definitely have our commitment that we will change with them. And we actually see it as our job to lead some of that change to ensure that whatever does end up in the hands of mortgage brokers was thought through in terms of, again, that value exchange and making sure that it's driving results for the intended audience and that's mortgage brokers and their customers. 

Fergal: [00:08:28] So it's been clear that feedback from the mortgage broker community has always been a really key component of community trust approach. Could you tell me a little bit more about how feedback from brokers is important to the company when it comes to development of technology? 

Eric: [00:08:45] Yeah. I mean, the success of of the capabilities and the technology in which we build really greatly depends on the borrowers willingness to to change as well and their willingness to use the tools. So it's really about making sure there's a continuous opportunity to share that open and honest feedback, not just with our teams and with our service folks, but really with the executive team. And we do that. We have a consistent broker advisory council where we exclusively solicit feedback on the broker portal and how we can make technology, whether it's broker portal or outside of that, how we can make it work for our brokers. We take broker feedback very, very seriously at Community Trust as well in every opportunity, whether they're closing a transaction with us, whether they're just browsing through the cafe, we are constantly, constantly seeking feedback and giving them opportunities to voice their opinions and their insights and share those insights with us so that we can in turn deliver tools and understand what that value exchange is back to our brokers to drive better adoption from our partners. 

Fergal: [00:09:55] And we we've seen over the past couple of years in particular, this great advancement in technology in the mortgage space. And I know that it's quite a difficult question to predict or quite a difficult question to answer. But I'm curious as to whether looking down the line, if there's anything that you expect to emerge as a major trend on the tech front in the coming years in the mortgage space?

Eric: [00:10:16] Yeah, absolutely. And as much as you know, as much as this conversation is about technology, really, it's all enabled through through data and the rich data that we gain and the ability to convert that data into insights. Now, whether we share those insights with our brokers in terms of helping support their success through the transactions or their success when partnering with Community Trust, these insights are also being shared internally in order to help our own employees get through these transactions faster, make the right decisions, the right informed decisions based on these insights. So again, I think looking down the line, you're going to see you're going to see transactions being completed much faster than they've ever been for ever been done before, thanks to again, the just the richness of this data and the ability to share and to provide insights along the way. 

Fergal: [00:11:18] Okay. It definitely is going to be really interesting to see how that plays out. I want to ask something as well. This applies generally to any industry that there's there's going to be some degree of reluctance among some people to embrace technology. But I wanted to say specific to mortgage brokers. Is there anything that for brokers that might not yet be fully comfortable using technology? Is there any advice or any recommendations that you would make on how they can get involved? 

Eric: [00:11:45] The advice I would offer our broker partners here is really, again, it comes down to technology will only be successful. Based on the broker's willingness as well to adapt to the changes. So if we are if we want to be successful in driving broker adoption, we have to ensure that we look at building it out through the lens of a mortgage broker. If we can pair that, if we can again inform ourselves and provide technology. That addresses the pain points from a broker's perspective. We are much, much better ahead of the game in terms of driving that adoption and being able to really position the value and encouraging our brokers to take that step to adopt the new ways of doing business. 

Fergal: [00:12:44] And Eric, just the last thing that I wanted to ask you is on the technology front, specifically with community trust. Is there anything that you're excited to share or anything coming down the line that you want us to be aware of? 

Eric: [00:12:57] What I can share is that CTC is committed to ensuring every interaction with our broker partners is meaningful. And whether we use technology or whether it is enabled through the use of technology, we continue to find new ways to serve our broker partners better. I spoke to the use of data and shared insights to really drive the ability to get through our transactions faster, to simplify, make home ownership more achievable for Canadians. And we will look to do that, whether it's through Community Trust Cafe, whether it's partnering with other firms in the space that again, that all share that vision to enabling a much smoother, much more consistent and transparent end to end approach to helping our broker partners be more successful in securing home financing for their for their customers.

Fergal: [00:13:54] Ok Brilliant. It sounds like there's a lot coming down the line. Eric, we're going to leave it there. Thanks a lot for joining us today. We really appreciate you sharing your insights and some of the ways that Community Trust has been innovating on the tech front. We'll be keeping an eye on developments in the next couple of years. So all the best. We'll talk soon. And thanks so much for coming on again.

Eric: [00:14:14] Thank you very much, Fergal. Thanks for having me.

Fergal: [00:14:16] That's all we have time for today. Thanks for joining us here at CMP Talk. Another very special thanks to Community Trust for coming on. And we'll see you next time.

Narrator: [00:14:24] Thank you for listening to this episode of CMP Talk. For more from Eric and the team at Community Trust, visit them at communitytrust.com that's communitytrust.com for more.