How tech solutions are changing the face of the industry

by Ryan Smith27 Nov 2017
The speed with which technology advances means that industries across the spectrum have to be comfortable with rapid change. Often, the advent of a new technology requires industries to completely change the way they do business. It’s been a long time, for instance, since the mortgage space could function efficiently without cutting-edge tech products.

MPA recently chatted with Jonathan Corr, president and CEO of Ellie Mae, about how technological change has affected the industry – and where that change is headed.

MPA: It's been a long time since mortgage originators could put a loan together with a calculator and scratch paper. How vital, in your opinion, has technology become to the mortgage industry?
Jonathan Corr:
There is no question that technology is playing a larger role in the mortgage lending experience, as home-loan borrowers of all ages are seeking a faster, more streamlined process. We found that today’s homebuyers most value speed, security and simplicity when applying for a home loan -- all of which are enabled by technology. From the lender perspective, the focus is now on shortening time to close, maximizing efficiency while ensuring compliance and utilizing data in every step of the origination process to meet borrowers’ expectations. Technology enables the mortgage industry to continue to evolve and meet the demands of today’s borrower.

MPA: Which part of the mortgage business do you think has benefited most from technology?
Engagement between the mortgage lender and borrower due to the increased use of technology has been very beneficial to both sides of the industry. Today’s suite of tools, as well as the digital availability of past homeowner data, allows mortgage lenders to customize the mortgage loan process from the beginning. Technology not only integrates the loan application into a seamless, simple, quick and engaging process that borrowers of all generations appreciate, but also allows for more personal interaction and communication between lender and borrower.

MPA: How fast would you say mortgage industry tech is evolving – and are there any new and exciting frontiers in the space?
JC: It’s exciting to see how far the mortgage industry has come, from a paper-based process requ
iring tedious manual data entry to a largely automated, digital experience. However, with technology evolving, it’s important that the mortgage industry retain a human touch – a combination of modern tech and classic human interaction that our first annual Borrower Insights Survey showed was most important to current borrowers. We’re committed to automating everything that is automatable in the loan process, to enable lenders to focus more on the human element of the process.

MPA: Do you feel that the industry has embraced technology, or does it lag behind other industries when it comes to adoption?
While the mortgage industry has made great strides in innovation in recent years, there is still opportunity to increase technological adoption. Many lenders consider a website with a link to an application form a “digital mortgage offering.” But with tools such as Ellie Mae’s Encompass Lending Platform, lenders are more easily able to reach their targets, cut down origination time and so much more, making it easy to embrace the digital future.

MPA: What would you say to an originator who doesn't feel that it's a worthwhile investment to keep up with the evolution of mortgage tech?
t’s hard to ignore the evolution of mortgage technology when it is being demanded by the borrower public. According to our first annual Ellie Mae Borrower Insights Survey, many homebuyers want to begin their mortgage applications online and then finish the process in-person with a loan officer. There is value in human interaction throughout the mortgage process, but (to) borrowers the option manage to their loan application via an app or online at their convenience, anytime of day or night, is attractive – especially to millennial homebuyers. By not embracing mortgage technology, lenders may lose out on capturing a key demographic.

Additionally, we know that the one constant in the mortgage industry is change. A few years ago we were contending with the massive changes brought on by TRID or Know Before You Owe. Today, we’re helping our lenders prepare for the UCD and HMDA changes, and we are already working toward the new 1003 that will be mandatory in 2020. Lenders have two options. They can spend time and energy becoming compliance experts to ensure that their systems and processes are aligned with regulatory changes, or they can invest in technology to make the changes seamlessly. We benefit by having 20 years of industry knowledge and a dedicated team of compliance experts to ensure our solutions are compliant with whatever change comes next.

MPA: Is there anything new and exciting going on at Ellie Mae you'd like to share? Any new products or programs you're excited about?
2017 has been quite the year for Ellie Mae. We launched our Ellie Mae Encompass Lending Platform and our suite of Encompass Connect solutions. The platform gives customers, partners and independent software vendors a secure, scalable platform plus a suite of APIs to enable them to extend Encompass with new functionality, easily integrate with external systems and data and build custom applications in the cloud. The Encompass Connect solutions (Encompass TPO Connect, Encompass Loan Officer Connect, Encompass Consumer Connect and Encompass Developer Connect) provide a unique user interface and functionality to improve the efficiency and collaboration of all parties involved in the mortgage loan process, from interest, to application to closing and post-closing.

Most recently, we announced the acquisition of Velocify, the leading sales acceleration platform, to further our vision of offering a fully digital mortgage. Going forward, we will integrate Velocify’s lead management, engagement and distribution capabilities with our own CRM solution and Consumer Connect. With this integration we will meet the needs of today’s lenders by delivering a completed digital lead capture and conversion solution for creating interest, turning that interest into an application and then funding that loan quickly and at a low cost.

MPA: Is there any issue within the mortgage or mortgage tech space that you feel doesn't get enough attention?
From my perspective, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the digital mortgage as just the online application that has been available for well over a decade. Others define a digital mortgage as an eClosing. From my perspective, these are just singular moments in a complex lending process that for some, can take up to 60 days to complete. At Ellie Mae, we are focused on defining what a true digital mortgage is – encompassing the entire loan lifecycle, from targeted marketing automation and lead generation to automated investor delivery – and then delivering on the promise of a fully digital mortgage.

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