Is the employee experience the new frontier?

by Kimberly Greene10 Jun 2019

Nate Johnson is the new leader of U.S. mortgage business for SLK Global Solutions, a business process transformation enterprise serving four of the top 25 banks,

Johnson’s background as a loan originator gives him a unique perspective on the potential for industry advancements. A 20-year veteran of the financial services industry, Johnson will oversee SLK's next wave of new technology and service products for the mortgage industry.

For the past several years, for example, companies have focused heavily on customer experience, and rightly so. But, Johnson said, many of these companies have a lot of room for improvement within.

“I think that there’s a need is for enterprises, mortgage lenders and servicers, to look internally and say, ‘look, we’ve advanced our customer experience and we’re doing very, very well in that space, but how can we increase our employee experience?’”

Advancing the employee experience could mean looking to improve anything from types of software to IT to KPI dashboards, Johnson said, whatever SLK or companies like it can augment on the back end to standardize processes and make employees more efficient. Looking in particular at the growth of non-bank and non-QM lenders, that growth results in a lot of work for their employees, and not all companies are focusing on their side of the process.

An important step is for organizations to look at the best practices in the industry and replicate them, especially when it comes to loan setup. A number of channels exist today for taking loan applications, but if those applications come in without quality data and quality applications, bottlenecks in the process will develop.

“What we’ve found (and we’ve tested this through our current clients and some potential clients) is that when you’re able to make the process easier on the front end, everybody’s happier on the back end,” Johnson said. “Because the app to close time has gone down, the amount of times that the underwriter has to see a file before signing off on it goes down, your efficiency and your pullthrough ratio goes up. . . You’re going to have a lot happier customers and then you’re going to have employees that are working to get that loan closed faster as well. The loan officer, in turn, they’re going to be able to close more deals because they’re not having to go back on the same loan and get things.”

Communication with the borrower is always key, and Johnson says that some low- mid-tier lenders are still underutilizing platforms and apps that allow borrowers to connect with them more easily.

“Having a platform that’s automated and integrated into your LOS, where you can communicate with your borrower on a day-to-day or even an hour-to-hour basis, is imperative because once you start losing that communication, that’s when people start going somewhere else,” Johnson said.

In his new role heading mortgage sales, Johnson will also be responsible for new product design and new client onboarding.

"It was imperative that we find a seasoned principal with a track record of closing large transformational deals and having well established relationships with leaders throughout the mortgage industry," said Alok Datta, president of SLK Global America. "With his varied background in financial services, Nate was the perfect choice to oversee the growth of our portfolio of solutions to meet the needs of today's market."

Agility and the ability to move quickly is an attractive prospect, and Johnson said that helping other enterprises extend their reach into what they can do within the mortgage industry is important to SLK. In the highly regulated environment that’s come 11 years after the housing crash, that’s true now more than ever.

“Where we are and where we’re going forward is extremely important to myself and SLK and our position with the other mortgage companies, being able to help them move forward, regardless of what new regulations, or if the regulations go down, or if something else changes, we’ll be able to help companies lead through that particular climate.”