Exec wants smoother experiences for mortgage processes
As chief information officer for Amrock, Rob Sayre (pictured) is focused heavily right now on something he calls “experience transformation.” It’s the idea of improving the online experience for employees and consumers in equal measure.
Sayre said his priority is much more than just digital transformation.
“My focus – looking at experience transformation – is [about] what [it means] for Amrock to play a part in the real estate process,” Sayre said. “If you take a step back and you look at that full experience [the question is] how do we make that an amazing experience at Amrock?”
Amrock, owned by Rocket Companies, provides title insurance, property valuations and settlement services for the mortgage industry. Approximately 2,500 people work for Amrock, and Sayre has had the company’s CIO job for about two years. He’s a technology veteran, having worked on implementing large networks, databases and other tech for local and national organizations. Part of his experience includes implementing technology products and services in automotive finance.
Broadly speaking, Sayre said his job is about creating a learning culture, nurturing a place where employees can innovate quickly.
“I came into this with no experience in this industry, and I’ve done 15 years in digital transformation and multiple verticals,” Sayre said. “The benefit I found from coming into something without being an expert is in that diverse perspective.”
A learning culture, he said, can put people with diverse skills to work on innovation, with maximum benefit.
“Creating a learning culture allows an intern on [their] first day to have an idea that we can gather around and get excited about. It allows our team members to experiment with technology and quickly fail and celebrate wins and failures,” he said. “We create this learning culture, which allows us to very quickly play with different technologies and question everything.”
To Sayre, this approach allows the company and its employees to stay competitive.
“That’s how you stay at the top of your game, allowing an environment… to question things even if they are working very well,” Sayre said. “Doing paper closings works. Paying with paper checks works. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be questioning everything about it and constantly looking at finding better ways to do everything we do… That’s the fun part of technology.”
Paper bully, data champion
Coming from automotive finance, Sayre said he brought with him a desire to eliminate paper from financial processes in a bid to boost efficiencies.
“I really consider myself a paper bully – anything I can do to get rid of paper I see as a huge win,” Sayre said.
Getting rid of paper is more environmentally friendly, he noted, but it also saves money and time.
“It’s just faster,” he said. “You have efficiency. You can create better experiences. It’s truly less expensive. You can go on and on by saying ‘what if we didn’t have paper?’ That’s basically what I’ve been doing for the last 15 years in government, in automotive and now in real estate.”
The bigger gain, he said, is being able to use data and automation to boost and simplify the exchange of information, rather than having to digitize paper as part of the process.
“Why have that extra step? The more we can focus on removing paper and improving the experience, I can do more exciting things and create experiences that I just can’t do when there’s paper involved,” Sayre said.
Hitting a million e-closings in 2021 was a huge milestone for Sayre, he said, noting the company saved approximately 35 million pieces of paper at that historic point.
“That’s a win. That is disruptive. That’s transformational,” Sayre said. “There are a lot of organizations that focus on the operational side of things. Instead, we say ‘transformational, not operational,’ which means I am going to question everything about this process… that’s when you really start finding ways to disrupt and change industries.”
Robotic process automation is also something Sayre said he’s made progress with at Amrock.
“We are saving thousands and thousands of hours of team member time every month in those processes and creating bots that can basically perform them,” Sayre said. “It allows us to frame our team members so that humans are working on what humans work on best… those exceptional processes” such as problem-solving regarding loan requests where human involvement is crucial.
Of course, transformation doesn’t happen overnight, and sometimes many smaller steps can lead to that bigger, transformational change. Sayre said that this is the logical way to go for technology in the mortgage industry, especially with regulation in play.
“It would be great if everything happened quickly and instantly, and sometimes it can but… a lot of things can take years,” Sayre said. “We could say we’re going to do e-closings everywhere, but it doesn’t mean it’s allowed in states, and we still have regulations and compliance and things we need to follow.”
Transformation is still possible, however, with technology and pushing regulators to consider new ways of doing things, even if it takes time.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t keep pushing for it,” Sayre said.