Bots Helping Lock Desk Teams Complete Their Reviews Faster

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After several years of focus on modernizing the borrower experience, the mortgage industry is finally turning its attention to improving the lender experience.

We’re starting to see more investment in tools designed to help companies improve internal processes – and not just “big ticket” items like LOS, POS, PPE and CMS systems that come with high price tags and arduous implementations.

Smart lenders are finding new ways to tap into the data of their existing systems to support faster and better-informed decision-making that drives revenue growth and protects the bottom line.

One area that’s becoming a focal point for process improvement is the secondary market lock desk. Secondary marketing teams need the ability to review loan pricing prior to locking and disclosure – without slowing down loan originators, for whom speed is imperative. Yet even for a skilled specialist, it often takes 15 to 20 minutes to review a single lock request. And that’s assuming the specialist could work on it immediately; in reality, they’d likely have an entire queue of tasks to address before responding to a given lock request.

Giving the lock desk real-time access to data that provides context about loan profiles and their economic consequences could allow originators to respond more quickly to fast-moving competitor and field activity – without inadvertently making deals that could cost the company money. The challenge is that improving the lock desk decision-making process requires both expertise in database management and an extensive understanding of LO compensation, which is the biggest “X” factor when it comes to analyzing loan profitability.

Further complicating the matter is the fact that loan originator compensation is protected information. So how does one make this data accessible for business decisions while keeping it protected? A number of innovative mortgage companies have turned to robotic programs, or bots, to automate routine lock requests.

Deploying bots may sound futuristic, but in reality, “bot” is just a slang term for any software application that runs scripts to automate processes. A script, in turn, is simply a sequence of coded instructions. Bots perform all sorts of chores for the typical loan originator; examples include alerting the LO when a rate lock is about to expire and progressing a loan to the next milestone after a specific task has been accomplished or date reached.

When a request comes to the lock desk, a bot can be deployed to automatically gather relevant data points (including commissions and other LO compensation factors), calculate the loan’s profitability, check the result against the lender’s economic goals, and approve or escalate the request. The whole process takes seconds. Certain loan types that have set prices, like bond loans or broker loans, can be approved automatically. When a rate lock request is more complex, or if there are grey areas that the bot can’t evaluate, the bot can escalate the request for human review.

The ability of bots to calculate loan economic viability with extreme speed makes it possible to review lock requests in real time, as they are received, creating significant time savings for both the secondary market desk and loan originators. It also greatly reduces the risk of locking an unprofitable loan pricing scenario. We’ve seen implementations where bots handle a majority of all lock reviews, allowing human team members to focus on more meaningful tasks and decisions – which is what automation is all about.   

Lori Brewer is founder and CEO of LBA Ware, provider of CompenSafe, an incentive compensation and sales performance management platform.

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