PERSON OF THE WEEK: Steve Wiser is president of Specialized Business Software, a provider of custom software solutions for insurance, mortgage and financial services companies, including Docunym, a cloud-based document management and workflow system. MortgageOrb recently interviewed Wiser to learn more about how mortgage companies can use technology – and specifically automation – to gain operational efficiencies and boost revenue.
Q: What are the biggest missed opportunities related to technology in the mortgage industry?
Wiser: The numerous IT solutions available to the mortgage industry have muddied the water and made it more difficult for lenders to discern what solutions best meet their needs. Many lenders struggle to appreciate the difference between off-the-shelf and customized software, and this creates a marketplace where lenders have to work harder to realize a competitive advantage.
Off-the-shelf solutions don't offer any advantages because they are used by most of the competition. Customized software meets a variety of very specific objectives in terms of automation, compliance, scalability and workflow management and has the flexibility to be adapted as market conditions evolve over time. This flexibility generates the competitive advantages that define the industry leaders from the rest.Â
Q: In light of loan volumes decreasing and other things slowing down in the industry, how can mortgage companies use technology to boost profits?
Wiser: While the housing market is improving and the rate of second-home buying is on the rise, there is an entirely new generation of home buyers entering the market. This group is younger, tech-savvy and has a very different set of standards for how they want to pursue a home loan.
In the past, it was much more common for customers to walk into a brick and mortar branch to do their business. But now, there is increased focus on the use of mobile tools to execute loan processes. This new generation demands that they have access to their loan information anywhere, anytime and on any device. By implementing technology tools that take mortgage business mobile, lenders increase their profits by offering efficient, automated processes that cut out time-wasting and labor-intensive procedures.Â
Q: What are the benefits of automation for those in the mortgage industry?
Wiser: The benefits of automated technology for the mortgage industry are numerous.Â Simply put, automation allows lenders to do more with less. A systematic, automated approach to technology provides consistency and reliability in terms of security and compliance so that lenders are prepared for audits before they occur.
Automated technology standardizes processes and provides a more predictable output for a business by producing fewer errors and following regulations. This provides cost savings by reducing manual labor associated with fixing mistakes. This makes it possible to reallocate resources to focus on generating more business without lengthy internal processes holding staff back. From helping shoulder the burden of compliance to providing access to documents in real time from anywhere, automation offers the tools needed to increase efficiency and minimize costs.
Q: What are the biggest misconceptions about the cloud?
Wiser: Lenders continue to invest money in cloud technology in order to reap its many benefits. However, when it comes to hosting a system via the cloud, many lenders incorrectly assume that all of the cloud solutions deliver the same results. Because of this, many mortgage firms end up paying for cloud benefits they never receive because of limitations in their internal business software.
For example, hosting a legacy application through Amazon, Microsoft or Google does not allow the lender to take full advantage of all the capabilities those cloud infrastructures have to offer. To fully leverage the benefits, lenders must use applications built specifically for use with the cloud. Usually, technology that predates the cloud is unable to enjoy all the benefits. Cloud-friendly applications are elastic, reduce the risk of error and save lenders money by reducing operational costs, increasing efficiency and achieving greater reliability because they are newer and were developed specifically for integration with the cloud.
Q: How can the mortgage industry take more of a strategic approach to technology?
Wiser: Again, even with all of the technology available today, it is still an incredibly difficult and complex task to discern what automated solution is right for a business and its customer base and then go about implementing the appropriate software. Lenders must recognize that finding the best technology to meet their needs will not be accomplished through a quick Internet search of common software products.
A review of the lender's long-term strategic business plan is necessary to provide a comprehensive picture of its technology needs. Without a plan like this, it is easy to buy technology based on a short-term tactical need. A technology solution should be a long-term asset – something that differentiates its services from others in the market. Investing in software that speaks to a lender's strategic goal, rather than simply fixes a few problems here and there, will guarantee services that will stand the test of time and boost profitability.