Tim Von Kaenel: Listen to LOs when Selecting Mortgage Origination Platform


PERSON OF THE WEEK: Today’s digital loan origination systems and point-of-sale solutions have revolutionized how consumers apply for mortgages.

These systems sport automated underwriting and often employ artificial intelligence to create an online mortgage experience that is effortless for the consumer. Many are now endowed with the ability to automatically pull bank statements and use alternative sources of credit data for underwriting, thus opening possibilities for new loan products. 

These systems can be integrated with lead generation solutions to help mortgage lenders capture more business. The best of them also help automate back-office operations and compliance.

Perhaps most importantly, today’s origination systems help loan officers (LOs) close more loans and make more effective use of their time. In fact, putting the right technology into the hands of capable LOs is where lenders are often seeing the best results.

But this technology – and getting it to work right – can be expensive, and most mortgage lenders are looking for ways to reduce, not increase, their technology expenditures. After all, they also need to deliver good old-fashioned, in-person assistance and expertise, which also isn’t cheap.

In a recent interview with MortgageOrb, Tim Von Kaenel, chief product officer at Cloudvirga, says when mortgage lenders are considering new origination technology, they should heavily consider the input of their LOs, who know from experience which systems deliver the best results.

Q: What are the primary barriers that discourage mortgage originators from the adoption of new technology?

Von Kaenel: Mortgage origination is a complex process, and the technological void in this industry has forced originators to develop their own systems and ways of doing things. We find this is a big barrier to getting originators excited about new technology: they’ve been doing things their own way for years – and finding a lot of success by doing so- so they’re not willing to spend valuable time and energy to start doing things an entirely different way.

Every second they spend conquering the process of switching, real or perceived, is time they’re not closing loans using their time-tried, predictable methodology.

Q: What are some specific strategies to increase originator buy-in of new technology?

Von Kaenel: Start with top performers. LOs are smart – they want to maximize their sales efforts by following proven, effective processes. If they see new technology is working for top performers (who are usually natural leaders within their organizations), they’re more likely to try it for themselves.

Share successes. Don’t let successes by early adopters go unnoticed by the rest of the team. By highlighting wins at the beginning of the adoption process, you’ll entrench new technology’s reputation as a valuable tool that helps LOs make more money.

Incentivize while staying compliant. Even a simple incentive, like an entry in a raffle for every loan closed in a new system, will go a long way toward helping holdouts realize the benefits of a new system.

Q: How can lenders shrink the gap between final decision makers for new technology and the loan originators that will actually use it?

Von Kaenel: Shrink this gap by inviting LOs into the decision making process. Start by listening to their pain points and day-to-day frustrations. Work together to identify the biggest negative impacts on their job, establish what an “ideal scenario” will look like, then evaluate the technology options for alleviating the negatives and making the positives a reality.

Technology should help make LOs’ jobs more efficient, not weigh them down with expensive, unnecessary restrictions. To understand how to truly help, one must first establish what problems need to be solved – and there’s no better way to do that than through meaningful communication with end-user LOs.

Q: What should lenders consider throughout the mortgage tech platform purchase process?

Von Kaenel: Lenders should understand how technology should facilitate the relationship between LO and customer. While technology (or lack thereof) can hinder LO performance and be a source of internal frustration for an organization, it can also contribute to a difficult experience on the consumer side.

Some consumers are forced to endure extended waiting periods, answer the same questions repeatedly, and even dust off their fax machines to send relevant documents in an archaic fashion. Unhappy customers usually translate to unhappy LOs, and neither make for great sales numbers.

Q: How can lenders leverage technology to attract, recruit and retain millennial LOs?

Von Kaenel: Millennials are the largest generational group in the workplace, and 45% of them will quit a job that requires them to use sub-standard technology.

LOs are, by nature, entrepreneurial overachievers, and the best technology options will help them achieve the high personal goals they set for themselves.

Adversely, if they feel they’re being hindered by a lack of technological investment, they likely won’t stick around for long.

LOs, especially Millennials, want to provide a superior customer experience because it means they’re more successful in their jobs, and the right technology helps them do that.

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