Is Technology Enabling Your Business or Dictating It?

July 30, 2022

The last few years have been marked by fast-changing conditions in the mortgage market. Record-low interest rates that drove a flood of refis, ever-tightening housing stock, and now interest rates as high as they’ve been since 2008.

With conditions changing this fast, lenders need to be nimble, able to launch new products or tweak existing offerings to meet customer needs or tap into new opportunities. But too often, today’s lenders find their business options are dictated by their technology. Rather than leaping to seize a new opportunity, they have to wait months (or more!) for their IT team to make the back-end changes necessary to do something new.

In a worst-case scenario, the opportunity has vanished by the time the tech’s ready to go. So how do you break the cycle? How do you make sure the technology you use is actually helping you move fast so you can seize a market opportunity when it arises (as its vendors no doubt promised it would)?

Start by defining Nirvana for your business and then audit your tech to see what needs to change to get you there. Read on for more detail about what that looks like.

What Does a Tech-Enabled Mortgage Business Look Like?

Before making any changes to your business, it’s important to define where you want to be – that is, what exactly it looks like to have a tech-enabled business rather than one that’s beholden to its technology.

That vision will be slightly different for every company, but here’s one scenario: you have product and pricing committees that observe market conditions and decide when it’s time for your company to pivot to offering a new product, say, or targeting a new customer group.

These committees pass those needs along to your IT department, which builds the back- and front-end infrastructure necessary to launch. 

All this happens in, say, 60 days.

For that to be your reality – and really, to enable any new functionality or big change in a matter of weeks rather than months – your technology has to be easy to update. Let’s take a moment to understand why that’s rarely the case for today’s mortgage companies.

Too Many Disconnected Point Solutions

For more than a decade now, tech companies have been trying to streamline the world of mortgage lending. But too often, these tech solutions address just one part of the origination or servicing process. They make that particular part faster or smarter, but they also require digital bridges to the rest of the tech stack – and those bridges have to be updated every time any piece of the system changes.

An organization with a couple dozen integrations in place – say, to handle call center routing, eligibility / underwriting analysis, document extraction / management, pricing / fees, compliance, etc. – may notice several problems:

  • Certain systems don’t work well together. To do their jobs, LOs and others develop “workarounds” that add time and complexity to your operations.
  • It takes weeks to update everything for something as simple as a change to the LOS. This can be incredibly frustrating when, for example, vendors release updated features or workflows just days before they’re required by regulations.
  • It can often take many months or longer to launch a new product or add key functionality to your system.

This state of affairs can have mortgage leaders pulling their hair out. Wasn’t the whole point of technology to make the business faster and better able to pivot when an opportunity arose? Yes. And if your tech stack has evolved in the way I just described, now is the perfect time to do an audit of what you have and find opportunities to streamline.

Evolving toward a Tech-Enabled Business

First, the good news: digital transformation is an ongoing process. Going from no tech to where you are today was the first phase. Now it’s time to eliminate waste and streamline operations – something you couldn’t have done without the experience of using all the tech you’re currently using.

So what does that process look like? It requires taking a holistic look at your current tech solutions with the goal of identifying…

  • Redundant capabilities (i.e., do multiple systems you use offer overlapping features?).
  • Sub-par performance (i.e., is there a better solution on the market?).
  • Opportunities for streamlining connections (i.e., could an abstracted integration layer make it easier to make changes?).
  • Opportunities to Simplify and future-proof code and configurations that anticipate and support change.

Once you’ve done this, you can make a plan for consolidating functionalities to the tech platforms best suited to your work and connecting them in a way that allows for maximum flexibility.

From there, it’s a matter of carrying out the plan so that your organization gets to a place where the technology you use propels you forward rather than holding you back.

Tech-Enabled Businesses Must Continue to Evolve

It’s worth reiterating that no single update will not be the be-all, end-all of an organization’s digital transformation. New technology will continue to emerge and change what’s possible – and that’s good.

Taking steps today to streamline your tech stack will position your organization to respond to changing market conditions to deliver the best products for today’s rates, market, and customer expectations. And today’s updates will position you to take advantage of future tech innovations.

If you’re not sure where to start the process of auditing your existing tech stack, I’d love to have a conversation. I’d be happy to get to know where you are today and where you’d like to be – and help explore how a tech update might get you there.

Author: Steve Wolfe
About: Steven Wolfe is the EVP, Managing Director of CoreIP Solutions, now a part of NTERSOL. Steve is a visionary and results driven business and technology executive with over 25 years experience building and optimizing high quality organizations, technology services and solutions — driving cost-efficient business performance for his customers. Steve combines a deep business and technology background with extensive executive management experience in banking to successfully address a broad range of technology and business challenges within organizations of all sizes.