Let’s set the scene:
It’s pitch-black outside except for the full moon and you’re standing at the entrance to a corn maze, both physically and mentally. You work at Frankenstein Lending and after more than two years of ramping up for high origination volume amid record-low interest rates, you and your team have been scaling back as production drops amid some of the highest mortgage rates since the early 2000s.
You ask yourself – “How do I get through this? Is Freddy in there? Are there any tools or technology that can help me reduce the cost and disruptions of these BOOm and bust cycles?”
Here are 3 key areas where lenders can focus their efforts to best prepare for the ebbs and flows of the market:
1. Invest in technology – It’s not as scary as you think:
Now is the perfect time to upgrade your infrastructure and prepare for when loan volumes return. Think of it as summoning the power of tech to conquer the market’s dark forces.
Spending on technology can be a hard sell during a revenue downturn, but there is an advantage that many lenders might overlook. In a down market, time is your friend. During boom markets, lenders operate with all hands on deck. When volumes slow, however, there is more time to take stock of technology and make measured decisions free from the constant pressure to perform. It’s like exploring a haunted mansion with the lights on—less scary and more revealing.
It’s also an easier transition for staff. When a loan officer is juggling non-stop loans from the minute their day starts until the minute it ends, they may not have the bandwidth to get acclimated to a new system. Lenders should take advantage of the extra time this market offers while they can.
2. Simplify your tech stack – the potion of efficiency:
Consolidate to all-in-one platforms that will reduce overhead. Once you see the value of a consolidated tech stack, it will feel like you’ve just concocted a magic elixir that streamlines your operations.
In a down market, lenders should also look to reduce the costs and complexities of vendor management, technology integration, releases, and maintenance. To that end, it is important that lenders think about “build versus buy.” What technology is important for you to focus on developing in-house? Is it something that defines how you operate, or defines the experience for your borrowers? For systems that don’t meet those criteria, are you better off letting a technology provider handle the costs to develop, deploy, and maintain those systems? It’s like choosing between brewing your own magic potion or seeking out the local wizard’s brew.
Lenders should not stretch themselves – or their budgets – too thin and should instead look to technology platforms that provide the solutions they need. All the better if the solutions integrate on a single platform. That way, lenders save themselves and their staff the headache of trying to integrate and troubleshoot piecemeal systems that might not always talk with one another.
3. Automate, improve, and satisfy – the spell of transformation:
Rethink your business processes and use your resources to better serve your customers and employees. It’s not as easy as waving a wand to create a seamless and enchanting borrower experience, but it’s a step in the right direction.
No matter the market, lenders save time and money when they get more mileage from their resources and streamline processes. Who wouldn’t want to spend more time focused on borrowers, instead of on tedious tasks like stare-and-compare data entry and document classification? Automated, task-based workflows enable employees at all levels of an organization to focus on the work that moves loans through the process, not the back-end chores that bog everything down and keep borrowers waiting. It’s like mastering the art of spellcasting.
With configurable workflows, lenders can tailor their processes to the needs of their organization, and the strengths of their employees. That efficiency helps create higher job satisfaction for loan officers and a better experience for borrowers.
The Empower LOS comes loaded with pre-configured workflows based on industry standards, but still features robust functionality that enables users to create client-specific workflows. Plus, Empower is scalable to support your business through lean times when loan volume is low and when borrowers return.
At the end of the day, there aren’t any short cuts through the corn maze, but there are paths of least resistance. Getting to the other side as efficiently as possible requires tools and strategies that help you stay the path and not get lost along the way.