Originally printed by MBA Insights: https://www.mba.org/publications/insights/articles/current-issue/joe-wilson-of-simplenexus-on-referral-relationships
By MBA Insights Staff
July 10, 2018
Joe Wilson is Chief Marketing Officer with SimpleNexus, Lehi, Utah, a digital mortgage services provider serving 15 of the top 25 retail mortgage lenders in the US. It serves more than 180 enterprise mortgage companies and more than 17,000 loan officers nationwide.
MBA INSIGHTS: How can–and why should–lenders tap realtor relationships for referrals during a hot purchase market?
JOE WILSON, SIMPLENEXUS: Why? Refinance volumes are dropping and purchase volume is expected to continue to rise in 2018 and 2019, making referrals from realtor partners all the more important in a hot purchase market. Additionally, a recent survey found ‘Referral Partnership Building’ as the primary concern of loan officers in 2018. Realtors start building relationships with borrowers often months before the loan officer ever comes into the picture.
How: Components of a successful partner building strategy include (1) identifying realtors who are willing and able referral partners, (2) delivering excellent customer service through efficient communication, (3) offering transparency throughout the loan process, and (4) giving the realtor tools and technology to make their life easier and the partnership productive. Offer a value proposition that actually matters to real estate agents.
INSIGHTS: How should lenders vet technology partners to better support their digital mortgage strategy?
WILSON: You should ask yourself the following questions:
—What LOS, applications & software can the digital mortgage platform integrate with? Look for a platform that integrates as much of your existing technology and third-party provider applications as possible. If it can’t integrate with your LOS, pricing and credit systems and critical third-party applications, then move on.
—Can the user access all of these systems with a single sign-on? The idea is to streamline access to everything your users need to do their jobs. They log in once and can access any system or application whether they’re at a desktop, laptop or using a mobile device.
—Do all data flow properly within my existing systems? The digital mortgage platform should enable access to the LOS, the pricing engine and other systems as opposed to adding yet another layer of software. For example, if a loan officer pulls credit or a preapproval letter in the field, this data should flow directly through the predetermined workflow to the LOS, just like it would if they were in the office. The data should stay within the system of record, not flow through the application.
—Is there both a web-based and mobile element to the digital mortgage platform? Mobility is critical for giving loan officers access to the information they need to quickly respond to borrower and Realtor requests from anywhere, without circling back to the office.
Offering both an integrated web and native app option also enables companies to provide a channel-less borrower experience. Buyers can start an application on their phone and seamlessly complete the application on the website. Consumers not only get their choice of channels for interaction, but they can also use any combination of those channels that work for them, without disrupting the transaction.
—Can the digital mortgage platform be used with referral partners and borrowers? Many platforms and applications are borrower-centric. Although the customer experience is paramount, the opportunity to create stickiness with Realtors, builders, and other referral partners will add to the value of the platform.
Look for a digital mortgage platform that automatically keeps realtors and borrowers informed when loans hit certain milestones. These push notifications not only ease anxiety and cement referral partner relationships, but save loan officers time sending emails and returning calls on loan status. At the same time, shared transparency around what’s going on with a loan keeps everyone on the same page and provides a better experience for the borrower, realtor and loan officer alike.
—Does the digital mortgage platform give loan officers borrower insight? While it is essential to give borrowers and realtors transparency into loan status, to maximize value, the platform should also provide a way for loan officers to monitor borrowers’ engagement levels. Look for a digital mortgage platform that alerts your loan officers when a borrower logs on, calculates a payment, or otherwise interacts with the native app.
This actionable insight enables the loan officer to better understand, build a relationship with, and provide better service to each borrower.
—How do you track client interactions that support and gather feedback? Sometimes, the real test of a company is when something goes wrong, even if the cause is user error. Supporting your users is crucial, as first-contact resolution and high satisfaction ratings are great indicators of the kind of experience you and your users will have with a particular provider. If the vendor can’t produce a Net Promoter Score, or at least provide some documentation that they measure support service levels and overall satisfaction, think twice before signing on. If they’re not measuring, they’re not interested.
—Is it easy to use? If you add a platform or introduce an application that’s just “one more thing to learn,” you won’t get the return on your investment. Loan officer adoption is everything, which means the platform has to be intuitive and easy to use, without a lot of training.
Look at the demo, and then get a few loan originators involved. If they can see the platform in action, and quickly figure out how it works, on their own, you have found a contender. Regardless of how great the digital mortgage platform may be, it has to be used to deliver real value. Ensuring that what the provider calls intuitive really is intuitive makes all of the difference when selecting the right provider.
Finally, talk to other lenders that use the product, particularly those that use the same LOS and third-party providers. Ask about their experience with the implementation, their loan officers’ reaction and their return on investment, as well as the level of service they’ve received post-sale. Most importantly, don’t stop with one phone call. Speak to as many different companies as possible to get the user perspective of the platform.
INSIGHTS: How do lenders ensure that their vendors are not the weak point in compliance?
WILSON: Any vendor considered should be Consumer Financial Protection Bureau-compliant, and [American Institute of Certified Public Accountants]-secure, with regular SOC 2 audits. Also, ask about the frequency and types of penetration and vulnerability testing the company does to ensure its network stays secure. Then, ask to see the results of those audits. The transparency, or lack thereof, will speak volumes.
How long and how much of my IT department’s involvement does it take to implement? An integrated platform that causes downtime or diverts the IT department’s attention from other projects should be a red flag. Look for a company that has a clear implementation strategy that doesn’t require a lot of internal IT involvement or any disruption.
SimpleNexus is AICPA Secure (SOC 2) and CFPB compliant, and we meet all federal, state and local requirements for securing borrower data. Data is encrypted at rest and in transit; and we conduct periodic, CEH penetration tests to check for vulnerabilities.
INSIGHTS: What are the brand benefits for lenders to choosing a white-label technology platform?
WILSON: Do you want to promote the vendor company or your own? With a white-label solution, your name and brand is kept front and center. This enables you to ensure every interaction keeps your name at the forefront, building your brand as you build your client base.
Benefits of a white-label solution:
–boosts your brand visibility
–strengthens client loyalty
–provides your brand with a tested and refined product solution
–saves you time and money
SimpleNexus allows you to brand the platform for each individual loan officer, using their name, contact information, and company logo. You can also create co-branded versions of the app when working with realtor partners.
INSIGHTS: How can lenders use new technology tools to help recruit top producing loan originator talent? And what should they be doing to retain that talent, so they don’t go elsewhere in this competitive market?
WILSON: First, find a technology solution that empowers your loan officers. The tool should help originators close loans faster, so they can sell more and make more money, without putting in more hours.
After finding the right technology you need to demo the tools for your prospective employees, show them how it will make their lives easier. SimpleNexus clients have found success in recruiting meetings by showing their prospective employees how the platform works, how the app can be custom branded to each individual LO and co-branded for realtor partners.
Technology demos during recruitment can go a long way in showing how the company is invested in helping loan originators work more efficiently, earn more, and have a better quality of life. With SimpleNexus, LOs don’t need to spend their nights and weekends catching up at the office; they can close more and spend their off time with family and friends.
INSIGHTS: What should lenders be doing to deliver a better borrower experience across the entire loan life cycle?
WILSON: To deliver a better borrower experience lenders need to focus on adding convenience and reduce borrower stress.
—Convenient Tools. Your digital mortgage platform should include useful tools for the borrower, allowing them to calculate monthly payments, check amortization schedules and view different down payment scenarios.
—Easy to Apply. Make the borrower experience consistent, across all channels, and points of contact. With SimpleNexus, information flows seamlessly between web, phone and tablet. So, if your borrower starts a mortgage application on the website, she can pick up where she left off on any mobile device.
—Easy Doc Upload. Instead of sending their W2s, bank statements, or tax returns to your office, borrowers can securely send documents using their phone.
—Easy Contact. If they have a question or need to call, they can easily access your contact info in the app. If only the rest of life could be this easy.
—Milestone Updates. With SimpleNexus, your borrowers never have to wonder. They’ll receive milestone alerts, reminders when something is due, and they can check their loan status in real-time. Ultimately, borrowers worry less and look forward to their home purchase more.
(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA Insights welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at email@example.com; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)