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Is self-servicing the future of mortgage servicing?

Thoughts on the future from MBA Servicing 2015

Whether in the meeting rooms, in the hallways, around the lunch table or down on the expo floor of the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Conference Center, one of the main discussion topics at this year’s MBA Servicing conference has been the future of the mortgage servicing business.

Everyone is trying to predict what’s next, but one trend that attendees are sure will continue is the migration of the mortgage process onto the web.

“The whole mortgage transaction is going to go online,” said John Vella, chief revenue officer at Altisource Portfolio Solutions (ASPS), during a panel called Communicating with Borrowers through Self-Servicing.  “Before long, the whole thing, from soup to nuts, will be online.”

And according to Vella’s fellow panelists, mortgage servicers need to be prepared to offer a full service online experience to borrowers yesterday, not today and certainly not tomorrow.

“The timing is right for servicers to move towards self-servicing,” said Richard Volentine, associate general counselat EverBank. “We need to think of it as a mostly automated process. Your company’s digital strategy has to be focused on what people want now as well as what they’ll want in the future.”

And for servicers, that means being prepared with “robust” online solutions in various forms, whether it’s via web, mobile, or whatever’s next.

Volentine even suggested that mortgage servicers may need to be ready for integration with Apple Watch, which is expected to be released to the public in April.

Vella said that one of the main issues servicers need to be focusing on going forward is how to provide borrowers with “24/7” access to their account data.

“How well a servicer can adapt to technology is critical moving forward,” said Nanci Weissgold, a partner with the law firm of Alston & Bird.

Volentine said that servicers today are listening to borrowers and taking “great steps” toward creating self-servicing platforms for borrowers. “We’re also seeing a much broader digital strategy being employed throughout the industry, especially banks,” Volentine added.

But Volentine cautioned that the industry is on the “precipice,” due to the amount of trust that was lost by borrowers due to the financial crisis.

“They’ve lost their trust in financial institutions,” Volentine said. “It’s going to take a lot of work, listening and effort to make sure that we can give customers what they want.”

The main concerns for servicers as the mortgage process transitions online, other than the robustness of their platform, are security and privacy, according to Debbie Hoffman, the chief legal officer at Digital Risk.

Hoffman, who was selected as a HousingWire Woman of Influence in 2014, said that servicers need to be worried about the confidentiality of borrower’s information. “How many security measures are enough?,” she asked, mentioning passwords, pin numbers and even fingerprints as security options for servicers moving forward.

“Choosing your partners carefully is key,” Hoffman said. “Picking your technology platform is probably going to be one of the most difficult choices for servicers. And you also have to do some kind of marketing to make sure that borrowers know that self-servicing platforms are available.”

In addition to security, the panelist said that servicers need to be ready to adapt to the inevitable change that comes with technological advancements.

“Borrowers today want a lot,” Volentine said. “You need to be focused on user-friendly website design. But it’s not a one-size-fits-all strategy. You better make sure you’re running on all cylinders.”

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