Equifax may be best known as one of the three credit bureaus that consumers rely on to access and monitor credit scores, but the company offers much more to the business community, and mortgage lenders specifically. Leveraging its huge database of employer-direct employment and income information, Equifax has developed a comprehensive solution within its mortgage-lending vertical that delivers end-to-end verification services to help lenders produce quality loans while assisting them in reducing repurchase risk.
The intense scrutiny of regulators — especially under Qualified Mortgage (QM) and Ability-to-Repay (ATR) regulations — requires a more reliable, auditable trail for verifying borrower data.
Equifax provides that data from a store of information compiled into The Work Number, which is based on week-by-week salary information, length of employment, job titles and more.
“The Work Number is the gold standard and should be used in every mortgage underwriting process,” said Michael Kuentz, senior vice president of verification services at Equifax.
“If you can’t understand someone’s employment and income instantly, you are missing out on the opportunity to make a good decision on that loan.”
In addition to The Work Number data, Equifax fulfills 4506-T tax transcript requests via its direct connection to the IRS, giving lenders a picture of both historical and current employment and income on borrowers.
Its database contains employment records from over 5,000 employers nationwide, and Equifax supplements the automated data it has with a manual verification process that rounds out its verification suite.
“We get all this information directly from employers and the IRS and we take an unbiased approach to verifying income and employment,” Kuentz said.
“Our verification business has always been focused on being a trusted third party.”
For those borrowers not already covered in its database, Equifax will manually verify employment by making phone calls directly to employers on behalf of lenders, then updating that information into its experience database.
The end result is an end-to-end solution that provides lenders with the best data possible — data direct from employers and the IRS.
“The fact that we have verified income and employment data versus a paystub means the performance of those loans is likely to be higher. There’s no reason for lenders to go anywhere else,” Kuentz said.
Equifax operates by the motto that great companies are not defined by the products they sell, but by the problems they solve for the customer, and there may not be a bigger problem facing companies right now than compliance with QM and ATR regulations.
“From a compliance standpoint, the question that’s probably going to be asked in the secondary market or by the GSEs is: If there was a record that existed, why didn’t a lender use it? The secondary market wants more comfort around the information that is coming in,” Kuentz said.
“Lenders have an opportunity to help de-risk their loans by using our database and knowing they have a trail they can point to.
“The benefit of a 100% verification solution in today’s purchase market is that it helps keep lenders out of a repurchase situation and improves the time to close. The protection that lenders have because of our data is second to none,” Kuentz said.
Michael Kuentz, SVP of Verification Services
Michael Kuentz is senior vice president of verification services for Equifax Workforce Solutions, which provides unique and differentiated data resources, sophisticated
analytics and unique technologies to the financial services, government, collections and pre-employment screening industries.
Prior to joining Equifax, Kuentz held a senior management and partner position at Ft. Worth, Texas-based Rapid Reporting Verification Company, which was acquired by Equifax in 2009. There, he was responsible for creating new business relationships and strategic opportunities in the mortgage arena, as well as other consumer areas.
Prior to Rapid Reporting, Kuentz managed an REO sales, foreclosure and loan modification department for Plano, Texas-based Beal Bank.
He originally started in the mortgage industry at Ford Consumer Finance, currently CitiFinancial.
Kuentz is a member of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America (MBA), the MBA Fraud and Ethics Subcommittee, Texas MBA, and the Colorado Mortgage Lenders Association.
Kuentz is also part of the St. Louis 2014 Mentor/Mentee program. Kuentz received his bachelor of science in business administration from the University of Phoenix.