Tech talk at MBA: Do we build technology or do we partner?

How to disrupt the mortgage finance industry

No one in the mortgage industry needs to be convinced about the power, prominence and appeal of technology anymore. Despite the industry’s initial reluctance to integrate more technology into its processes, innovation and automation are now watchwords in the industry.

Look no further than the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference and Expo in Chicago for proof.

Aspiring mortgage start-ups and major veteran lenders alike have filled the Hyatt Regency to take part in the growing mortgage technology wave that’s taking over the industry.

Helping kick off the conference on Monday, executives at JPMorgan Chase, Ellie Mae, USAA and Quicken Loans sat on a panel to discuss their perspectives on fintech.

All four companies are already movers and shakers in the mortgage industry, especially given that Quicken Loans is often credited with being the main driver behind the big push into mortgage innovation for the industry.

During the session, Seth Wheeler, managing director, strategy, consumer and community banking with JPMorgan Chase, presented a question that’s turning into a common theme at the conference: “Do we build or do we partner?”

Coming from a big bank like JPMorgan Chase, which has a significant footprint in the mortgage space, Wheeler noted that they absolutely look at whether they should build technology versus if there is a great group of innovators that they can partner with.

Regis Hadiaris, Rocket Mortgage product lead at Quicken Loans, expanded on this later in the session stating that what they are seeing play out in the industry is what happens anytime there is technological disruption in any industry: Will small companies scale or will the big companies innovate?

The idea echoes sentiments that are getting discussed in the industry a lot lately, including from other top fintech companies.

Recently at the Goldman Sachs housing and consumer finance, Anthony Hsieh, chairman and CEO of loanDepot, stated that technology is now a new barrier to entry. It’s no longer just capital and regulatory obstacles.

It was only a year ago that Hsieh sat on the same panel and said that regulation was the No. 1 barrier to entry into the business.

Hadiaris’ message at the conference expanded on this thought for those who are eyeballing the potential profit in the industry.

While there is a lot of room for technological growth in housing, he noted the importance of keeping up with regulation changes in the industry.  

“The message I would have is that this isn’t easy and technology alone doesn’t solve it. You need deep mortgage experience in order to do it,” Hadiaris said.

However, for those who have mortgage experience but are slow to change, Wheeler stated, “Anyone not aggressively leaning in on digital will be in a world of hurt.”

It is this same hunger for more technology that’s fueling the MBA tech conference as companies gather to figure out how they fit into this new technology world and to ensure they don't get left behind. 

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