In July, Rob Clements and John Surface, two veteran bankers who had led EverBank Financial for more than two decades, joined LenderLive Holdings as chairman and CEO and president and COO, respectively. HousingWire recently sat down with Clements to discuss his new role and his and Surface’s vision of how to take LenderLive to the next level.
HousingWire: What prompted you and John to join LenderLive?
Rob Clements: Over the past 18 years, LenderLive has grown into an impressive, diversified services provider to mortgage companies, banks, auto loan servicers and other financial services firms. Today, our company is the leading onshore provider of private-label fulfillment services for banks, credit unions, and wealth management companies that want to offer mortgages, but don’t want to be in the mortgage industry. At the same time, our services business supports banks, nonbanks, and servicers that need the capabilities to efficiently provide title services, electronic documents and highly compliant critical borrower communications.
LenderLive is a great platform and one that John and I believe is poised to evolve and grow. We see similarities to EverBank, a company we grew from $200 million in assets to a nationwide $28 billion diversified financial services company. We plan to use that experience to take LenderLive to the next level.
Q: What opportunities do you see for the company?
A: On the private-label side, our opportunities will come from meeting customers’ changing needs. Mortgages are a cornerstone product for banks and credit unions, but the business itself is challenging. In the last year, mortgage lending volume has fallen by about 20%, while the cost to originate a loan is now nearing $9,000—up from $3,400 just five years ago. Compliance is driving much of the cost increase and there are few signs that this is going away.
Meanwhile, the banks’ customers are changing. Many are younger and digitally sophisticated who want to explore their options online and not talk to a loan officer, at least not at the beginning of the process. This means banks have to invest in new front-end consumer direct solutions while maintaining and continually updating their mortgage infrastructure.
Partnering with LenderLive gives these banks the ability to leverage our investments in technology, compliance and infrastructure to lower their costs and shift their investments to front-end solutions that level the playing field. As we add new fulfillment clients, we get the benefits of scale and new customers for our document management and title services businesses. Both businesses have a strong and deep list of blue chip clients.
Our services business is also poised for continued success working with mortgage servicers to provide integrated document management services. Our current clients represent 65% of the servicing market, and we are excited about the new clients in our sales pipeline.
Another point that I’d like to make is that “partnering” to expand capabilities is a new paradigm that many businesses are moving towards. What makes this possible is the ability to align or integrate new technologies that streamline processes more seamlessly. This is far different from the old concept of outsourcing, and it is an approach that we are emphasizing. We’re encouraging our clients to think of us as a partner, an extension of their organization.
Q: Last year, the largest player in the private-label fulfillment space announced it was exiting. What has this meant for the sector and your business?
A: Basically, it’s created new opportunities for us. LenderLive assumed PHH Mortgage Corporation’s private-label fulfillment operations, which allowed us to add a significant number of talented mortgage professionals and establish a new operations center for our company in Jacksonville, Florida. That team is handling loan processing, underwriting and closing activities for current PHH clients until the contracts are completed or transitioned to LenderLive.
Q: LenderLive recently reorganized into two divisions—LenderLive Network and LenderLive Services. What’s the strategy behind this move?
A: Because our businesses have achieved significant growth, creating two divisions allows us to improve our operations and better focus on the needs of our clients. LenderLive Network handles mortgage fulfillment and secondary market execution for lenders who want to outsource mortgage fulfillment. LenderLive Services allows us to provide a complete and compliant document management and delivery solution from origination through default to banks and mortgage companies that are committed to lending and servicing.
The new structure makes it easier for us to work with regulators and accelerate the expansion of our title operations, while still benefitting from synergies between the businesses.
The divisional focus has helped us identify new business opportunities. For example, we have now created a new business line called LenderLive Compliance Solutions that provides a customized compliance offering in addition to our traditional bundled service of compliance and document fulfillment.
The new customized offering gives regional banks and credit unions doing smaller volumes of mortgage and auto loans access to our compliance solutions on an a-la-carte basis. This leverages the investment and talent that we’ve put into our document and critical borrower communications businesses.