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Executive Conversations is a HousingWire web series that profiles powerful people in the financial industry, highlighting the operations and the people that make this sector tick. In the latest installment, we sit down with Scott Slifer, CEO and chairman of Sutherland Mortgage Services and global head of mortgage at Sutherland, to find out how digital innovations are impacting mortgage companies.                       

Q. How are digital innovations transforming the mortgage industry?

SliferA. Digital innovations are rapidly transforming the mortgage industry in many ways. The industry will be able to improve their operational efficiency, gain intelligence and insights, and improve the overall customer experience. Digital innovations coupled with process transformation has the power to drive the most change for the mortgage industry.

Process transformation enables mortgage companies the ability to rethink, reimagine, and rebuild the way work gets done. When legacy processes are redesigned to accommodate digital solutions such as robotic process automation (RPA), analytics, and other innovative applications, the impact of digital has the potential to become increasingly more powerful.

While many companies are leveraging digital innovation, now is the time to determine where to gain the most value and place technology bets in those practices.

Q. What digital innovations are occurring in the industry and how are they positively impacting mortgage companies?

A. Many digital innovations are driving a significant transformation for mortgage companies. While there are many digital solutions available to solve for various needs, the challenge is knowing where to place technology bets that will have the greatest impact on an organization.

Three solutions driving the greatest amount of change are robotic process automation, data analytics, and mortgage apps to improve overall operations and customer experience.

First, robotic process automation (RPA) enables mortgage companies to automate verifications or checklist-driven, manual tasks. By automating arduous and manually intensive tasks, mortgage companies will not only reduce costs, but improve the speed and accuracy by which documents are processed.

At Sutherland, we have transformed processes and implemented RPA that, in many cases, has resulted in over 25% reduction in manual work. Mortgage companies need to automate more of their operational processes and RPA is an evolving method to improve the speed and accuracy of processing.

Data analytics is also an area of investment for mortgage lenders. While the phrase “big data” can be forbidding to non-experts, partnering with a provider to leverage the data mortgage companies maintain on file as well as external sources can enable organizations to gain new insights valuable to their business.

Data can be leveraged to conduct predictive and prescriptive models to identify trends among your servicing portfolio, cross-sell additional products and services to those with a propensity to buy, understand and improve decline/cancel or withdraw (DCW) rates, and even improve customer retention rates.

While many organizations have access to data, it’s important to partner with an expert prepared to handle data analytics processes on your behalf.

Sutherland benefits from having acquired Nuevora, a recognized leader in providing analytics-as-a-service capabilities to a variety of industries. Nuevora enables mortgage companies to put data analytics to work in order to identify customers likely to have a large life event impact their loan, optimize ROI, and empower business leaders with short time-to-decision visualizations.

A third innovation in mortgage is an app developed by Sutherland to transform mortgage operations. Imagine a world where borrowers, lenders, realtors, and other stakeholders were always aware of the status of a loan. Imagine a process where borrowers can upload required documents at any time through a simple app, rather than taking time to scan, fax, mail, or email documents to the lender during the origination process.

Sutherland’s new mortgage app has the power to reduce loan cycle time from 45 days to 32 days, enhancing the customer experience and improving efficiency to lenders. This app brings a new combination of process transformation with digital innovations that will positively change the end-to-end loan origination process.

Q. How can mortgage companies leverage digital innovations to drive growth and improve their overall operation?

A. While there are many ways mortgage companies can leverage digital for growth and improve overall operations, there are three key areas that will be most positively impacted through new innovations: operational efficiency, intelligence and insights, and an improved customer experience.

First, mortgage companies can leverage digital innovations to operate more efficiently. Mortgage executives are constantly identifying ways to improve operational efficiencies, and digital innovations can help them do so. This is critical as improving operational efficiencies often means leveraging your teams and technology to close loans as quickly as possible.

Digital innovations also help drive new intelligence and insights to mortgage companies. As lenders see origination profitability shrinking, loan servicing becomes of paramount importance.

Now is the time for lenders to build a strategy around loan servicing that leverages intelligence from data analytics to identify customers before they “shop” for better interest rates and individuals likely to have a life event occur that would impact their loan.

Leveraging data analytics to identify borrowers in your portfolio who could be at risk of leaving can help protect your revenue and allow you the opportunity to improve customer relationships.

Finally, digital innovations can greatly help improve the customer experience. One way to address the customer experience is through customer journey mapping. Engaging in customer journey mapping, or hiring a firm to help with this, will bring significant intelligence and optimization to your organization.

Customer journey mapping identifies both positive and negative trigger points in the experience, and enables organizations to identify processes that require improvement. Improving the customer experience will not only drive growth, but improve the overall operation for mortgage lenders.

Q. What benefits do companies in the mortgage space gain from partnering with Sutherland?

A. Unlike most other service providers, Sutherland is a team of mortgage bankers, serving mortgage bankers. Our team is comprised of individuals who have served in executive leadership roles with the leading mortgage banks in the industry. We’ve sat in our clients’ shoes, we deeply understand the challenges facing the industry and how to combat them.

In addition to our domain expertise, Sutherland partners with leading mortgage companies to transform their processes and bring innovations to their organization. Above and beyond loan origination, underwriting, and component servicing, Sutherland delivers a suite of digital solutions such as RPA, data analytics and artificial intelligence, and mobile apps, to improve the scale and efficiency of our clients’ operations.

And with Sutherland’s acquisition of data analytics industry leader, Nuevora, we are able to provide mortgage companies an added level of actionable intelligence to empower executives to learn more about their business and make influential business decisions.

Sutherland regularly conducts customer journey mapping and design thinking sessions at our innovation labs in San Francisco and London to drive significant process transformation for some of the world’s leading mortgage lenders.