Mortgage lenders need to adopt new technology, or risk facing the end, said The Money Source President Ali Vafai, a HousingWire 2017 Rising Star.

The Rising Stars represent the best young leaders in the mortgage industry – in lending, servicing, investing and real estate. Know someone who would qualify for this? Nominate them here! Nominations for 2019 are open now and will close on February 22, 2019.

HousingWire’s Rising Stars program recognizes industry professionals under 40 who have become leaders in their respective fields. Those who are helping move the market forward, and making a strong impact on the housing economy.

The winners will be announced in HW Magazine’s June issue.

Vafai said those beginning their career should, “Think about Mark Twain’s quote, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.’ What are you here to do? How will you be great?”

HousingWire sat down with our previous Rising Star winner to get some insight on the housing industry today.

HousingWire: How important is it for lenders to adopt new technology and why?

Vafai: “If the rate of change on the outside is faster than the inside, the end is near.” This quote from former General Electric Chairman Jack Welch couldn’t be truer for any industry than the mortgage industry.

The mortgage industry is, in many ways, going through a technology revolution. We are selling and servicing the most important purchase in a person’s life with the backdrop of a world where they can find a spouse online, buy a car in two clicks and more than 3.5 billion Google searches are conducted every day. Add to the mix that the category has historically fueled a lack of loyalty based on the economics of our business that we’re not protecting our assets. Dated technology only makes matters worse. Needless to say, if you’re not staying up-to-date with the newest and latest technology, you’re already behind.

Between a better digital mortgage experience with automated document verification, to online educational tools and widgets for borrowers, technology brings much-needed improvement to the customer service experience. And don’t think the relationship with the borrower ends after the closing table – it’s the beginning table! There’s huge opportunity where technology can deliver a human level of customer experience to dial up the joy of homeownership. Plus, better customer experience equals better revenue, as it reduces costs, improves efficiencies for the company and provides data and experiences to increase customer loyalty and retention for future organic growth.

HW: How can lenders excel under increased competition?

Vafai: It’s simple. Focus on the customers’ happiness and the rest will follow. How do you do that?

Lean in on what you’re great at. Lenders cannot be all things to all people. Find your sweet spot, prove you’re the best and tell the world. On the flip side, remove distractions. Companies create distractions all day long. Review your list of priorities and then put them in priority order. You will quickly realize that things on your list may not matter anymore. This will make you focus in on what will fuel growth and eliminate wasted time, energy and resources. Then, get your entire organization aligned to your growth strategy.

HW: What mortgage market (refi, purchase, etc) do you think will be the hot market this year that lenders should/will focus on and why?

Vafai: Forget about what’s “hot.” That’s not sustainable. Focus on creating a lifetime relationship with your customers or clients. When the next “hot thing” arrives that can be frosting, but build a solid and financially strong foundation.

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