Accenture buys Zenta, paving way into mortgage finance
[Update 1: Adds Santos comment.] Business process outsourcing giant Accenture (ACN) plans to acquire residential and commercial mortgage processing services firm Zenta. The move will grow Accenture's ability to provide business streamlining services and customer operations to clients in the mortgage lending and servicing industries, as well as real estate investment trusts. The move comes at a time when Zenta — a key provider of mortgage services to the nation's top banks — is playing in a market riddled with new mortgage finance regulations. The parties did not disclose terms of the transaction. As part of the deal, Accenture plans to launch Accenture Credit Services, a full service consulting, technology and BPO firm, that will support clients in the residential mortgage, commercial real estate, leasing and auto finance. Accenture sees the move as a strategic response to the nation's heightened regulatory environment. "The wave of regulations and a changing credit environment are redefining the competitive landscape of the mortgage industry," said Terry Moore, global managing director of Accenture Credit Services. "In the residential mortgage business, low customer satisfaction, rising fulfillment costs, and falling pull-through rates -- coupled with slower refinancing and purchase activity -- are undercutting profitability. On the servicing side, regulatory changes are forcing operational transformation." Dallas-based Zenta, which will merge into Accenture along with its 3,700 employees, provides mortgage processing services to four of the nation's largest banks and has noticed the strain of heightened regulatory guidelines firsthand. "The large lending institutions are getting hit with a triple whammy (in terms of regulations)," said Henry Santos, senior vice president of Zenta's residential mortgage services practice. "The first is Dodd-Frank." Santos explained an influx of new regulations are "mandating and dictating how these firms perform work and the quality expectations" which in turn creates a challenge for these institutions as they try to figure out how to stay ahead and remain compliant, while also running lean enough to maintain the appropriate profit margins. Santos said the relationship allows Accenture and their leading edge human capital consulting team to come in and work with firms on the right outsourcing solutions. Zenta is deeply entrenched in the mortgage finance and real estate space, as a provider of real estate accounting and capital market analytics to U.S. REITS and investment banks. Write to: Kerri Panchuk.