Lack of accessibility can have cascading impact on lenders

Accessibility demand grows amid pandemic

As mortgages are forced to go fully digital during the COVID-19 pandemic, lenders’ accessibility has become more important than ever.

Roostify Director of Regulatory Compliance Doreen Ghusar, a 2019 HousingWire Insider, explained that without a physical backstop, lenders must ensure they are accessible for everyone.

“Many people are relying solely on digital means for everyday activities, including their financial needs,” Ghusar said. “Without a physical fallback, these services need to be inclusive for customers with disabilities to have the power to be more accessible as the lack of accessibility can have a cascading impact on the lender and its customers.”

HousingWire sat down with Ghusar to discuss the importance of accessibility and other changes in today’s lending environment. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

HousingWire: Have companies faced any new regulatory challenges while facing the COVID-19 outbreak? How have companies dealt with challenges brought on by the pandemic?

Doreen Ghusar: Roostify has not faced any new regulatory challenges as a result of this pandemic. Nonetheless, Roostify has enhanced the opportunity to connect customers and lenders to further accelerate the home loan experience. Especially, as mortgage lenders are seeing a spike in refinance applications after rate cuts.

Most financial institutions and lenders already have business continuity plans, yet those may not fully address the fast-moving and unknown variables of an outbreak like COVID-19. Typical contingency plans ensure operational effectiveness following events like natural disasters, cyber-attacks and power outages, among others. They don’t typically forecast the widespread quarantines, extended school and business closures or extensive travel restrictions that may occur in the case of a health emergency. Financial institutions and lenders face additional scrutiny due to potential reputational issues and regulatory requirements.

 HW: Has moving remote made it more difficult to remain compliant?

DG: Moving remote has not affected Roostify’s ability to remain compliant. Roostify’s platform has been built to mitigate risk with an enterprise-grade system designed to protect its mortgage lending clients and their customers. Roostify’s internal Americans with Disabilities Act – Web Content Accessibility Guidelines plan demanded Roosify’s platform be accessible even during a disaster. Therefore, Roostify’s continuous testing of the “Disaster Recovery Plan” turned out to be a success for the global pandemic for COVID-19.

HW: What technology updates could be most useful as lenders strive to improve their processes during these times?

DG: The coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for all web-based services to be accessible and compliant, especially when leading lenders in the US have determined that most if not all mortgage applications have to be taken electronically, and not as they have been done for years, face-to-face at the bank or in the mortgage broker’s office. With social distancing becoming the new normal, digital accessibility is vital for all consumers, and especially the ones with disabilities, to stay in touch with society. Many people are relying solely on digital means for everyday activities, including their financial needs. Without a physical fallback, these services need to be inclusive for customers with disabilities to have the power to be more accessible as the lack of accessibility can have a cascading impact on the lender and its customers.

Understanding the complexities of the lending process and consumer experiences helps lenders to acknowledge that meeting regulatory guidelines will be essential for a quick loan close with a digital lending platform. Ensuring all applicable regulatory requirements are met by use of the digital platform is essential to maintain a fast, efficient and compliant customer experience for everyone.

HW: Last year you were selected as a HousingWire Insider. What is your secret to success?

DG: My secret to success is being involved and having awareness as the market is constantly evolving. I continuously expand my knowledge, stay apprised of regulatory changes and updates, and collaborate with compliance officers in the industry to discuss and dissect current issues to build clarity around digital platform implementation for big banks and small lenders alike. Through various compliance channels, engagements and networks, I am able to provide the most-up-to-date guidance, support and advise my organization on regulatory matters.

I have faced many challenges being a female minority in both Silicon Valley and in the mortgage space. By responding to those challenges and by learning to be a respected and knowledgeable leader, I discovered the key is understanding everyone’s perspective and having integrity. I pride myself on being well informed about laws and regulations, not just in the fintech space but also from a global digital lending perspective. In the wake of COVID-19, I strongly believe that there will be an opportunity for the industry and the regulators to assess regulatory lending guidelines to ensure customers and lenders are able to do business without causing any unnecessary loan closing complications and delays. Being proactively engaged in discussing the digital ecosystem helps to better prepare the industry for the future.

HousingWire’s nominations are now open for our 2020 Insiders. But they won’t stay open long – nominations close on June 26, 2020. So nominate your Insiders today. We want to get to know them!

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