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Fintech

Origence on delivering a better borrower and staff experience

This week, HousingWire’s Editor in Chief Sarah Wheeler interviews Origence’s Andrew Weiss, the senior vice president of mortgage origination platform strategy, and Brit Barker, the vice president of enterprise solutions.

In this episode, Weiss and Barker discuss Origence’s origin story and talk about the importance of utilizing technology to deliver a better borrower and staff experience.

Here is a small preview of the interview, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity:

Sarah Wheeler: Mortgage LOS systems have been around for a few decades now…why did we need a new one?

Brit Barker: There’s a lot of discussion about technology, the adoption of that technology and data. So, as a tech company, Origence is constantly in the middle of this and really studying it. And the question is, is it really the technology that brings the advancement? Or is it really the adoption of that technology? Or is it the data? And perhaps most importantly, do you have the right data? So, I think all three of those points are so important. And we fall in the camp of it’s really the combination of these. For mortgage lenders to really become efficient, we would probably argue that it’s not as much about the technology that determines the advancement, but the lenders’ adoption of that technology with the data and if they have clean proper data, then you can make some decisions. So, if you have a system that is ensuring the right data, to help make the right decision, whether it’s the system doing that or whether it’s humans looking at it and making that decision, that’s what’s going to be key. It’s the tech, the adoption of it, and then confidence that this data is taking you in the right places.

The Housing News podcast explores the most important topics happening in mortgage, real estate, and fintech. Each week a new mortgage or real estate executive joins the show to add perspective to the top stories crossing HousingWire’s news desk. Hosted by Sarah Wheeler and produced by Alcynna Lloyd.

Below is the transcription of the interview. These transcriptions, powered by Speechpad, have been lightly edited and may contain small errors from reproduction:

Sarah Wheeler: Welcome, everyone. I’m Sarah Wheeler, Editor-in-Chief at HousingWire with the latest episode of the Housing News podcast. I’m really excited to talk to our guests today, Andrew Weiss and Brit Barker, who are both executives at Origence. Andrew is their senior vice-president of mortgage origination platform strategy, where he oversees long-term direction and current capabilities of the mortgage products.

With over 30 years experience in the mortgage and consumer lending space, Andrew has held a wide range of roles leveraging business rules, workflow, analytics and commercial off-the-shelf solutions. He was most recently a principal at Stratmor group, and previously was CLO, CTL at Overture Technologies, and senior vice-president of advanced technology at Fannie Mae overseeing the creation of desktop underwriter.

Brit Barker is the vice-president of enterprise solutions at Origence. He’s an experienced sales and product executive with 20 years of helping financial institutions improve their lending performance, and exceed consumer needs. He’s recognized as an industry leader with an innate talent in balancing strategic focus with operational execution.

Brit is an authority on consumer mortgage and indirect lending with expertise in facilitating the transition of new clients into the financial lending market, and enhancing lending programs. Really excited to have you both Andrew and Brit, welcome to Housing News.

Andrew Weiss: Thank you for having us.

Brit Barker: Indeed.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, the first thing I always want to ask, we ask our guests, how they got into the mortgage industry. So, what was that journey like for both of you? And Andrew, if you want to go first, we’ll start with you.

Andrew Weiss: Sure. You know, there’s a line most mortgage people know that if you ask anyone if, you know, when their aunts asked them when they were eight, if they wanted to be a mortgage banker, nobody wanted to be a mortgage banker, certainly includes me. I was working for a management consulting firm, a boutique firm, very focused on technology strategy, and we were hired by Fannie Mae. This was actually…goes back to the late ’80s, believe it or not.

And Fannie Mae was sort of this sleepy…you know, they were a government agency, kind of, sort of, not really, but they had brought a president who had come out of Wall Street and done a lot of work in Wall Street, and they really wanted to use technology as more of a tool. So we had a multi-year consulting engagement and then I used to tease, it was the consultant’s nightmare and that you come in and implement your own recommendations.

So, that’s how I got into the mortgage industry and I’ve been sort of stuck there pretty much ever since. It’s a one-way trip, right? You can enter, but you can never leave.

Sarah Wheeler: That’s true. And we have so many of the same people that, you know, at different places over, over and over again through the years. So Brit, how did you get into this?

Brit Barker: Sarah, I’m working on my CMB designation with the MBA so I totally enjoy listening to your weekly pod. It’s one that I do to really stay current with the industry, and when you ask this question, that’s like one of my favorite parts, because I do like how Andrew said, it’s almost a one-way trip. People find their way in and they just stay. And my journey came out of the automotive finance side and through consumer lending, and into mortgage.

And that’s why when I kind of discovered the MBAs School of Mortgage Banking and their AMP designation and then realized, no, it’s all about the CMB designation. I’ve just thoroughly enjoyed jumping in and love everything I’ve been learning about the mortgage industry.

Sarah Wheeler: I love that. I love hearing those stories. I’m glad you enjoyed those two, Brit, because none of them are the same, except that, you know, as Andrew said, no one was like, “I’m 8-years-old. This is what I’m going to do.” Nobody says that. I’m waiting for that person. Maybe they’re coming.

Well, let’s talk a little bit. Tell me about how Origence got started, because the company’s first customers were in that automotive finance, I believe. So, would love to hear more about that.

Brit Barker: Yeah, happy to give some of that background. And I’ll maybe do it in…since we’re kind of around Olympic season and kind of the Olympic trials, and the games starting here shortly, from that perspective. And let me explain what I mean by that. You’re absolutely correct that our capital comes from the automotive and consumer lending routes and that side of the house is doing splendid.

From a tech standpoint, as we progress through, automotive loan types into consumer lending loan types, including home equity line of credits, we kind of came face-to-face with a home equity loan and all of the trade implications that come with that. And as some of your listeners know, especially with depositories, home equity is one of those products that sometimes resides in the mortgage department, and sometimes resides in the consumer lending department, depending on really that financial institution’s preference.

So, as a technology entity, we were at a crossroads and that crossroads really was, do we continue to build, or do we buy? And if we are really going on that home equity loan journey, we are in the first mortgage lending business. So, we actually did both. We bought a staff-facing mortgage origination platform, and then on the build side, we deployed a brand new architectural stack with a point-of-sale or POS, in the industry, which is really that brand new borrower experience deeply integrated into that LOS.

So, back to my Olympic trials or games, when this pod goes live, comment, what has been cool is to attract some of the industry’s best and brightest, who want to come and help build and be part of bringing the newest platform to the mortgage industry.

Andrew Weiss: Yeah. The one thing I just would add Brit, is that there is such commitment from our management to really going into the market space. I mean, we all recognize that it’s a very hard thing to do. There aren’t that many companies that have been successful at bringing new end-to-end platforms to market.

Obviously, there are people who brought sort of niche solutions, and what we’re really trying to provide an intent platform. And it takes commitment, it takes real perseverance, and we are definitely committed to that project.

Sarah Wheeler: It’s interesting you say that, you know, I’ve noted on this podcast before that lots of people, you see them come and go, they think they can make… They think they know how to crack this space, but they really don’t. I mean, it’s harder than it looks and I think some people have made it look a lot easier than it can be. So, to that point, mortgage LOS systems have been around for a few decades now. So, why did we need a new one? What was… Why did you guys feel like yes, this is what we’re going to do differently?

Andrew Weiss: Well, you know, it’s interesting, if you think about how the world has changed since say, the turn of the millennium, and technology has driven so much of that change. I mean, think Amazon, think the iPhone, think 5g, wireless communication, and the customer experience, the customer expectations, have driven so much of that change.

On the other hand, in the mortgage world, the core platforms really all came out around the year 2000, give or take a little bit. And they were built at a time before all this technology, and they really poured cement around a process that was essentially a paper-based process, and they added technology to that. So now it’s forms based on screen. And that’s really where people are, where people started.

It’s challenging. I mean, I give them credit, they’ve tried to evolve their systems, but when you’re starting with that as your core understanding, your foundation is very difficult. So, we really came in new, post-tread, post a lot of those problems that other people have had to sort of bolt on to the outside to fix, and we really tried to bring a new approach that’s much more data-driven, much more event and transaction-driven, and really a modern, thoughtful approach, not only to the staff side, if you will, on the operation side of the house. But also to the consumers, and how the consumer side connects to that staff side. Then integration is really important from our perspective.

Brit Barker: I might add to that, Sarah, if I could a bit is, what we see…and I’ve heard this on your pod is, there’s just a lot of discussion about technology, the adoption of that technology and data. And so, as a tech company, we’re constantly in the middle of this and really studying it. And the question is, is it really the technology that brings the advancement? Or, is it really the adoption of that technology? Or, is it the data? And perhaps most importantly, do you have the right data?

So, I think all three of those points are so important and we fall in the camp of, it’s really the combination of these for mortgage lenders to really become efficient. We would probably argue that it’s not as much about the technology that determines the advancement, but the lenders’ adoption of that technology with the data, and that they have clean proper data, then you can make some decisions.

And so if you have a system that is ensuring the right data, to help make the right decision, whether it’s the system doing that or whether it’s humans looking at it and making that decision, that’s what’s going to be key. So, it’s the tech, the adoption of it, and then confidence that this data that you have is taking you in the right places.

Sarah Wheeler: That makes sense to me because without that confidence in the data, you’re pretty much going backwards on all your efficiencies. If you don’t know that’s right, and you have to go back and check and recheck, and have all those, you know, the checkers checking the checkers, it’s just…you’ve really done yourself no favors with automation.

Brit Barker: I love that you said, “Checkers checking the checkers,” and that you said it before Andrew, that’s one of his awesome lines. He always goes there.

Sarah Wheeler: Oh, listen, I’ve been around since 2013, I know about checkers, checking the checkers. I just, I do think it’s so interesting, you know, the idea of the adoption, and what…I know that we’re going to get into a little bit later, how it’s not just good, how you feel like the Origence platform wasn’t designed just to be great for borrowers, but for staff.

And I think that’s so key for any automation that, you know, we hope that people adopt, because in our business, unlike others, I mean you still have shops where fellows are like, “Yeah, no, I’m not using that, I’m using this.” I don’t even understand that like, in what other business can some of the people who work there go, “No, no. I know you invested a bunch of money in this… I’m not using that,” but we see that all the time.

Andrew Weiss: It’s true and it’s about the revenue generators, right? They have a lot of control. The interesting part of this is that I think there’s a real swing in our industry, in fact in most industries, towards consumer having the control. It’s not just effectively that loan officer who owns the consumer, but the consumer’s relationship to the lending entity. And that’s something that’s shifting. It’s not a done deal, right? There’s still a lot of fairly traditional shops out there, but you certainly do see a swing of momentum in favor of the consumer over the LO.

Sarah Wheeler: It’s going to be interesting to see how that works out, I agree with you. And it’s going to be a change for some people. But to your point, I mean, the revenue generators get to call some of the shots on this. So, we shall see. So something that does both, which I know you guys feel like that’s Origence, that’s the answer there. It will be interesting.

So, let me ask you, Origence serves a lot of credit unions. So, how did that experience inform how you serve other kinds of mortgage lenders, you know, maybe specifically smaller lenders, or throughout the spectrum? I mean, that does look sort of a niche kind of lending, a specific kind. So, how did that inform what you’re doing with everyone else?

Brit Barker: Sure, Sarah, I’ll jump in there. You know, creating union mortgage market share is increasing. Presently, it hovers around 10% of mortgages are done by the credit unions. And it really kind of depends on the state. Credit unions can be quite influential, depending on where we are in our good old United States. And I would share that the credit unions have very talented and focused folks at the helm.

But as we moved into this mortgage industry and I see that same excitement, and really kind of what we were just talking about that desire to take good care of the borrower with these mortgage bankers, that we are very heavily engaged with.

Andrew Weiss: Yeah, I think it’s interesting because credit unions focus on their borrowers. They call them members, right? That’s what they are. They’re members of a credit union. And this is something that your traditional IMB, even the smaller ones, “Well, I do one transaction every seven years maybe, you know, do I really care that much about the borrower?”

But as customer expectations have changed, what they’re learning is that really good customer experience sells more mortgages, because they get referrals, you get good reviews on Twitter, or what have you, and it really makes the difference. And there’s a lot of data that backs this up, that good customer service supports better business.

And that’s something that the credit unions have been in all the time, and the mortgage banks are learning. And you see the big mortgage banks or the bank of mortgage operations, really picking up on this thread. So, in that sense, there’s a lot to learn from credit unions in the mortgage space, which is also to say, there’s a lot for credit unions to learn from the IMBs in terms of efficiency, in terms of breadth of product, in terms of how to really make a financially good process work, both for the credit union and for the borrower.

Sarah Wheeler: Interesting perspective there, looking at the different strengths, maybe of both, or maybe historic strengths, to your point, you know, some of that might be changing, so interesting perspective. My next question is, a challenge, one challenge for lenders is determining where to apply automation and their lending process like, when should staff be used versus systems? And what advice would you give to lenders when faced with this challenge?

Andrew Weiss: Well, let me… I’ll start on that one. And the first thing that lenders have to recognize, I think that many do, is that not all borrowers fit the same mold. They’re not all willing to go down the same process. I have a…daughter’s old enough to get mortgages, and they do not want to meet a mortgage banker somewhere, you know, at a café. They want to do all this at 10:00 pm at night in their pajamas, after a long workday.

And so, they have a track that’s much more technology-oriented. You know, flip over, my 92-year-old mother actually refinanced a couple of years ago. She is on the other end of the spectrum, right. And if you look at people who get mortgages, they’re all the way in between those two things. And so mortgage lenders have choices to make. They can either decide to narrow their consumer base, which may or may not be a great idea, depending on how they do it, or they need to be able to have technology that can have different approaches for different customers.

Now, technology is necessary to do that because if you have to have a human being making all those decisions about who goes down which path, it’s too costly and too time-consuming as well. So, the technology needs to support this multiple path idea, if you will. And that’s something that I think is very important.

Brit Barker: I could jump in there a little bit, Sarah, if you wanted. And I would just say, much has been said, and think about how much has been spent on borrower-facing technology, especially in the mortgage industry with the point-of-sale. All of that… And a lot of that borrower-facing tech has become table stakes, but if it doesn’t fully integrate with the LOS, it doesn’t give that optimal experience that these lenders really want for their borrowers.

And us as borrowers, whether it’s Andrew’s daughter or mother, right, we know it can get very frustrating, this mortgage loan factoring process that takes way too long for all of us, right. But whether it’s the tech, or the staff empowering that, as a borrower, I don’t want to be asked the same thing multiple times. I want to know where I am in the mortgage process, and I want you to engage with me in a fashion that I said, “Let’s engage in this fashion.” Those are the frustrating things that technology and staff, we can just get that right and eliminate that frustration. It’s just going to be better for all of us involved.

Andrew Weiss: So, one other point, and to echo what you and Brit were talking about earlier, it’s not just the technology. It’s really the integration of the business process into that technology that’s really critical. So, I don’t want anyone to walk away saying, “Oh, if I just buy a new system, it will solve all of these problems for me,” because that’s clearly not true. But without that new technology base, it’s very hard to solve these problems, except by throwing lots of bodies at it which, as we know, is too expensive for most people to do.

Sarah Wheeler: Well, and then, you know, when you come into a season, like we’re coming into now, where you might be seeing, you know, definitely refi’s down, but even though things slowing down a little bit, then you’ve got to figure out what to do with all those bodies.

Andrew Weiss: That’s right.

Sarah Wheeler: You spend all that time training and getting ready. So, you know, we know how this swings. Well, let me ask you, when you talk about integration… So with Origence, you brought the POS and LOS experience together into one platform, and you built innovation around that model. How does this holistic approach address the challenges that today’s mortgage lenders face?

Brit Barker: Sarah, I think when Andrew was talking about form-based and older architecture, maybe monolithic structures, this is where that data-centric approach, and with the architecture built around a system of events that have triggers, that take action, can win. And let me maybe walk you through an example or two of that. But if you have a robust event model that can configure actions and actions to events, there’s where the efficiency is going to start to come.

So, think about when the borrowers working their way through that beloved loan application, right. Behind the scenes, the system can start to automatically establish the appropriate underwriting conditions, based on the specific loan and loan program that the lender and their underwriting policies. So, as the system completes the event and takes action, establishing what data and document would be needed, based on that application moving through, it can start to clear applicable conditions.

So, then you can follow that up with, who should provide the appropriate data. We talked about that data’s got to be right, and documents. Is that really a third-party provider? Or is that the borrower? So, all of this can be taking place as that application is being entered. So, then when the data and the document is received, the system can check it in, and it can message and alert all the folks that need to be involved in part of that process.

And then, with that event taking place, it can then take the action of okay, what is the next step in this process, and then dynamically generate the task and go, “Do I need more data, or do I need more documents?” So, that’s where…if you have this event-based model with triggers and actions, this is where you can start to change the game for the better, for me as a borrower, as well as for the lender, and of course, for the lender staff.

Andrew Weiss: You know, there’s traditionally been these new…that you can either have great customer service, or you can be highly efficient, that those things were diametrically opposed. And we would strongly disagree with that notion. If you think about what Brit’s saying, that actually delivers both. The cycle time to close those loans is going to be much faster, because you’re doing things in the background, automatically. You’re having different processes going parallel, for example.

The notion of, “How do I get my loan closed if it’s a refi, before I have to write my next mortgage check,” because I’m refi-ing for a reason, right? I either want to lower my monthly, or I’m trying to get some cash out to do something, so how can I do that, you know, almost as…before I have to write my next mortgage check.

Or, if it’s a purchase loan, I want to be absolutely guaranteed that I’m going to be able to close when I need to close. And these days, that’s the day after tomorrow, right? I mean, you can’t sit around and wait for that loan to come in. So, there’s a lot that you can do that, in fact, increases efficiency and increases customer service. And I think that’s the key to this model is you have to be able to do both.

Sarah Wheeler: Well, and that leads right into the next point that I wanted to ask you about which…what are those essential keys for lenders to deliver not only a superior experience for borrowers, but one for staff as well, like we’ve talked about, so that they’ll be excited about using it and they’ll adopt it, and it will be great for everyone.

Brit Barker: Yes, Sarah, I would just… I think the frustrating thing, again, going back to that borrower is, okay, we can make a delightful application experience and maybe I can knock out that application in 10, 12, 15 minutes, but then I’m sitting around for 30 days at best, maybe 40 or 50 right now, tell… It happens.

And so that, I think, is where…I kind of go back to my analogy of when we’re in third grade and it was recess, and we all are running outside and we’re so excited. If you get on that seesaw, and the up and down, or the teeter-totter, right, sometimes we get so focused on borrower experience, maybe a POS, and the staff is left down here at the bottom to deal with it, you know. Or no, it’s all about the staff and then the borrower’s shortchanged. But it’s really getting that balance and finding everyone, we would balance like even with someone about the same way.

So it’s that focus of, can we get something that the staff is delighted and like, “All right, I’m on board,” and then this is helping the executives of what they want. And is my borrower thrilled? Are they happy? Are they part of the process? So, it’s that teeter-totter and that balance of getting it right.

Andrew Weiss: But you can’t under-emphasize the sort of need for change management. I mean, it’s amazing, the number of processors or underwriters or that sort of core back-office staff that have been in the mortgage industry, you know, as long as I have or longer even, some. And it’s hard for them to change. They’re used to a certain way that that process goes, and they get nervous about the machine taking over their job, which has really nothing to do with reality. It’s a sort of emotional response.

And so, really how you manage the change of that through the process, making sure that folks understand that this is a pretty different way. I mean, you can still walk into an awful lot of shops today, and what they’re doing on the screen is exactly what they were doing in the days when they had a big file folder, and they would just open it up and they would start leaping through the documents, right? And that’s how you originated a loan, and a lot of the systems effectively have replicated that process.

And it’s a little uncomfortable when you’re now saying, “Wait a minute, you don’t need to look at that thing for this part, well, because we got the data from a source that’s far more trusted.” So why am I going to look at a piece of paper when I have the data? And it’s uncomfortable to make that change but once they get there, they understand the value. Because like it or not, there’s still an awful lot that requires judgment, that requires real decisions, that requires human being to contact each other and talk it through.

And so there’s an awful lot left for the humans to do, but you want the machine to do the things that anyone can do, right? And that’s a change process that we have to walk people through.

Sarah Wheeler: What have you seen… When you see different companies adopting origins, what do you see the really successful companies doing in that change management space that makes a difference with their staff?

Andrew Weiss: Yeah, it’s a really interesting question. I think there are probably three things. One is, it starts at the top, right. The leadership has to say, “Wait a minute, guys, I know we’ve been doing it this way for the last ten years. We’re going to try something different because we firmly believe it’s going to be better.” So that’s one piece.

I think the second piece is, it helps to really get a couple of people inside the company who really understand the process, but are open to change to drive that.

Brit Barker: Amen.

Andrew Weiss: Remember the old commercials with Mikey, right. Did Mikey like it, right? You need to help the Mikeys’ and you need to get them in there, and you need to get them to like it, right, which is some of what our job is. So, that’s the second piece. The other piece is to really understand every…you know, it’s funny, because really, the mortgage manufacturing process is pretty much the same for everyone, except every lender has some little bit of secret sauce that makes them just that different.

So, one of the things that’s great about Origence is, we really have very fluid ability to configure our systems and manage those differences, to allow lenders to have their secret sauce, and let that really shine, and do that without a lot of extra code, or lots of, you know, years of custom work or things like that. Because we want lenders to be able to be differentiated in their marketplace, but yet have the things that we all have to do, the commodity, and be done very simply. So, you’ve got to put all three of those things together in an appropriate way for the lender.

Brit Barker: Sarah, one lender right now that’s in this system evaluation process, I like what they’ve done. They compared the platform to the other platforms. They’ve made their decision and then they’ve brought in a third party, and they said, “Okay, here’s our process today. What would we want our process to be?” And that is then the starting point of the implementation.

So, I thought they were very thoughtful to acknowledge, “Okay, we’ve used this LOS, and this is the way we do things.” They’ve got their smart captains in the room around the table and said, “Okay, but what do we really want?” And so then that’s the design stage that has been built, and that’s what they’re starting implementation with.

Sarah Wheeler: Yeah, really smart. And, you know, I love the idea of you have to find those Mikeys, you have to find the enthusiastic adopters who are going to be the cheerleaders for other people. Even better, if there’s some of your most productive and high-ranking LOs, that’s just icing on the cake.

Andrew Weiss: Although, you know, it’s hard to get them, right. They’re only going to come off the line to do this new project, sort of, kicking and screaming. But if anyone says, “Oh, I’ll give it to Joe,” and nobody cares if Joe leaves to, you know, to work on this project. That’s the problem, right? That’s not who you want. So, it’s an interesting balance. But I think when you get there, you find it so much more productive. And this doesn’t have to take forever either. It can be done in really good, compressed amounts of time with the appropriate focus.

Sarah Wheeler: And do you think people who have implemented different technologies over the years might be surprised at how fast things go now, compared to even five years ago? I mean, obviously not everything, but it does seem like I hear that a lot from different companies, that they thought it was going to take longer, they thought there were going to be more problems. I mean, you guys have been doing this for a while and I’m sure you know where all the speed bumps are.

Andrew Weiss: Yeah. Well, you know, not that long ago, maybe 10 years ago, roughly a third to half of LOS implementations failed. They just literally never got into production. Which is astounding, because it’s billions of dollars thrown just down the tubes. You don’t really hear that very much anymore. People either make the decision or they decide they’re going to stay with what they’ve got.

But, you know, time is an interesting thing. I think people want it to happen yesterday, but if you don’t spend the time to do the thoughtful analysis, to get Mikey in there, etc, etc., it’s not going to work out very well either. So, there’s a balance between doing it fast and doing it well.

Sarah Wheeler: You know, when I came on into HousingWire in 2013, and, you know, there was so much time spent at that time just to comply with regulatory things. I mean, you mentioned tread… I mean, I feel like all we did was talk about tread for like two years. And then you see what tread actually ended up being, you’re like, “Oh, okay. Well, that was a lot of work for them.” But neither here nor there.

Let’s talk about, you know, the regulatory environment it’s changed a lot under the Biden administration. They have come out swinging, from my perspective… From a news person’s perspective, very interesting, great to have an administration that’s just so active. If you’re in the weeds and you’re the ones doing all that, and have to comply, probably not as fun. But how does Origence approach compliance and help lenders stay compliant? Because that’s…it’s always important, but I feel like it’s especially important right now.

Andrew Weiss: Yeah. So first, you know, an opinion that may perhaps be not so popular with everyone in the mortgage industry. But I think as an industry, we just have to get over this regulatory boogeyman, right? We live in a highly regulated industry, we will always be in a highly regulated industry, we probably should be in a highly regulated industry. It’s people’s lives on the line. So, let’s just get over that.

I think that the thing that we’re really trying to do is, figure out how you build the compliance into this system. And so the goal would be that it’s actually faster, cheaper, easier to manufacture a compliant loan than it is to manufacture one that’s out of compliance. Right now, we’re going back to this “checkers checking on the checkers” notion, right, that’s how most people think about compliance. It’s something that we’re going to do, kind of after the fact.

We’re going to do a bunch of work, and then we’re going to get an auditor in to tell you if we were compliant or not. As opposed to just building that compliance into the core of the system so the actions you take are by definition, compliant. It’s not that it says, “No, you can’t do that. It’s out of compliance.” It just happens in a compliant way. You don’t have that extra step of having to go back and fix stuff.

You just…it creates a compliant loan. And automation really, really helps that a ton, right. Because if it’s automated and your next step is something that you just have to do, “Oh, wait a minute, they’ve changed something. It’s a change of circumstance.” Well, you just got to resubmit the documents. Go ahead, just, you know, you don’t even have to push a button, it just goes. Or would you like to review it before it goes? Either way, that’s fine. But all of that’s just sort of baked into the process.

Now, it’s challenging, right. This is somewhat aspirational. This is where we are headed, and where we’re going to go. It’s something that we always have to keep an eye on because the regulations are always changing, and that’s going to be true. It’s been true in our industry as long as I’ve been in it, and probably everyone else on this podcast recognizes that.

So, that’s the thing we have to do, just to stay compliant, but to focus on how you build compliance into the core of the process, not just something you bolt on the outside.

Brit Barker: Yeah, you two were talking about the checkers checking on the checkers, and I love that. And that’s just where the system is. The system, there are stellar third-party providers that excel in staying current on this compliance, and let that compliance happen along the way, as that loan moves through the manufacturing process.

So, kind of your comment about Mikey likes it, you know what Mikey really likes? He likes a compliant, sellable asset at the end, and let the checkers on the checkers happen all the way along the process, so that you do have that end game of a compliant sellable asset.

Sarah Wheeler: That is what everyone is…that’s what everyone wants, right? That’s the best for the borrowers. It’s the best for staff. It’s best for everyone along the way. The investors who are buying that asset so we would all hope for that. Well, I want to ask you guys, this is my last question, but it’s been great to have you on. I would love to ask you, what is… When you look at the mortgage industry right now, what do you think is the most exciting thing happening?

Andrew Weiss: So, I will begin, and I’m sure Brit has some other views as well. But, you know, I think that’s a really tough question because in some ways, is it exciting to be finding out from under the deluge of volume that we had? Yes, and no. But I actually think there’s a really interesting, if you will, battle brewing between what I might call the traditional mortgage bankers, the people who were used to doing it the way they’ve always done it, etc, etc. And that’s not just the IMBs but also the bank-owned or the credit union space, they’re all, you know, have a lot of that same mindset.

Battle between those traditional bankers and what I will loosely call the new-age lenders, right, lenders who are determined to really reinvent the system, do it all online, make it much more technologically…you know, they’re trying to be Amazon for mortgage or for lending, in general. And I think it’s a really interesting dynamic, and I think it’s exciting.

Personally, I don’t think I’m going to try to pick a winner because I think that it’s a big industry and there’s probably space for everybody. At the same token, I think that there’s a lot of room for the two different sides of this battle to learn from each other. And perhaps the ultimate answer is a little bit more of a hybrid. And that’s really where Origence is, in terms of supporting both these really, you know, new age high-tech processes. But in addition, being able to bring some of that back to add value to the more traditional process.

But I think that’s an interesting thing to watch. Who knows where we’re going to be. It is interesting that, you know, when I was first involved with Desktop Underwriter back in the late ’90s, we were saying, “Oh, it’s going to be 12 days to do a mortgage.” This was before tread, “And it’s going to cost 900 bucks,” right. Now, it’s over $8,000 to manufacturer a mortgage. I was wrong.

So, I’m certainly not going to make any predictions. On the other hand, I do think that with all of the volume that went on, and what’s happening with technology, I’m hopeful that the industry is in a bit of an inflection point, where we can now actually think about what it takes to build mortgages in a new and different way, a way that’s better for the borrower, and a way that’s better for the lender. So, I think that…

Sarah Wheeler: Andrew, I love that. And I wish you would pick a winner because you know, that would be interesting to hear, but I agree with you. There’s a… It’s a big industry, lots of room. Brit, what’s your take?

Brit Barker: I guess I would answer that I love that discussion. I have very much enjoyed interacting with you, Sarah, and Andrew always. I think for me, it’s about control. And I think what I mean by that is, you know, lenders are looking to be agile and they want to control their destiny. And the technology now available to them, and kind of what I was talking about earlier, if you have these process orchestration builders as a lender that I can drag and drop process automation, that being those events, and those triggers and actions, to create a curated process, then I don’t need code to be written for me to do that, that is really empowering them.

So, now clients can really configure what they want to do, and we can get a little bit further away when we talked about that 15-minute application and then let’s wait for 30 days, till we close. You know, the mortgage process, it’s this set of manual tasks that just take a long time. Those are the inherent delays. That’s the root cause of these higher costs, and kind of creating just a bummer, borrower experience. It’s not really what we want.

So, now lenders really have the ability to astutely manage their loan manufacturing process without calling their tech provider and requiring code to be written. They have the ability, this control, to take an idea and configure it with their own admins within the system and enable that to be realized. So, I think that’s what’s kind of exciting right now for mortgage lenders.

Sarah Wheeler: I so appreciate that. And Brit, Andrew, great time talking to you both. Thanks for sharing your insight. Thanks for being on Housing News.

Andrew Weiss: Well, thank you. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Brit Barker: Indeed, our pleasure.

Housing News

Hosted by HousingWire Editors, the HW Weekly Newscast is a conversational look at the most important stories coming across HousingWire's news desk.

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