Hemisphere Bank's Servicing Shop Weathers Big Hurricane

Despite facing a battering from Hurricane Wilma late last year, Hemisphere National Bank, Miami, managed to keep its mortgage servicing operation up and running without interruption.

The storm forced employees of the bank to evacuate their storm-damaged offices and move to alternate space in the city. But billing, collections, taxation and other servicing functions continued unabated, and Hemisphere credits MortgageFlex Systems of Jacksonville, Fla., with helping to make that possible. The bank uses MortgageFlex's LoanQuest, Web-based servicing system.

Joyce Saunders, director of marketing at MortgageFlex, said the servicing component was added last year to the company's suite of LoanQuest software. Coupled with the loan origination and other components of the software suite, it facilitates life cycle loan management from a single database.

That eliminates re-keying of data and helps lenders identify cross-sales opportunities better, she said.

Tom Peugh, implementation project manager at MortgageFlex, said in a news release that since the system is designed to operate 24/7 over the Internet, the only requirement for getting it up and running was an Internet connection.

"We quickly established the new connection and got their network back up and back in business very quickly," he said. "Freed from the limitations of leased lines, we changed the VPN (Virtual Private Network) to re-establish communications right away." The VPN employs security mechanisms to prevent interception of data."

Despite the postal disruption that was associated with Hurricane Wilma in South Florida, the bank was still able to get payments in before month-end, less than a week after the hurricane hit.

Olga Pereiro, vice president and servicing manager at Hemisphere National Bank, said that the bank had its investor reporting and collections department working the day after the hurricane.

Hemisphere has one advantage that many mortgage servicers wouldn't have. The bank launched its mortgage servicing unit this year and it isn't burdened by legacy technology systems. The bank, which has branches in Miami, does both domestic and international lending.

MortgageFlex has disaster planning in place that supports customers who find themselves in the position Hemisphere was in.

"If their data center goes down, we have a relatively seamless operation that immediately is activated," he said.

MortgageFlex has additional backup available in Charlotte, N.C., in case their central data support in Jacksonville is disrupted.

MortgageFlex Systems, founded in 1980, provides software and systems to the mortgage industry. Its products are Windows and Web-based.

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