Despite the immense investment that has been made in going paperless, today's top lenders still count document management as one of their top operational concerns. The industry has succeeded in making documents easier to locate, store and manage, but we haven't made them disappear.
The paperless mortgage may one day be a reality, but today it is largely an objective. To cynical eyes, it may even seem like a mirage. To succeed in loan origination and portfolio administration, executives have to manage complex document and workflow processes. Trailing and missing documents have been a plague on the industry in the past. Technology is helping to keep that plague in check. In truth, the border between paper and electronic commerce has gotten blurry. Most lenders scan documents, converting them into digital images that can easily be summoned to any authorized user's computer screen. Sophisticated content management systems have made the job of storing and retrieving loan documents an easy task. Gone are the days when document retrieval required calling someone in a warehouse in a distant location with your fingers crossed, hoping they'll be able to find what you need. Many systems today even convert documents into digital databases, so that not only is the document available, but also to cull data and add it to a database.
The mortgage industry will always be a document-intensive business. There's no way of getting around that. But with the landscape changing rapidly in response to today's housing crisis, we hope lenders will have the opportunity to shape a future that will take some of the hassle out of document management.