MBA Survey Says Tech Spending Is Still Rising

The Mortgage Bankers Association here released highlights from it 2005 Technology Study, which said technology spending between 2004 and 2005 was up 14% over the previous year, and technology budgets are expected to climb by another 5% over the course of the next year.

In addition, the average lender spent $16,845 per internal end-user on technology. About 75% of 2004 tech spending was devoted to loan origination functions, and about 25% to loan servicing functions.

The study also concluded that almost two-thirds of a lender's technology budget went toward just baseline maintenance.

The one forward-thinking statement in the study was that three-quarters of respondents have implemented XML and MISMO in some form. "The use of MISMO standards is a testament to using a common dataset for interfaces, not improving how I do mortgages," said Tim Anderson of Edina, Minn.-based Dexma. "It's just making my interfaces easier to leverage, which has an impact but it isn't looking at redefining the overall process. You would think technology investment would impact the cost of doing business, but the study shows the opposite. You're improving the process but not the price of doing business."

"The MBA's study is a cost-of-technology study and should not be regarded as an overall technology study," said Jeff Lebowitz, president of MORTECH LLC, Chester, Conn. "Last year they had 10 lenders and this year they had 19. I consider the study to be still under development because the sample size is too small to make industry generalizations.

"It's certainly something that we've needed for a long time and it's a very difficult project when compared to MORTECH because it takes a great deal of work on the part of the participant to fill out the survey," he said. "I worked with them last year and we took the prior attempt from 2001 and simplified it to get the most important information. That did the trick because the depth of responses was great.

"The real problem is the sample size," said Mr. Lebowitz. "You can't say the industry's technology spending increase was 14%, because that's only true of that sampling. I'd say it's more like 3% to 4% across the whole industry. The MBA just needs to keep widening the participants."

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