In 1976, ABBA, Queen and Elton John were constants on the radio and "Rocky" was scoring at the box office. A gallon of gas cost 59 cents and a median-priced home was $43,400.
Those 40-year-old songs are proving to be timeless and "Creed" recently brought Rocky back to theaters. Arguably, the mortgage industry has changed more than our playlists and movie stars.
Forty years ago, loan officers wouldn't have been able to imagine using a mobile telephone to check the latest interest rates or even to get a mortgage insurance rate quote from an app in only a matter of minutes.
The technology of four decades ago required loan officers to sit behind desks, fill out paper mortgage applications by hand, and then send various documents off to a bank's headquarters by mail, courier, or an overnight delivery service like FedEx (which got its start in 1973). Fax machines were a rarity in offices until the '80s.
Paper hasn't yet been eliminated from the home-buying process, but the digital and internet revolutions are enabling loan officers to step away from their cubicles (and the mainframe-connected terminals of the 1970s) to work with borrowers in more comfortable settings.
For example, it's no longer unusual for loan officers to visit with borrowers in their homes after 5 p.m. to discuss a mortgage application. And thanks to government sponsorship, the industry is closer to a completely electronic closing process.
Partly as a result, a mortgage professional's workday often doesn't end as early as it once did. Online tools with multiple options have made this shift easier, allowing loan officers to connect to companies like ours using their choice of technology — whether at a Sunday open house, or from home after dinner to finalize that day's work.
Of course, it's also important to make sure experts are available to speak with mortgage professionals in person when that's the option customers prefer. We've been pleased to discover that one outgrowth of providing user-friendly online tools is technology can free up customer service team resources when loan officers need to speak to someone to get the answers they need.
Our focus on technology includes a deep commitment to protecting customer data. In 2015, United Guaranty earned ISO/IEC 27001 Certification, a globally recognized standard for managing information security risk.
Digitization can also reduce errors and offer resources to manage data storage to ensure that lenders can access documents whenever they're needed — because even with rapid advances in technology, the importance of delivering products and customer service in the way customers prefer is paramount.
While advanced mobile technology options are available, we also remain ready to serve the customers and borrowers who prefer to mail or fax documents.
As we look ahead, our focus will continue to be on providing options and flexibility to meet the preferences of our customers to use the technological tools they are most comfortable with.
But, based on the technology we have in place now, United Guaranty is looking forward to determining how tomorrow's innovations can enable further improvements in customer service and our products.
Donna DeMaio is the president and CEO of United Guaranty Corp.