I always enjoy industry conferences. They are great opportunities to meet old friends and make new ones and to discuss pressing industry problems. They are even better for me when I get the chance to speak from the podium about important industry problems. They are best when I can do all of this without leaving the state of Florida, where I make my home.
So, I'd have to rate this week's MBA National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference & Expo 2015 as one of the best shows I've attended in quite a while.
But I think the best part about this show was what I learned about mobile technologies in use in the mortgage space. I was of the opinion that our industry was behind again. We have a well-earned reputation of being late adopters. Not this time. I was very pleased to learn that every lender in the country is now using well-designed, user-friendly mobile apps that allow their customers seamless and secure access to their accounts from any smartphone or tablet — from anywhere they happen to be. These apps are all built on open data standards and provide easy and immediate interfaces to other systems where their clients have sensitive financial information, pulling it all together for a 360-degree view of the consumer’s financial life in the palm of their hands. It's beautiful.
It's also April Fool's Day.
We don't have that yet. We're not even close to that. In my session at MBA Tech, I moderated a great group of professionals as we discussed with the audience the latest developments in mobile technology and the critical considerations involved in launching a mobile strategy from leading industry technologists — perhaps the most important of these critical considerations involves the question, "Why aren’t we doing this yet?"
I was joined on the panel by Manish Arya, chief technology officer for Tavant Technologies; Rajesh Bhat, chief executive officer at Roostify; and Kimberly Russell, mortgage technology analyst at Renasant Bank.
So, why aren't we doing this yet? Lenders don't think it's that important. Stratmor is currently conducting its debut edition of its LOS Technology Insight Survey. The preliminary data is already available and it points to lender priorities for their IT development. Topping the list is compliance tools — no surprise there — followed by document management, system security, and workflows with these four items considered as extremely important by 80% of the respondents. Where is mobile? If you were at the session, you saw it in the next slide, with only 40% of respondents feeling that it was extremely important.
This is quite surprising to me because I asked lenders in attendance to use their mobile phones to vote on poll questions during my session. They pulled out their phones and participated without giving it a second thought. Don't we think that the consumers we serve are just as likely to pull out their phones for banking and mortgage services?
In fact, we know they will. Over the past six months, Stratmor has surveyed over 17,000 consumers as part of our MortgageSAT customer satisfaction measurement program. We sent an email invitation with a link to a Web survey, which is mobile aware. Fully one-quarter completed the survey on mobile devices, with 88% of those who started the survey on mobile completing it there. Consumers will interact with us via mobile if we give it to them.
But as the MBA put it so well in the description for our session, "A mobile application might be built to fit into the customer’s hand, but ultimately it needs to fit into a lender’s enterprise."
The examples provided by the panelists in my session should have made it clear to attendees that mobile does have a place in the mortgage banking enterprise. It's just a matter of finding it and then developing the tool. And there are options for those firms hoping to develop or license a mobile app.
When I asked the audience to tell us how they developed their own apps, they pull out their smart phones again. Of those that said they had a working app, 41% said they hired a company to build it. Another 35% said they hired staff to build it for them internally. Finally, 24%, nearly a quarter of those with working apps, said they simply licensed a mobile app that someone else had built. It doesn't get much easier than that.
In our session, we discussed the uses of mobile technologies on the front end, for prospecting, app generation and loan processing, as well as the servicing side to enable single point of contact from anywhere and to provide additional revenue streams for servicers. There are many ways our industry can use mobile technologies.
But if we don't do it, someone else will. We're already seeing disintermediation on the banking side, where nonbank third parties are using mobile to take market share from banks for basic banking services. If we don’t go where our customers want us to be, someone else will gladly do so.
I'll revisit this topic in future posts because it's only going to get more important. In the meantime, I would love to hear how you’re using mobile in your institution and about the benefits it's bringing your business. You can wait until tomorrow if you want. I want the truth, not an April Fool's gag.
Garth Graham is a partner with Stratmor Group and has over 25 years of mortgage experience.