As online and mobile channels continue to prompt the growth of digital lending technology, consumer preferences are forcing mortgage lenders to adapt or risk losing market share.
Indeed, results from recent Accenture research found that for the first time, consumers rank good online banking services — not convenient branch locations — as the leading reason for staying with their primary bank.
Lenders need to steadily increase the breadth and depth of their digital footprint with the aim of providing transparency throughout the home buying process.
Currently, a high hurdle lies in the path to digital. Outdated legacy loan origination systems make adapting to mobile, cloud, analytics and other digital capabilities very difficult.
Many of these capabilities are built on newer technologies such as optical character recognition, which converts images into encoded text and enables institutions to take digital photos of documents and edit them, among other things. OCR and its innovative ilk can be plugged into modern platforms. If a lender's platform is too rigid to adapt to technologies like OCR, however, cost-saving and revenue generation opportunities will be forfeited.
The right analytic tools, for instance, can enable a lender to personalize the mortgage process to a particular customer's needs — whether that customer is a first-time home buyer, an upgrader or investor. But if the lender doesn't have a comprehensive data warehouse, or if its data is scattered across multiple systems, it runs the risk of disarray.
With critical data about the customer's intentions missing or irretrievable, applying analytics won't help lenders present the borrower with a personalized experience. Instead, many — especially less experienced — loan officers could end up using the same vanilla process for everyone, which could frustrate and even alienate customers.
Better data combined with customer analytics can also help lenders anticipate customers' needs for a new loan in advance of an application, enabling loan officers to proactively extend offers to customers and connect them to builders, retailers, real estate brokers and other key parties in the home buying process.
Lenders' ability to establish these affinity relationships and integrate with these partners may be limited, however, if these partners have more current or advanced technology in place.
As borrowers increasingly looking for a seamless digital experience, lenders have slowly begun to adopt mobile as a means of streamlining interaction points. If the process is clunky and bogged down by multiple handoffs, the opportunity to engage with them during the pre-application phase could be lost.
In some cases, borrowers can submit documents to the lender by taking a photo with their smartphones and uploading them directly to a mobile app. But these processes might not be fully integrated with the LOS, which then requires the lender to collect original documents via a printer or fax machine. If lenders are unable to electronically collect, scan and store data inside the LOS, they are, in effect, only partially delivering on the digital experience.
Lenders can't offer customers a full digital experience until they get the foundation right. Antiquated, complex legacy technologies won't enable them to leverage advanced analytics, enable e-signatures or electronically process the closing.
The digital train has left the station, so time is of the essence. Relying on old technologies to support new strategies will leave you struggling to catch up to your more digitally savvy competitors.
Ghazale Johnston is a managing director with Accenture Credit Services.