Fall Mortgage Expo Guide
Fall expo season is here for the mortgage industry, which means it’s time to plan a strategy for making the most of what can be an overwhelming few days. Here’s a three-part guide to making sure you come away from the events you attend this season with an action plan to make your business better.
1: Keep Your Long-Term Needs in Mind
Right now, in the midst of the refinancing craze made possible by super-low interest rates, everyone’s having record months. While that is a great problem to have, it is important not to lose sight of the problems that existed before the boom, because those problems will still exist when it ends.
If there was a part of your lending process that didn’t work well when interest rates were high and volume was low, that part still needs your attention for when interest rates inevitably climb and volume inevitably falls.
The cost to produce a loan is still at historic highs (and rising). Inefficiencies exist in most lenders’ processes, and a digital customer-facing front end alone is not going to fix them.
I say all this because industry expos are a great time to scope out the technology that can streamline the back end of the mortgage lending process and therefore eliminate the inefficiencies currently preventing lenders from closing as many loans as they might otherwise be able to.
As you shop for new tech at expos, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Don’t be tempted by shiny objects. Look for solutions that solve real problems.
- Focus on cost-cutting. You need it. Your customers need it. Ask tech providers for proof.
- Prioritize the lender experience. Fixing the back end of lending is the only way we’ll substantially improve the mortgage lending process for everyone involved.
Once you’ve written down the three or four things you want to come away from the expo with, it’s time to choose which sessions to attend.
2: Choose Impactful Sessions
You’ve got to make the most of the time you have, so it’s important to attend only sessions that are highly relevant to your goals and needs. While the most impactful session will be different for every attendee, I recommend doing some word-of-mouth research and then focusing on those that offer demos.
First, research. Before you go to the actual event, get a sense of which tech providers are going and what they have to offer. Make a shortlist of technology that looks like it could help address your long-term needs. Then try to find people using this tech and talk to them about their experiences.
You can do that by putting out a call on social media or asking the software provider for a customer who might be willing to talk with you. Or consider asking around when you get to the expo. The point is, you want to hear about how the technology works in the trenches, day to day – not when tech professionals are giving a demo.
Once you have this feedback, you should have a very short list of intriguing tech solutions. When you do, sign up for sessions that include product demos.
Without a product demo, it’s hard to determine whether a piece of technology is actually a fit for your organization. During a demo, though, you can see how the tech looks in action, identify potential pain points for your users, and ask about how they might play out in real-life scenarios.
You’ll also get a sense of what the adoption hurdle might look like, which will help you determine whether the promised benefits are worth the trouble you’ll have to go through to implement the new solution with your team.
Which brings me to the third component of a successful expo.
3: Follow Through with the Whole Team
The best-case scenario is to bring people from many parts of your business to digital mortgage expos. Your tech team understands how various solutions will fit within your existing stack, your operations people understand workflows, and your salespeople have a sense of how various solutions will actually work when it comes to selling loans.
If you can’t manage to get a big group to the actual expo, make sure you have a plan to debrief with people who represent every part of your business. That might mean…
- Setting up post-expo demos that stakeholders from various departments can participate in. Make sure every potential user has a chance to voice questions and highlight potential problems before committing to new technology.
- Scheduling a face-to-face meeting between your team and the software providers, either at your office or theirs. This helps determine whether you have a good rapport, which matters a lot if you’ll have to work with their tech support throughout the life of the contract.
- Debriefing as a team. After a demo or in-person meeting, give your team some time to process their interactions and come up with additional questions, then schedule a meeting where you can get a read on everyone’s reactions and talk through any concerns. Some people are less likely to voice concern if they think they’re the only one with a problem; actively soliciting feedback can help you identify and avoid potential problems.
At this point, you should have a good sense about whether a new tech solution is right for your organization. And if it is, congrats! Finding the right technology can help lenders reduce the cost of originating a loan, speed up the process, and significantly improve the customer experience.
Red Flags at Expos
One final note on doing the expo circuit: in addition to having a plan for evaluating potential technology solutions, it’s important to be on the lookout for red flags that should send you running the other way. Here are the three biggest:
- Not speaking mortgage. If the mortgage tech developers don’t understand the lingo of the mortgage industry, get out of there. How can you expect their tech to solve your problems if they don’t even understand what those problems are?
- Being prickly. I get that people are busy at expos, but if company reps seem irritated at your questions or otherwise give you an unpleasant vibe, walk away. Remember: if you decide to use their tech, you’ll have to work with them for months (or years). Do you really want every conversation you have to be unpleasant?
- Avoiding talk of cost savings. Mortgage lending is too expensive for mortgage lenders right now. One reason for that is that most lenders are spending too much on technology that under-delivers on its promises. If a tech provider isn’t willing to talk concretely about how their solution will save you money, proceed with caution.
Talk to Cloudvirga
If you’re interested in saying hello to us or seeing our software in action, look for us at Digital Mortgage 2019, September 23 to 24, in Las Vegas, or at the MBA National Convention and Expo, October 27 to 30, in Austin, Texas. I hope to see you there!
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