Real estate and mortgage professionals face significant challenges in meeting the growing needs of the housing market. These problems were compounded by historically low interest rates, which sparked a generational refinancing boom as the industry adapted to the work-from-home environment, further complicating operations.
So it comes as no surprise that, when asked, WFG’s lender clients and their borrowers cited learning, collaboration, process efficiency and communication as four major pain points they want to improve. In 2020, the WFG began to seek and develop solutions to some of the industry’s biggest challenges. Using feedback from a series of surveys and interactions with clients and borrowers, we have developed the following programs aimed at increasing collective knowledge, fostering collaboration, streamlining processes and improving communication.
There is no doubt that in order to meet the rapidly growing demand for mortgage transactions, firms have been forced to rapidly expand their operations, not only with new employees, but also with employees who are new to the industry. This response has resulted in a lack of expertise in lending, ownership and closure processes, which is currently a key issue for clients. To address this issue, WFG has developed a comprehensive training program in which we work with clients to assess knowledge gaps and identify relevant topics and training courses. These programs cover the full spectrum of mortgage lending – from appraisal and appraisal to title and closure.
Identifying gaps and creating training courses to address those gaps – face-to-face, remotely, or on their own – is the key to solving this system-wide problem.
Collaboration is the key to success in any market, but working in a rapidly changing market makes it all the more important. Through collaboration, we identify opportunities for improvement as well as create solutions that will benefit the industry and address persistent issues such as connectivity issues, closure issues, data accuracy, supplier costs and turnaround times.
At the WFG, collaboration is one of the core principles, along with the principles of “communicate” and “coexist”, which together make up the “three Cs” that make up our logo and define our mission. To address industry concerns about how to improve collaboration, we have formed a council dedicated to finding ways to build and expand partnerships with customers and market players. Through these efforts, we established the Executive Roundtable (ERT), which brought together industry opinion leaders and decision makers. The ERT meets quarterly to discuss industry issues and discuss possible solutions.
In addition to ERT, we conduct routine surveys, which have proven to be a valuable way to identify additional opportunities for collaboration. The WFG is also committed to participating in industry events, discussion forums and panel discussions that benefit everyone by developing far-reaching solutions. And we are committed to forging strategic partnerships with value-added service providers to promote consistent practices that reduce errors and streamline processes.
EFFICIENCY OF THE PROCESS
An industry law demanding more efficient processes. Here’s why: Processing and closing a mortgage transaction has many moving parts that involve multiple participants. Failure or latency of one participant can slow down or abort the transaction.
Building an optimized process requires the involvement of customers and partners. The WFG Process Optimization Program is based on a partnership program in which we together carefully analyze the mortgage process from inception to closure to identify opportunities for improvement. After this analysis, we draw up a comprehensive plan for implementing priority process improvement initiatives. The program then initiates standard touchpoints for evaluating the effectiveness of completed initiatives.
Communication is the fourth obstacle identified in our study as the main problem. About 10% of respondents indicated that communication failure is one of the most serious problems in the industry. WFG agrees and invests in telecommunications systems, platform integrations, and new products that make it easier to collect and distribute transactional data.
Improving communication between the parties to a transaction may seem simple, but in reality it is very difficult. We live in a world where everyone runs on different systems, on different handheld devices, in different time zones, and at different times of the day.
The WFG has developed a series of communication standards aimed at facilitating communication between participants in a transaction that facilitate the exchange of transaction information, provide insight into the mortgage pipeline and clarify outstanding requirements.
These standards primarily rely on our teams to be active and available during customer hours, resulting in timely responses to emails and calls. The WFG standardized application programming interface (API) also allows us to quickly integrate with lender clients and third-party vendors. Data exchange through system integration eliminates email, phone calls and loss of documentation. We’ve also implemented standardized reporting protocols — sharing up-to-date performance and pipeline information allows you to assess pipeline health, make informed decisions, and eliminate surprises.
Constant discussions of industry development, fluctuating orders and expected service levels foster consistency and improvement, and a commitment to transparency means sharing real and meaningful data with customers. This enables the WFG to identify and resolve long-term problems.
In the end, it’s all about the borrower; Whether the communication is by email, telephone, or through a web portal, it is of the utmost importance to provide the borrower with timely information about his or her transaction.
WFG’s communication standards may sound simple, but commitment to them has resulted in WFG and our clients achieving world-class borrower satisfaction scores and forging partnerships that can overcome any challenges we may face.