In our Hot Topic this week we have Brent Emler, Director of Sales @ Lender Toolkit & Keri Rogers, SVP of Strategic Planning @ Lennar Mortgage on the program to discuss the intangible benefits lenders gain from adopting a culture of change and automation?
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Building A Culture Of Change And Automation With Brent Emler And Keri Rogers
It is Monday, November 29th, 2021. I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I caught a nasty little cold that just sucked all the energy out of me and my appetite. I actually lost weight over this Thanksgiving holiday. That’s a first, but I’m going to be still overcoming it. Unfortunately, I shared the cold with my wife, the cook, after Thanksgiving.
We still had some great food, and now she’s dealing with what I’ve got. I hope you’re all feeling well and healthy everywhere that this latest strain of COVID is not coming your way. We’re going to see what it’s done to the market. Let’s talk a little bit later to Matt and get his perspective on it. I’m sure Les will have something to say as well about it.
We’re excited to have you here. This show is created by mortgage professionals. It is for mortgage professionals. Correct me if I’m wrong, let me know. I think we’re the only live show in the industry and the nation. There are a lot of great podcasts out there, and I encourage you to check out all the podcasts over at IndustrySyndicate.com.
We’re the only live one. We’re the first and the only one still producing that. Of course, you listen to it on a download basis. Our commitment is to bring you timely information that you can read anytime, anywhere. We’re always grateful for our readers and the feedback I’m getting. You can text me at (512) 632-2900 if you want to send me feedback as you’re reading or put in questions.
That’s always great. Also, I have LinkedIn messages up. You can send messages via LinkedIn. Send it to David Lykken. Anyway, looking forward to it and getting into this podcast. We’ve got a special Hot Topic segment. My dear buddy, Brent Emler, who is with Velma for years now is the Director of Sales at Lender Toolkit. He is here with a special gift.
Keri Rogers, who is SVP of Strategic Planning at Lennar Mortgage. I’m very excited to have both of them on the show, especially Keri. We always love having Brent on. He is going to be sharing a perspective of what Lender ToolKit is focusing on and some of the solutions they’re bringing. I’m really interested in Keri’s perspective because as SVP of Strategic Planning, they’ve got a successful digital mortgage initiative going on.
How does this fit in? What’s your vision? How does Lender ToolKit fit into that? We’re going to be talking more about that in the Hot Topic segment. Stay tuned to the rest of the show. We’re grateful to have you here. I want to say a special thank you to our sponsors, The Mortgage Bankers Association of America, as well as the Finastra Fusion Mortgage Bot Solution.
You can tap into the robust features such as user-defined groups for processors, underwriters, and closers, and rely on automated email notifications for various stages of the loan process. Check out all the features and get real-time pipeline information. They go on some of the other systems, but the way they go about it, Finastra is a bit unique. I encourage you to check them out.
Go listen to the podcast we recorded with Karen Jenkins on October 4th, talking about strategic vision and the overall user experience as well as customer experience, UX and CX, which is so critical. A lot of the focus at Finastra is also, their open architecture, which is very interesting in how they are making interfaces work so successfully and a big part of their growth.
Lenders One and Mortgage Collaborative, these two co-ops do a great job of helping lenders and vendors like ourselves. We’re members of both of these, and we’re so thrilled with the results we get out of these. There’s a great reason to be a part of both of these. We’re a part of both of them. More and more people are becoming members of both because of their uniqueness.
They do operate in basically the same space but have slightly different focuses and programs. Check out Lenders One and The Mortgage Collaborative. I’m thrilled to have them as sponsors, as well as the Community Mortgage Lenders of America and Insellerate. Josh does a great job over there helping with his CRM solution in the engagement platform. I’m looking forward to having Josh back on and talking about that. Check out his episode from June.
Also, Ken Perry, and the learning management system there at Knowledge Coop. He does a great job of helping you educate your people and keeping them current and all that’s going on. Also, Mobility MMI and Modex. We had Modex on, the Dale Larsons. Dale III and Dale Jr. talk about how powerful Modex can be and this technology that’s there.
I love the feedback we’re getting regarding artificial intelligence on the predictability of a loan officer. That were some comments that they made that caught a lot of people’s attention. Imagine having artificial intelligence, a predictive model on how long a loan officer will stay and how successful it will be. Check out both Mobility MMI, as well as Modex for all the solutions they provide.
I’m thrilled to have Snapdocs as one of our sponsors. They do a great job of helping with the digital mortgage experience. If you haven’t checked them out, be sure to do so. Also, read the episde about Vishal Rana who was our guest on September 13th. Some exciting stuff going on over there, as well as SuccessKit. Everyone notices how your customer referrals can close more than anything else. We signed up with SuccessKit.
If you’re a vendor or a lender and you’re wanting testimonials on your website or have some material created for your market material to support your marketing effort, you need to check out SuccessKit. I have been thrilled with what they’ve done for us in our consulting business. I’m sure they’ll do the same for you. Julian does an amazing job of creating compelling content and drawing it out of people. You got to check them out. Lender ToolKit is one of our newest sponsors, so I’m thrilled to have them as a sponsor. On this show, a special thank you goes out to Rob, Les, Alice, Allen, Matt, and Jack for their contributions each and every week to the show. Welcome, everybody to the Hot Topic segment.
I’m excited to have a dear old friend of mine, Brent Emler. Director of Sales at Lender ToolKit. Joining him will be Keri Rogers, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning at Lennar Mortgage. Very excited about that especially as she enlightens us on some of Allen’s comments here, getting a perspective. Brent, it’s good to have you back. We’ll let you introduce Keri in a minute. Explain why you’ve invited her to the show, but it’s good to have you back. Appreciate you.
Thanks, David. That was a great setup. Thank you, Allen, for sharing some of the information from the article that STRATMOR put out. It’s interesting to hear there’s no correlation between spending on technology and lowering fulfillment costs. I would submit that lenders haven’t invested in the right technology, or at least not focused on the right technology.
They haven’t fully committed to that technology. We’ll see through this Hot Topic discussion that that’s the case. David, a little bit about where I come from. I was with Velma for several years. They’re a sponsor of your show. They’re a CRM and marketing company. What I was seeing, David, was that marketing and CRM were becoming commoditized.
This speaks to Allen’s point. It was being commoditized. It wasn’t being adopted and it wasn’t being something that lenders were focused on. They would go out and buy the CRM technology. Cross their fingers and hope that it would make a difference in their business. I remember reading through Dave Savage’s Facebook group from Mortgage Coach, all the time we would talk about from top producers.
The question would be, “What’s the best CRM out there?” The answer is, “The one that you use.” It’s not just about investing in technology. It’s about actually using the technology and incorporating it into your business. Speaking of STRATMOR, I remember in about 2017, I was watching a presentation by Garth over at STRATMOR. He was talking about exactly what Allen just mentioned.
Technology spending is going up and profitability is going down. It’s not supposed to work that way when you invest in technology. Even in 2018, as you remember, profitability was so bad. I remember listening to a podcast where the host was joking about terminating their top producer because they were losing money on every deal.
That was a joke, but every joke is grounded in some measure of reality. Being in the CRM space, I had a lot of exposure to point of sale. I always find it really remarkable that so much money was being spent on POS and CRM. The cost to produce a loan was increasing. That came full circle for me. I was still with Velma in 2019. We partnered with Lender ToolKit to develop an eCOA automation solution.
It’s a terrific solution. I started talking to compliance and operations folks, and that’s when I realized, now I see why margins are compressing and why technology spend is going up. All this investment in loan officer-focused software is great at enabling sales velocity, but without optimizing the manufacturing process, all you’re doing is adding overhead.
That’s a great point.
It really is. When I saw what Lender ToolKit was doing with end-to-end automation for mortgage manufacturing, I jumped at being a part of that. I wanted to be a part of delivering digital mortgage transformations to lenders all over the country. We want to bring the passion POS companies brought to originations to the manufacturing process.
Investing in operations, it’s not as sexy. Marketing and sales-focused investments, it’s fun. It’s more applications, recruiting lower branches, and more customers. The manufacturing process may not be as fun to invest in. When it’s done right, there’s nothing better than being profitable and having happy customers and happy employees. That’s why we’re excited to work with Lennar, Keri, and her team on projects like task-based workflows. I’d like to hear from Keri. I’m excited to have her here with us.
Laura Escobar is a great leader there, and so many great leaders, and Keri. I am not surprised you’re there and doing so well. Good to have you on the show, Keri.
Thanks, David. I’m happy to be here.
Just so our audience could get a chance to get to know you a little bit, give a little bit about yourself and your background. We’d love to hear about it.
Since we keep talking about Garth, I’m going to talk about him a little bit more. This is my 30th year in the industry. I was born and raised in the industry with parents who were in the industry. Back in the ’90s, I was at a company many of you probably remember, Mortgage.com. I worked very closely with Garth Graham.
He ran the call center and I ran all the technology applications, workflows, and working with operations and training there. We worked closely together for many years. The current CIO at Lennar Financial Services, Tom Moreno was with us on that journey as well back in the ’90s. We were a bit ahead of our time back then, so we had our own proprietary loan origination system.
I’m a geek when it comes to that stuff. I was in the middle of it. I’ve had some great mentors in my career who’ve brought me along this diverse path that I’ve had. I’ve spent time in operations, in production. I was there for many years and ran larger mid-size mortgage operations for a while. I’ve worked at Fiserv.
Before coming to Lennar Mortgage, I was with ICE Mortgage Technology for six years working in their professional services department. I’ve had some great exposure to many different companies and many different ways of tackling some of the challenges in our industry. Some unique perspectives on workflow and use of our talent that we have available to us. This is the stuff I’m passionate about, so I’m happy to talk about it here.
I’m excited to have you here. We’re only getting right into talking about what’s driving Lennar’s desire for change and automation, Keri. I know you’re a Strategic Planning, so that’s part of your role. Give us a little insight.
For us, our automation, I’d have to tie back to two of our core goals. It’s our customer experience and the quality of our loans, and it has to drive those aspects for us. Otherwise, the automation doesn’t necessarily make sense. We have customers who are obtaining financing from us. We also have Lennar as a home builder. We have all of our associates who work for us, and they’re very important, those are our customers.
Our industry is challenged. We have to do a lot more in play. Sometimes the volume that we have to deal with is astounding and it’s overwhelming. It’s difficult to take it all and dissect it into something that you can find value from. How do you automate something when there’s this much going on? It’s been interesting. We’ve been able to focus on the low-hanging fruit first.
There are a lot of things that can be automated that don’t take away from the expertise of the talent that we have. It’s things that help them. It compliments their job. It becomes their digital assistant. Whether we’re using RPA to take away the extra steps to generate and send the closing document. Sometimes that could take between 3 to 10 minutes, depending on how complicated it is.Many things can be automated without taking away from the expertise of actual talents. In fact, it often elevates and compliments their jobs. Click To Tweet
We have some RPA going behind our closers and do that for them. We have different things that we focus on where we could eliminate our onshore staff. Train them up to work on the things that keep them focused on building their careers and becoming more talented in the industry versus just clicking the same buttons over and over again, the stare and compare, checking the checker.
We really try to focus on eliminating that because that’s what people don’t want to do. People want to learn and grow. They’re focusing on the easy stuff first, which we’ve pretty much done. Now, we’re moving into a little bit more challenging automation, which we can talk about a little bit about what we’re doing with the Lender ToolKit as well. We definitely focus on our associates and their experience.
Very good. Jack, let’s get over to you for a question.
This is for Brent. Is Lender ToolKit seeing the same desire for change in automation in the industry?
We are seeing the same desire for change in automation at a high level. Everybody knows the next round of advancements is going to require a deeper level of commitment. Keri just touched on it. The first round of digital mortgage was implementing a new way of collecting the application or eliminating a few of the button clicks, those types of things. Those are very important.
The next round of digital mortgage transformation and adopting a culture of automation from not just the application, but automating disclosures, automating underwriting, post-close, delivery, and tasks. How is tasking done within your organization? That does require a fundamental shift in the way mortgage is manufactured. We use the term digital mortgage transformation.
It’s more than just technology. It requires specialization in employee roles. It requires increased levels of accountability and deeper metrics, not just, “How many applications are we getting?” It requires clean lines of communication. In general, there is a desire for change, but it’s somewhat mitigated by the changing market. I know that everyone knows there’s an opportunity to improve, but taking the leap to transform your business is tough, and that’s why having that really strong leadership is important. David, you mentioned Laura Escobar at Lennar, and that’s strong leadership. Having that clear focus is where the rubber hits the road.
That’s so true. Alice, let’s get over to you.
Taking a look here, you listed off quite a few challenges that lenders are facing. All of them seem big as you list through all that. What do you think is number one?
If you have to bring it down to something easy and simple? Number one, you can learn lessons by automating the simple things first, the things that are black and white, whether it’s pulling a single merch credit report and automatically upgrading it or automating when your flood cert pulls. The different things that eliminate those button clicks are the low-line fruit that lenders can benefit from. They can find a very clear ROI by doing it.
The industry has already mastered most of those types of easier automation tools. There are a lot of resources out there that can help do that without taking away a lot of time and resources from the leadership and technology team to do. Those are the easy ones to go in and get your feet wet. As you start to find your flow and your groove for the time that it takes to do that. You can move into a little bit more complicated type of automation.
Your workflow has to be precise. When you automate, adoption is the key. Adoption has to work with the workflow because if the workflow is not aligned, then the technology fails, and then you start with confidence, and then you have adoption problems. That’s a whole other show we can have. It really is one of the most important factors.
That’s one where so many people stumble over. Alice, remember when you guys were launching the correspondent division? We talked about this numerous times. What’s the process? You asked and called me on almost a daily basis for a while. Getting thoughts about what’s the process? What are you seeing the best practices working?
The biggest challenge most people have, Keri, is they don’t want to face that because many in our industry have been doing it a particular way. They do not want you rocking their world and saying, “We’re going to suggest a different process.” “I’ve been doing this for 30-some years, I’m not going to change my process. You can all change, but I’m not, I’m staying with this.” How do you overcome that?
That’s such a great question, David, because that is the thing that I preach every day. Whether I’m trying to align with my other team members or our leadership team and drive us forward, that is the key. Our industry has a lack of talent. We have a lack of new blood coming into the industry. It’s so difficult to bring someone in and teach them this whole job like, “Here, be a processor.”
To be a good processor, it takes years, mentorship, and a lot of hands-on experience. We can’t do that quickly. Our industry is bad. The reason we’re bad around doing that is because we haven’t changed. We don’t want to change the process. What we’re working on with Lender ToolKit, and it’s so key to our growth and the industry’s growth, is to be able to go into a manufacturing task-based workflow, where we can easily tell people what they need to do, when they need to do it, and how to do it. Our new talent coming in or people who are looking to excel in their careers can master tasks versus an entire job role. Even though we don’t want to change, we almost have to. We have to disrupt.
You’re talking about a language that is one of the favorite topics with Jack Nunnery. Jack, when you launched your correspondent vision there, I had the privilege of working with you on that. This was the absolute topic. Such an important one.
Absolutely, David. We had an opportunity to embrace some of the better technology that was in the market in 2015 as we built and launched our correspondent lending program during that timeframe.
I remember that so well. You started what we call a greenfield experience, and then you just really drilled into that so much. Let’s get over to Allen Pollack. It’s good to have you on the show joining in as you listed this discussion. What questions might you have here, especially from a vendor’s perspective? I love that.
From a vendor’s perspective, every vendor has challenges. The big thing is we’re trying to sell automated solutions. We talked about this earlier, your technology spend and how you get value. They have to invest in technology, but they’ve got to adopt it and implement it. Anyways, what do you think the biggest challenge would be when vendors face selling automated solutions?You must invest in technology, but you must adopt and implement it. Click To Tweet
From my perspective, having the background that I have, there are always dollars to spend on sales-focused technology. CRM, POS. Those dollars were always there. Now that I’m in with Lender ToolKit, I’m in the manufacturing space and helping the executives see the value of focusing on operations is important.
We have to ask them to explore, “Why are my manufacturing costs so high? Where are the improvements that can be made?” Let me give you a couple of examples, and this is in no way supposed to be a shameless plug. There are a lot of automation solutions out there. I just know our customer’s experience, so I’ll speak from that perspective.
We did a case study for one of our customers. They’re doing 1,300 loans a month, they have 14 underwriters. I talked to a prospective customer. They do about the same number of loans, they have underwriters. That’s $250 in profitability loss on every loan. Said another way, that’s $4 million a year. That’s why I would push back on, there’s no correlation between technology, investment, and fulfillment cost.
The commitment period is another area that’s wildly different depending on the lender you ask. The case study we did was that our customer is using our end-to-end automation. They’re doing three-day commitments. Versus other lenders that don’t have the automation, they’re doing 10 and 14-day commitments. That’s another $1.5 million in profitability.
The best news is we don’t have this existential debate about the viability of a mortgage operation. Any lender in the country that’s in operation, you can look anywhere around your business and you can see the opportunity for improvement and optimizing the manufacturing process, starting with a sales process that’s focused on a vision, a digital mortgage transformation.
Whatever your vision is as the vendor, start with that and focus on that. Don’t worry about selling the product. That will come naturally. We have to help the executives picture their business in a future state, a state of a digital mortgage transformation state. The last thing is resource constraints, helping lenders to work through resource constraints.
Keri said it very well. We’ve got a lack of talent in the industry. You can only do so many things when it comes to technology. I would ask executives to look at what you’re prioritizing, “Do you have a technology roadmap? Are you sticking to the roadmap or are you getting sidetracked by the fire of the day? Finally, what are your guiding principles for your technology roadmap? Are you letting one transaction from a top producer take you completely off track?”
That’s an easy temptation. That’s a big challenge.
Here’s a shameless plug for TMS Advisors. Everything that you mentioned is the reason why sometimes an outside resource is the best person to bring in to help drive those technology projects. They are not seeing squirrels and chasing birds. They are focused on delivering a project, the timeline, and doing whatever it is they need to do to get those people aligned. It’s so important that once you start one of these projects you continue with them.
Alice, if we could jump in here real quickly.
I love the conversation. Keri, you’ve started to talk about this task-based approach for how to bring people in. How has technology played a role in that aspect and made it easier to expand your operation?
We’ve taken a couple of different approaches. We do have a pretty robust offshore team, which we rely on and they’re amazing. They’re very flexible with us. When we find an opportunity for them to onboard a new task, they focus on tasks for us. If we have an opportunity or we have a quality problem and we can find a way to fix it with that team, we initially start with that team mastering that task.
If we can identify a clear path to automate that task, we then take the next step to automate the task, and then we’ll give something new to our offshore team to work on next. We’re probably about a third task base when it comes to our end-to-end process. That’s worked well for us. The biggest challenge is that we’ve had a difficult time with the technology that’s available now. To manage those tasks and to uncover the data that surrounds those tasks.
We do make it work, but it’s not easy. It takes some pretty talented resources to corral and wrangle all the chaos that can happen when you have multiple people working on one loan. We’ve learned a lot from that over the last couple of years with being somewhat task-based. We’re taking what’s worked for us and we’re applying that.
We’re partnering with Lender ToolKit. We’re using ICE’s task-based workflow technology and workflow automation as well. We’re building out our layers of tasks that support our process from initial submission from our loan officers all the way through up to the post-closing process. We’re breaking it down using simplified logic initially. We’ll call that phase one and phase two.
Here’s a simplified logic. When things need to happen, who needs to happen by? What’s going to trigger it? What data needs to be updated if that task is complete? We’re biting this off in small chunks. We’re starting real simplified at the top. We’re working to make sure that the tool that’s built to help us manage this, and we’re partnering with LGK on that, is geared toward transparency.
We want everyone to be able to see exactly what has to be done and what has been done. We don’t need a lot of reports on different screens and different places to go to see if something’s been received or completed. That’s been a fun journey. We’re actually going to be going into our pilot very soon on that.
While we do that, we’re getting more granular as we nail down those workflow pieces that can be standardized through advanced logic using advanced logic and data and getting data off of documents, through the XML files from all of our services. The data is what’s going to drive the activities and the workflow.
Our industry, resources, and talent spend so much time every day trying to figure out, “What should I work on first?” That’s what we spend a lot of money on. We don’t realize how much we spend on people trying to figure out, “What’s the priority? What should I do? What should I work on?” especially in our business, because we have a long build-out time. We’re building homes. They’re not done in 30 or 45 days. It could become a little overwhelming when you have such a large pipeline.
We’re trying to focus on the efficiency of our associates and the data to make sure that we’re managing and providing the best customer service to our customers. At the same time, there are a lot of different paths that everyone can go down to find their happy spot when it comes to task-based workflow. In order to achieve that, you have to have the right technology in place. That is one of those areas where we can’t figure out an outside way to do it. We have to have it integrated into the day-to-day workflow of all of our associates.There are a lot of different paths that everyone can go down to find their happy spot when it comes to task-based workflow. But to achieve this, the right technology must be put in place. Click To Tweet
What are you seeing as far as the trend? Are people looking more away from offshoring to technology like Lender ToolKit, or is this still a balance between the two?
From a resource perspective on the operational level, it’s balanced and it has to stay balanced. We try to be very smart about who we use for what and the risk is in the right balance as well. When it comes to having offshore partners versus onshore. Using COVID as an example. Everybody was shut down and working remotely in a different country. It’s not as easy as working remotely in the United States.
There are a lot of challenges, things we never thought we would have to deal with in our lifetime. Not necessarily something that we planned for, but we got through it and we made it work. At the same time, you learn some lessons about that balance. I think that from a vendor perspective, we have a lot of innovative and cutting-edge technologies coming available to us.
It’s probably a little bit overwhelming. Sometimes I spend a lot of time in demos and picking apart what somebody is trying to pitch us on. I could do that pretty quickly because I’ve been on the vendor side for so long. There is a lot. Lenders, in general, and leadership gets overwhelmed by the amount of vendors coming at them at one time.
Most of them are trying to solve one specific thing, which Allen talked about earlier. If you’re going to put an investment into a product that is going to solve one problem, maybe your initial underwrite. It’s only going to work for 40% of your loans, is that the highest and best use of your investment? It might not be. It all comes back down to doing your homework and establishing the ROI and sticking to it. If you don’t know what that is, then why are you doing it? You need to know exactly what you’re going to get out of it, exactly how many loans it’s going to work for, and how many people you can move on to a better position or role because you’ve created this new thing. You have to dig into those details.
That’s so true. Allen, I know we’ve talked a lot about this topic before. Jump in here, please.
I just texted you, David. Fear of missing out. All of the other mortgage origination shops have this great technology. I either have something that I did before the better technology came out or how come I’m not automating income calculations. It’s interesting how that whole concept works. You’re right on. You’ve got to own and drive it over the goal line into the end zone in order to succeed at these projects before you take on the next one.
This gets to the last question I wanted to ask. What are some of the intangible benefits leaders gain from adopting a culture of change and automation? Keri, let’s start with you on that. It’s a challenge.
We actually have put through a lot of our leadership team and a lot of our technology team through Prosci Practitioner in sponsorship training. What we learned through going to any type of change management course is that we think we know change management because we’re leaders or because we’ve been doing this for so long.
There are so many fundamental things when it comes to change that we glaze over. Are people aware? Do they actually have the desire to use the new technology? If they don’t, we’re not going to get an option. It’s literally impossible. It’s something that you have to plan for. You have to bake that into your project. Have a real strategic approach to how you’re going to make people aware, how you’re going to make them want to do something, and how you’re going to get them to adopt it.
If they’re not adopting it, what tools do you have to get them to adopt it? Sometimes it’s different depending on what the technology is or what the workflow changes. Ultimately, as leaders, if we can’t master adoption. If we can’t bring the rest of the industry with us into this new way that we all think where we’re going, because they’re there day to day trying to get it done. That’s where we’re failing. We have to find a way to penetrate everyone and get them excited about where we could go as an industry, how it’s going to change their goals and their career path, and how they’re going to excel. It’s all about creating awareness and desire, truly.
It really comes down to leadership. Brent, when you see people struggling with the intangible benefits of this and struggling with change automation, what’s your perspective as a vendor on this?
I would echo what you’ve already said. The workplace, it’s evolved. Not just because of the pandemic, but because of workers. They have an evolving attitude about what a job should be and what it shouldn’t be. A lot of new workers are Millennials. They approach a role and a company with well-defined sets of expectations. They want their work to have meaning and purpose.The workplace has evolved not just because of the pandemic. It also changed because workers have an evolving attitude about what a job should and shouldn't be. Click To Tweet
Constantly putting out fires, triple-checking someone’s work, staring and comparing activities, none of that’s meaningful. It’s not meaningful work. We don’t want to do that as workers. Leveraging technology allows lenders to create well-defined and meaningful roles. Communication is also a key benefit of adding technology and streamlining your workflows and having normal processes.
I was reading a Gallup study. There were some amazing stats. Sixty-nine percent of employees would be less likely to quit if their company was more effective at communicating. Eighty-five percent consider effective communication and employee benefit. Ninety percent of employees say good company communication is key to a positive working environment. Technology automation, normalized process, and clearly defined roles, all of that improves communication and leads to retention. It all comes back to having that strong leadership and a culture of change.
That’s where the biggest challenge with many leaders is. They’re afraid to take on the headwinds of strong people who may have had great success and are resistant. I think so much of it as having that strong personality and an insistence about you. Any final questions for Keri or Brent, Jack?
I’ve got a final question for Brent. I’ve so enjoyed this show. Years ago, an owner of a loan origination system software company and I were having a conversation. He made a comment. He said, “People that purchased my software onboard it. It’s so often analogous to somebody buying a Ferrari, and then driving it at 35 miles an hour. They never really tap the power of the software.”
Brent, my question to you as the universe of Lender ToolKit, do you guys help the lender maximize what the software could allow them to do? As opposed to implementing it, getting into it, and three years later, you’re doing the same thing? Does Lender Toolkit help a lender optimize the value of the software?
We do. That’s the thing that I enjoy about this environment so much. We have dozens of system LOS and system administrators, some of the best in the country. We deeply understand the organization, how the organization operates, the challenges, and the opportunities, and deeply understanding that world and the customer’s world allows us to bring our expertise.
By bringing our expertise and a lender trusting us, these guys know what they’re talking about and help us deeply implement the software, as opposed to we see a lot of new vendors come into the market. Everybody’s so enamored with, “These guys got $12 million in funding. These guys got $50 million in funding. They must know what they’re doing. This vendor’s working with this large lender, so they must know what they’re doing.”
There’s a trap there that lenders can get into where they’re just lemmings and they’re jumping over the cliff because somebody else jumped over the cliff, as opposed to evaluating the vendors, not just their technology, but that organization to be able to effectively bring the change that you’re expecting from the automation solutions.
That’s always a challenge. Keri, I’ll let you wrap up this interview. How in the heck did you get all this to be accomplished at Lennar? There are so many questions that are coming in from so many people. We’ll have to have you back here. That’s number one.
You’re welcome. I would love to. I’m happy to talk about this because it’s what I eat, breathe, and sleep. It’s what I do every day. When you ask how, it’s because I’m constantly thinking about how we’re going to get there. There’s this amazing group of leaders and individuals. Having a president like Laura Escobar who’s all about paving the way, she completely embraces change.
We have the ability and the desire to do this. That’s why I came to work here. I could do this in a lot of different places, but I wanted it to do somewhere where everybody was on board. That’s probably the key. How do you do it? Everybody has to be on board. There have been countless discussions about what is this task-based workflow. How are we going to know what to do? What does it look like?
We’re trying to explain the vision, the benefits, the strategy, and the ROI. We document it, show it, display it, and repeat it, constantly getting everyone looking at the same goal and the same target, not going off somewhere to the side. That’s what I spend my energy on. At Lennar, on the mortgage team, our LFS team, they’re the ones who get the job done.
I just help make sure they understand where we’re going and why we’re going there. What’s going to work? What’s going to make us maybe get a little off course and go back to the old way of doing things? We’re challenging them to think about those speed bumps that could come along the way because not everything fits into this perfect world of where we’re trying to go with automation. Some things are really hard to automate. Some things, we just can’t. We identify the best way to use our people to do this task, making sure we’re all aligned.
Something you said earlier rang true. That is, “What is the return we’re going to have on this? Is it a 60% return? Is this meaning 60% of needs out there, 30%, or 90%”? It’s evaluating that which will also be a great compass for setting your priorities. It always goes so fast. Keri Rogers, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, she’s been our guest with Lennar Homes, along with Brent Ambler, who is a Director of Sales at Lender ToolKit. Brent, Keri, thank you so much for both being here. It was a great discussion. I appreciate it.
Next, we’ve got Odeta Kushi coming in from First American. I met Odeta going down the escalator at the conference after the Empower event. I struck up a conversation with her, and I was so impressed with her and her comments. She is the Deputy Chief Economist at First American. I’ve invited her to come out to the show and share what she sees coming up as we look into the new year. We’ll get some new perspective on that. Looking forward to having Odeta join us. Be sure to come back here
I want to say a special thank you to our sponsors, Finastra, CMLA, Lenders One, Insellerate, Mobility MMI, Modex, The MBA, Knowledge Coop, The Mortgage Collaborative, Snapdoc, SuccessKit, and Lenders ToolKit, our special guest. Good to have you with us, everybody. Have a great week, and I look forward to seeing you back here.
- David Lykken – LinkedIn
- Lennar Mortgage
- Lender ToolKit
- The Mortgage Bankers Association
- Karen Jenkins – Previous Episode
- Lenders One
- Mortgage Collaborative
- Community Mortgage Lenders of America
- Josh – Previous Episode
- Knowledge Coop
- Mobility MMI
- Dale Larson – Previous Episode
- Vishal Rana – Previous Episode
- First American