In our Hot Topic this week we have Joe Welu, founder and CEO of Total Expert to discuss how we’ve witnessed such a significant shift in the market and why it’s shifting even more quickly with rates rising and refinances decreasing, as well as what the opportunity is for lenders from Joe’s vantage point.
Joe has a unique vantage point of having 15 of the top 25 US banks and the lenders already as customers, and he is seeing what successful companies are already doing to leverage the data insights to impact their business. He will share with our listeners what he has observed!
To read more about this episode click here!!
Customer Intelligence: How Top Lenders Leverage Data With Joe Welu
Welcome to the show, everybody. Good to have you with us. I am at the Ice Mortgage Experience 2022 Conference in Las Vegas. I’m with Lender Toolkit, one of our sponsors very excited about that. Their event is starting now, but you can go check out their booth at booth number 627. This show is created by mortgage professionals. It is for mortgage professionals and we’re grateful to have you as our reader.
Our commitment to you is to bring you timely information that you can read anytime and anywhere and you’re going to be reading some real timely information because, in a Hot Topic segment, we have Joe Welu, the Founder and CEO of Total Expert as our Hot Topic guest. I pre-recorded this interview before I left for the conference. In the episode, he announced a new release of their product that you’ll not want to miss this upcoming interview in the Hot Topic segment.
Special thank you goes out to Industry Syndicate. Check out all the podcasts at IndustrySyndicate.com. They promote our show as well as some of the top leading shows in the nation. I want to say special thank you to our sponsors, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, as well as Finastra Fusion MortgageBot Solution, experience the power of a fully integrated approach to mortgage lending that simplifies the borrowing experience and streamlines the process for employees.
Read Karen Jenkins’ interview, as well as my interview with Chris Zingo, a great interview and I’m still thrilled to have them as sponsors. Also, LenderOne. We were at the A LendersOne Conference in Phoenix. It was great, well attended and there was so much information. We’re going to be bringing the presenters there on an upcoming episode here in the Just Future. There’s so much going on.
Also, we have The Mortgage Collaborative, TMC. Go back to the interview with Rich Swerbinsky that I did. We’ll talk to you a little bit about the conference and what’s going on there. Also, we have Total Expert as a business sponsor. Thank you. You’re going to hear more about them in the Hot Topics segment. That is an interesting interview.
I’ll say a shout-out to Knowledge Coop as a sponsor. They did a great job as a learning management system. Check out their new release. To get on the announcements on when that is being released and the information about that, go to TryTheCoop.com. Comparing the team, got some new stuff coming up. It is cool.
Also, Mobility MMI, Mortgage Market Intelligence and Modex. Both of these sponsors do a great job at helping you recruit top LOs and give you intelligence about what goes on in the market. Be sure to check these companies out. Also, we’re thrilled to have Snapdocs as a sponsor. They help lenders overcome obstacles to adopting eMortgage technology. Snapdocs is now offering the eMortgage Quick Start program. Check them out on our sponsor page. Also, SuccessKit. I love what Julian Lumpkin and the group are doing. Check out the interview we did with Julian.
Think about it, if people won’t buy a $5 dog toy on Amazon without reading reviews, why would prospects wanting a mortgage or buying mortgage technology reduce any less? They’re checking out reviews and SuccessKit can help create reviews for you and they do it in a fashion that I can’t begin to tell you how successful it has been for us. Check out SuccessKit.io.
Also, I want to say a special thank you to the Lender Toolkit. We’re again at the Lender Toolkit Pre-experience 2022 event. Also, we want to thank sponsor PennyMac TPO . Go back and read the interview with Kim Nichols. I also want to say thank you to FormFree. I’m so thrilled with their partnership. Go back and read the episode with Brent Chandler of FormFree and Kevin Kaufman with Freddie Mac. A very interesting interview and you won’t want to miss that.
Finally, a special thank you goes out to Debbie Wemyss at the DW Consulting Group, helping people with their LinkedIn profiles. I want to say a special thank you to Rob, Les, Alice, Allen, Matt and my good buddy, Jack Nannery, who’s going to take over the show for me at this point. Thanks, Jack, for cohosting this while I’m in Las Vegas driving some Ferrari around the track. Jack, it’s all yours. Take it away.
Thank you, David. Stay safe driving $400,000 automobiles around the racetrack. I don’t want to drag one of them down the guardrail. I’m excited to have Joe Welu here with us. He’s the Founder and CEO of Total Expert, the FinTech software leader that launched the first customer experience platform purpose-built. Those are key words, purpose-built or modern financial institutions. The question is, are you modern or wanting to be? You’re going to want to read this interview. Since 2015, Joe has led Total Expert’s vision on culture and growth and has now over 300 employees now.
The company powers CRM marketing and customer engagement for nearly 175 companies. Fifteen of which are of the Top 25 US banks and lenders in our nation. Total Expert’s growth has skyrocketed since its inception. In 2020 alone, it ranked number seventeen on Inc’s 5,000 most successful companies in the Midwest, three in the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journals 2020 Fastest 50 Companies, and 82 in the Deloitte Tech Fast 500. Very excited to have Joe here with us. Joe, I am so excited to have the honor of having a FinTech expert leading the company, both as a sponsor and on the show. Joe, welcome to the Lykken on Lending show.
Thanks, David. I appreciate the opportunity and it’s great to finally meet you and great to be here.
Your company’s so famous and you’re well known certainly, but there are some people that may not know you and your background. Let’s let our audience get to know you a little bit. Who are you? What’s your background? What led you to launch and start Total Expert?
I grew up in the Midwest, a very blue-collar upbringing and started selling real estate after college. It was in the basement of my real estate office that I started incubating the first version of Total Expert. We did not see technology that was purpose-built for the industry. We saw a lot of people from Silicon Valley bringing in technology but didn’t deeply understand the customer journey. They didn’t understand how important relationships are in the home lending space. We were looking for ways to enable that and naively started thinking, “This can’t be that hard.” That was how I got started then been very fortunate to find some amazing customers that have helped us evolve the company.
A good number of customers. You have over 300 employees, over 175 companies, including 15 of the top 25 US banks and lenders. That’s impressive how much traction you’ve gotten on this journey. Joe, one of the things I want to talk about is how we’ve witnessed such a significant shift in the market and it’s shifting even more quickly with rates rising and refinances decreasing. What is the opportunity for lenders from your perspective and vantage point?
Certainly, it’s not the first time we’ve seen this movie before and it’s a cyclical industry. We’re in a time of contraction, but what I believe fundamentally, David and I’ve seen this from my experiences. These are tremendous opportunities for the organizations that lean into growth, have a growth mindset, number one and lean into these times as an opportunity to grow their market share. With everything going on, the reality is there’s still a tremendous purchase environment out there.In times of contraction, organizations with a growth mindset must lean in and grow their market share. Click To Tweet
Lenders that have the chops to go out and build the referral relationships, there’s a tremendous purchase environment that I think, from what I hear, is going to hopefully, inventory problems will start getting slowly better. Also, we’ve got this incredible amount of home equity that has been built up over the last couple of years at unprecedented levels. We see organizations leaning into how we can get smarter about using data technology and our tremendous people. Bringing those things together to then capitalize on this type of market and grow are going to win.
You have a unique vantage point. Having 15 of the Top 25 US banks and lenders already as customers. You are seeing what successful companies are already doing and that’s where I want to go next. Watching these top lenders leverage the data insights to impact their business. What are some things that you could share with our readers that you’ve observed, Joe?
First of all, grateful for the opportunity to partner with so many of these great companies. I do get the unique opportunity to have a lot of executive management conversations on strategy and how we’re going to attack it. What I see is a theme in all top organizations is they recognize that number one, it’s a data arms race now. I have to get smart using data and insights then I have to be able to get even smarter about using those things to enable my people to be more productive. How can I use data and insights to create surface more opportunities for deals and optimize that customer journey to maximize pull-through?
An example would be the last couple of years, even the big, well-run organizations that are typically optimized had so much business coming in that it was accepted that deals would fall through the cracks and hit the trashcan. Now what I see the best companies doing is they’re saying, “Even though volumes are down holistically, we’ve still got these amazing opportunities for growth if we optimize our current customer journey and plug the holes.”
We see them doing a lot of that and the two big levers that we spend a lot of our time on lead to close, which is wrought with many scenarios where those leads fall through the cracks. People forget. You’ve got loan officers that are sales-driven creatures. They may be great if they’re now an opportunity, but if there are 6 or 9-month buying cycle, they’re not as great at that. How can you put systems around them to make them better versions of themselves?
We see great organizations leaning into that. World-class lenders, world-class organizations and brands in general I think value very deeply that long-term customer relationships. It is truly how do I build a lifelong relationship with every single customer and they approach it that way and they put systems and processes in place to enable their people to execute on that.
I got that when I had a demo of your product as a new sponsor of the show. I love getting to know our sponsors. I love to know what you do and it was interesting how you use the data and the insights to positively impact business. You also, therefore, see a lot of best practices that are out there. How are some lenders capitalizing on the cash-out refinance?
One of the biggest opportunities in this market is understanding that so many of your past customers, even though they might not benefit from lowering a rate, they can still benefit in many cases from leveraging that equity that is increased tremendously, obviously as we know. What a lot of our lenders are doing and what we’re doing at Total Expert is bringing those data points together around property value, comparing that to amortization, schedules, loan amounts and identifying the people that have peak amounts of equity or great amounts of equity above certain thresholds.
Also, then, comparing that to their financial profile. We have relationships now directly with credit bureaus to where we’re able to then tap into data sets that help you get a much more comprehensive profile around a customer. If you can bring those data points together, meaning I know how much equity you have. I know what a new payment would be and I know how much revolving debt you have. I can put out very specific personalized offers to those customers that are going to have a very high conversion. We’re seeing lenders starting to execute on that and we’ve got a lot of the building blocks technology-wise in place to help automate that.
You have some wonderful building blocks. Again, I encourage anyone reading this, if you have not received a demo, go out there. Find out what the company’s leaders are doing like this. It’s insightful. When you look at the market, what are some of the biggest opportunities in today’s market for lenders to grow their relationships with current borrowers and establish relationships with new borrowers who will be purchasing their first-time home hopefully in 2022?
At a basic level, we always think about it in strategy sessions with lenders, as you’ve got three words that you want to remember. If you want to expand relationships, add new relationships and that is, if you think about traditionally. We’ve traditionally marketed based on a transaction. We’ve thought about each borrower customer. Maybe not intentionally but it was a transactional approach. I put out a rate, a product, flyer and I bring that person in. I close alone and I go on to the next one.
Now we’re seeing lenders that are focusing on three things and that is educate, engage and advise. Wherever I’m at, if it’s a current customer or possible customer or past customer, I need to be able to educate them on what’s going on in the markets. Also, what are products that can be helpful and impactful for them at this point in time?To grow your relationships as a lender, you need to focus on educating, engaging, and advising. Click To Tweet
Educating them on arms and first-time home buyer opportunities if they’re there. The fact that you don’t need 20% down, all of those are educational opportunities. I move over to the engage part, so if you think about the quality of all relationships are heavily tied to the quality of your communication and engagement. Are you able then to facilitate good strong communication with your customers and prospects across multiple channels? Are you able to do that at scale?
The only way to do that is combining the people with the tech. Are you in a position where you have the data assembled? You have a comprehensive profile, you understand equity, if they put their home on the market, if they’re shopping for a mortgage with your competitor, all of those things so that you can reach out and advise them on how to make a great financial decision and how you can help them make a better financial decision around a specific type of loan, so educate, engage and advise.
How does the technology enable that process? Give you some examples of how you do that. I have sought it, but I want you to articulate it.
In the simplest form, if you think about the core of our platform is what we call intelligent automation. Traditional automation in the lending space, it’s very linear. Meaning if you do this, then this happens and it’s a straight line. It’s time series of activities that fire out messages. An example would be a drip campaign.
Every seven days you’re going to get a message or every third day, whatever it is. Intelligent automation is looking at data that we have on you as a customer that you’ve told us. Also, pairing that with third-party data such as credit bureau data, property value data and altering the customer journey. Altering how we’re engaging with you, what we’re talking to you about and when we’re reaching out based on that information.
We’re also then further adjusting that based on how you respond. That’s, in essence, if you think about like the ability to deliver the perfect customer journey. That’s what Total Expert does through technology. We do that by bringing in data, being an intelligent platform that can then change directions on how you interact with that customer. You’re delivering to them the best possible scenario every time.
One of the things you hit on first was the educate part because we’re seeing with the Millennials, they want to be educated first. That’s the biggest mistake a lot of people do is, say, “I want to talk to you, Millennial.” They go, “That’s not our style.” We better make some adjustments to that. When you look at the behavior of these Millennials, these first-time home buyers, all the studies seem to indicate, Joe, that they want to first be educated before they start talking to somebody, then they’re going to be at some point ready to engage. How does Total Expert support that process of the new first-time Millennial home buyer?
Very simply, number one, first of all, by having a comprehensive financial profile of every customer, you have to understand that you have a Millennial in place then being able to have a specific set of touchpoints, specific types of content and communication that can be sent out to that particular Millennial then we’re watching for how they’re engaging. Do they open an email? They love knowledge, as you mentioned. They love to be educated. How do I know if I’m educating them? How do I know if I’m delivering them valuable content about the process or whatever? You can see if they’re opening an email.
Joe, we know that technology alone is not going to drive results for lenders. It’s a fact. Technology is a great enabler, but it’s not the single driving point. How can lenders reading this interview support loan officer’s productivity, build internal buy-in around the new technology and its value?
First of all, it’s critically important to be super clear with the sales organization that we know fundamentally this is a relationship business. The consumer values the advisor. They value expertise. Studies have shown it. We’ve seen a lot of organizations that have tried to say, “We’re going to completely and utterly bypass the human connection, the human interaction, the advice part of the transaction.”
I was on a call with a “FinTech lender” that does mortgage lending on the home equity side. We were talking about their business model and the fact that they realized that to convert the customer, they needed to have a human being that could answer questions when it came time to go forward and sign on the dotted line. It’s a human business and acknowledging that with your sales organization is absolutely critical.
It’s about what is in it for them and how you are going to make them more productive. The old way of thinking, I have had hundreds and maybe even a thousand conversations with executives over the last 5 or 6 years. We want to make sure they’re going to get in and use it. A wrong way to think about it. What you want to think about it is what are we going to do to automatically enable the surface to the top of their inbox, make their life easier every day, show them opportunities, put opportunities in front of them with what they need to say to this customer based on that opportunity was surfaced as, “This is somebody you should talk to. Here’s why. Here’s what you should say.”
That’s how you get buy-in, showing how you’re going to deliver value. Fundamentally as a business, if you’re in the lending business, you’re in the relationship in the people business and having technology that enables you to do a better job at that, which is so much of our focus is bringing together the tech and the human is where the magic can come together.
A little bit ago, when you were responding to one of my earlier questions, you talked about how you work with lenders on what I think I heard you say is strategy sessions. Clearly, because of your unique position in the market, again, you have the number of customers you do at some of the top customers. Talk about those strategy sessions. I’ve always advocated, whether a warehouse line or investor, to find a partner to help you with your strategy that leaped out at me. Talk about that.
It’s a weekly exercise for me and sometimes I’m on the phone with the CEO or the C-suite. We’re having a conversation about the opportunities in the market and about how to best attack those opportunities. Ultimately, it’s the understanding first part of my job and our job as a partner. We don’t even think about it as we’re in selling a technology.
We’re selling a partnership. We’re selling the ability to drive business outcomes. We don’t focus on that. We’re not going to build a valuable organization. The strategy is a precursor before you buy technology or before you start a new project, understanding what do you want to accomplish and what the methods are to accomplish that then what’s the most efficient path. A specific example would be the optimization and optimizing the customer journey.Before starting a new project, you need to understand what you want to accomplish and the methods you need to accomplish that. Click To Tweet
All of the lenders reading and all the lenders out there, they have all of these systems. They’ve got point-of-sale systems, a mobile app maybe for a point-of-sale, their LOS, back office, front office and all of these email systems in some cases. How do all of those things come together? At each one of those moments, how do you deliver the things that will move the needle? The things that are going to help close a transaction.
It’s outlining that customer journey, how it goes through your current technology stack, where data is available, where it’s not available and the fastest path to excellence is finding opportunities where you can make fast progress. I was on the phone with the top bank who’s in the mortgage lending space. We said, “What’s the lightest weight thing that we can do in terms of it lift? What’s the lightest weight project management lift but the highest impact?”
We identified one specific customer journey that would drive deal flow, and we broke it down into that slice. We’re approaching that relationship saying, “Let’s nail this part of the customer journey, this scenario. Let’s use some data to enable this journey to deliver opportunities to your people and create new deals.” If we solve that, we’re going to get an impact in the business, then we can go to step two.
I love the fact that you stay engaged with the customer. It’s not sell them, then turn it on and let them start using the product. You stay engaged with strategy, giving them insights into what others are doing to help them grow their business. Joe, you and I are both at the Ice Mortgage Experience 2022 and I hear the rumors are correctly, you got some announcements coming up. Can you share those with us on the show?
We do have a pretty big announcement coming out. Not a secret to some, but we are announcing our customer intelligence offering and what we believe is a best-in-class industry-leading customer journey platform that allows you to orchestrate a customer journey from lead to a customer for life. What we’ve done is we’re building in key insights. As I mentioned, we’re calling this product offering customer intelligence that does things like, I’m going to surface an opportunity where a borrower has a certain amount of equity. I’m going to surface an opportunity when they’re in the market shopping. I’m going to surface an opportunity when their house goes on the market.
Not only are we surfacing the opportunity, but the entire best practice, the workflow, the orchestration around the things that should happen to capitalize on that opportunity is a part of that. We’re pretty excited about it. It’s a natural evolution of our platform and we believe that the ability to use data and insights to drive the business is critically important. It was a natural progression for us.
It’s a game-changer, especially if you’re looking at how we can use technology to drive business. You talked about it earlier. It’s not a single driver. There’s a lot of it, but when you have the right technology, it can be a great enabler. I love that. I’m excited to see a demo product.
Thank you. We’ve had a lot of great feedback from customers and people have used data and insights in certain ways, but it’s pairing that with the intelligent automation that makes it special and allows you to create those business outcomes and new deal flow.
That’s very exciting. Joe, I appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule to be here with us. You are a Total Expert, especially in what you’re doing and providing this intelligence, data, and insights to lenders. Congratulations on your success. I got a feeling you’re going to be having a lot more success. Looking forward to being with you on the ride.
Thank you. I appreciate it.
Folks, we’ve had it as our guest, Joe Welu. He is the Founder and CEO of Total Expert, a FinTech software company that’s a leader in the marketplace. Their CRM customer engagement product is already helping 175 companies, including 15 of the Top 25 US banks and lenders. Be sure to check them out at TotalExpert.com. Thank you for reading. Good to have you with us, everybody.
- Lender Toolkit
- Total Expert
- Mortgage Bankers Association of America
- Karen Jenkins – Past episode
- Chris Zingo – Past Episode
- Just Future
- The Mortgage Collaborative
- Rich Swerbinsky – Past Episode
- Mobility MMI
- Lender Toolkit
- Kim Nichols – Past episode
- Brent Chandler – Past episode
- DW Consulting Group