Did you know that your mortgage technology can be leveraged to have the best results from your deal? In this episode, technology guru Lori Brewer shares her inspiration and purpose for her business and all the exclusive insights about mortgage companies and deals. Lori Brewer is the Chief Technology Officer of Simple Nexus. She has learned the ins and outs of running a mortgage company for ten years. Tune in and learn all about maximizing your mortgage!
Watch the episode here
Leveraging Your Mortgage Technology for Maximum Impact with Lori Brewer of Simple Nexus
I am excited to have not only a technology guru here. I always think of Lori Brewer as someone who has got her finger on the pulse of what needs to get done in technology. Lori is a former officer in the US Air Force. She’s a Boston Marathon, not a starter, but a finisher. She’s a mother of three boys and a Chief Technology Officer for SimpleNexus, an nCino company, now with the acquisition. Lori Brewer, it’s good to have you here with us. I appreciate you so much as a friend. I have so much respect for you as a technologist.
It’s great to be here, David. Thank you.
Most of our audience has an idea of who you are. For those who don’t, would you give us a little bit of a journey to where you’re at and a little bit of your background?
I’m an accidental entrepreneur. I came up through college on Air Force ROTC scholarship. After that commitment, I was hired by a mortgage company. I didn’t know anything about mortgage lending. After ten years of hands-on, I was hired as their developer to create an intranet. I spent ten years learning the ins and outs of running a mortgage company. In 2008, my company appeared on the Implode-O-Meter. That’s how LBA Ware was born.
I started my business with a laptop and a stack of business cards. I reached out to my network and figured out what problems people were having and how to solve them. The three principles LBA was built on were understanding the mortgage industry, creating repeatable solutions that solve widespread problems, and doing the right thing so that we could build trust. Last October 2021, Matt Hansen and SimpleNexus purchased LBA Ware. Two months after that, nCino then purchased SimpleNexus. We’ve had a fantastic year.
It’s been a phenomenal year. There are a lot of changes. Someone’s not going to buy you unless you’re doing some things well, and you have. I want to get into some of those products. Before we do, congratulations on being named the Chief Technology Officer at SimpleNexus. That’s a big promotion or role. I want to get some ideas of what now gets you excited in this new role at SimpleNexus in the nCino company.
I do think it speaks volumes to have a double acquisition. nCino reached out to Matt Hansen, who was the CEO and Chief Product Officer at SimpleNexus. They said, “We need you to come up and help run nCino product.” Matt was promoted to Chief Product Officer at nCino, which then pulled me up into my slot for the LBA products. Mari Denton was pulled into that. We pulled three very veteran internal folks up through the organization. It speaks volumes to how excited we all are to stay here at the company and continue to build out the products.
Give us an example.
We’re doing several things across the three layers of the companies and how we’re merging. One great example is CompenSafe, which was an LBA product. Now it’s a SimpleNexus product. We have very detailed compensation data. We’re now surfacing that in the SimpleNexus app. As an LO, you don’t have to leave your mobile app. The minute that loan closes, you’re able to see the details of your commission.
We’re continuing to build out that experience through the mobile app to connect your borrowers, real estate agents, and settlement agents all in one platform all the way from a prospect lead. One of the cool things is we have a Spanish loan inquiry. If you look at the stats and the fact that we’re in a purchase market and who’s going to be buying homes, you need to reach out to your Spanish-speaking prospects. From loan prospect application all the way through to eClosing, eSign, and to the first payment you can collect through the application, you don’t have to leave the SimpleNexus platform. It’s exciting and fun to work on.
You always like the challenge and can take on a bigger challenge in the mortgage industry. You’ve done so well at finding solutions and niches in the market. I’m thrilled to see your enthusiasm for SimpleNexus and the nCino family of companies, so it’s exciting about this. I want to go somewhere. As a result of CompenSafe, I’m certain you are looking at some trends with loan officer compensation. Do you see any changes in trends?
I get that question quite a bit. There’s no secret that I can help. Here’s what I see a lot of people asking that question because when you’re faced with a declining market, as we’re in, CFOs are being asked, “Go back and look at your P&L statement. What’s on the expense side that we can cut?” Part of the problem is with volumes down 40%, there’s not a big enough bucket that you can redo a couple of contracts here and there and save a few thousand bucks, but with this deep of production hit, compensation makes up 30% to 40% of the expenses. Unfortunately, a lot of people probably don’t want to think about it, but that is the bucket that people have to start looking at if they have to go that deep.
That’s a good point. A lot of people are looking at it, but they’re afraid to touch it because you disrupt the sales force. If I’m hearing you say no, the answer is no changes at this point. It’s one of those things logically being looked at, but no one is yet going there, and we might anticipate that might be happening at some point in time in the future.
It’s tough. You need sales. We need loan originators, especially in a tough purchase market. You need them out there consulting, and you have to pay them up. I can go down a rabbit hole on that. LO comp rule does not set us up to be in a capitalistic environment with our industry because it robs you wrong on the business surviving and making money, yet the LO is not incented in any shape or form and cannot be on the revenue. In markets like this, it’s a tough problem.
I appreciate you going there. It’s a dicey issue. I hate even asking the question, but everyone’s asking it, and there’s probably no one better to have a perspective on it, especially since you were the creator of this product when you had LBA Ware. It’s one of the strong products that, for everyone reading this, if you’re a business owner or an executive team, you need to look at what this product could do to help you look at the earnings.
It’s also a real benefit to the loan officer. That’s one of the many products. We could point everyone towards it when they’re considering SimpleNexus. SimpleNexus also boasts an impressive team of seasoned mortgage professionals. How does this expertise translate to benefits for the lenders currently using SimpleNexus or considering using any of their platforms or products?
We put a lot of weight when we’re hiring on mortgage expertise. It’s not something that you can easily teach. We look for creative, innovative people who know mortgage because that’s important. You have to understand the lingo. It’s been a tough year like we’ve talked about and everybody’s talking about, but we are in a great seat in a great situation. We have nCino. We have a very strong foundation and a strong balance sheet. We’re hiring. We’re one of the few technology companies that are bullish right now, looking to pick up some amazing talent from our competitors that might not be in such a strong situation. We’ve had some amazing hires lately.
Not only is nCino well capitalized and has a great vision, but its leader, Pierre, has an amazing vision. I can’t wait to get him on the show because I hear so many things about him. Several friends I know that are good friends of mine are good friends of his. They go, “You got to meet this guy. He’s got a vision.” It’s so much about vision and surrounding the vision with expertise. They certainly have done that with you. There’s a lot of turbulence in the mortgage industry now. We’ve already been trying to talk about that. What are you seeing within the industry that is helping lenders find a path to success?
Back to being bullish, I see two camps. Lenders are either bullish and are looking across the competition. They’re looking to pick up some branches and strong LOs because we’ve been there and done that. If they put money away for a rainy day over the last couple of years, they’re well situated to like, “Now’s the time. Let’s double down. Let’s be ready. Let’s also look at our technology. Are we spending with a variety of vendors that may only be giving us one teeny thing, and can we combine that?” That’s why I’m most excited about my new role at SimpleNexus. We can give a lot of the extras on top of the LOS. We’re not a LOS. We don’t plan to be.
We can give all the pieces across it and help consolidate the business and those solutions through us versus having a bunch of different vendors. People are looking at that too because MBA comes out with these stats all the time, “Why are we spending so much money on technology?” Production goes way up in the last two years, and what happens? We hire 40% to 60% more processors. Why couldn’t technology help with that? There’s room for improvement from the technology vendors to ensure that we are helping cut costs, not just making things easier but also replacing and allowing people to handle more volume without hiring more bodies.There's room for improvement from the technology vendors to ensure that they are helping cut costs, not just making things easier. Click To Tweet
There’s certainly a lot of focus on cost-cutting, right-sizing, and all of that. What’s lost in the good times is how to grow in such a way where you’re managing your costs so when the cyclical downsize of this industry, which we have them so regularly and painfully aware of it now, makes the management more easily and manageable to go through and successfully keep our costs and without so much pain to so many people.
We have a tendency to throw too many bodies at the problems that we face, especially when it comes to extraordinary growth such as we’re talking about. You talked about how you do not plan and see the vision of SimpleNexus becoming LOS, yet we know the importance of a single platform experience. This is a big focus of many companies.
I want to also say it’s not all doom and gloom. I don’t think the market stuff, but it really is similar to 2018. We’ve had such a couple of boom years. We have some of the largest independents on our platform. Companies like American Pacific and CrossCountry are growing. They’re in growth mode. It’s exciting to partner with them because they’re also in a situation where they’re looking higher but essentially bringing on more lenders to increase their business.
They’re in that situation. They did do a great job of saving for a rainy day. Pilgrim Mortgage out of Texas is another great example. Instead of curling up in a ball and waiting it out, they’re excited to take a breather and get ready for the next few years or whenever the market’s going to turn because we know it will. It’s exciting to work with those lenders too.
I know Mike Pilgrim and his brother really well. They’re down in San Antonio. It’s good company. It’s so obvious when someone prepares well how they can go through some of these times and take an extraordinary amount of market share. The greatest market share growth is in these kinds of times. That’s exactly why. You talked about you’re not going to be a LOS, yet we all talked about the importance of getting down to a diffused number of platforms. I’m not sure there’s a single platform solution. Talk about the “single platform experience,” how you guys focus on that, and how you’re going to solve as much of that single platform experience as possible.
I say that, but we also are working hard now. One of our big initiatives this 2022 is to increase our APIs. We want to work with the rest of the industry and ensure that we can smoothly share data back and forth. That’s one of the longstanding problems that undermines a lot of progress in our industry. We want to open up data across because we can’t be the best of the best of everything. We want to work with other companies that are best of breed in what they do.
One of our initiatives is to work with some of the smaller LOS, so we’re adding integration, disclosure, and eClosing for some of the smaller LOS. We also have a much bigger vision now. LBA was 50 people, for two months was SimpleNexus with about 350, and now we’re over 3,000 people, and nCino is global. I’m learning as fast as I can. The vision is much larger. nCino brings in capabilities and functionality across commercial and retail banking. We’re looking at and studying the best ways that we can integrate mortgage with retail especially.
You know how painful it is when you’re working with your bank. They have all your information, and then you go to apply for a mortgage and have to start over. Why is that? Why can’t we smoothly hand you off and fill out most of your application based on the fact you’re already a customer? We’re working on those things like account openings, deposit openings, and the handoff between the different systems. As you can imagine, there’s a lot that goes into that for security and PII. The mission is to be a full tech platform across four depositories as well as independence and to ensure that we have a strong, capable solution to integrate with the best-of-breed companies that are in our ecosystem.
Talk about new products that are on the roadmap. Anything you could talk about? Give us some insight.
We have a lot going on. We have Nexus Pay, which allows us to take payments. If you think about the homeownership journey, you start looking for a house and have to get the pre-qual letters. We have that piece, and we’re making sure that it’s smooth and the handoff is smooth for the application. One of the things we’re working on is to ensure that all the team members surrounding the LO can jump in and do their parts in the application. That’s one thing. SimpleNexus started out very focused on the LO, and we’re increasing that inside the lender for your LOA processor and so forth. For the closing platform, we’re still working hard on hybrid, eClose, and run industry as a whole. It has a long way to go there.
What I started to say is then we’re working at this end when your loan is handed off to your servicer, collect the first payment, have some information stretching out over time on how many payments you’re making, and what that picture looks like, so that can feed back in our calculators when interest rates go back down so that we can help feed that loan back into our original customer if that’s what they wish to do.
We’re looking at those ends of the spectrum to ensure that we’re not only smoothly working on the experience with the borrower, the agent, and the settlement agent but also on the front end for prospective buyers and on the back end after the loan closes to ensure that we keep that app on your phone. It’s so valuable. You’ve downloaded the app, and it’s on your phone. We need to continue to give our consumers information through the app so that it stays active. Those are things we’re working on.
Lori, I love your enthusiasm for SimpleNexus, the acquisition by nCino, and all that. This represents 3,000 employees globally now. You’re sitting in this wonderful seat as the head of technology, the developer. This is exciting. I want to get some insights into your enthusiasm, not only for the company but also for this industry and trajectory. We’re going through difficult times. People would love to know why you’re so excited about this industry and what the future has to hold.
I am excited about it. It’s hard to bring that up at family reunions. They might not understand why it’s so exciting. At the end of the day, we’re a small group of people that help influence a large amount of money. 2022 will end up somewhere around $2.4 trillion. 2023, they’re projecting it will be somewhat similar. That is an enormous amount of money helping families into new homes. Some of the exciting things that Fannie and Freddie are working on are new ways to qualify borrowers, looking at rent statements, and being able to use deposits.
That goes outside of my expertise, but I know enough that, as an industry, we’re working hard. There are several amazing people that are working hard toward the lower to middle-income housing brackets. My niece was finally able to sign a contract on the house in Fort Collins, Colorado. The market there has just been crazy. It’s pushed out anyone that’s in a normal income bracket. I’m in Macon, Georgia. We haven’t had that here. In several markets, we know why. There are so many things that we can do to help first-time home buyers with that.
My first home was 1,800 square feet. You look at the stats around the affordability of a 2,000-square-foot or 1,800-square-foot home. The income level has gone from a $70,000 annual income for qualifying up to 120 just within the last 18 months. That has excluded an enormous amount of people from being able to afford their first-time home. Not to mention rents now are going up. As an industry, we’re all at the mercy of a lot of forces that we can’t control, but we also have the ability to influence the rules to widen that credit box. That’s some of the most exciting things going on.
There’s so much to be encouraged by when you look at the macro impact. If you look at the macro statistics out there, it’s encouraging what we have. It is difficult going through these seasons, but you get the right technology vendors with you. Lenders, you are going to do well. I cannot encourage you enough to get a hold of someone at SimpleNexus to learn more. Lori, congratulations on, first of all, the sale of the company and your new promotion. All the success that you’re enjoying there. I’m very excited about the company, your future, and your contributions to the industry at large. I appreciate you, Lori.
David, you’re great. It’s good to see you. See you at MBA.
I’m looking forward to that. What’s the best way for people to connect with you and learn more about SimpleNexus’ vision?
Thank you. It’s SimpleNexus.com if you go on there and request more information or fill out the generic, “I’d like to speak with someone.” We will get back to you. You can find me as Lori Brewer on LinkedIn. Send me a direct message. I would be happy to chat about anything, whether you’re looking for some amazing software or want to talk about the industry, compensation, or anything affecting your business. I love to have those conversations. I hope that you’ll reach out.
Lori, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.
About Lori Brewer
Lori Brewer is a former officer in the U.S. Air Force, Boston Marathon finisher, mother of 3 boys, and Chief Technology Officer of SimpleNexus, an nCino Company. With over 25 years in mortgage banking, Lori has manifested her forward-thinking visions into the development of numerous fintech applications including the premier incentive compensation platform CompenSafe™ and the turnkey mortgage business intelligence software, Nexus Vision™.