The only constant is change, and the rate of change is increasing— Peter Diamandis
Dr. Peter Diamandis said, “The only constant is change and the rate of change is increasing.” Jack Welch said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” Knowing that the pace of change in the mortgage industry is constantly and rapidly increasing, we would do well to ask ourselves, “Am I and/or my company changing at the same pace?” No matter how you answer this question, you will benefit from this SPECIAL PODCAST, where we will be talking about how to build a CULTURE of CHANGE and AUTOMATION with special guests Brett Brumley of Lender Toolkit and Keri Rogers of Lennar Mortgage.
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SPECIAL PODCAST “Building a Culture of Change and Automation”
Welcome to the show. It’s good to have you with us. This show is created by mortgage professionals. It is for mortgage professionals and we’re grateful to have you as our readers. Our commitment to you is to bring you timely information that you can read at any time and anywhere. A thank you goes out to Industry Syndicate. Check out all the shows 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. I’m so thrilled to have them as sponsors. Also, Lenders One. We were at the Lenders One conference in Phoenix. It was great and well-attended. There was so much information. We’re going to be bringing the presenters thereon.
We have The Mortgage Collaborative, TMC. Go back and read the interview with Rich Swerbinsky on February 7th, 2022 that I did. Also, we have Total Expert as a sponsor. Thank you. 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. It’s coming out on April 1st, 2022. To get the announcements when that is being released and the information about that, go to TryTheCoop.com. We got some new stuff coming out that’s cool.
Also, Mobility MI, Mobility Market Intelligence, and Modex. Both of these sponsors do a great job of helping you recruit top LOs and give you intelligence about what goes on in the market. Be sure to check these companies out. We are thrilled to have Snapdocs as a sponsor. They help lenders overcome obstacles to adopting eMortgage technology. Snapdocs is 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 on January 10th, 2022. 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 want to also thank our sponsor PENNYMAC, its TPO. Go back and read the interview with Kim Nichols on November 1st, 2021. I also want to say thank you to FormFree. I’m so thrilled with their partnership. A special thank you goes out to Debbie Wemyss at the DW Consulting Group, helping people with their LinkedIn profiles. Finally, I want to say a special thank you to Rob, Les, Alice, Allen, Matt and Jack Nunnery.
Welcome to the show coming to you from Las Vegas, the exotic race track. We have Brett in here. Brett, it’s such an honor to be here with you. I appreciate it.
It’s an honor to be here. It’s an amazing place. I’m excited to get out and drive a car.
If you could introduce our sponsors to us, I would love to have you get in and talk about who these special people are.
Being here in Las Vegas with the ICE Mortgage Technology conference, we’re excited to be here. We’ve got some great sponsors like SoftWorks AI, DataVerify and our friends at Reggora. We’re thankful that they could make all this happen and bring everybody together with us.
Let’s start with a word from Reggora.
Thanks for having us. This is an amazing event. It’s a lot of fun watching people drive these cars and not having to be in the driver’s seat myself. I appreciate it.
Talk a little bit about your partnership and relationship with Lender Toolkit. How’d you learn about them? What got you excited about Lender Toolkit?
We both look at the market in similar ways when we’re looking for different ways to innovate across the entire landscape. We’re focused on finding some of those synergies but we’re excited about the partnership.
Thanks for being a sponsor for this event. We appreciate it.
Brett, let’s talk about the story of Lender Toolkit. I want to get into it. Keri, I’m looking forward. We had Keri on readers as a part of the show. You did such a great job and there’s much energy that came through you so to get a chance to meet you live is a real treat. I’m thrilled. Let’s get all started with Brett. You started this thing, founded this and came up with some idea. Talk a little bit about your background and what brought you to this point.
It was International Women’s Day so I have to call out some of the women of my life that are special. My mom has been in this space for many years. I grew up around mortgages, processing and origination. Many women leaders are in this space that helps and mentor others and their leaders for the industry. That’s what got me into this space.
I started working in different operational groups, processing, underwriting and secondary marketing and eventually, landed in technology. At that point, I had the opportunity to work with a large enterprise lender who’s here, PRMI. They taught me the ropes at the enterprise level and we did great there. It’s a powerful company in the space.
Shortly after starting Lender Toolkit, we saw an opportunity to take some of the innovative solutions and ideas that we had and help lenders nationwide. I started as a consultant with ICE, Ellie Mae at the time. We’ve done thousands of hours and hundreds of implementations working hand in hand with the ICE Mortgage Technology team to implement their product. That’s where I met Keri.
It was a good opportunity and lesson. Through that, we noticed that a lot of lenders have the same challenges and problems. We can apply our standardization and ideas and fix those problems for a lot more. We decided to standardize our roadmap and then we created things around workflow, automation, business rules, input forms, pipeline views and all sorts of different things that are leveraging the system.
What took us to the next level is we started to build and acquire our software products. Our flagship platform is AI Underwriter and it’s fundamentally changing the way that lenders look at the way underwriting works. Another example was task-based workflow. We’ve worked with a lot of leaders in ICE Mortgage Technology and collaborated with Lennar to work on some of this stuff. That’s another way for us to help the industry and standardize things.
Keri, let’s talk about what’s driving Lennar’s desire for change and automation. You brought up some good points in the last interview we did when you were dialed in and we are talking to the other B, the Brent guy. What’s going on?
In general, it’s not just us. It’s everybody. Our industry has been trying to evolve and change for quite a while. It’s been difficult to find the path to do that. We’ve tried a lot of things and made some incremental changes in general of where we’re going, especially working with Brett and having the same background as him. I was born and raised in the industry. My mother’s been industry for many years.
I worked around great innovators when I was a lot younger. I worked with Garth Graham and Tom Moreno who was our CIO at Lennar Mortgage. I was exposed to the technology side of things. Like Brett, I have a background pretty much in every role that you can have. I found what drives me, my passion like Brett, solving problems and solutioning things.
It’s the desire for change. What is the desire that drives you in this? What do you see as this opportunity?
It’s for everybody. It’s the desire to be more efficient to create solutions that change how this industry moves forward. We’re constantly trying to keep up with regulation change, adapting to staffing and fluctuating volumes. We’re trying to find a good, sustainable path forward that we can continue to build off of that’s going to help drive the change in this industry. Using automation is the key but that automation helps people change and grow and have better career paths and customer experience.Automation helps people change, grow a better career path and better customer experience. Click To Tweet
You’ve got a great personality for driving. It says driving change. Sometimes it’s driving like one of these fast cars out here and you got to put the foot to the pedal. It’s learning when to slow down and let everyone catch up and then yet accelerate. It’s so metaphorical that we’re sitting here in the race room talking about that very thing. How are some of those things at Lennar that you’ve been able to do successfully?
A couple of things. 1) understanding the industry and the work that’s being done on a granular level so you can relate to those who are doing the work. You have to understand what they’re doing. 2) Once you understand that and you can educate others on how you’re going to solve it, what does the vision look like? Having a concept of what people are going to be able to achieve and where it’s going to go. How does it affect them? Is there going to be a return on investment? Are we going to save money? Are we going to do things faster? The people change is much more challenging. It’s about education and communication.
It’s like getting computers to do things that are fairly simple programs and made them work. People is another thing, getting that to work. Brett, when you send me a link to the ICE Mortgage Tech Podcast, which was interesting, talk to us about what is driving lenders to make changes to automation? Is the Lender Toolkit seeing the same desire for change in automation in the industry?
The last few years have been chaotic for everybody. Standard things that are driving these trends are happening to everyone like COVID, pandemic, working-from-home and labor shortages. Customer expectations are a big part of this. They are seeking to make a great customer experience for everybody. If that’s a particular driver that’s driving automation, how do we improve that?
When you’re talking about how you prove it, what is some of the vision that’s behind that and some of the obstacles you’ve had to overcome?
There are a lot of things. Honestly, the reason lenders want to automate is for their survival. At this point, they’re trying to improve things. They’ve been focusing on the point of the cell system for the last few years. That’s pretty dialed in. They’ve invested in a solution there so they’re turning their heads to manufacturing. They’re seeking to look for ways to make their lives better for their employees and handle scale in an effective way, especially underwriting. That’s a key part. Regulatory changes.
You and I were talking and we said that there was a lot of litigation and regulations that are coming down the pipeline. Thankfully, one of our sponsors has fraud protection through their driver report. We’ve added that to AI Underwriter because we have a major focus on automation and compliance too. There are a lot of things that are driving that. Not the least of which are margin compression, staff reductions and other things.
How has COVID and the whole pandemic played into all this?
There are people that are spread out all over the place. They’re working from home and doing things their way. They don’t necessarily have direct supervision so that’s driving the need to standardize a process and take things that a computer does, clerical work, analyzing the documents or comparing two different vendors and standardize that in such a way that I don’t need highly educated and extremely first trained people. We can bring newcomers that are new to the industry into one of these roles and then solve problems.
Keri, you talked about automation as the key to survival. You see your role in what you’re doing. It’s not just helping the company along but it is surviving and what is going to become an extremely competitive market. Talk about how you see the survival component working as it relates to automation.
That’s what drives us to evolve because we have to. Automating things that take up time that doesn’t help people grow as individuals is what it comes down to. If you’re sitting and waiting for documents to generate, you need to click another button to send them. That’s not helping anybody advance their career. They’re just sitting and waiting. It’s truly about retaining employees and making sure that they have a path forward that’s faster than the old historical way of mastering an entire job role that could take years, being able to master tasks and move their career forward. At the same time, create efficiencies in the workflow that change the customer experience, make us more efficient and save money. That’s survival.What drives us is evolving because we have to. Click To Tweet
I’m also connecting with my producer, who’s back in St. Louis. She says the beautiful part about automation. She’s there. We’re here. We’re dialing into a studio in New York through the automation but I have to pay attention to that because we got busy out there racing cars. We missed the window so we had to reschedule the live show or it’s getting ready to go live here.
It’s funny, our bus driver took us to the wrong location. If that’s not the best example of how automation can prove a person getting involved manually and making a mistake that’s costly, I don’t know what is.
It is a great example as I listen to your staff and they’re a little frustrated. You go, “We gave them, not just once but twice and three times.” There’s a lot of metaphors being here at the racetrack but also when you went to the wrong racetrack. Despite the instruction, it comes back to the human component. Keri, what do you think is the biggest challenge lenders are facing with building a culture of change? The culture part of it is where a lot of people are struggling.
Culture comes down to people, leadership, sponsorship and other people being on board. It’s about having from the highest level down, understanding the what, the why and how does it affect me? What’s in it for me and with them, super important and underestimated. You have to take the time to adopt a change management strategy or plan that document all of those components of why you’re doing something. Every decision that you make is tied back to that and you’re sharing that with the people around you.
I’m interested in how you’re communicating that. It’s great to have a great why but if you do a lousy job of communicating, what are you finding as an effective way to do that?
Communication’s hard since we are remote in general so we changed how we communicate. Based on other research, not mine, the most effective communication comes from an individual’s immediate leader. If they’re a team leader or a supervisor, the message comes best.
The proverbial boss is the best communicator.
It is of change. You have to educate anybody who’s any type of leadership position to have that elevator pitch, know the why, explain it, calm fears and take that message downstream. It goes back to education and sharing that vision, why we’re doing things, where we’re going with all of your leaders in the organization, top-down, hover-down.
That’s one of the things a lot of people struggle with. Things are perceived as “This is coming from the top.” A lot of the why doesn’t get thoroughly communicated through to the rest of the organization. You have done a good job of that. It’s because you’ve had strong buy-in through it. I’m interested in more of the how because that’s a little bit of the science that goes into this.
It’s a model that we follow. It’s the AD car model. The A stands for Awareness. The D stands for Desire. If you do not achieve each of those, you cannot move forward to knowledge, adoption and reinforcement. If you can’t get past people wanting to do something, then you cannot move forward. Our goal is to constantly evaluate. Do they know what it is? Do they want to do it? We’re always evaluating, “Do they want to do it? Are they on board?” It’s the buy-in. How are we doing that? It’s through surveys and pilots. It’s getting other people to test things down.
You were talking about this whole thing about driving change and that’s the part that so many are struggling with in the communication side. Have you found any particular means? You said the most effective is the immediate supervisor. Communicating that down, who is driving the change? Does it start at the top and then gets communicated down?
Before something happens because anything comes to life, there’s a concept or an idea. You start with the buy-in at the leadership level, strategy and vision. If you’ve achieved that, we have a green light to move something forward. Having a plan of communication and keeping people involved throughout the entire project, not just at the very end of it, making sure that there are sound bites of information, consumable, small sound bites, throughout the layer.
It’s the consistency of constant communication. That is reinforcing and not showing any deviation. Change is difficult. The adoption of it doesn’t always happen. When they see it coming in, their supervisor is aligned with it, rather than grumbling about this. Brett, I’ll come back to you. We bought it and one particular client I have love the idea that they’re the visionaries but in the get-or-done group in the end, there was this massive disconnect in that. One of the things I’m saying is, how intentional were we when we were communicating? What were we communicating? How was it communicated? This is such an important point, Keri.
It is. Brett and I have both had a lot of experience with implementations from small to large and very large enterprise customers that are going through a lot of change. We’ve lived it. We’ve learned a lot of lessons. Moving into these other roles where we’re doing new things, it’s easy to reinforce from those lessons that we’ve learned but communicating in a very simple, non-overwhelming way with those who are not technical. Sometimes we tend to overshare being technical and geeking out over the stuff. They don’t need all of that detail, small sound bites and constantly communicating, showing little demos, little things here and there that they can read, consume and keep.
You worked in implementation at ICE. I want to get your perspective on that. You’ve seen failures. A lot of failures are probably along your way and you’ve seen some successes. Brett, what are the things that you have seen that have been the cause of the effect of each?
It does start with the change champion and whoever’s leading the project. That’s one of the most important parts. You need somebody that’s going to buy into what the organization is doing and continually reinforce that message with everybody. The entire team down to the people doing the most basic of tasks to the CEO of the company needs to understand the vision of why you’re doing something and that’s important.
The ones that were most successful were they were prepared to take on that change. They used the tools. They had the technology in front of them to understand what they were doing and who was assigned to what. That’s part of what task-based workflow and what things need to be done and who’s doing it as it of effectively being completed.
Going back to the communication of this when you’re affecting change, back in your LM days and even now, where do you find the breakdowns happening? I want to identify those for our readers because so many people are struggling in this very area.
It’s defining what you’re trying to do by the person that created it, whether it’s a particular task they’re doing or even a loan that they need to underwrite or process. If you define what the expectations are, the people are going to take that, run with it and do a good job. We hire talented people and expect them to do that. If you define the requirements, whether it’s a technology program or a mortgage-related task, if they understand what to do, they’ll do it well.
There’s no question. You got a challenge ahead of you with what’s going on but you got a great product I would assume that when you get excitement throughout, get buy-in throughout, that is going to have the greatest impact on it.
You talked to Keri about what lenders have problems with implementing technology. I’ve got a pretty good analogy for being at the racetrack. Our Senior Director Tammy and I went out to the NASCAR event and decide to try that. The Lamborghini was not powerful enough. She operates on a different level so we got behind that. At first, when we started using and getting in the car, it was intimidating. It’s this big powerful machine that’s tuned. It’s highly operable. It can do amazing things with the right hand. I’ve never been in a NASCAR, much less been in one of these sports cars. They put you in a car and expect you to drive around one of their loops, banking turns and high speeds.
You’re intimidated and you’ve got anxiety. What helped me was I had an expert in my ear that was giving me coaching along the way that said, “Go this drive line, increase the speed and gave me that expert advice.” He was watching from up above. You could see what I was doing. To me, that speaks like communication. If you have an expert that can give you guidance along the way and make sure you’re doing it, they can give you course corrections, then you’ll be right back on track. After a few laps, I was pushing the limits of that vehicle and going 155 around a banking corner and I felt comfortable. It was because of experience and petition.If you have an expert that can give you guidance along the way, make sure you're doing it, and can give you course corrections, then you'll be right back on track. Click To Tweet
Do you want to talk about DataVerify, one of our sponsors?
They’re integrated into our underwriter solution. They’ve got industry-leading fraud, analysis, data, workflow and analytics of key compliance points and then we can consume their conditions. It’s a great report inside of encompass.
You have a booth. Talk about it.
We’ve always had a booth at experience. This is expected. We’ve been here for several years, coming to experience. I love meeting old friends and seeing our clients, vendors, partners and folks from ICE and Ellie Mae. It’s part of the fun of coming to Las Vegas. Stop by our booth and check our stuff out. We’ve got some cool tools. We’ve got automation solutions and you can meet the team.
Keri, we’re going to be talking about speaking practically. Can we speak practically for a minute? What activities can executives do to champion a successful change? It’s more than just top-down.
From an executive standpoint, the most important thing before anything happens, anything even starts, is that we’ve identified what are our key goals, organizational standpoint and make sure that we are aligned from an execution technology standpoint with their goals. If we are and we’re supporting them, then it makes it easy for them to talk about it and understand it. Show them super simple like, “Here’s what we plan on doing. This is what it’s going to do for us. Here’s what we’re going to get out of it. Here’s how we think people are going to accept it.”
Make sure that we keep them updated and educated on the progress of whatever we’re implementing. They take that message consistently down through all of their communications with everybody out in the field, all their other leaders and truly being a good sponsor who supports a project. That’s the key. Otherwise, without sponsorship, a project will fail.
From the vendor’s perspective, it’s the change. It’s adopting what we’re going to be doing, believing in it and continually reinforcing the message. As vendors, we need mortgage lenders to be those leaders of change. If they’re not ready to adopt it, then we can’t help.
Keri brought up a great point. It’s a matter of survival.
If you’re not automated, you’re not going to be able to deliver that Amazon experience that the customers want.
That is the cost factor. To drive costs lower, we have got to get our costs originated. Cost of fund loans down. Brett, when you talk about transformation, it’s a worthy effort. I agree. We’ve seen it with my company, which happens to be transformational and more solutions. We’re big under the word transformation and transformational solutions. Give us some examples of the direct benefits a lender can see from implementation solutions alike disclosure automation and your flagship product AI Underwriter, the products that you offer.
Digital mortgage transformations are what we’re all seeking so we can deliver the digital mortgage but we need assistance from everybody else. A good example is Mark working from Mortgage 1. He can tell a story way better than I can so reach out to him and ask him how he’s used automation to solve problems. The most pressing thing that we found when we did a white paper with him was it doubled their volume in 2021. He didn’t double his staff. They barely hired anybody. They were able to handle that kind of volume with very minimal people.
We had another example that happened. Rates dropped by 80 basis points and everybody was rushing to lock loans, get disclosures out and capture that market. We had a large lender that’s using our automation for disclosures and they didn’t have any chaos or problems. Our tool was able to go in and identify loans that had no other changes but a rate lock. We sent out disclosures with zero human interaction so their people got that immediately. Also, that means their borrowers are more likely to stay with them and be close to them because they got an experience that was unlike others.
There’s a client of mine so I’ll tell everybody who it is. It’s a celebrity, Dave Rodan. We talk about this, what he’s always searching for and what’s out there. He’s one of our clients and we talk about this very thing a lot.
They’re invested in technology and automation in particular. It helps them scale appropriately.
The biggest challenge is finding the right automation. Not every piece of automation fits everyone, Keri.
That’s what I was going to comment on. Working with other lenders who had very little automation are scared like, “Where do we start?” My best advice is to start with something simple. Go to partners like Brett who have automated things that are repeatable, simple, standardized, the timings there and prove that it works. It happened in our organization so when we have meetings with executives or other managers, they’re like, “Can’t you automate that?” They’re so bought into automation at this point. They come to us for about everything and say, “Can’t you automate that?”
We’re constantly trying to innovate on what we do next. It gets more complicated when you get deeper into the workflow with exception paths but it’s super fun and challenging so it keeps us moving forward. Proving that some of the simple stuff works will open up other lenders’ eyes to say, “We can do a lot if we start to adopt the basics.”
That’s the key. A lot of lenders will try to add automation and they won’t go live until they’ve solved every exception. They’ll present fringe cases or things that could happen and say, “This must be solved.” They’re missing out on opportunities to get the 80% or 60% of things. Even if you can automate 30% of things right away, you’re saving time and energy to get the basic stuff done first and then move on to the exceptions.
Let’s talk about some of the flagship products. What’s the problem you’re solving with those products?
Disclosures, in particular, are a complex process. There are a lot of checks and balances that need to be done from the origination staff to the people sending out the disclosures. It’s also risky if you send out the wrong fees or amounts. If you’ve got a lot of manual processes, a lot of people checking things, you’re inevitably going to make mistakes. You have a three-day window to get it out perfectly. It’s a time-sensitive issue and there’s a training issue.
You can’t get the right people to make all those different decisions along the way. What our tool does is adds all the compliance and integrity checks in there. Your people are reminded gently of what things they need to complete before they send out scooters. You can put rules in place to prevent certain things from happening and fees from being disclosed. That allows you to streamline the process again and do it faster and more efficiently with less interaction.
We’ve got another one of my clients that’s one of your clients. It’s NRL. They were talking about that. Judy Dominique, I may give him a shout-out. He is such a big fan of you guys and what you’re working on. Keri, I’m going to start with you on this one. What are some of the intangible benefits Lennar gains from adopting a culture? I keep coming back to the words culture of change and automation.
Some of the intangibles are focused on efficiency gains. It’s not so much what people are able to say, “We did this cool thing and look at it.” It’s people seeing my role in the organization that’s changing. I no longer have to spend time trying to figure out what to work on and that’s a big one. That’s what Brett and I have been focusing on, removing the need to spend 1 hour or 2 a day trying to be organized.
Our industry, where we have failed, is giving tools for organization. If you have all these loans and this pipeline, the rates are going down. What should I be working on? What should I be focusing on? Removing that from the daily grind and the process of knowing, “What do I need to work on? What’s key?” We have so much data. Let’s use that data and that’s where we find the value.
I echo the same things. Present that information and let them understand what to do. It provides clarity and all the communication. That’s where the technology shines. Its dashboards, measurements and reports. Those are tools to help them understand what they need to do. Are they doing it effectively? Therefore, use the technology. You said intangible.
What about creating a new mortgage company and rethinking it? How can we take care of our stakeholders, our employees and also our borrowers? That’s why we’ve worked with Lennar so well. Laura Escobar is here somewhere. She might have had one of the fastest times out there. I’ve heard her on a show talking about being an agent of change.
They embrace that from the top down and that’s important. Thus, creating that democracy of ideas. Lennar empower its people to come up with creative solutions to solve problems. It doesn’t have to be the person assigned to the task. They can bring something to the table and they’ll solve problems. One of the intangible things that technology does is allow you to focus on other areas and find solutions you may not have been looking for.One of the tangible things that technology does is it allows you to focus on other areas and find solutions you may not have been looking for. Click To Tweet
I’m going to jump in because we were in that situation and we had to execute a plan on a project and we ran into some hurdles. I called Brett one day and said, “We’re working on this together. Here’s where we are. Let’s talk about other ways that we could do this. How can we skin this cat?” Moreover, through collaboration, we figured it out. We’re allowed to.
I’m such a big fan of Laura’s leadership. She is brilliant. We were teasing her down there when she was getting assigned a car. I said, “Laura, your special car is over here.”
She was in an orange Lennar. I don’t even know. Was that a Lamborghini? It was pretty awesome.
I did pass her. I was giving her a bad time. I love her competitive spirit.
One of the things we talk about that’s such an important thing is recruiting and retention. I want to get more on how do you see the benefit of what you are doing, Keri, on retention and recruiting. Has the technology solutions that you’ve been implementing helped in that?
That’s what we’re focusing on. We want to be able to open up our hiring capacity to those who don’t even have mortgage industry knowledge or experience and have a platform that helps people come into the industry and learn certain core components and not everything. Start to master tasks and grow, learn more things and escalate their career.
They can find their niche that way. You might quickly realize that you like origination better than underwriting. You might be more into secondary in rates watching the market. Thus, gives people the opportunity to touch everything, which is cool because it makes us more flexible. From a standpoint of career growth and helping power associates, it is our number one focus.
Recruiting and retention somehow got you. I get Laura. She is such a dry but they recruited you in. Let’s give a shout-out to Lennar. What is the culture in Lennar that attracted you to come in and has kept you there?
I was with Ellie Mae for six years prior to joining Lennar but they were my client when I was with ICE and it goes way back. In the late ’90s or early 2000s, I was at Mortgage.com with Tom Moreno, our CIO at Lennar Mortgage. He was my leader back then. He’s my leader now so I already did have a relationship.
It wasn’t easy. It was a very difficult decision to leave since I loved working at ICE. It wasn’t a I-need-to-go type of thing. It was an opportunity to do amazing things with an incredible team. Our technology team is honestly top-notch and I love working with everyone there. It was an easy transition. I knew exactly I was getting into. Our industry needs to grow and I want to be part of that growth.
You have the freedom to build things the way that you see it. That’s empowering.
It’s having the freedom to build, having the ability to recognize and say, “How are you selecting what technologies to use?” This one is going to be for us. It looks like a great solution but we’re not going to go with it. We’re going with this.
That’s almost a full-time job. Honestly, we spend an enormous amount of time with our lead analyst, myself and other experts. We try to look at everything and give people time but we know what we’re ultimately looking for and for us, it’s flexibility. The right product has to be flexible enough to support our type of business. We are a new construction home builder. It’s a little bit different than regular retail lenders. It’s making sure we see what’s going on out there and we keep our eyes and ears open but we make sure that once we have a vision and a strategy with our product, we use it to achieve success.
We want to wrap this up as we get to one of the last sponsors in here.
Tom is here with us from SoftWorks Ai. I’m very excited to have you here. Tom, let our readers know you a bit. Who are you? Talk about SoftWorks AI.
Thanks, David. I wanted to say at the onset that it is an absolute pleasure to be speaking with you. My name is Tom Wuensch. I’m the Chief Operating Officer at SoftWorks AI. SoftWorks AI is a mortgage automation firm. We’re looking at ways in which we can help our clients and partners drive operational efficiency. We’ve been developing a wide variety of automation tools that are AI-powered to address some of the document-intensive workflows that unfortunately are persistent in our industry.
Workflow issues are the biggest thing and when you look at technology, Tom, one of the biggest mistakes a lot of lenders make is not being intentional about examining and evaluating their process before they start implementing technology. Has this been your experience as well?
Yes. A lot of folks sometimes get paralyzed when trying to solve problems. One of the conditions that are adding to that frustration and paralysis is the confusion around what AI is. From our experience living and breathing it on a daily basis, I can talk to twenty different lenders and they’ll each give me a different description of what AI and machine learning is. Fundamentally, it should be viewed as a tool. It’s a tool in your toolkit that you should be able to apply to solve specific challenges. Its strengths and weaknesses. Understanding to remove the mystery so you can get more of an applied methodology about how to drive results.
We had an interview with Gabe Minton here sometime back. Gabe gave us a real clear delineation difference between machine learning, one part of the spectrum and AI on the others. Tom, let’s talk about your partnership with Lender Toolkit and how that work and how the two companies work together.
It’s a burgeoning relationship. We’re excited about what we’re going to be able to do together in the marketplace. In some ways, it’s like peanut butter and chocolate. We’re bringing two great companies together to draw a 1-plus-1-equals-3 approach. Lenders Toolkit has an amazing platform and they’re focused on driving efficiencies in the mortgage space. We can enhance and accelerate that value by helping address some of the data confidence issues.
In any automation effort, the biggest stumbling block is the reliability of the data. If you can’t rely on the data, then feeding it to any kind of platform or automation, you’re going to have a questionable result. At Softworks AI, what we’re focusing on is how to get the most accurate data possible. With accurate data, reliable data and dependable data, you then can transform your business. Between us and Lenders Toolkit, we feel that we’re going to have a compelling story, especially around the challenges of income verification and calculation.
I’m excited to get to know you and your company a lot better. I agree that you’re fixing a part of the problem that is so prevalent in our industry. I can’t wait to get to know you and your company. We’re here at the Lenders Toolkit event and you are a big, integral part of this. I’m so glad you got a chance to come on and tell your story. We got to schedule a full interview so we can learn more. Would you be willing to come back and do that for us?
I would love that opportunity. Thank you.
A round of applause for Tom for doing a good job. I am serious about getting you back on the show. I want to say thank you both very much. Thank you for allowing me to come to this amazing event and share with our audience all the great things. Keri, it’s so awesome to have you back on. I love your energy and vision. I get to see that real pretty smile that you have. It’s such a joy to have you on. Thank you for rejoining us. We got to have you back here.
Thank you so much.
Brett, thank you so much for doing a great job. This is an outstanding event. What are you going to do to top this?
This is fun. We can start automating mortgages.
You did an awesome job. This is awesome. I appreciate it. That will wrap it up. Thank you so much.
Thank you for reading. It’s good to have you with us. I want to say a special thank you to all of our sponsors, Finastra, Lenders One, Mobility MI, Modex, the MBA, Knowledge Coop, The Mortgage Cooperative, Snapdocs, SuccessKit, Lender Toolkit, PENNYMAC, Total Expert and FormFree. Have a great time. I look forward to seeing you back here in the next episode.
- Mortgage Bankers Association of America
- Finastra Fusion Mortgagebot Solution
- Lenders One
- The Mortgage Collaborative
- Rich Swerbinsky – Past Episode
- Total Expert
- Knowledge Coop
- Mobility MI
- eMortgage Quick Start Program
- Julian Lumpkin – Past Episode
- Lender Toolkit
- Kim Nichols – Past Episode
- DW Consulting Group
- ICE Mortgage Technology
- SoftWorks AI
- AI Underwriter
- Gabe Minton – Past Episode