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E-Mail marketing realities for financial marketers

Jul 06, 2005

Integration is the Holy Grail of mortgage lenders, but are we there yet?Joe Kentintegration, eliminating re-keying, increasing accuracy In Dan Brown's blockbuster novel, The Da Vinci Code, it is the Holy Grail that's always out of reach. For lenders, integration has taken on the same mythic proportions. For years, integration has been forecasted, trumpeted and yet always right around the corner. Well, I have good news: it's really here. Really. Integration means that all steps involved in the processing of a mortgage work together. When information is initially entered into the system, there's no more re-keying for things like title, credit, flood, even closing documents. For a vendor such as my company, A HREF="">Integrated Loan Services, integration means that once we get the information into our system, we are able to send it out to our field affiliates who do the work. Then, they send it back to us in a data stream, it populates our system, and we send it to the lender, where it populates their system. Not so long ago, when integration was touted but not a reality, loan processing meant you'd re-key all day long. Lenders would send out an order via fax. We'd get it, do the work and fax the report back to the lender, where processors would re-key the information into their system. Lenders who've embraced integration and left re-keying behind are experiencing increased speed, accuracy and cost controls. It means they can operate in the most economically efficient manner possible, including eliminating the processes and staff time that was spent re-keying. This doesn't mean that all lenders have jumped on the integration bandwagon. Some have never put a high priority on integration. Often, it's because they are held hostage by outdated systems that have not adopted integration as a necessity. And then there are the myths that continue to float out there, keeping lenders from even considering integration for their systems. Here are a few of them and the realities that address them: Myth Number 1: Integration is too expensive. Reality: The savings are far greater than the expense. Up-front costs have come down in response to market demand and changes in technology. Also, making the transition less costly is the fact that industry data standardization has made the process less complicated (hence less expensive), a fact that has been aided by the advent of business-to-business e-commerce. Myth Number 2: It's only for the big guys. Reality: Smaller banks need just as much integration, if not more than, as their larger counterparts because of the ultimate savings, efficiencies and added ability to expand their territories. Here is a concept that actually helps them compete on a level playing field with larger institutions. There are even systems especially for smaller lenders. For example, the program Real EC has a browser-based system that allows small lenders access to multiple vendors. Myth Number 3: It's not secure. Reality: Today's technology goes a long way to address the concerns of privacy in this arena. It uses secure connections, so the system is not completely open. Also, it's important to remember that most of the data that flows through these systems is public information that's readily available over the Internet. Myth Number 4: It's new and not really working yet. Reality: We've been involved with complete system-to-system integration for four years and, with one of our larger customers, we've been doing it for more than five years. All of the top 50 banks have connections to one portal or another, and we're finding that this is now trickling down to mid-sized and small lenders. Almost daily, we get requests from all over the country for information about setting up integrated systems. We're also finding that the increasing number of consolidations is bringing the need for more integration because they result in more and more transactions. Here's the reality: The big fish have technology, and they will eat the smaller banks that don't. Myth Number 5: I need a lot of technology people on staff to make it work. Reality: On the contrary, for most institutions, integration often means they will need fewer techies. When done correctly, the transition is relatively seamless. Lenders may hire consultants to work with them during the configuration set-up and then, once it's up and running, their normal IT staff will be able to handle it. This boils down to the fact that integration is no longer something that's on the horizon. It's in your own backyard. In order to take advantage of these opportunities, lenders have to work with the right technology partnerone that's dedicated to helping them make the most of the latest technology and systems. If lenders are with the right partners, these vendors will ensure that integration will work for them. That's not in the future. That's today. Joe Kent is senior vice president of technology with Integrated Loan Services. He may be reached at (800) 842-8423 or e-mail [email protected].
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