As the nation strives to conserve its natural resources, the push for paperless offices has spanned many industries. The mortgage industry is not immune to this push. In the past several years, we have seen the development of electronic signatures along with the technological advances in loan origination systems (LOS) that reduce the need for hard storage.
For many of us, losing the tactile comfort of papers in stacks of file folders is like a child learning to go without a treasured security blanket … we just don’t want to let go. But like the initial torture and gradual nodding acceptance of a new healthy diet, going paperless is a smart lifestyle choice.
Eventually, even if we are not ready for it, technology catches up to all of us. Just look at the statistics on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Facebook users aged 55 and over were the fastest growing demographic from January 2009 to January 2010. According to an istrategylabs.com report, the growth for that age group was 922.7 percent! At the same time, growth for new Facebook users 25-34 was 328.1 percent.
Like the meteoric growth of social media, paperless loan origination and processing is no longer a vision for the future. It’s happening now. More and more elements of a mortgage loan’s life cycle are relegated to hard drives and cyberspace. The efficiencies of a paperless loan go beyond speed and organization; enabling compliance with constantly changing industry regulations is very important. Become a green mortgage office, or even just a semi-paperless office, is just a few clicks away. Your LOS can help you go green with three significant, yet simple, features that will keep you efficient, compliant and organized.
Electronic document management
For mortgage professionals with a current LOS platform, making the move toward the green spectrum can start with using the electronic document management system within the platform. Great advances have been made to make it easier to scan documents or receive them by e-mail and get them assigned to the right loan and in an order that makes sense. The ability to organize and instantly access files at any time and from any place speaks volumes about the convenience and efficiency of a paperless office.
Document management within your LOS can be so much more efficient than maintaining paper files. Dragging documents from your hard drive, or even your e-mail’s inbox, and dropping them directly into your LOS ensures you have the most current documents ready to go at a moment’s notice. Documents can be arranged in multiple particular orders—packaged in any order for convenience or necessity. Underwriters can flag documents as approved for easy sorting and processing later.
Keep up with documents already received as well as documents you still need from your borrowers using tracking and checklist capabilities. You can then e-mail directly from your LOS to request the needed documents and that will be recorded also. You always know what’s going on within your loan pipeline, and you never have to drive back to the office to find a file—it’s all right there at your fingertips!
Third-party service providers
And whatever is right at your fingertips is going to be the most efficient for you. Such is the case with third-party vendors built into your LOS. They’re right there; they save you time and effort; and they require no additional paper! What more can you ask for?
Using the services providers that interface directly with your LOS is one of the most “green” things you can do with your LOS. Besides saving paper, you’re saving countless annual hours in rekeying data and correcting errors. Sending loan data from your LOS means that you can order your closing docs, flood certifications, your tax verifications, and your credit scores—whatever you need—within seconds. No re-typing loan data; no faxing back and forth; no wasted time; and you have visible documentation within your software that your orders were placed, when they were placed and by whom. Almost all of your loan processing can be done through interfaced vendors without paper. Saving your cabinet space for the few federally mandated original signature forms will make audits a breeze. It’s all about efficiency.
The efficiency you get from ordering services directly from your LOS is two-fold. You are saving yourself time and effort and a few trees. When you order through your LOS, you save the same things for your vendors—and you get everything back into your LOS and in the appropriate loan file. So you also gain efficiency in organization as well. No filing necessary! Using your built-in interfaces increases the effectiveness of your document management system because your documents are packaged in one place for you to see and process—and in the order you need it for each stakeholder who expects to receive it. The convenience is amazing.
Effective green marketing
Convenience is the premise behind the third application of your LOS—effective, green marketing. Marketing does not have to be time-consuming or cumbersome. You don’t necessarily need boxes of flyers printed if they’re going to be sitting in your office waiting for the right time or opportunity to be distributed. Your LOS can be the tool you need for fast and effective marketing.
Just as e-mail communications with your borrowers and vendors has become the expected avenue, there is no reason your marketing cannot follow the same progress. Receiving colorful print materials in this technological age is nice, but some generations now just don’t expect it, or particularly have an affinity for it. Green marketing begins with a personalized Web site that offers online applications. Enable online applications on your Web site that link directly to your LOS and you have paperless 1003 Applications that drop directly into your LOS as a new loan file. An integrated system also allows you to communicate status to your borrowers without the need for printing or mailing. Bi-directional communication is quick and easy.
For personal and direct marketing outreach, all you need is your LOS and Microsoft Word. You can create your flyers or newsletter templates in Word as usual, but instead of printing them out, you can simply import them into your LOS and e-mail them to the contacts in your database—also stored within your LOS! Sometimes it is easy being green.
Green saves green
Even if the thought of saving trees isn’t enough incentive to pursue a “green” office, the financial and business advantages to going “paperless” are undisputed. Technology has sped up our lives—making even the most mundane tasks into the merest of annoyances that can be dispensed within minutes. Think about how we used to job hunt. The days of purchasing expensive linen paper, trying hard to produce an error-free typed history, and buying hundreds of stamps, are long gone. Today, it’s a matter of hitting the send button on multiple job postings on the Internet. No more paper needed.
Similarly, running a loan office doesn’t need to be a lesson in office supply jail. With an updated LOS, it is no longer essential to spend your money on file folders, cabinets, ink/toner, paper, sticky notes, and highlighters. Instead, with a paperless, green office, you can actually save money, time, and as an added bonus, the environment.
Often, we think of the upfront expense of “going green” in our personal lives. The first things that may come to mind are solar panels, windmill projects and other initiatives that can be particularly cost-prohibitive. With the mortgage industry, it’s quite the opposite. Becoming a paperless or semi-paperless office has no upfront costs if you already have an LOS. And most of your clients will appreciate the opportunity to do business with you in the manner in which they accustomed in all other aspects of their lives. Going green with your LOS—it’s simply more convenient, efficient and cost-effective.
BJ Bounds is senior marketing communications specialist for Calyx Software. In addition to media relations and copywriting, BJ is a contributing author to the Calyx Software blog, CalyxCorner. She has more than 10 years of experience in sales and corporate marketing with a focus on technology that spans several industries. She may be reached by phone at (214) 252-5617 or e-mail [email protected]