The COVID-19 pandemic has further damned “business as usual” practices. These days, “same old, same old” is morphing into the equivalent of a professional brick wall. Rethinking business is the new normal, and whether or not you’re an imagineer could determine if your business is a thriver or a diver.

NEXT is doing a series of exclusive interviews with mortgage and tech market leaders to help executives get – and stay – ahead of the impact.

This time around we sat down with Dan Bailey, SVP of WFG Lender Services, to ask him the question on everyone’s minds: What are the three ways the global pandemic has changed the way you do business?

Here’s what Dan has to say.

1. Sales and marketing mortgage lending services is never going to be the same

It’s no secret that the home buying and mortgage lending processes were becoming increasingly digital before the COVID-19 crisis happened. With the stay-at-home orders, borrowers are more connected than ever, for longer time periods (think, no commute). This means they have more time available to search online for a new home and now also expect an accelerated, digital process. Obviously the rate environment makes everything more competitive and it’s expected to remain so as the Federal Reserve continues to stimulate the economy for the near term.

So, in order to lock in that loan and lock in that borrower quickly, every step of the lending process needs to be optimized. DecisionPoint, for example, quickly clears title by analyzing property encumbrances and applicant circumstances to immediately project a reliable clear-to-close timeframe. So the ability to sell yourself as a lender is hinged on a quick to close tech stack.

And sales and marketing are forever changed within our industry as well. There are currently no more conferences to travel to, so how do you build your business? Social media is going to be a big part of the solution here and I suspect more than marketing departments are pushing their executives to become more active on these channels; it will be interesting to see how this will change the way we engage with others.

2. The mortgage industry will do a better job of getting on the same page, quicker

The shift to digital provided a false sense of hope in our abilities to meet the needs of consumers in the time of a pandemic. It seemed like it would be a nice solution for everyone, but we learned that without a standard closing option for Remote Online Notarizations, for example, we simply don’t have a viable option in place, yet.

Should we find ourselves again in this position where we can’t jeopardize lives just to close loans, we will need to have this solution in place. Everyone sees this now as a result of what we’ve all learned during this crisis.

Everyone re-evaluated their relationships on the back of this unprecedented event and ultimately they want to know if the business continuity plans of their vendors fall in line with their own strategic responses to another potential outbreak. These pandemic partnerships will allow us to be more aligned in our response and enable the industry as a whole to get on the same page, quicker.

3. Operational changes due to “work from home” (WFH) exposed pros and cons

The aforementioned online notarization process will result in operational changes at lenders, but it doesn’t end there. Virtual home viewings, drive-by closings, all of these do-it-apart options will become more common and present operational challenges to all in the real estate and mortgage lending industries. We need to make sure we have the ability to execute along all of these formats.

In order to make sure all of these transactions are safe and secure, the implementation of stronger cybersecurity measures will become a necessary part of the remote life as well. WFH makes data more vulnerable to criminal influences without a secure method to guard against phishing, ransomware or any other suite of cybercriminal tactics. Simply installing a VPN for all of your WFH staff won’t cut it any longer.

Shifting to a work from home model practically overnight isn’t easy. And COVID-19 taught us that we need to include such a scenario permanently in our business continuity models. This is the way of the future, though, to think that some operations can save hundreds of thousands of dollars on office space by going more and more remote. That’s a development coming out of the pandemic crisis many would not have predicted, and it’s changed mortgage lending forever.

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