Better together: Intelligent automation and scaling your operational capacity

By: Eric Kujala, Director, Product Marketing, Ellie Mae

As we look back over the last 20 years, to say the mortgage industry has gone through some ups and downs is probably an understatement. The early 2000’s brought a rush of new business, with refinance boom upon refinance boom keeping the industry’s foot on the gas - similar to a race car pushing its limits to reach the finish line. That race car, however, hit a wall known today as the economic meltdown of 2008 and the shockwaves were felt much longer than anyone expected. 

Along with economic and social disruption, the meltdown spawned new regulatory changes like Tila Respa Integrated Disclosures (TRID), the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as well as deeply shaken consumer confidence. According to MBA, prior to the economic meltdown, underwriters were reviewing 8-10 new loans per day. After the meltdown, that number dropped to just under 2 per day. 

The return of the refinance boom

Over the last several years, we’ve seen the industry recover and prosperity begin to show itself again. We’re now seeing another series of refinance booms and a growing housing purchase market spurred on by historically low interest rates. 

American economist, Ben Bernanke said, “In the typical economic recovery, a resurgent housing sector helps fuel reemployment and rising incomes.”

Welcome to 2020. Despite a global pandemic, social unrest, and natural disasters, the mortgage industry is seeing loan volumes that are being compared to the early 2000s (if not more). Mortgage lenders are navigating these record amounts of volume by embracing the introduction of new technologies and new ways of doing business to keep up with demand. 

Scaling with intelligent automation

If this bummed you out, sorry about that, but here is the kicker. This added strain on mortgage lenders has been a catalyst to drive the adoption of technology that is helping lenders scale.

Investing in technologies that drive automation is now front and center. According to a McKinsey and Company survey performed this year, about 14 percent more organizations (across industries) are pursuing automation technologies now than two years ago.

In the 2019 Digital Innovations survey of the 2019 Technology Insight® Study, STRATMOR asked lenders about their robotic process automation (RPA) use and in what areas of their business RPA is in practice. The below figure shows 20 percent of responding lenders are already using RPA, primarily for processing tasks.


What this means for the mortgage industry is that investing in automation technologies is still relatively new but growing in urgency. The data also points out that the business process where automation is most used is in the back office. This part of the business was impacted the most by the regulatory and compliance requirements over the last decade or so. A lender’s ability to scale is key to being faster, creating happier customers, and maximizing margins. Automation drives that ability to scale by creating a true exception-based process, where employees can focus their valuable time on creating the “human interactions” that build meaningful customer relationships.

So, where do you start? 

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics process automation, and natural language processing technologies are all tools. Like any other tool, when in the right hands, applied correctly and in the right processes, they will have the most impactful benefits to your organization - all while maintaining the important rigor around compliance and security. 

“Automate everything automatable” does not mean automate everything. It means automate the things that can be automated effectively so you can optimize your team’s ability to form and cultivate the meaningful customer relationships that are so instrumental to the mortgage industry. 

Partner with Ellie Mae to drive efficiency and speed ROI

To see how Ellie Mae and our partners are combining and applying all of these automation tools in the Ellie Mae Digital Lending Platform, click below to schedule time to connect with one of our AI experts. Automation powered by innovative technologies is directly impacting the entire mortgage process, end to end. See the results today. 


See it in action

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