Americans are currently saddled with $1.5 trillion dollars of student debt. $1.5 trillion dollars. This is no longer a personalized problem, only affecting a few people here and there. It’s a crisis. The good news? Debt relief programs, including employer-issued benefits, are cropping up. But before we can look at those, it’s important to understand the current scene and how we got here. 

The stats

Here’s the deal. Tuition and fees at public and private colleges and universities rose at about three times the rate of inflation between 2007 and 2018.

Chart showing how fees at colleges and universities rose at three times the rate of inflation between 2007 and 2018.

And when you look at current costs compared to those incurred by students in 1988, you’ll see that, taking into account inflation, these costs are about three times as high as they were 30 years ago.

Chart showing inflation-adjusted published tuition and fees between 1988 and 2019.

Even in the face of these mounting costs, students and families still see college as a good investment. They sign on the dotted line for loans that will likely end up burdening them for years and years to come because they believe higher education will change their lives for the better. 

Unfortunately, these students chasing their career dreams are often punished for seeking financial help. Seth Frotman, former student loan ombudsman at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and current executive director of the Student Borrower Protection Center, explained it this way: 

“In this country, we essentially treat student loan borrowers the same way we treat tax cheats (…) We will seize your wages. We will seize your tax refunds. We’ll even seize your Social Security benefits. We don’t allow them to have a second chance in bankruptcy all because you have a student loan. That is wrong.” 

Something’s got to change.

Proposed solutions

Some current solutions are proving to be less effective than desired. Take the Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (TEPSLF). This program was funded by Congress in 2018 to help public servants (like teachers and police officers) access loan forgiveness resources and was afforded a budget of $700 million dollars across two years. 

However, of the nearly 40,000 applicants, as of April of 2019 only 262 people have actually received debt relief. That’s a whopping 0.006% success rate. Many blame a complicated application process and confusing requirements. Clearly, this solution is not working.  

A report issued June 14, 2019 by the U.S. Department of the Treasury included recommendations for improving the current student loan situation. The authors of the report call on colleges and universities to be more transparent about tuition, fees, and cost of living in acceptance letters. They also recommend financial literacy courses for students. While changes like this might help, what about people who are already weighed down by student loans? How can we address existing issues?

Employer benefits and fintech integrations: Promising options

More and more employers are adding a new option to their suite of benefits: employer-assisted student loan repayment. Think of it like retirement savings. Employees pay their monthly loan bills, employers kick in a matching percentage. The debt gets paid off faster so employees can move on with their lives and shed the weight of endless bills. Companies like Vault give HR departments the platform they need to connect employee loan accounts with employer payments. No roadblocks.  

Finicity is proud to power some of these solutions with our data access and insights products. This problem isn’t going to go away on its own and complicated debt forgiveness programs aren’t helping. This 21st century crisis needs 21st century solutions. Simple. Hassle-free. Effective. 

In March, Ellie Mae released the findings from its annual Borrower Insights Survey. The results of this survey of 2,000 renters and homeowners deliver a valuable window into the motivations and experiences of borrowers. Specifically, this particular survey highlights areas where communication between borrowers and lending professionals can be improved. Let’s take a look at some of those numbers.

How do digital options impact borrower decisions?

According to this survey, the borrower demand for digital options across the mortgage lending process is up 18 percent since 2017. Not too surprising given the digital trends across industries. Just look at retail commerce. In 2016, 1.32 billion people bought goods and services online. By 2021, that number is projected to reach 2.14 billion. In other words, about 164 million people become digital buyers each year. 

Perhaps because of this larger trend to go digital, 50 percent of borrowers surveyed said that they chose their lender based on the availability of an online application or portal. They want the convenience of doing everything on their phone or personal computer. After all, they can do all of their other shopping and spending online. Why not manage their mortgage application online, too? 

What digital options do borrowers use most?

Of those surveyed, the overwhelming majority will take advantage of digital tools when they are part of the lending process. For example, 83 percent of borrowers will use an online portal to electronically sign and notarize documents and 80 percent will use an online portal to upload the various documents required for verification and approval. Even this process remains tied to analog document handling. A truly digital verification process, like that powered by Finicity’s verficiations solutions, results in increased customer satisfaction because it makes it even easier. People also appreciate the convenience of mobile solutions with 78 percent reporting that they used their lender’s mobile app. 

Where do borrowers experience friction in the digital lending process?

About 25 percent of those surveyed reported that they have started an online mortgage application that they later abandoned or completed offline. Some of those borrowers were likely window shopping and weren’t yet ready to complete their application. Considering the high stakes of mortgage borrowing, it makes sense that this number is relatively low compared to rates of abandonment in other industries. Looking at retail numbers, it’s clear that smaller purchases result in higher rates of transaction abandonment. In 2018, about 75 percent of online shopping carts were abandoned. It’s easy to change your mind about a pair of shoes or a new area rug. Filling out a mortgage application involves more thought and commitment.   

Even when online mortgage applications are completed, about half of those surveyed reported that it took multiple sessions to work through the process. This is important because about 60 percent of people that abandoned online applications did so because the process was simply taking too long. And 20 percent of those borrowers went on to choose a new lender. When customer expectations aren’t met, today’s marketplace makes it easy to move on to a new provider. This is where a true digital verification process can make a huge difference. This process avoids potential barriers by going straight to the financial institutions that house financial data. No more uploading documents and trying to make sure everything is in the right place. Streamlined and frictionless, this process increases adoption and significantly reduces borrower abandonment. 

What about offline lending support?  

While it might seem counterintuitive, according to the Borrower Insights Survey, 79 percent of millennial borrowers said that they frequently meet with their lenders in-person. That’s compared to 61 percent of baby boomer participants. Millennial borrowers want more frequent communication and interaction with their lenders to support them across all channels.

Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president of technology and corporate strategy for Ellie Mae, discusses the need for lenders to meet this communication expectation. “As more Millennials enter the housing market,” he explains, “it will be imperative for lenders to prioritize the use of all available technologies, digital tools and communication channels to foster strong borrower relationships throughout each step of the loan lifecycle – from the moment they are interested, all the way through to closing.” 

Finicity provides the data access and insights solutions that help lenders meet and exceed customer expectations. Our digital verification reports make it simple for borrowers and their loan officers to access financial history information. And they are exceptionally accurate. Not only that, but by removing mortgage application roadblocks and paperwork, our solutions drive customer satisfaction and free up resources so that loan officers can focus on their customers. 

From choosing a restaurant to finding that next vacation destination, data plays a significant role in everyday decision making. The same should hold true when it comes to daily finances. To better understand whether data is being used to improve financial wellbeing, we surveyed 1,500 consumers on their various financial habits. Respondents were evenly distributed across age groups, gender, education and income.

Just 38% of participants with a graduate degree and 21% of those with a high school degree use their financial data. Meanwhile, less than half of all consumers making more than $150,000 use most of their financial data to make better decisions. For those making less than $15,000, that number drops to 17%.

It’s time for consumers across all education and income levels to harness the power of their financial data. FinTechs and financial services organizations need to explore what’s keeping consumers from making the most of their financial data, as well as the benefits they stand to gain from using such data to inform financial decisions.

What’s standing in the way?

Consumers aren’t shy about opening new financial accounts. In fact, one-third have more than six different accounts. Although that paves the way for plenty of financial flexibility, it also tends to complicate things for consumers interested in monitoring their financial data. Less than 40% of consumers feel they always have sufficient knowledge of their credit history and financial information.

Financial services leaders can look for opportunities to ease the burden associated with leveraging data across several different accounts. Consumers who have greater insight into their financial information — regardless of where it may live — will be better positioned to take advantage of such data moving forward.

In addition to the trouble of tracking financial data stored in multiple accounts, yet another issue that could potentially prevent consumers from capitalizing on their information is a lack of transparency that builds trust. For the most part, consumers aren’t opposed to sharing their data with apps and services outside of their core banking institution. In fact, nearly 60% of those making between $50,000 and $75,000 — which encompasses the U.S. median income — rank themselves at a five or above on a 10-point “trust” scale of third-party apps or services. And as income rises, so does trust: Among those making more than $150,000, 77% rank themselves a five or above. 

FinTechs and financial services companies can provide further assurances to consumers by being upfront about how data is protected while also ensuring consumers retain control over how their data is shared. The more transparency there is about how data is being protected and ultimately used, the better chance consumers will continue to share their financial information.

Opening up opportunities

Regardless of their age or level of education, consumers dedicate a higher percentage of their income toward loans than credit cards, investments, emergency funds or big purchases. The reason? Loans serve as the lifeblood of modern society. Capable of opening up opportunities that might not otherwise exist, loans help move consumers one step closer toward achieving their financial dreams.

While most consumers can qualify for loans without issue, those with lower income and/or education levels are more likely to be bogged down by an insufficient or nonexistent credit history. Around half of all consumers making less than $30,000 have been unwilling or hesitant to apply for a loan or undergo a credit check due to concerns about an unfavorable credit score or poor credit history. The same applies to more than half of all consumers with less than a high school degree.

In cases such as these, expanded financial data can make a difference. Instead of missing out on loans that can turn a dream of buying a home or car into reality, consumers should be able to share data as a part of their credit score — such as cell phone or utility bills. 

The idea of distributing expanded financial data to make up for a less lengthy credit history isn’t all that foreign to millennials. In fact, 25 to 34 year olds are twice as likely as 55 to 64 year olds to share financial information. Providing consumers with the opportunity to shed light on their financial well being through expanded financial data ensures those on the cusp of qualifying for a loan aren’t left on the outside looking in.

Far too many consumers aren’t accustomed to leveraging their financial data. FinTechs and financial services organizations have an incredible opportunity to empower consumers with increased control over and utilization of their data to improve financial decisioning and understanding. 

One great example is the partnership of Experian, FICO and Finicity. Together with the two leaders in analytics-based credit decisioning, Finicity is working to ensure consumers maximize the potential of their financial information with opt-in programs including Experian Boost® and the UltraFICO® Score to shed light on their financial health.

The value of data-driven decisioning has never been a debate. How to unleash that data and deliver unrealized promise is the challenge for the industry. Doing so will usher in an era of increased inclusion and improved financial well being.

ultrafico-1

From becoming first-time homeowners to securing a new set of wheels, credit plays an important role in helping all of us live out our dreams. And the new UltraFICO™ Score from Finicity, Experian and FICO, which empowers borrowers to build and improve their credit scores, is designed to turn a few more of those dreams into reality.

How it works

Credit scores rely on credit history, but don’t take into account other important factors of your financial profile – until now. With UltraFICO, borrowers have the option of sharing more information with lenders than ever before. Although credit scores typically consist of five specific elements, UltraFICO opens the door for a whole host of new data – including how you manage or balance your checkings, savings and money market accounts.

By permissioning the use of these data sources, borrowers can offer greater insight into their financial responsibility. Instead of assuming loan candidacy based solely on credit history, lenders can leverage this additional financial information to better inform credit decisioning.

Perhaps most importantly, we as consumers have unprecedented transparency into the data that is being used. Any confusion over what data is being used to recalculate a credit score will quickly become a thing of the past.

Who it helps

For consumers who have a subprime credit score – those in that “gray area” right on the cusp – more information means a better shot at obtaining a loan. Given the fact that just one in three millennials own a credit card to begin with, UltraFICO couldn’t come at a better time.

Millions of young adults are out of luck when it comes to borrowing. Among the most prominent reasons is fear of debt. Having seen their parents struggle to escape credit card debt, the last thing most millennials want to do is open a line of credit. Research shows millennials fear credit card debt more than the threat of war – or even death.

With UltraFICO, however, millennials will be better positioned for when they do need credit. Rather than using credit utilization or length of credit history to prove their financial wherewithal, consumers can point to other positive financial attributes – such as maintaining a healthy savings balance or paying a cell phone bill on time every month.

While millennials are prime candidates for UltraFICO, there’s no limit to who can take advantage of this new credit scoring system. For example, older adults who have paid off their mortgages may still want to obtain an auto loan. By giving them the option of sharing data from a well-funded checking or savings account, UltraFICO can help make up for any dips in credit score. It will also benefit other emerging consumers and borrowers who may have had previous negative marks but otherwise have demonstrated positive financial management.

Why it matters

We’ve entered a new era in credit scoring. Once left to wonder if they’d qualify for a loan, consumers are now empowered to provide more information that’s relevant to their credit worthiness. Whether it’s showing you have cash on hand for emergencies or that you’ve avoided a negative balance in your checking account, data that sits outside of the traditional credit scoring model can move consumers one step closer toward reaching their financial goals.

The best part? UltraFICO is just the start of digital innovation in the credit decisioning space. As more ground-breaking ideas emerge, consumers stand to gain greater control over and insight into their financial lives.

UltraFICO-Score

Consumers are more empowered to shape their lives and lifestyles using a vast array of digital tools that are now available at the tap of their phone screens.

While digital tools and solutions have made it possible for consumers to be better informed about their credit scores and profiles, they haven’t been able to directly influence their score. Until now.

The recently announced UltraFICO™ Score, created using consumer contributed data in conjunction with FICO, Experian and Finicity, is a landmark event in credit scoring.  It’s a fundamental shift in the collection of credit related data that brings the consumer directly into the scoring process. In short, it further empowers consumers to use their personal financial data for their benefit. Read more about the UltraFICO™ Score in the announcement here or in the The Wall Street Journal here.

The process starts with a consumer securely permissioning the use of their financial data that is commonly found in monthly statements of checking, savings and money market accounts.  That data can be used to provide visibility into financial management behaviors that may improve their score and provide better access to credit. The UltraFICO™ Score includes factors such as length of bank account history and consistency in maintaining balances, in addition to traditional credit report information.  

This information wasn’t previously available to be used for scoring and its inclusion now allows consumers to provide reliable, historical data for a better informed credit score.  In some cases it provides enough data that those previously unscored or under-scored can be scored for the first time. Millions of consumers with limited credit history will benefit from improved access to mainstream financial products.

Consumers are now able to influence their credit score through their demonstration of everyday sound financial management  habits. They can put their financial data to use in finding lower interest rates or better credit offers and in some cases can become credit-worthy for the first time thanks to the extra data found in their checking, savings and money market accounts.

financial-data-exchange

Today was the public launch of the Financial Data Exchange (FDX). We’re thrilled to be a part of this industry organization that has broad representation across the financial services ecosystem.  The group has set out on a mission to create a universal standard for data sharing and promote its proper implementation.

Today’s consumer is using their personal financial data more and more. Access to their data, an offshoot of the digital-era, has created an opportunity for them be more informed, personalize their finances to their desires and needs, and improve their financial choices.

With many different organizations providing services using consumer-permissioned data, it’s a good sign to see financial institutions, aggregators, developers, and even other industry organizations coming together in the interest of the consumer and the secure use of their data.

While many individual organizations have made data sharing a priority, existing models and agreements don’t fully address the gaps that result in security concerns for consumers and industry players alike due to a lack of a standard. Forming FDX shows that the industry takes these opportunities seriously enough that we aren’t waiting for regulations or other governing bodies to determine what’s best for data sharing relative to consumers.

Data sharing is an innovation engine. By coming together as an industry to address the technical requirements and data sharing framework, we believe that innovation engine will run much faster and go much further. Opportunity abounds.

All 22 members of the founding board have been instrumental in helping put the needed work into this effort, to show that it matters, not only to current members, but to the industry as whole. Simple, secure access to data for consumers and businesses should be an industry standard that will reduce complexity and increase collaboration and act as a foundation for the next generation of financial products and services.

This has been a two-year process whose ideas started even farther back. Finicity sought out partners to help collaborate in such an industry-wide effort.  We were excited to find like-minded partner organizations who rallied around the concept to make FDX a reality.

FDX will build on standards that have existed in the market for years, centered on the Durable Data API (DDA).

While today’s announcement is a culmination of a lot of work, it’s just the beginning. We see FDX as freeing our industry from discussing the how of data sharing and instead allowing it to focus on further empowering the consumer to better their financial lives.

The past several years have seen digital transformation revolutionize consumer choice across virtually every industry. And in many cases, that choice has anointed new victors, such as Netflix, AirBNB, Uber, and left many vanquished or significantly diminished.  The speed at which the transformation can occur is truly astounding. Did Netflix become the world’s largest movie house overnight. No. But it was fast. So while the Blockbusters of the world probably felt safe in their niche and in their dominance, clearly they weren’t.  There is no better time to be paranoid about what innovation or what organization may displace you. But there’s also no better time to feel tremendous optimism in your ability to adopt a digital or bust mentality and win in your market. No industry is immune.

Mortgage lending is no different. The digital mortgage seems to be the dominant conversation, and rightfully so. Consumers have many choices – the typical local mortgage lenders, mortgage brokers, banks and credit unions that can all meet their needs. But they also have online digital lenders who can provide a mortgage. Out of the thousands of lenders, consumers are able to make their choice based on their situation, reviews and referrals of people they trust, and any other demands they may have. They can educate themselves before ever involving the lender or the bank and they are increasingly turning to online, digital solutions to both become better educated in their choice, as well as to meet their needs.  They are more empowered.

This era of consumer empowerment has swelled into a revolution. Lenders not only compete in their regional markets, but have to compete more and more digitally when it comes to their tools and customer experiences.  And the competition is getting fierce, as it can seemingly come from anyone and everyone.

If customers get simple and pleasing experiences from Uber, Airbnb, food takeout or online bank accounts then they’ll expect it in their mortgage process as well. The hot new thing in any app becomes standard fare across the board faster than ever before and makes the status quo seem even more antiquated.

Delighting customers means finding ways to deliver the experience they want alongside the product they desire — a mortgage. To keep pace it isn’t enough to flip a switch from manual, paper processes to digital ones. It requires continuous, consumer-centric innovation. You either need to be pushing forward with consumers or risk getting passed by.

Finicity offers a path to digital transformation, but more importantly to continuous, consumer-centric innovation. Through our digital verification solutions you can provide your borrowers a simple, fast verification experience that doesn’t require paper or PDF bank statements to be shuffled back and forth. Delays for paperwork or waiting on extra documents are a thing of the past.

Our verification reports also include rep and warrant relief from the GSEs. Check out our announcement with Freddie Mac here.

We provide digital access to consumer-permissioned data that can be used throughout the life of a loan, whether that’s pre-qualification, verification, servicing, or even in other lending verticals.

But providing digital processes isn’t enough. We don’t want to get you from manual to automated processes or simply paper to digital verification. We want to start innovating your origination process to the point you’re pushing us for further innovations in our offerings. Consumers are already demanding the same thing and we’re running fast to meet and exceed their expectations.

Find out where you’re at when it comes to being ready for pushing digital innovation forward with our Digital Readiness Assessment. This is a fun and fast view of where you’re at, but it hopefully inspires you to move forward – fast – with your digital plans.

Joining the continuous, consumer-centric revolution can lead to a lot of positives. Digital lenders have been consistently growing over the past 6 years. Averaging 30% annual growth, they have quadrupled their market share and are continuing to carve out space in the market for their mortgage solutions (The Role of Technology in Mortgage Lending). Online tools have empowered consumers to investigate their mortgage options just as easily from their home as from the local bank’s branch. Ellie Mae found the first choice lender for many people is the one referred to them by a friend or family member who had a great experience. Not the one with the lowest rate or the closest branch. Their second choice was whoever they found in an online search (Ellie Mae Borrower Insights Survey 2018).

Consumers want their mortgage origination personalized or at least customizable. Borrowers can self-select mortgage types or other details to create the perfect mortgage for them. Lenders can provide tools to make the process exactly what the customer expects changing notification type and frequency, detailed or simplistic origination flows, self-service or guided processes and high or low touch interactions.

The mortgage lending process is still people driven.  It’s a major investment, and customers want someone to help them. So it’s not about replacing people, it’s about delivering a superior experience that will make you more productive and more profitable.

Today’s mortgage process is easier to get through for a consumer than it has ever been. It will only increase in simplicity and speed moving forward. On top of delivering a beneficial customer experience, digital solutions also make it easier to continue to test and innovate your process to find what works for your consumers and meet their expectations head on.

Consumer-centric innovation based on digitization will continue to transform the mortgage industry to fulfil the demands of consumers. Joining the revolution requires the tools to keep up.

Are you ready?

usaa-finicity-direct-api

For so many people, money is a great source of stress.  As a matter of fact, a whopping 71 percent of Americans worry about having enough to cover their expenses. And this is just one element of finances that occupy people’s time and energy.

For individuals and families, improving their financial wellness and achieving financial goals begins with access to their financial data. By connecting all their financial dots, they can gain insights that help them make smarter financial decisions.

This defines what we at Finicity do every day, which is ensuring superior access to financial data, providing the highest quality data possible, and surfacing intelligent insights for better decisions.

To that end, we’ve entered into a direct data-sharing agreement with USAA which will allow their members to more easily and more securely access and use their financial data in third party apps and services that utilize Finicity’s data aggregation capabilities.  The agreement centers on an application programming interface (API) that provides rapid access to data through a secure tokenized process.

USAA members will have no additional steps in setting up account access in those apps and services they use. The direct API experience will simply redirect them to USAA, where they will provide consent for data access and confirm what data can be shared. This replaces any use of credentials except with the initial direct login to USAA.  Additionally, a USAA dashboard will allow members to manage third-party app access whenever they choose.

Finicity is leading the financial data aggregator market by entering into these data-sharing agreements (see our announcements with Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase).  It’s reflective of our commitment to work together with banks to provide the best data and the best experience for our shared customers.

This agreement will give USAA members greater control of their financial information, and provide a more seamless, secure and transparent exchange of data.  Working together with USAA allows us to collaborate on a secure method for data sharing, while helping USAA fulfill its mission to help facilitate its members’ financial security.

The API integration is expected to roll out to USAA members throughout 2018 and 2019. Check out the statement about the relationship on USAA’s site.

We’re thrilled to be working with USAA on improving member experiences!

financial-health-leader

The Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) named Finicity one of its 2018 Financial Health Leaders. Financial Health Leaders are organizations in the CFSI Financial Health Network who are at the forefront of measuring financial health and then show their commitment to consumer financial health by taking steps to measure and improve the financial health of their customers, employees, or clients.

Finicity is honored to be included alongside other banks, credit unions, fintechs and non-profits in improving financial health through measurement, tracking, and other initiatives.

Helping improve the budgeting habits of individuals and families is what got Finicity started in financial data aggregation. As Finicity has grown into a leading financial data aggregator and intelligent insights provider, the bigger picture of the usefulness of personal financial data and securing personal financial data has taken on an even greater role in our mission.

Finicity provides consumer-permissioned data from thousands of financial institutions to be used in ways customers choose. From connecting users to any number of third-party financial apps to creating loan origination documents directly from bank-validated data, Finicity empowers consumers to improve their financial lives and organizations to improve their financial decisions.

Transforming financial experiences through technology has always been important to us. We believe it can greatly improve financial understanding and help people meet personal and business goals.  Receiving recognition for our efforts from CFSI is rewarding, but impacting the lives of our customers is truly the best.

So, while our solutions have expanded, our mission has remained constant – we work to provide data-driven insights so individuals, families and organizations can make smarter financial decisions.

We love working with consumers on their financial fitness through Mvelopes and its range of services. In addition to the budgeting app, Mvelopes provides educational content, debt elimination tools, and the guidance of a personal finance trainer to help consumers plan, budget, and track their progress while decreasing financial stress and increasing healthy financial communication.

We look forward to working with CFSI and other Financial Health Leaders to continue helping anyone who wants to or needs to improve their financial wellness.

For the past six quarters, more lenders have had a negative profit margin outlook than positive. For the past five, competition has been cited by 78 percent of lenders as the main cause for that negative outlook.

Conversely, only 17 percent of lenders had a positive profit margin outlook. That 17 percent also hold the key to lender growth in today’s competitive, slowing mortgage market.

Their reason for a positive outlook? Operational efficiency or technology – also known as digitization! The improvements that come from simplifying manual processes through digital automation make all the difference in today’s mortgage market. Those that race to a digital experience will survive and thrive.  Those that don’t? Well, let’s just say I won’t be betting on that horse.

Look no further than Quicken Loans and Rocket Mortgage for how this is actually working. In the first quarter of 2018 there was 5 percent less mortgage volume than in 2017. Still, Quicken Loans originated 5 percent more by volume ($20.5 billion total), which was $4 billion more than the next closest lender.

How’d they do it? By significantly investing in technology to get to a true digital mortgage. Quicken Loans said their technology allows for approvals in 8 minutes and closing a refinance in 8 days and purchases in as little as 16 days. That’s almost three times as fast as the average purchase and four times as fast as the average refinance. That also means they have 3-4 times the output available as today’s average lender.

So digitize.  And do it quick. It’s relatively easy to start and can be done in steps. Some pieces of the origination process will always take time, but moving manual processes into an automated digital process frees up resources for everyone.

A loan officer is no longer required for a pre-approval that borrowers can now get online in minutes. Digital verification reports have replaced bank statements, pay stubs, and other financial data that had to be sent from a borrower one way or another, taking nearly 2 weeks to get everything in order. Quicken Loans even demonstrated a complete digital mortgage process, including the borrowers closing online. Everybody doesn’t have to be in the same room any longer.

All of this means digital lenders can originate and close more loans in a shorter amount of time, while freeing up their loan officers and brokers to handle a higher volume.  And the customer experience doesn’t suffer, in fact it can be greatly enhanced.

None of this should be a surprise. Digital lenders have consistently increased their mortgage volume. Over the past 6 years, they have grown by 30% annually. Since introducing Rocket Mortgage during the Super Bowl in 2016, Quicken Loans has set a record for their most volume in a year and has continued to grow. Over the past 6 months, they’ve become the nation’s top lender, not just the top digital lender. They have adopted a digital or bust attitude and it’s paying big dividends.

While the market may continue to give lenders pause, there is a way to stand out and have a positive view on your profit margins. Get started digitizing. Start with verification reports that can cut up to 6 days off verifying assets, 8 days off verifying income, and up to 12 days off verifying employment. Digital verification can account for taking almost two weeks off the typical origination. Even a simple, verification of asset report can save almost a week.