When homebuyers are looking for a loan, they want the application process to be as easy as possible. That’s what Summit Credit Union, a Madison, Wisconsin-based mortgage lender, has always tried to provide for its customers. And for a long time he was successful, processing dozens of requests daily.
Yet even Summit struggled with aging technology. Its existing point-of-sale (POS) system, adopted by the organization in 2013, looked outdated. The system required applicants to upload documents using a flash drive – a technology so outdated that most computers cannot respond to these requests. These issues resulted in incomplete applications that had to be manually tracked by mortgage lenders or, worse, drove potential clients away.
Summit’s POS system comes from Mortgage Cadence, the same company that provided its Loan Origination System (LOS). POS and LOS were fully integrated and compatible. Although the POS created problems, the LOS worked well. So when Summit’s IT team started looking for a new point-of-sale system, it had to remain compatible with the existing LOS.
It didn’t quite work out that way. Summit’s IT team opted for Blend, a cloud-based banking infrastructure that automates the customer process from inquiry to transaction close.
POS system replacement
Blend solved the customer contact and productivity issues that Summit had struggled with. The IT team could write rules determining the types of documents the system would request from applicants based on their circumstances. For example, the TPV system automatically requests the appropriate tax documentation depending on whether an application is self-employed or employed by a company.
The Blend implementation fixed some issues, but not all. Crucially, Blend didn’t natively integrate with Mortgage Cadence’s Summit LOS system. “Our LOS doesn’t have an open API or direct integration with the POS system, which required us to get creative,” said Kjersten Janowski, Head of Enterprise Technology Consulting at Summit, who led the project.
In this case, getting creative meant going back to manual processes, at least initially. Summit employees had to manually enter loan application information into LOS, a time-consuming effort.
RPA to the rescue
This manual workaround didn’t last very long. Janowski looked for a way to connect the two systems.
“I started thinking about processes I had worked with in similar types of areas, such as data loaders, which essentially act as a solution for automating remote processing,” she explained. . “I knew a data loader wouldn’t do what we needed, but that led me to the idea of using a robot.”
Janowski worked with some of Summit’s developers to better understand robotic process automation (RPA) and then convinced seniors to give it a try. This led to a proof of concept, automating some of the processes. One of these processes was the transfer of all documents submitted by applicants through the portal to the LOS system. Its automation resulted in a major improvement over the previous method, where a Summit employee had to identify the need for specific documents and request them from the borrower via email. Once the documents were sent, the employee had to log into the secure messaging portal to retrieve them and then upload them to the LOS system.
The proof of concept was so successful that Summit leaders asked Janowski how quickly she could set up other processes with RPA. Before moving forward, the team chose to partner with HelpSystems, which had already proven that its Automate technology could integrate Blend POS and Mortgage Cadence LOS. In less than two months, it was live.
Today, customers work in Blend until the application is complete. Blend automatically pulls a credit report and prompts customers to submit the correct documentation. When documents are ready to be transferred to LOS, a bot integrates the two systems through an API and GUI automation. The bot then gathers and uploads the mortgage application data and associated documentation to create the loan in the LOS system.
Bots also do more behind the scenes. For example, when Blend receives new documents for loans that have already been exported to LOS, bots see that the information is going to the correct place in LOS.
The new system has also made the whole process more secure as it requires customers to upload documents through the secure portal instead of unsecured emails. Portal information is only transferred to LOS within Summit’s secure network.
“We ask for very private information, and we couldn’t stop borrowers from sending it to us without collateral. If that email was intercepted by something outside of our network, they could easily have had their identity stolen,” Janowski said.. “And if the employee on our end was the recipient, this sensitive information could stay in their personal mailbox for days.”
A simplified loan application process
Since going live with the new system in November 2021, the credit union has seen a marked increase in loan application throughput through completion without employees having to get involved. End-to-end process turnaround times have also decreased significantly. More importantly, Summit’s NetPromoter score, which measures customer satisfaction, rose from 7.25 to 8.25.
Janowski’s team continues to add functionality to the system beyond loan applications, document transfer and credit reports. The team is currently testing a way to use bots to update the loan application after it enters the LOS system. The objective is to further reduce the manual work still necessary during document reviews.
Integrating RPA into the lending process has worked so well for Summit that other departments, such as consumer lending, payment solutions, and finance, are considering RPA.
“The power of the bot is that it can make decisions based on information it can find elsewhere,” Janowski said. “If we have an employee who has to look in three different places to find an answer, a bot can do it better and faster.”