Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Lionel Urban of Fiserv on How Technology Can Benefit Customer Experience

By MBA Insights Staff
August 5, 2019

Lionel Urban

Lionel UrbanLionel Urban is Vice President of Product Management and Bank Solutions with Fiserv, Brookfield, Wis., responsible for development and delivery of the company's digital mortgage strategy. He has more than four decades of mortgage banking experience in management, origination, operations, secondary marketing and compliance roles within banks, credit unions and independent mortgage bankers.

Urban was previously CEO, founding partner and chairman of the board for PCLender LLC, responsible for the overall strategic direction and the vision behind development of the internet-based mortgage loan origination software company. Previously, he was a co-founder and CEO of Navigator Lending Solutions Inc., a fulfilment services company specializing in mortgage banking services.

MBA INSIGHTS: The mortgage industry has seen some remarkable and rapid changes in the past few years, with more changes on the way. What kind of lenders are benefiting from this, and how are they taking advantage?

LIONEL URBAN, FISERV: The industry survived the financial crisis, but now that it has fully stabilized the challenge is that its public image suffered somewhat during the crash--going from a benign service provider to a threat to family happiness and financial well-being. The challenge becomes, how do we adjust operating models to reflect this change? How do we improve the customer experience while reducing operating costs?

Consumers are looking for a more intelligent mortgage experience and our research shows that digital experiences are influencing how people manage and make decisions about borrowing. These demands for real-time customer experiences will increasingly drive innovation, and those lenders who are best equipped to become--and remain--market leaders will be those most comfortable with evolving technology and implementing incremental change. It is all about creating that new and differentiated mortgage experience.

INSIGHTS: What are some technological developments you are enthusiastic about?

URBAN: We believe there is a convergence of technology that is requiring lenders to assess, plan and implement solutions that are now rapidly entering the mainstream.

Optical Character Recognition is not new, but lenders have historically relied upon mundane and error-prone "stare and compare" processes to index files and validate accuracy. With current technologies, lenders can benefit from inline processes that flag exceptions and issues to identify and remediate issues much more quickly than manual practices.

Since Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have introduced single source validation as a program framework to save lenders time and money--allowing lenders to validate a borrower's income, assets and employment with a single report from a single approved vendor that the lender chooses--there are whole new possibilities for the borrower experience when the application process starts with online or mobile banking. This is significant, because Fiserv research shows that almost half (47 percent) of consumers would be comfortable applying for a primary mortgage online.

Third, because of increased adoption by warehouse and secondary investors there has been a recent uptick in activity around eLending, including collaboration, signing, notarization, recording, vaulting and investor delivery. While it is probably unrealistic, due to regulations and other considerations, that a lender can do away with paper processes altogether there are clearly opportunities for significant cost savings and an enhanced borrower experience by adopting a hybrid process. As an industry, we need to fight for clarity and simplicity for our customers.

INSIGHTS: How are these technology developments enabling lenders to improve services and cut costs? And what might this mean for staffing?

URBAN: While there certainly should be opportunities to reduce staffing in certain areas, if applied effectively automation should lead to increased staff productivity by moving employees away from mundane tasks so that they can spend more time acting in a consultative role to the borrower. Despite the greater level of customer ease with digital mortgages they still want the peace of mind that they can speak to a trusted advisor at any step in the process. Incorrect documentation and processing errors increase the cost of loan processing as, of course, do fines and penalties.

Automation can help improve customer service and support, significantly accelerate task completion, increase efficiency and accountability, reduce risk and better address compliance. Bottom line: Automation will result in more satisfied customers, more productive and engaged employees and higher profitability.

INSIGHTS: With profitability a continuing challenge for lenders, what areas of the front-end process do you see potential for greater efficiencies?

URBAN: Consumer direct lending is continuing to evolve into a new and distinctly different business channel. Leveraging third-party data sources such as credit reporting, income, asset and property data in real time with the borrower ensures their experience is much more efficient and that the information used in the credit file will be acceptable for the underwriting process. This eliminates the back and forth communication typically associated with collecting paper-based documentation from an applicant.

INSIGHTS: Why should lenders be looking at the multichannel borrower experience?

URBAN: Put simply, because the borrower is asking for it. And if they are unable to have that multichannel experience with a lender, they won't hesitate to shop around elsewhere.

As they move through the process, borrowers' preferences may include completing an online application, walking into a branch, reaching out to a call center or using a chatbot. Every channel must feel like a continuation of the same experience. When integrated properly with the lender's loan origination system, the multichannel process self-service portals that allow applicants to apply, manage the disclosure process, submit conditions, check status and coordinate closing make it easier for the applicant to manage the transaction.

It is equally important to provide an intuitive experience for lenders, so that their jobs are not made unnecessarily difficult by employers' inability to provide the right tools and solutions.

INSIGHTS: Looking ahead, what do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing lenders in the short-term and long-term?

URBAN: With the convergence of several technologies that are needed for lenders to remain competitive, they should allocate greater IT resources and ensure their automation projects are thoughtfully planned and implemented to ensure there is a sound return on investment. With figures pointing to operational costs at an all-time high, ensuring that all the tools work efficiently together will reduce labor costs, ensure compliance, improve service levels and provide the right environment to recruit great staffing support.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA Insights welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at

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