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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   November 2017

Is Your Information Managing You?

Verifying, analyzing and harnessing mortgage data requires planning

The number of technology platforms and the amount of data utilized in the mortgage industry has become staggering over the past few years. Consider all of the data systems used by mortgage professionals on a regular basis: loan origination software, consumer relationship management platforms, automatic underwriting systems, electronic application apps, online third-party vendor portals, closing-document and disclosure systems, etc. 

These are just a few of the primary systems utilized in a typical mortgage lending process. The list goes on and on. Although there are many systems, all of them are driven by and made useful through one common denominator: data.

The power of the data you collect and manage, both inside your own systems and from business partners and vendors, comes from how it can be utilized to help you manage and grow your business. Can your company harness this power? Can you, the mortgage originator, manage your technology and data to grow your business?

Collecting and validating

Many companies are great at collecting information, but may not be good at exporting and managing that data. Technology upgrades to address market changes and regulatory compliance burdens have become increasingly common, and run the gamut from mobile apps to entirely new systems. All of these are designed to collect and use data, but that data still must be sourced from multiple original locations at different times.

Loan originators and processors get data from the borrower, as well as the borrower’s employer, bank and credit companies, etc. The title vendor gets information from the processor and/or a wholesale lender. The loan underwriter gets data from the loan officer and processors. Again, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, the default focus for most mortgage professionals today is expediency for the task at hand.

Many companies haven’t put much thought into the information they are gathering. They have no plan for validating the data they collect and communicating it throughout their systems that need access to that information. What these companies need is a streamlined technology process that will collect, validate, communicate and report data while also allowing for data analysis.

Do you have such a process in place in your company? Ask yourself the following questions to get an idea:

  • Is your data exportable?
  • Has your data been validated?
  • Do you capture data from image documents or just retain the images?
  • Is your exported data accurate and verifiable?
  • Is your data secure and accessible — to you, your vendors and your trading partners?
  • Do you analyze your data and look for trends?

Data verification can save you and your team significant time because, as the old saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.” To avoid adding more garbage to the system, when you capture data, you should analyze it and use it to identify errors and train for accuracy.

Many companies lack basic data knowledge, such as who owns the information, how important the data is or even whether it is personal or business in nature. 

When you utilize your data to build efficiency and accuracy within your business you will begin to create a culture where data is entered once and verified often. Verifying data elements for accuracy and correcting where necessary takes less time and is less risky than re-entering the same data multiple times.

Harnessing data

Make it a regular part of your vendor-management plan to ask your business partners what data they can export or make available to you. Then assign staff to analyze the data collected. Something as simple as validating data against supporting document images can produce amazing efficiency benefits.

You also should devote some time to determining how you could mine your own data. Can you look back at data from all loans from the past 10 years to find opportunities or valuable lessons that will help you in the future? All of the data you collect has the potential to show you where you have strengths and weaknesses in your business.

It does little good to gather data that never gets analyzed or used to improve your business, so data that is not readily exportable from your system really limits its usefulness. Routing or uploading pdf images is not the same as exporting data derived or supported by those pdf images.

A pdf image of an e-mail evidencing communication with your borrower, for example, will contain a date, but for that date to be included in your system, it must be entered into your system as data somehow. If you don’t then validate this rekeyed data as complete and accurate, exporting it can create more work for the receiver or for your staff, who then must correct the data and retransmit. Inaccurate, incomplete data diminishes value for all subsequent internal and external users.

Creating a data plan

Although data accuracy and security is critical, it should not be where your data-use strategy stops. Mortgage companies can benefit from leveraging technology and data to help their risk management plans and improve future operations. Originators can benefit from harnessing that data to look for future prospects.

Whether you are a company vice president, a branch manager or a loan originator, you should think about how to best utilize all of the data you and your company are collecting. This data plan should include: An evaluation of your data technology and the portability of your data; how you will gather, analyze and report that data; and what policies need to be set to manage that data responsibly and efficiently. 

Your plan also should include who is responsible for gathering and storing the data, as well as who is in charge of — and what systems will be used to —analyze and report on the data. Know your data and recognize that not all information is equal. It often is important to categorize information to discover its value, which may require careful consideration ahead of time.

Many companies lack basic data knowledge, such as who owns the information, how important the data is or even whether it is personal or business in nature. This is why it is important to establish policies for the management, exporting, analysis and reporting of the data collected. These policies should be well thought out, written and communicated to your staff, and then monitored for effectiveness. And, of course, be sure to include plans for security, privacy protection and long-term data management.

Use industry standards

Finally, data standards exist within the mortgage industry that can help make the data you collect more portable. MISMO, the Mortgage Industry Standards Maintenance Organization, has developed — and maintains — an XML data format that mortgage companies can use to exchange loan-transaction data electronically.

MISMO has progressed through multiple version updates to its XML standards. Each of these has a version number, and version compatibility is an important factor. The current MISMO standard is Version 3.3.

Although not required to be followed, MISMO does set a standard for data that can help mortgage companies analyze their technology and data elements. MISMO also has instituted the Future State Standards Initiative (FSSI) to help the mortgage industry keep pace with emerging business needs and technology opportunities. The goal of FSSI is to address important industry needs and provide products and documentation targeted toward business and domain experts.

•  •  •

Most mortgage companies have gigabytes —if not terabytes — of valuable data stored that can help them and their originators manage and grow their business. The strength of this data lies in what you do to harness its power and manage it for accuracy, effectiveness and growth. 


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