Residential Magazine

The Power is in Your Hands

To reach their full potential, originators must be untethered from their desks

By Erik Wrobel

The devices in everybody’s hands have changed the world. Mobile phones have allowed people to work and play from almost anywhere. The mortgage industry must adapt to this new environment. Otherwise, lenders and originators will be left out in the cold. 

In an increasingly mobile world, it’s hard to imagine feeling tethered down. Picture a morning commute with no access to Outlook or Gmail. Getting the day started while still on the way to the office has become the new norm.

For mortgage originators, access to documents and client files while on the go has been anything but easy. The origination process largely requires being in front of a computer screen, which takes an originator out of the field, decreases their access to new borrowers and keeps them from providing stellar in-person service to those currently in their pipeline. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Originators working with tools from a bygone era shouldn’t be a surprise. Mortgage professionals are frequently late adopters when it comes to implementing new technology. Built on a legacy of paper-heavy processing, changing time-old traditions takes some extra effort. 

This doesn’t mean things need to remain stuck in neutral. By putting the power to access files from anywhere quite literally in an originator’s hands, the industry can create an overall increase in borrower satisfaction, a jump in productivity and increased well-being across the board.

Reaching borrowers

Borrowers are increasingly starting their homebuying journey on their mobile devices. With tech-heavy millennials now comprising the majority of the first-time homebuyer market, it’s important for lenders to meet them where they are on their journey. Giving originators the tools to work like their borrowers encourages a natural synergy.

Borrower application activity spikes around 8 p.m. on weeknights other than Fridays, according to internal data from Blend. More than one-third of these users are completing their applications from their mobile devices. When originators are unable to connect with borrowers during periods of peak activity, a fundamental opportunity is missed.

Although the homebuying journey often starts online, borrowers still want human guidance throughout the mortgage process. Giving originators access to their borrowers while they’re away from their desk minimizes the likelihood of dreaded missed connections. 

Completing mortgage paperwork isn’t always intuitive, so the capability to check in on borrowers as they progress creates touchpoints that wouldn’t exist unless the originator was sitting at his or her desk. When an originator can see from their phone where the borrower is stuck, they’re able to reach out and problem solve immediately. Borrowers benefit greatly from this gift of returned momentum.

Capturing business

A mobile tool is important in improving borrowers’ feelings of comfort at the moments when anxiety usually starts. Proactively communicating status updates through a borrower’s preferred channel has a significant impact on the borrower’s net promoter score, which is a measure of client loyalty. This eased communication builds the trust that underpins strong lender-borrower relationships. 

Beyond providing clear benefits to relationship development and the overall client experience, mobile tools support an originator’s ability to generate and support more business. This is especially true in competitive housing markets where speed and responsiveness is critical. 

With a mobile app, a mortgage broker or loan officer can get a potential borrower started with a digital-application experience at the moment of intent. Providing this proactive assistance helps drive early borrower commitment. A common anecdote is, “It’s not the first person a borrower talks to that wins business. It’s the first person who can get the application process started.” With mobile tools in hand, originators are equipped to hear intent, begin the application and capture the commitment.

An originator who can create, track, update or countersign disclosures, or even accept loan documents from a prospective borrower with a tap of their phone screen, can win that business. An in-the-hand solution can lead to new business where it is least expected — from the bus to the grocery store. 

Balancing life

As originators gain an increased ability to work on the go, it’s important to reflect on how this impacts work-life balance. Mobile tools support a few undeniably positive outcomes. When originators have the flexibility to work where, when and how they want, priority can be given to the things that matter most in their lives. 

They can feel free to drop off the kids at soccer practice with no need to return to the office later. Or they can pop on a movie and complete work while lounging on the couch. No matter how originators choose to use this freedom, work will be in their hands when the time is right.

It can be easy to conflate freedom with expectation, however. Just because one can work at all hours doesn’t mean one should. So, as originators become increasingly enabled to work on the go, it’s imperative that their company’s leadership take a stance.

There is no right solution for this, of course. Originators are notorious for their driven mentality. Chances are, they were hired because of this very trait. As the natural guardrails of office hours dictated by technological requirements fade into history, additional steps must be taken to avoid burning out an entire generation of originators in one fell swoop.

Managing expectations

The reality is that each employee has a unique attitude toward technology. Mobile tools have the potential to dramatically improve mortgage workflows, but if new tech is thrust at originators with no consideration of their specific needs, lenders may not see the return on investment that makes adoption so promising.

First and foremost, company leaders should model their commitment to new technology. Consider hosting the technology partner to provide a showcase of best practices. Encourage questions. Build in time for onboarding, practice, workflow development and comfort building. When the time comes to unleash the technology into the wild, originators of all kinds will feel empowered to amplify the success on which they’ve built their careers. 

As the mortgage industry continues to modernize its consumer experience, a parallel improvement in originator productivity simply makes sense. Everyone can reflect on a time when their workflows were transformed by the introduction of something new, a refreshing addition (or subtraction) that enabled them to reach a new level of success.

For originators, that time is now. Mobile mortgage technology unlocks an opportunity to connect more deeply, to onboard more efficiently and to serve more passionately. Everyone else is working on the go — why not mortgage originators?


  • Erik Wrobel

    Erik Wrobel is head of product of Blend, a digital lending platform transforming the $40 trillion-plus consumer lending industry. His team leads the way in defining innovative and engaging products that provide easy, one-tap access to financial resources. Prior to joining Blend in 2019, Wrobel held positions as chief product officer at Evernote and as vice president of product management at VMware. Learn more about his company at 

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