Sensible Innovation for Financing Homes in the Dodd-Frank Era

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August 26, 2014
Anthony Ducharme
Direct Channel Manager
Mountainside Financial - A division of San Antonio Credit Union

The Direct Team has always been a consumer-focused service platform. Historically we viewed our business partners as one of the conduits to the end consumer and customer.   It became clear when we at Mountainside Financial started soliciting feedback from our business partners - specifically about ways that we could improve the communication we delivered to the business partner - about the progress of their client’s transaction. Sellers, communities, listing agents all want critical information delivered without delay, with a high level of consistency in both the message and timing that encompasses the milestones in the lending process.   What's exciting about what has resulted from this input is that manufactured home buyers, retailers, community operators, Realtors  ®, brokers and manufactured home owners now have a SAFE Act and Dodd-Frank friendly system which benefits all involved

But first let's step back in time to set the stage for where we are today.

  • Mountainside Financial (MSF) was established in 2000 as national manufactured home loan brokerage
  • Due to the advent of the increased  regulatory burden brought  about with the passage of S.A.F.E. Act., our team was ahead of the industry when our leadership foresaw the impact that the legislation was going to have on  business owners throughout the industry. 
  • MSF was purchased by San Antonio Credit Union (SACU) in 2010 to serve as the direct to consumer division for SACU’s  CU Factory Built Lending.

As part of a successful, multi-billion dollar credit union, MSF – the “Direct Team” was well positioned to serve clients in 40 states.  With that backdrop, let's jump back to our present time.

The Advent of the SUN

Review of the feedback from business partners we worked with for years highlighted an opportunity to innovate within an industry that still primarily utilizes faxes, mailing and free formed emails to update the industry.

Armed with the awareness of this gap in service, Mountainside's “Direct Team” desired to reduce off-script communication and with the opportunity to innovate within our service delivery, creating a new model.   An official team was formed to analyze and implement what we now offer.

The purpose was to examine what our business partners really wanted to be updated on and how to efficiently deliver it consistently at the moment the event or milestone occurred.

Viola! Imagine “Instant Information” with just a few keystrokes!  Well, you don't have to imagine it, because it is available right now.  You don't even have to be 'set up' for your customers to use MSF services, as is so common with other fine industry lenders.

Transparency, consistency, and efficiency were the highest rated concerns of our impacted business partners and these needs matched well with our desire to increase the productive capacity of the direct team while improving on service.  

As a result of the input of professionals like you, the High Value Contact (HVC) team was formed. 

The HVC team identified through conversations with the stakeholders and feedback from business partners the particular events or stages that had value to them, what was the best methodology for their delivery that was highly efficient for all involved.

Our business stakeholders wanted to be able to focus on their business, while trusting us as lenders to do our job. 

This process required the direct team to understand how the market viewed the lead-to-loan life-cycle.

The lead-to-loan life-cycle we once utilized quite often didn’t create breaks or events that would align with the needs of business partners.  Historically, reporting was chunked to meet our internal needs or to measure backlogs within departments.  With SUN, all of that has changed!

The lead-to-loan life-cycle was restructured based on this increased market awareness that allowed for SUN (Status Update Notifications) to be developed and subsequently tested with a few business partners.

After the initial test period, further refinements were made based on internal and external feedback and SUN was deployed and made available to all business partners within our direct channel. 

SUN provides standardized notifications via email for an interested business partner (manufactured home community, listing agent, retailer, etc.) throughout the lead-to-loan life-cycle, triggered by a production action, a status change, or a time period event, during the lead-to-funded loan life cycle as perceived by a business partner.

The notifications happen automatically once the business partner agrees that they want to participate in the service.   SUN Enrollment is over 97% among our active business partners.

The development of SUN has helped to drastically improve the quality of our interactions with our business partners. SUN replaced the inefficient and inconsistent conversations, faxes and messages with our business partners and replaced them with real-time automatic emailed updates which can now be supplemented with higher-value conversations that go well beyond the content of e-notifications.

More e-Information Yields More High Value Conversations

This is creating more opportunities for conversations to occur that could create a deeper understanding of the market and its needs. 

This increased awareness could potentially lead to the next innovation or sensible improvement. In retrospect, collaboration with the industry made it simple, but the work that went into was not.

SUN required an understanding of our core systems, an awareness and acknowledgment of a gap in service, the desire to change our view of the world – that lead-to-loan life-cycle and envision it through the eyes of our business partners - which created the call to action.

Team collaboration, research and feedback collected and utilized examined solutions. SUN developed, SUN was tested on a small scale and enhanced by feedback and deployed.

Development of SUN 3.0 is in the works for 2014 with deployment slated for beta testing in February,  2015. Version 3.0 will include the ability for our business partners to provide feedback directly through SUN.  That feedback can be captured automatically within their contact record to assist with enhancements to the innovation, along with critical feedback surrounding service, products and pricing that will further increase the direct team’s awareness of the market and industry that we are a part of, this great world we know that is manufactured housing!


Navigating the New Reality of Shotgunned Applications

Part of what makes this so valuable today is how our SUN System messages can be received by licensed MLO's as well as non-Licensed Staff of any business that has a connection to the transaction.  This is a useful assist in navigating the new reality of consumers shopping multiple lenders.

We all know that a shot gunned application is a disservice that can create confusion for consumers, retailers and lenders.  Until that issue is addressed in Washington DC, Mountainside Financial offers a compliant lending process for consumers that is available for the very next prospect that walks into your office.

Yes, we are saying that we are fine with getting what would have been that “shot gunned” application first, since the consumer will win from the competition. We just want an opportunity to get on your list, or to have you as the seller establish that list. 

Show your customer their options in your market, and explain that with our SUN System, we can provide them and you real-time information that will help them select the best lender for their needs.

Should they then ask you to send us the app first, and you can get real time insights that normally only a licensed MLO could access in today's regulatory environment. 

All we want is the opportunity to compete on more loans.   The consumer and the business partners all win.  Even competitors win.  We will talk more in the coming months about some innovative solutions that some of our business partners are utilizing to avoid steering accusations..

In the mean time, competition is good for you – you don't want all of your eggs in one basket – and clearly the consumer wins too. 

Let the experts who have oodles of experience working with the consumer directly to help produce more funded loans.  Let us put our talents to work for you and your customer.

After a long time in the dark, it takes a while to adjust to the light. The SUN System will shine the light of instantly accessible updates that will help home sellers, buyers and those looking to refinance higher rate loans in real time.  The SUN gives you facts...that's a powerful light! ##

* Legal Notice: This material is made available with the understanding that Mountainside Financial is not engaged in providing legal advice. Please check with your association and/or legal counsel for the latest on issues such as steering, MLO Activities, quoting rates, etc..  What we can tell you with certainty, is that our system IS Dodd-Frank and SAFE Act Compliant!

Anthony Ducharme, Direct Channel Manager, Mountainside Financial, a division of San Antonio Credit Union.