Q/A with Lionel Urban of PCLender

MBA NewsLink recently posed questions to Lionel Urban, founding partner and chairman of board of PCLender LLC, Reno, Nev.  

Urban is responsible for overall strategic direction and vision behind the technology development of the company. Prior to founding PCLender, he was a co-founder and CEO of Navigator Lending Solutions Inc., a fulfilment services company specializing in mortgage banking services. He co-founded PCLender in 1997 and served as CEO until 2011. During this time, he supervised development of an Internet-based mortgage technology platform supporting banks, credit unions and mortgage companies across the country. Since 1987, he acquired vast mortgage banking experience in management, origination, operations, secondary marketing and compliance roles within banks, credit unions and independent mortgage bankers.  

MBA NEWSLINK: You have a lot of experience in every facet of the mortgage operation. Is there any particular aspect you enjoy more?   

LIONEL URBAN, PCLENDER LLC: I personally enjoy the lending operations side of the business. A challenge that adds so much value is establishing a structured process for loan officers to get loans turned in, processors documenting files in a timely manner and consistent underwriting.   

As a former mid-sized mortgage banker, I appreciate the urgency our customers have to provide great service, to maintain referral relationships and to avoid the costs associated with a missed lock or buyback request. I believe operations can be managed and continually refined to ensure the long list of potential pitfalls can be avoided and provide the entire organization with a predictable and efficient operational process.  

NEWSLINK: You co-founded PCLender in 1997, later sold it, and then bought it back two years ago. What was your motivation for buying it back?  

URBAN: I missed the mortgage business and enjoyed being part of a mid-sized team that was highly efficient and nimble. I still saw many of the previous customers as friends and peers in the business and perceived our services as an extension of their team. I have a competitive nature and the opportunity to jump back in and collaborate with our customers to grow was an exciting opportunity I couldn’t pass up.  

NEWSLINK: How has the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s ‘Know Before You Owe’ mortgage disclosure rule-also known as TRID–changed your company’s approach to lending processes?   

URBAN: TRID was such an invasive change and we spent significantly more time than planned to ensure our integrations were completed. As such, our roadmap planning is focused on more feature rich integrations with fewer vendor partners to ensure our customers get access to the best functionality and workflow options.  

NEWSLINK: Does the current market environment hold advantages for lenders of a particular size?   

URBAN: Larger lenders definitely have an advantage today because they can dedicate more resources to compliance, implementing structure/processes and investing in technology. By allocating the costs over a larger number of loans, lenders funding over 500 units a month can better manage those costs.   

However, we believe the playing field will start to level off because new processes and technology providing managed services are becoming more readily available. Managed services allow lenders to work in a cooperative style so that their costs can be allocated across the volume of many lenders, providing them with the most advanced technology and efficient staffing solutions at a fraction of the cost.  

NEWSLINK: With so many LOS vendors in the marketplace, what are some simple due diligence steps lenders can take when selecting a vendor?   

URBAN: Lenders need to spend time on the due diligence process and do their homework to ensure the vendor they select is best aligned with their needs. First, lenders need to establish a checklist and rating system to guarantee the scope of their needs are met. Second, while an LOS can be configured to support all their needs, a lender must assure the resources needed to configure and support the application is properly planned and budgeted for.   

Additionally, lenders should scrutinize the working relationship with a vendor. The size and culture of a vendor often identifies what kind of service and collaboration they can expect. By checking five or more customer referrals that are similar in business practices, a lender will have a better sense of how the LOS vendor will received feedback to improve the product and how the service team will assist with training, configuration and day to day operational support.   

Lenders often have a high degree of urgency, along with valuable feedback, that is beneficial for all customers. Each LOS vendor will have different approach to the needs of their customers. Knowing and finding what works best for your organization is crucial.  

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor does it connote an endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions; articles and/or Q/A inquiries should be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at msorohan@mortgagebankers.org.)