Brian Lynch: With Low Rates, Increasing Loan Volumes, Mortgage Companies Need More Access to Financial Reporting and Management Tools
Brian Lynch is President of Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Systems, a provider of accounting and financial management tools for the mortgage industry. More information on the company can be found at www.mortgageaccounting.com.
As the events of this year unfolded, the Fed was quick to react and started making decisions to cut rates as soon as they started to see the potential economic impact. “From the first crisis-fighting interest rate cut to zero rates, the Fed took 15 months in the last crisis; this time it took two weeks,” according to Reuters. With the pandemic pushing rates down, borrowers and mortgage companies took advantage of refinancing opportunities.
However, even though no one could be prepared for the current environment, accounting departments at mortgage companies plan multiple budget scenarios to help manage different market conditions, such as a high refi budget verses a low refi budget. And, as companies loan volumes continue to rise, so does the need for in-depth financial management and reporting tools that can help mortgage companies track and manage the month-over-month changes.
Managing Record-Breaking Loan Volumes
Mortgage bankers were already seeing a strong demand headed into the spring. With low interest rates continuing to drive borrowers to refinance, it’s no surprise that lenders have seen record-breaking loan volume over the past two months. In fact, according to Laurie Petrich, Controller of Nations Lending Corp., “Our company has seen a huge increase in loan volume and activity – up almost 150 percent – and we rely on our accounting system to give us the most up-to-minute information, so that we can track loan and branch activity.”
The team at SWBC Mortgage Corp. has been able to measure and monitor data month-to-month through customized reports in its accounting system. “Using an accounting software that integrates with Excel, we are able to create reports that pull financial data, specifically for each of our branch locations, which helps us track and compare branch data month over month,” said Elaine Ratcliff, SWBC Vice President of Finance and Operations Controller.
However, to effectively manage the high volume of loans, mortgage companies need an accounting system that can deliver in-depth reporting, loan level detail and tools that support collaboration from the accounting department to loan officers to branch managers and c-level executives.
Need for In-Depth Financial Reporting
Historically, financial data was limited to the accounting department. Then, the data was analyzed and compiled into concise reports by the accounting department and financial analysts to be sent to c-level executives and board members – limiting access to the very data that could help employees make better decisions.
With iPhones, Amazon and countless other technologies at their fingertips, people expect to see updates to their data in real-time, which has driven updates to modern accounting and financial management tools. At mortgage companies, employees should have filtered access to the financial data that helps them to their job more efficiently. For example, branch managers should be able to effortlessly check current income statements, drill down to look into each loan at their branch and measure each loan officer’s information.
For any company, timely financial data is essential and these days that means readily available whether you are at the office or at home. The right mortgage accounting system should be made specifically for mortgage bankers with reports and dashboards that are attractive and user friendly, avoiding generic coding and allowing employees to take full advantage of the features and capabilities of the software. “In our accounting system, the data is online and on-time. As soon as you post an entry, the data is there, which helps my team do their daily tasks more efficiently,” Ratcliff said.
Additionally, financial reporting should be updated regularly and available in real time. That way, the financial data for month-end reporting won’t take days to gather, and the reports should be easily customized for each mortgage company, creating an engaging, easy-to-comprehend report that displays exactly what board members want to see.
Nations Lending has been able to utilize in-depth reporting when sending their board packages, which allows their board members to see monthly financial data on the company and measure the company’s growth. “We were able to create our entire monthly financial package – a 60-page board report, displaying financial data on all of our branches – all in one Excel spreadsheet. And, during the pandemic, we’ve easily been able to continue sending these reports to the board in an easy-to-read PDF format,” Petrich said.
Overall, the right mortgage accounting software encompasses modern features and capabilities to help mortgage companies track loan activity, measure branch data and assess loan officer’s performance. In a world full of unknowns, accounting staff at mortgage companies can all agree – handling loan volumes and measuring monthly growth requires timely access to in-depth financial reporting.
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