Matt Johnner: ‘The Last Frontier of Lending’

Matt Johnner

Matt Johnner is president and co-founder of BankLabs, Little Rock, Ark. The mission of BankLabs is to reimagine banking products for the future through community-oriented technologies that create new fee income, attract deposits, expand loan opportunities and differentiate the financial institution from competitors. BankLabs believes that community banking is a way of doing business, not a size, location or traditional definition. For more information, visit

Today, everything from mortgage lending to online banking uses technology to help save time. In the past few years, technology has gone from a luxury to a necessity and with that shift has come a flood of new technologies that automate nearly every process out there. This is also true of mortgage lending. For everything from application to origination to closing, mortgage lenders have their pick of solutions that help make them more efficient and free up staff and resources.

These solutions are crucial for mortgage lenders, but they can only take them so far. The time or money saved by lenders can only do so much good if their balance sheets are all tied up.

There are other areas of a business that lenders can look to not only to increase efficiencies but also to help them free up space on their balance sheets, in turn freeing them up to do more mortgages – or any other type of lending they choose.

Loan participation is one of the first places lenders should look to improve in order to help take their business to the next level. In many ways, it is the last frontier of lending technology. Where there is a plethora of solutions available for other types of lending like auto, construction or student loans, the same cannot be said of participation. It is taking up valuable time and effort on the part of lenders and has been traditionally left out of the technology solutions on the market.

The participation process, more than anything, takes time. Finding an institution that is the right fit to participate in a loan takes a lot of manual searching and outreach and the exchange of information is also a manual process. Not only is this process inefficient, but it is also unsecure and, as with any manual process, it can be prone to errors.

While loan participation has been a largely manual process, it doesn’t have to be. Introducing technology into the participation process will not only make it much easier and more efficient, but it will remove many of the risks associated with it.

With loan participation automation, there is no more need to manually search for the right institution to participate in a deal. Having a platform to connect institutions that have loans that need participation with institutions seeking loans to participate in changes the game for lenders. A loan participation automation platform saves time by connecting lenders digitally.

In a day and age where everything is digital, having loan participation automation also helps give lenders a better experience. When it comes to mortgage, lenders have digital solutions for nearly everything they need to do, but the same cannot be said for loan participation. Creating a digital experience helps staff save time while also meeting their expectations when it comes to user experience.

This digital connection also helps lenders to share loan information more easily than before. This promotes greater transparency and helps lenders to stay organized. A digital platform also brings greater security, as all loan information is contained on one platform where access is controlled and data is kept safe.

Ultimately, deploying loan participation automation helps institutions more easily free up space on their balance sheets. In addition to all of these other efficiency gains, bringing loan participation into the 21st century gives lenders the freedom to do more lending, be it a mortgage, a commercial deal or anything else. Each lender, by simply updating their approach to participation, gains the freedom to serve more borrowers more efficiently.

Using loan participation automation in tandem with other lending automation solutions creates a win-win for lenders. Being able to save time and money is great, but being able to pour that time and money back into more lending as a result of a freer balance sheet is even better. In a time where everything is automated, the lenders that want to be most successful should not leave participation behind.

(Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect policy of the Mortgage Bankers Association, nor do they connote an MBA endorsement of a specific company, product or service. MBA NewsLink welcomes your submissions. Inquiries can be sent to Mike Sorohan, editor, at; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at