Andrew Weiss of Origence on Managing Customer Engagement

Andrew Weiss is Senior Vice President of Mortgage Origination Platform Strategy with Origence, Irvine, Calif., a provider of lending technology and platforms for the financial services industry. He has more than 30 years of experience in the mortgage and consumer lending space and was instrumental in developing Desktop Underwriter while working for Fannie Mae. He can be reached at

MBA NEWSLINK: How is the impact from COVID-19 different for the mortgage industry than other industries?

Andrew Weiss

ANDREW WEISS, ORIGENCE: Widespread access to the internet has helped many industries move quickly online when social distancing became the new norm. In addition, companies in most other industries have been able to take advantage of digital transactions to meet the demands of consumers who have gotten used to much faster if not instantaneous online experiences. However, in the mortgage industry we simply haven’t seen this happen.

The hurdle traditional mortgage lenders have been up against is the lack of new LOS technology that delivers that digital experience.  Up until now, they have had to rely on trying to integrate consumer facing software with their legacy systems. However, existing POS and consumer-facing software isn’t helping lenders improve the speed in the loan approval process or speed to closing.

In-person notarizations have become one of the biggest obstacles facing lenders, as paper still casts a large and ominous shadow on our industry and few lenders have the ability or the technology to perform remote closings. And while historically low rates have generated a tsunami of refinance demand, many lenders haven’t been able to capitalize because of difficulties transitioning their team to a remote work environment. In many respects, a good deal of the mortgage business remains stuck in the 20th century.

NEWSLINK: What are the specific functional capabilities that mortgage companies need to provide in order to meet the high expectations of today’s online consumers?

WEISS: At a minimum, it should be easy for prospective borrowers to shop, anonymously, if they want to, price and apply for a mortgage online using information populated by external sources. Disclosures and other required documents need to be easily viewed and signed digitally, and consumers should be able to upload required documents and determine what else they need to do from their end. This interactive workflow needs to be complemented by a high level of communication that’s now expected by consumers.

When the loan closes, borrowers should have the option of utilizing a remote online notary, where it is allowed, or a hybrid eClosing. And lenders need to maintain online security for customers by requiring two-factor authentication and providing identity protection. Unfortunately, many lenders don’t have the technologies to put all of these things in place.

NEWSLINK: What impact does the amount of time a lender takes to get to a qualified “Yes” have on the transaction?

WEISS: Time has a huge impact on every transaction. In this world of comparison shopping, the sooner a lender can provide a qualified approval and lock in the rate, the sooner they take the customer off the market. The longer the process drags on, the more likely a customer will slip away.

NEWSLINK: What are some of the major factors involved in online customer satisfaction?

WEISS: Referrals are still a huge source of business for lenders. According to data from STRATMOR Group, borrowers are far more likely to recommend a lender to another borrower if the lender’s process was easier, their online tools had a more favorable visual appeal and the borrower was kept well-informed throughout the entire process. All three are key factors in borrower referrals, which is why lenders need technology that enhances these capabilities.

NEWSLINK: When it comes to keeping customers informed, what mode of communication is best?

WEISS: Borrower communication is probably the most important factor leading to referrals, preferable in a manner most comfortable for the customer. If a borrower prefers texting, then lenders should reach out through texts. Some prefer email, so lenders need to provide that option. The same goes for borrowers who want to be reached by phone

While the mode of communication is important, however, so is the way lenders manage communication. For example, customer communication has traditionally been managed by loan processors. Today, technology should be driving this process.

NEWSLINK: Does the entire mortgage process need to be automated for each borrower?

WEISS: No two borrowers are the same, but higher degrees of automation can lead to better outcomes for all borrowers, and lenders should be pushing automation further into the loan process than they are doing now. Once they’ve automated the process for most borrowers, they can dedicate human staff to work that requires more complex problem-solving.

NEWSLINK: What share of borrowers can complete the entire loan process – from application to closing — online?

WEISS: It’s hard to say what that number is nationwide, as it varies with each lender. For example, a majority of lenders we informally polled said that 10 percent or less of their borrowers can complete the entire loan process from application to closing online. Only 17 percent of lenders said more than 30 percent of their customers could complete the entire process online. Either way you look at it, lenders could and should be doing more to facilitate a totally online experience. 

NEWSLINK: When it comes to point-of-sale capabilities, what is needed for the mortgage process?

WEISS: Point-of-sale technology isn’t going to be effective unless it is tightly integrated with the entire loan origination experience. At the bare minimum, it needs to easily enable customers to select products and pricing, include full application data and provide a conditional approval. Once the borrower completes the application, the technology should provide the loan status, enable document uploads, and generate borrower communication and alerts. In addition, loan applicants who are working online and need guidance should be able to ask for help and receive immediate responses via text or web browser.

NEWSLINK: What role do third-party vendors play in the borrower experience?

WEISS: The role of outside providers is critical to overall customer engagement and experience. For example, appraisal providers need to provide rapid turnaround, digital data and documents that are easily parsed into the lender’s platform. Settlement agents should work seamlessly with closers, without using documents marked up by hand and sent by email. Title and closing agents need to offer remote online notarizations and fully digital closings in order to make the process fast and convenient for borrowers, while also making them feel safe during the pandemic.

Most importantly, every vendor must have a system that provides a digital data interchange to reduce manual entry, enable automated exception processing and support performance tracking. Even if an end-to-end electronic process is unavailable, by automating as much of the process as possible lenders can refocus their resources on the items that can’t be digitized.

NEWSLINK: Is there any specific technology that will make or break the ability to handle the current mortgage volumes?

WEISS: Much of the technology we need is here already. Optical character recognition, or OCR, has been around for 30 years. Automated document recognition, or ADR, and automated data extraction, or ADE, have also been around for a while, although they have recently evolved into much more effective tools.

Lenders need to take advantage of these tools to increase efficiency, improve pull-through rate, decrease costs associated with processing loans. and deliver an improved bower experience. As a result, automation of practically every step of the origination process is accomplished, including tasks and workflows that have traditionally been most time-consuming. By eliminating these pressures on their staffs, lenders are able to make faster, smarter loan decisions—and get to the closing table much faster, too, which borrowers love.

The goal of every lender should be to automate as many different segments of mortgage production as possible. You can be sure that the lenders that thrive in the post-pandemic environment will have done exactly that.

(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