Rob Strickland of VeriFast: Economic Growth Spurred by Financial Inclusion
Rob Strickland is Chief Revenue Officer of VeriFast, Toronto/Ridgewood, N.J., an AI-powered Verification-as-a-Service platform that automates financial analysis and decision making for tenant screening, mortgage underwriting and other verticals. He has more than 20 years’ experience growing software and business services.
Today, approximately 13 percent, or 40 million, of U.S. consumers are considered underbanked, and roughly 50 million are low to moderate income folks who could afford a home given the opportunity. At the same time, uncertainty continues to lead across all the macroeconomic markets. In September 2022, the Mortgage Bankers Association forecasted continued low GDP growth year-over-year with relentless consumer price index inflation pressures, extending through 2023.
This creates an interesting dichotomy. The opportunity exists for investors and lenders to “trigger” a course correction of the economic ship and spur more growth. Previously untapped areas, such as supporting underbanked prospective borrowers with the help of technology that accurately creates a complete picture of their true financial health, can become a catalyst for positive change. Furthermore, with the correct policy in place, investors and lenders can navigate these challenging times and find success despite them.
Prioritizing New Thinking
Tapping into underbanked borrower markets requires investors and lenders to reevaluate how they view true borrower risk. The good news is today’s technology can better analyze behavioral analytics available through consumer permissioned data in real time! So, investors and lenders, open to exploring these new but proven tactics gain access to comprehensive data that paints a complete financial picture – of previously omitted population segments.
Take for example gig-economy workers. These earners include delivery drivers and app-enabled passenger services, but also encompass freelance workers who may have secondary jobs working as writers, web developers and more. To them their income is clear, however these wannabe borrowers may not understand to how to best share this information accurately, and lender underwriters are unable to categorize this extra income quickly and accurately. These borrowers should not be excluded from the homebuying processes because they are not W2 workers – in fact, gig workers likely represent a high impact target audience for investors and lenders willing to think differently and use the tools at their disposal.
Leveraging Technology to Analyze Ability and Propensity to Pay
To meet these prospective borrowers where they are, lenders must have the appropriate technology in place. A simple pivot in their current mobile strategy may do the trick. Encouraging borrowers to securely provide their consumer-permissioned data with a few thumb clicks, opens up a world of loan opportunities for both parties. In minutes borrowers’ trended bank transaction data is converted into detailed income and expense analytics that investors and lenders need to prescribe the right loan program at the right time. Financial institutions can even educate prospect borrowers on key techniques to boost their creditworthiness in the short term, to improve their loan options in medium term.
Families improving their financial condition each month should be able to access lending products in the form of lower cost loans. Antiquated underwriting and verification processes don’t accurately capture all relevant income sources or properly assess an individual’s true bill-payment behavior. Capturing all trended income sources, such as gig economy as well as standard 9-5 work, should become a priority to fully determine an individual’s ability- and propensity-to-pay. Pair this with new policy initiatives aimed toward improving financial literacy for underserved markets and leveraging behavioral analytics to challenge outdated risk models, creates a faster, more-accurate approval process and fosters greater inclusivity without undue risk. It’s a Win-Win-Win.
(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 email@example.com; or Michael Tucker, editorial manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.)