(#MBAServicing23): Leading Through Change and Uncertainty

((l-r) MBA President & CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB, leads panel discussion with LaQuanda Sain, Wes Iseley, Ann Thorn and “Jay” Williams at MBA Servicing23 in Orlando.)

ORLANDO–Mortgage servicing executives here at the MBA Servicing Solutions Conference & Expo stressed flexibility and adaptability in a rapidly changing business environment.

“We’re always looking at servicing strategies from the standpoint of the client,” said LaQuanda Sain, Executive Vice President of Servicing with Rocket Mortgage LLC, Detroit. “We want to make sure that when we develop new products and services is how it serves our customers.”

“We buy a lot of [mortgage servicing rights],” said Wes Iseley, Senior Managing Director with Carrington Mortgage Services LLC, Irvine, Calif. “We’re trying to automate processes so that we can be as efficient as possible. The quicker we can get an answer to the customer, the more responsive we can be.

“Our strategy has been leaning toward deprioritizing our portfolio,” said Ann Thorn, Head of Home Lending Servicing with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Charlotte, N.C. “We recently announced we are exiting the correspondent lending sector. We are focusing on our existing customers, and we are redoubling our efforts to work with underserved and minority communities. We want to make sure we’re giving our customers the best service we can.”

“There are hundreds of things that we are working on as a servicer at all times,” said Michael J. “Jay” Williams, Senior Vice President and COO with Ocwen Financial Corp., West Palm Beach, Fla. “We’re providing a method for customers to reach out to us—in whatever way they want to reach us…different people want to talk to you in different ways, and that’s what we are focusing on this year.”

Iseley noted forbearance programs are here to stay. “Now, we understand that,” he said. “If we have another downturn, then we’re in a position in which we understand the process.”

Thorn emphasized flexibility and nimbleness, not only with technology, but also and our staffing. “We need to get the training and most importantly, the technology so that we can anticipate peaks and valleys,” she said. “We have a lot of metrics and indicators that we are looking at across the bank, not just home lending, so that we know if we should be holding, or redeploying staff.”

“Speed of reaction is not just important to us as servicers, but also to the people who service the loan,” Williams said. “Going forward, we need to move faster. We have the technology, we have the flexibility; now we need it from the people who own the loans.

Sain noted that when COVID hit, the servicing industry came together to support customers. “We need to do that again, to work together and have a plan,” she said. “We’ve seen it happen; we know it can happen again, but it will be different. We have to have a plan in place.”

Thorn noted banks, including Wells Fargo, have increasingly stepped away from the government servicing sector. “It is really hard for the banks under the current regulatory scrutiny we have,” she said. “Wells has a very large portfolio that all have different requirements in place. And that is difficult for banks to do. Home lending is extremely important to banking and a core tentacle of large banks. But that isn’t necessarily what we need to be responsive to our customers.”

“Collectively, we will come up with answers,” Thorn added. “I hope we don’t find a bunch of different programs that make mortgage servicing unmanageable.”

“Servicing is not a linear process,” Sain said. “We have to make it as easy as we can, because they don’t understand. We have to create buckets and make sure they understand what is happening. We want them to know what happens in five years, because we don’t want their home—we want them to stay in their home.”