As the technology conversation in the mortgage industry heats up, many companies are attempting to meet industry demands and adopt streamlined industry processes. Today’s companies are driven by creativity and innovation and are fostered by client success. DS News spoke to James Vinci, VP and Chief Technology Officer at Equator, about what mortgage professionals can learn from other industries and what technology trends are having the most impact today.
Vinci was previously the president and enterprise architect at RedWire IT, SVP of Professional Services at Lydian Technology Group, and SVP of Professional Services at WellFound Decade Corp. He is a graduate of Columbia University.
Q: Tell us about your role, and what is the focus for the year?
A: I'm the VP and Chief Technology Officer of Equator, which is a software provider to the default mortgage servicing industry. The platform supports four of the five largest servicers in the country, the largest GSE, and the transaction and processing of over 40 percent of the REO and short sale volume in the country. Equator’s ecosystem houses over 65,000 real estate agents and 30,000 vendors, which supported the selling of more than 100,000 properties valued at $16 billion last year. It's a significant enterprise software platform and, because it holds quite a bit of share, it has great insight into the loss mitigation and default portions of the servicing industry.
Q: What market insights and data do you believe have become the most valuable to the REO market?
A: In the REO market, determining the proper disposition strategy (as-is versus renovate, sale versus rental, traditional versus auction) and efficiently executing on that strategy is critical. To address this, there has been an increasing use of analytics and machine learning to match the right assets to the right strategy by local market. Further, these advanced analytics are helping optimize the best real estate agents and REO vendors to execute these strategies. Top servicers are focused more than ever on one of two very different strategies—either efficiently marketing their asset to quickly sell it or upgrading it and marketing it as a long-term rental.
Advanced analytics are also helping servicers better manage agent networks through agent matching technology, which provides servicers with recommended agent selection options. This matching process is intended to help a servicer sell an REO in less time than today’s process.
Q: How should servicers use data to be more operationally efficient? What about agents?
A: I am a strong believer in the adage that “time is money.” It is important for servicers to use a platform that’s designed to automate and optimize their processes, hence reducing their overall costs. Servicers should also consider platforms with robust tracking and logging data that enhances compliance and audit capabilities but also allows servicers to monitor their overall disposition efficiency.
For agents, it’s increasingly important to stay close to their local market’s REO trends and understand how to compete for the servicer leads and listings. This means having access to local market REO intelligence.
Q: What advice can you provide smaller businesses that may have limited financial resources to access advanced technology? Are there other solutions?
A: As workflow and business process management technologies continue to mature, more and more options become available. Many of these options are vertical domain-independent while other custom solutions involve significant implementation cycles with sizable dependencies on technology staff. In our vertical domain, due to the compliance, regulatory and overall cost pressures, we are a strong believer that outsourcing to a technology vendor that specializes not only in workflow but default mortgage servicing is critical, especially for smaller servicers and hedge funds.
Q: How do you perfect compliance without bringing costs down? What are regulatory processes or products companies are using to help clients become more compliant?
A: Compliance is really about following the rules and guidelines every single time, on every single asset. Workflow technology and automation are cost-effective approaches to accomplish this. Technological innovation has made great strides in the mortgage industry as companies are broadening their services, increasing accessibility and delivering high levels of convenience and efficiency. Automation is a key part of that by serving customers how they want to be served, when they want to be served and with the consistent quality that is required in today’s stringent compliance environment.