We recently visited with Dan Smith, VP of Sales for one of LodeStar’s partners, Lending Pad.
Like many, Dan joined the mortgage industry almost by accident. However, he has thrived—especially in mortgage technology, in the 20+ years (including stints with Fiserv and ComplianceEase) since. Dan told us that it was the complex, heavily nuanced nature of the industry, as well as the opportunity to solve problems and build relationships, that have kept him coming back every day!
Dan shared that he sees a slow, but progressive, evolution in our industry from a time when tech was viewed as a necessary evil to a point where it’s viewed as a great tool to do business facilitating the American Dream. He believes that we’ve been a bit slow to adopt new technology because of the complexities of the industry itself, the heavy regulatory/compliance burdens we face and the fact that the business model is sales driven.
While both Dan and Jim commiserated about their early experiences in the space assembling boxes to contain paper-based data, they marveled at how far we’ve come. Dan specifically referenced the growing ability to transition to a process based increasingly on API and verified data, all of which will continue to improve customer relationships. Even back-office or other production technologies which are directly invisible to the consumer are improving the experience by increasing confidence in the process and improving speed as well. Dan believes that the industry can additionally improve CX by “getting organized,” by means of things like MISMO or URLA (Uniform Residential Lending Application) to increase the standardization of data and, eventually, improved integration and collaboration among entities in the process.
Asked about the lender-service provider/vendor relationship, Dan observed that there’s “more right than wrong” happening there these days. The process can suffer hiccups, however, if a lender’s due diligence process—no matter how much earnest effort is put into it—is not executed properly. He noted occurrences of lenders not asking the right questions of potential vendors or not seeking out more “future proof” partners as two great examples.
Dan does believe lenders are finally, by and large, getting the message about improving their tech stacks in all aspects, not just sales. He mentioned an industry blog which stuidied FinTech lenders as compared to traditional lenders, noting that the FinTech lenders, by and large, were closing loans faster with lower delinquency rates.
Asked about the cyclical nature of the industry, especially in light of the recent disruptive events such as the pandemic, and how lenders can be prepared, Dan told us that the best prepared lenders stay true to their values, focus on their missions and lean on the relationships they’ve built along the way.
While Dan did jokingly pine for the go-go days of the early 2000’s when unlimited budget corporate events were a reality, he quickly admitted that those days are long gone. Asked about what gets him excited to come to work in the morning, Dan unhesitatingly responded that the members of one’s team and the people one works with every day make all the difference.