Software is only part of the solution – strong client relationships matter, too

HousingWire recently caught up with Peter A. Espinosa, the new chief executive officer at Mortgage Cadence. He’s been traveling across the country, meeting with staff members and customers as the company prepares to roll out its next generation loan origination platform, the Mortgage Cadence Platform (MCP). We asked him what he was hearing in the market and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role as CEO.

HousingWire: How will your background as a software and tech executive serve you in your new position?

Peter Espinosa: Mortgage Cadence is a solutions company, but we deliver those solutions primarily through software and technology. That means I’ll be leveraging everything I’ve learned over the course of my nearly 40-year career. You pick up a lot over that span of time but recalling the most important lessons I’ve learned takes me all the way back to my time at IBM.

First, you must be maniacally focused on the customer. I know every company has a line in their mission statement somewhere that talks about being customer-focused, but to succeed today you must go far beyond that. I call it “living in the shadow of the customer.” When you become the kind of partner that can stay that close to the people you serve, you have a much better idea of what will truly add value to their business.

And that’s the second lesson: it’s all about adding business value. Some companies act like a piece of software can be installed and will automatically add value. That doesn’t happen.

The software is part of a solution to a business problem. Solving that problem is what adds the value. That’s why we don’t refer to Mortgage Cadence as a technology firm, even though that’s a huge part of what we do. We’re a solutions company that understands the value of great client relationships. That’s how we add value.

HW: Mortgage Cadence has long been a leading expert in technology, with a history of pioneering new technology in the mortgage space. How do you plan on continuing this?

PE: We are technology experts, but we also have incredible, experienced people on our team who understand the importance of the other two parts of the high-performance lending equation, people and process.

But when it comes to maintaining our edge in technology, that comes down to two things: keeping great software engineers on staff and staying close enough to our customers to know what will add business value.

This is a question that we spent a fair amount of time considering internally as we planned out the work involved in bringing our next generation LOS to market. Technology continues to be a fascinating industry to operate within because things change rapidly and we have such powerful new tools to develop software and deliver it.

We could have started from the ground and built our new loan origination technology from a blank slate. But that would not serve our customers well.

Our new platform is built on the same great framework that our customers have been using successfully for years. They’ll be able to adopt MCP smoothly, without a steep learning curve. We have successfully combined innovation with ease of use.

And not just ease of use for our customers, but also for their borrowers. Delivering functionality and data to any device at any time will help our lender partners secure and maintain their competitive advantage.

Finally, we have learned to overcome our propensity to hold onto our development work until it’s perfect before sharing it with our customers. They want to be in on the innovation process and they deserve to be. By sharing more about what we’re working on with our software users, we’re developing more valuable solutions, quicker.

HW: What do you view as the next big technology trends in the industry and how are you executing on them?

PE: Mortgage Cadence has never been a company that chases trends. Like Wayne Gretzky used to say, you never skate to the puck, you skate to where the puck is going to be. By the time current trends have been identified and written about, we need to be nearing completion on our new solutions.

That said, there are some trends we’re seeing in the market today that no technology developer can afford to ignore.

The first of these is the driving need to increase lender productivity. We’ve been reporting on this for eight years now, since we first started publishing our annual lender benchmarking study. High-performance lenders have cracked the productivity code and a huge part of what we’ll be doing over the next few years will be helping more lenders do the same.

The next trend is usability. It used to be that the customer’s experience had everything to do with the company’s customer service staff. Today, it’s about what the user experiences while using the company’s technology.

From websites to mobile apps to messaging systems, everything is about effective UX design. You can develop the most powerful software on the planet but if it’s not easy and intuitive it will not get used.

Ultimately, the only trends that matter are those that matter to your customers. It’s why we’re staying so close to the people we serve and why we’ll be very successful in this new decade.

HW: As more companies in the industry move toward higher automation and innovation, how do collaboration and feedback help them leverage technology better?

PE: It’s all important. It’s why we put so much effort into Ascent, our annual user conference. Lenders aren’t pre-programed to collaborate. As a solutions provider, you must make it easy and give them every opportunity to share what they’re thinking. When we do that, our tools get better, we deliver at a rapid pace, and our users experience higher levels of satisfaction.

But companies aren’t pre-programmed to provide those opportunities either, not even ours. You must have good leaders who are empowered to make those things happen. That’s why one of the first things I did after assuming my current role was to promote Cate Dalton to Executive Vice President, Customer Advocacy.

I realized, after visiting with clients, that they were THIRSTING to provide feedback. Cate provides them the opportunity to do just this – she travels to them, listens to their feedback and brings it back to the team. She is now overseeing all our customer advocacy efforts to ensure the client perspective is represented in all major company decisions.

And this communication goes both ways. As we learn about the challenges our customers are facing, we deploy experts who can show them how to get the solutions they’re seeking out of the software we’ve already provided to them.

HW: The next Mortgage Cadence Ascent conference is coming up in April – what are some of the outcomes you hope to see? What can attendees expect this year?

PE: Ascent is a fantastic show and feedback from attendees tells us that it’s one of the most valuable events they schedule during the year. We’re very proud of that, and while we always try to keep some surprises up our sleeves, I can answer that question from two perspectives.

First, strategically we’ll use this event, as we always do, to get close to the people we serve.

We need to know what they are thinking, what trends they are watching, what problems they are experiencing and what goals they have set for their businesses. We also want to share with them what we’re working on, what progress we’ve achieved and let them get their hands on the new MCP.

Second, from a tactical perspective, we’re going to have fun.

Yes, technology development is a serious business and we take our work very seriously, but part of building strong relationships that really add value is having the courage to share our authentic selves with our partners. We’ll be doing that at the same time we pack all the value we can into the Ascent experience.

And we won’t be working alone on that. We’ll have exciting keynote speakers, including Harvey Mackay, author of “Swim with the Sharks” and many other fantastic business books.

He built his successful business on his ability to know more about his customers than anyone else and he’ll be sharing his methodology for doing that with our attendees this year.

Whether you are a current customer or not, we hope you’ll consider joining us this year in beautiful Colorado Springs for Ascent 2020.

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