For Cincinnati-based U.S. Bank ($208.9 billion in assets), the inefficiencies resulting from paper-based processing of funding requests from its mortgage broker and correspondent lender customers -- such as the errors resulting from manual data entry -- were untenable, according to Debra Ringler, SVP, wholesale operations, for U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, a division of U.S. Bank. "We were done with errors. We wanted a solution that would create accurate closing packages issue-free," she relates. "That meant a solution with the ability to apply business knowledge so it could pull all the documents for a program and save our customers the hassles and errors associated with guessing which documents to use and rekeying loan information."
"We wanted to lower costs, improve quality and provide an easier platform" for brokers, adds Rick Kelley, SVP, national wholesale sales manager, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage.
U.S. Bank began evaluating vendors at the Mortgage Bankers Association Convention & Expo, Ringler recalls. After sending RFPs to several vendors, which the bank declines to name, U.S. Bank selected Wolters Kluwer Financial Services' (St. Cloud, Minn.) VMP X4 Workflow Manager solution in February 2004 to eliminate paper from the bank's wholesale lending process. "There was nothing else out there like X4," Kelley says. "The solution is fully Web-based and allowed us to have input on the creation of our customer portal."
In addition to establishing a Web portal through which U.S. Bank can collaborate electronically with its mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders, the VMP X4 solution includes intelligent rules-setting capabilities that allow the program to distinguish between alternative mortgage products in the system and identify the proper documentation, according to Ringler.
"The solution gives you all the info you need to create a correct document set," Kelley says. Wolters Kluwer hosts the solution, which is built on Microsoft (Redmond, Wash.) .NET technology, at a third-party secure site.
Building a Brand
U.S. Bank held weekly conference calls with Wolters Kluwer and went through the software screen by screen to customize the workflow and brand the portal, according to Ringler. The bank began a pilot of the branded portal in May 2005 and went live with the solution in December 2005.
Twice a week for two months, Wolters Kluwer and U.S. Bank jointly trained U.S. Bank's lenders. "Eighty percent of our small lenders use the Web site portal to create documents," Kelley reports. With 700 to 800 loans a month, the new system is saving U.S. Bank a lot of time and paper, he says, noting that U.S. Bank Home Mortgage offers use of the X4-based Web site as a free service to customers, absorbing the operating costs -- Wolters Kluwer assesses the bank fees for every loan filed. All of U.S. Bank's mortgage brokers and correspondent lenders still have the option to deliver loans to the bank using other means, Kelley adds.
The efficiency gained from the system and the resulting improved quality of documents has enabled the bank to reallocate staff from post-purchase follow-up to pre-purchase support and review, increasing capacity, according to Ringler. As a result, the bank has added new business. "The system is so user-friendly -- it tells you exactly which documents to use," Ringler says. "In addition, when the data validation routine reports insufficient information, ... the system tells you exactly what is missing. Our lenders really appreciate this feature." * --Nancy Feig
***Institution: U.S. Bank (Cincinnati).
***Assets: $208.9 billion.
***Business Challenge: Automate the wholesale lending process.
***Solution: Wolters Kluwer Financial Services (St. Cloud, Minn.) VMP X4 Workflow Manager solution.