There’s a new Batman movie floating around. Portraying the beginnings of this legendary character, it seems a veritable certainty that sequels will show up in the next couple of years. And if they do, let’s hope they call Mr. Freeze out of retirement. This villain, you may recall, lived in a suit that kept him at 50 degrees below zero. His weapon, a laser-powered cold gun, is the Batman connection to mortgage lending.
The 'Freeze Factor'
Getting in Mr. Freeze's way was a bad idea. He’d simply whip out his cold
gun and stop you in your tracks, the same way a member might when they have
a question about financing their home. Diane Rodriguez, CEO of Dynamic Federal
Credit Union ($10M in Celina, OH) coined the term 'Freeze Factor' to describe
this phenomenon in a recent conversation about her credit union's very successful
mortgage lending program. ''Many credit unions shy away from mortgage lending
because they fear questions they can't answer,'' said Rodriguez. ''There are
three steps credit unions can take to thaw the 'Freeze Factor'.''
A committed board of directors is step one. Dynamic Federal's board was actively
involved in developing its mortgage strategy, looking at a variety of different
ways to help members finance their homes and evenually partnering with a CUSO
using the latest online technology. ''We chose the CUSO for several reasons,''
commented Rodriguez. ''Most importantly, their partners were getting better
results because of the support, technology and staff education they provide.''
''The technology makes us efficient as well as time-friendly for our members and our credit union,'' continued Rodriguez. Recent studies, including Fannie Mae's Annual Mortgage Focus Study, cite technology as an important contributor to lending efficiency. Best-in-class lenders place the loan decision at the point of sale. Doing so creates cascading process improvements that help to triple productivity.
One year later, the board is pleased with both member satisfaction and financial results. With a 1.82 Return on Assets (ROA) at June 2005, the credit union is performing far above its peers. The average ROA for credit unions between $5 and $10 million was .60 for the same period. Rodriguez attributes their stellar performance in part to the income produced by the mortgage program.
You're Getting Warmer
Repetition is the key to doing anything well, something the entire Dynamic
Federal team knows. Consequently, they took the time to learn about financing
options, the mortgage process and how to leverage their new technology to the
fullest. The CUSO helped with education sessions and hands-on technology training.
The result: no more 'Freeze Factor'. The credit union’s staff realizes that
Dynamic Federal is positioned as the best mortgage lending option for its members,
and the team is committed to making the program a success. In just three months
the credit union closed 11 mortgage loans.
The Complete Meltdown
Marketing's job is to melt the ice, whether mortgage lending is the topic or not. While Dynamic Federal uses all types of media, including radio, three things work best.
First is word of mouth. Satisfied members are the best form of marketing. Members telling other members as well as those in the community that influence home financing decisions have been key in helping Dynamic Federal spread the word about its mortgage program. Additionally, information sessions with the credit union’s select employee groups have had the same result.
Next are some of the usual suspects: regular newsletter articles, statement
messages, lobby flyers and radio advertising round out the list. Yet every marketing
campaign needs a hook, something to draw people in. For Dynamic Federal, its
unexpected mortgage loan products. Dynamic offered its members a 10-year fixed
rate loan along with hybrid products such as the new 40-year mortgage and the
increasingly popular interest-first loans. ''Our members were surprised to see
such a broad range of financing options from their credit union. The selection
we offer is getting their attention and bringing them to us,'' concluded Rodriguez.
The 'Freeze Factor' on Ice
How will Batman ice Mr. Freeze? You’ll have to wait for the movie. How successful
has Dynamic Federal been in its quest to eliminate the 'Freeze Factor'? No need
to wait for the movie. Through its partnership with myCUMortgage, Wright-Patt Credit Union's CUSO, the credit union closed almost $4 million in mortgage
loans during its first 12 months. Any credit union that closes the equivalent
of 40% of its assets in a single year is a successful lender, yet Rodriguez
knows they can do better through myCUMortgage and the online lending technology
provided by Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc. Her plans for growth in the upcoming
year call for developing strong ties with the real estate community. Dynamic
Federal’s reputation for speed and quality is spreading rapidly and appeals
to local agents. Check in same time next year, same Bat channel, for the results.