Business Partners Who Innovate Can Help You Differentiate

If you're committed to setting yourself apart from the competition, do business with partners who do the same.


You already know that distinguishing yourself from the competition increasingly depends on how well you close mortgage loans that meet your members' needs. Your product delivery, pricing, and turnaround time set you apart from other mortgage lenders. Simultaneously, your business partners must respond at a speed to attract and retain loyal members. This efficiency can set you apart — and ahead.

Creating business plans that include business partners who support you in creating a primary market position is crucial.

 Your best choices for business partners will offer you:

  • A thorough understanding of your business, your members, and your objectives
  • Innovative products, pricing, and technology
  • Proven foresight and a commitment to working with you on a comprehensive basis, not on just one aspect of your operations

Business Partners Who Get Your Goals Can Help You Reach Them

How important is this kind of business partner? Imagine it’s your goal to offer faster loan qualification than all other lenders — including other credit unions — in your market.

You need appraisal, title, insurance, and other partners who will team with you to provide the quickest possible review of your requests. A commitment from each partner to challenge the usual way of doing things is required for you to fully implement and innovate.

How do you find such partners? Make them come to you. Once you’ve set your goals and identified best processes, issue a request for proposals (RFP). Select from respondents whose experience in innovation and product options is now being used by other lenders. Check their technology talent, but make sure it’s not their only strong suit. Respondents should effectively show that they’re experts in your business as well.

Business Partners Who Focus on Your Business Are Ideal

Ask important questions that will help you identify the best fit for your business. Find out every area in which they can help you. Are their pricing, underwriting, and research components automated, or will your member have to wait days while you get a quote or decision?

Critical factors for selecting a partner include:

  • Is the partner willing to spend time with your employees to identify where support is missing or inadequate?
  • Are they eager to help you analyze your business from the front end to the back end?
  • Do they bring something to the interview that you haven’t thought of?

Truly innovative business partners prove that they see the larger picture related to your business — that they have the talent and mindset to share new ideas as your competitive, technological, and legislative landscapes change.

Qualified Business Partners Can Add Weight to Your Impact

Before you select a business partner, be sure to check out who they’re working for and with. Ask for references outside of your immediate peers or competitors. Find out how well your partner works with its own loan origination system (LOS) designers, consultants, or vendors. Know which professional organizations value their input and participation.

When these referrals reflect your own business philosophy, it’s likely the partner is committed to more than just survival — they’re committed to growth and innovation.

 Business Partners Who Complement Your Team Can Equal Success for You

A fully aligned partner will bring more than just a single service or product to the table. The best business partners will be willing to work with your entire internal and external teams and always keep your goals, innovation, and differentiation top of mind. Exchange information and plans related to your objectives with all of your partners at a business partner workshop to encourage cohesion, and you all stand to win.

Shannon VanSickler

Shannon is a credit union mortgage veteran. She has successfully led real estate lending at Bellco Credit Union and Air Academy Federal Credit Union. Today, Shannon brings her passion for credit union mortgage lending to United Guaranty Corp. a valued mortgage insurance partner, who, with Performance Premium, is able assist credit unions in saving members money and protecting loan assets.



This sponsored content article is provided to the credit union community for shared insights and knowledge from a recognized solutions provider in the industry. Please note that the views and opinions offered here do not reflect those of Callahan & Associates, and Callahan does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer.

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Aug. 1, 2011


  • We have done business with UG for many years and honestly was the largest producer of insured Equity Loans in the State. When the economy collasped and UG parent company fell even though UG was a solid asset for the parent company they immediatley killed the Equity Loan book of business and left the market.

    What plans do they have now that they are wanting back in the market to not leave business partners in a lurch in the future?
    Sarah Mosley
  • Good advice. This is true for other types of business partners as well. Community financial institutions are a critical part of our economy, have very unique challenges to overcome and deserve innovative solutions tailored to very specific needs. When HEIT decided to focus on innovative technology, compliance and risk management solely for community financial institutions, we found that the market responded positively. We’re increasingly asked to be a true partner with a holistic approach to helping the institution compete, as opposed to a basic vendor.
    Jenna Stephenson
  • Thank you for your comment, Sarah. Leaving that line of guaranty insurance was not a decision that was taken lightly, let me assure you. In light of significant losses associated with home equity loans, we felt that was a decision that needed to be made to ensure the long-term viability of our company.

    We promise to work hard to re-gain your trust. As a leader in the mortgage industry, the hard lessons we learned have resulted in a new way of doing business. Our new products and services represent this new way of thinking, and we're working to create a safer, more viable mortgage industry. It's our belief that our responsible and fair approach to risk management will lead us all to a successful future built on solid ground.
    Shannon VanSickler