Three years and countless loans into the biggest refinance boom
this country has ever witnessed, it's still possible to find credit
union mortgage lenders eager to increase their level of business
while enhancing their members' home financing experience.
How many times in the last thirty-plus months have you heard that
mortgage rates are at their lowest levels in 30 years? Probably
more than you care to think about. If you are at all close to the
mortgage business, you've either lived the impact this phenomenon
has had on lenders, or done so vicariously. First- or second-hand,
it's hard to imagine anything other than a desire for a lull in
Yet there is a group of credit unions, unique in the credit union
system and in the mortgage industry, doing just that. They assembled
recently in Las Vegas to tap more deeply into their creativity and
to learn from each other. The gathering was Prime Alliance Solutions,
Inc.'s first annual Symposium. The credit unions are those that
make up the Alliance.
''Our aim was a gathering unlike any other, one affording this
premier group of lenders an opportunity to network and share best-practices,''
said Joe Brancucci, President and CEO Prime Alliance Solutions,
Inc. ''Our agenda featured credit unions on topics from operational
re-engineering to strategic direction. All but two sessions, in
fact, were presented by Prime Alliance credit unions,'' he added.
Indeed. When you mix 110 creative mortgage lenders from 48 innovative
credit unions with thirty-plus process re-invention specialists
and technologists you get a recipe for making art out of something
as staid and traditional as mortgage lending.
''These credit unions approach mortgage lending much differently
than any other group of lenders I've been associated with in my
30+ year career. They've all embraced change for the sake of a better
member experience,'' added Brancucci.
From Good to Great
''Our mortgage pipeline is the largest it has ever been,''
said Gary Crum, director of mortgage lending at Melbourne, Florida-based
Space Coast Credit Union. One of the newest members of the group,
and typical of their creativity, this credit union joined Prime
Alliance in January of this year, launching it's presence on the
SCCU.com web-site just three months later. Outside loan officers
were the first to test the new system; their use began in April.
Two new types of mortgage originators - - members and call center
staff - - joined the action in May, neither had much prior experience
with the mortgage application process.
''Our members found the Prime Alliance application on our web-site
and took to it immediately,'' continued Crum. In just three
short months, 25% of our mortgage applications are member-originated,
contributing greatly to our increase in business.'' The $1 billion,
20-branch credit union provides many of its services through its
call center. Prior to April, though, these front-line staff weren't
able to take mortgage applications.
''After thorough training we introduced mortgage lending to
our members through the call center staff on May 1. Not only did
we give members an additional way to access this important service,
we added twenty new originators overnight.'' Pent-up demand
describes the credit union's situation prior to this spring. A wait
of several days to apply was fairly common. Opening the web-site
so that members are now able to originate their own loans, providing
the same technology to outside loan officers and enabling the call
center to take applications have eliminated the wait.
''Plenty of research, careful planning, thoughtful process
re-design and taking the time to educate ourselves and our employees
are contributing to our early success,'' Crum concluded. ''Space
Coast Credit Union's strong start, in addition to being one of the
quickest, is also the most illustrative example we've seen of putting
the proper emphasis on process, people and technology, and putting
them in the proper order,'' adds Brancucci. ''It's demonstrative
of the Prime Alliance philosophy: it's not about the technology,
it's about studious attention to the member experience and devising
processes that enhance that experience,'' he adds.
Summing it up
Space Coast Credit Union is the latest example of the successes
being had by all Prime Alliance credit unions. In the first six
months of 2003, these 60 credit unions have originated over 55,813
mortgage loan applications for approximately $9.0 billion. ''They
are making a difference in how members perceive credit unions as
mortgage lenders. And therein lies the true art in their approach,''
For Information contact:
Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc.
Dan Green 206-439-5807