The Art of Mortgage Lending

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.


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 the action.

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 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,'' concludes Brancucci.

For Information contact:
Prime Alliance Solutions, Inc.
Dan Green 206-439-5807



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.

If you are interested in contributing an article on, please contact our Callahan Media team at or 1-800-446-7453.


July 7, 2003


  • Please send this to my Credit Union! Community trust C.U. 1313 Skokie Hgwy, Gurnee Il. 60031
  • A thinly disguised infomercial.