How Covid-19 has Changed Our Philosophy on Data

Saxony Partners recently convened a virtual panel of mortgage industry chief information officers to discuss how they have navigated the global pandemic and the effect it has had on their companies, and the industry as a whole.

Renee Galitis of Caliber Home Loans, Michael Brady of LeaderOne Financial, and Joe Hamilton of First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation joined Saxony’s Angel Armendariz for the hour-long chat, which took place in September.

Armendariz, Saxony’s Director of Financial Services, asked the panel how, or if, Covid-19 has changed their philosophy on technology and data in the mortgage industry. 

“I don’t know if Covid has changed my view [on data],” Hamilton said. “I talk to my team all the time and say ‘we’re going to let the data drive us on what we do next.’ We’ll see what issues are key and critical and what we need to do to prevent them.

“What Covid has done is put more emphasis on that because there’s less face to face. You want to make sure everyone is looking and hearing and seeing the same information, so that consistency across the board and making sure that people can operate off of that information and that it is actionable is key.”

Brady said he agreed with Hamilton’s sentiments.

“There’s an overwhelming accountability for the teams and the staff looking at that data,” Brady said. “Typically you’ve got certain departments that focus on data segments of their day-to-day jobs, but now you’ve got anyone from front-end admins to back-end post closers looking at all of the data because they are displaced and working from home. They rely on that data as a guide for what they are trying to do.

“That helps our leadership team when communicating the goals for the company. We have an unprecedented amount of volume. In the past a lot of folks didn’t see that, they were just focused on their job. But now you’ve got everyone seeing the same information and everyone is more accountable to ensure that ship is still aligned. Data has been very helpful for us to do that.”

According to Hamilton, data related to the increased volume of incoming work has been an encouragement to his team throughout the year. 

“I think volume is also what drives some of that for us,” Hamilton said. “I think seeing some of the records we were able to hit as far as volume and production and manufacturing has … given people something to cheer about. Having that data and reporting out there for people to be able to see that is important too.”

Brady said he has also noticed that once his employees had access to more data and could see the bigger picture for their company, they strategized the best PTO times to benefit the workflow.

“What’ve noticed is calculated time off requests.” Brady said. “Because they see the data and they see the workflow, they think ‘ok, I need to take off this day.’ It’s interesting how [employees] are forecasting these skill sets to manage their lives.”

“It’s been fun to watch that happen, and I look forward to pushing that on a continual basis. I don’t think we do enough with our data in the mortgage industry.”

Galitis said one area where she has seen specific improvement due to the circumstances this year is regarding insights about the servicing side of the industry. 

“We are focused very much on data from the origination side, but we also have our servicing side. It’s important for us to keep on top of what’s happening with our customers, how we can help them, what’s happening with forbearance, and how that compares to nationwide averages. We’ve added a lot of different insights specific to this crisis to help our customers and our company look at holistic base of what’s happening with our customer base and servicing.” 

Galitis said she believes the impact of the pandemic has given the mortgage industry as a whole a great opportunity to recognize the value of data. 

“I’ll say that data is the most precious commodity we have in the mortgage industry,” Galitis said. “I think we’ve been very blessed as an industry this year that we are having such a banner year at the time of crisis. I think it is enabling us to utilize data to provide insights to our business and to all aspects of our company.” 

Click here to watch the entire Mortgage CIO panel discussion.