Leaders in Lending: Joe at Blue Hills Bank

How has the retail lending industry changed over the last two decades?

Borrowers want everything – now. They don’t want to wait. People want quicker decisions and more accurate decisions up front. Fifteen years ago, there was no technology involved.

With Agility [BHB’s branded version of Blend], loan officers now can produce and close more loans, because they have everything at their fingertips. It’s easier for them to multitask.

Personally, I can balance my family life and work much easier now. I have two young kids. They’re three and five. And on the weekends, a lot of customers call for business, and I’m at a soccer practice or someone calls and they want to get pre-approved. I literally just text them my link and they fill it out right then. By the time I’m done with soccer practice, I look at my phone, and the application is done within 15 minutes from the customer. I get home, I export it, I run everything through, and then I can get a preapproval a lot quicker than sitting on the phone with them and asking them about their two-year work history or their W-2 or 1099 or what’s in their bank account. [Borrowers] do everything themselves now, which is great. It allows us to focus on giving them the best experience possible, not processing paperwork.

How does Blend make life more convenient for loan officers at Blue Hills?

Since you released [Blend] to us, came on site for training, and I knew how it was all going to work on the customer side, I’ve had 15 applications — maybe more — and I’ve done them all through Agility [powered by Blend]. I haven’t done a phone application since the official rollout.

If I wasn’t going to use [Blend], it would be tough for me to sell it to my sales team. So, I just jumped right into it, and I love it. I tell all my LOs, “You’ve got to use it, just try it.” They reply, “Well, I need training.” My answer is, “Listen, you don’t even need training. Just send it to the customer, let them do it, and then when it’s finished I’ll show you how to export to Encompass.” Because it’s literally just a button.

I’ve never had anything like this. Even where I worked in the past, we had online apps, but they weren’t anything like this. They were pretty basic. A lot of the time I had to go in and manually fix [information] for the customer. I couldn’t co-pilot with the customer [as lenders can with Blend], so it’s been great.

Which features resonated most with your LOs during the rollout?

They thought that the co-pilot feature was amazing — that they could jump in and co-pilot. They loved the idea of uploading docs and they loved the idea of automatically imported bank statements. It seemed like [Blend] was going to free up their time way more than they expected.

They also like that you can pull bank statements right from Encompass with all the transactions for the last 60 days, and then if there was a large deposit or some sort of asset, [Blend Mortgage Intelligence] would prompt them to ask them what that was, and they would write a letter of explanation.

Since there’s no save button, a customer can fill it out and if they need to jump in the car, when they get home, they can start back up where they stopped. It really flows well compared to online competitors or other big companies […] and asks all the right questions. Even uploading documents into Encompass — something seemingly minor — is much, much easier.

What do your borrowers think about using Agility?

I sent [an application link] to a woman who was 69 years old. She was doing a refinance. I said, “Listen, try it. If you can’t figure it out, call me; I’ll fill out an application over the phone.” But she wanted to get done right away. So, I sent her the link through a text, because she has an iPhone or an iPad, and she sent me an email back saying it was the easiest thing she ever had to fill out in her life, and she even uploaded docs. I was shocked. I was expecting to go to this borrower’s house and pick up her documents.

One of my loan officers recently worked with a customer that was hopping on a plane to Paris.

They needed to get [a loan] pre-approved on a Friday afternoon. The borrower started the process and hopped on the plane. A few minutes later, he logged on the plane’s Wi-Fi and completed the app. By the time they landed, the pre-approval was done. That’s pretty impressive.

How has Agility given your team a competitive advantage?

It’s definitely cut down at least three or four days off the application cycle. Everything’s right there [on the Lender Dashboard], so it removes feedback cycles between LOs, underwriters, and processors. The files are coming in ready to be approved within a day or two of the application’s submission.

As vice president of a sales team, how has Agility helped you attract and retain high performing LOs?

[Blend] gives us a competitive advantage we’ve never had before. It frees up their time for a couple things: they’ll be able to network more and promote themselves, and it’s going to give them more family time or quality of life.

I tell our LOs, “Use this system as an assistant to you. Have it take the app for you, and then you fill in the blanks. So, instead of taking an hour on the phone, now you’re only taking five minutes because you’re only filling in a couple questions.”

Using Blend is like one-stop shopping for an LO. They’re able to complete all their services within the tool. It just makes work so much easier.