Roostify Roundtable: Serving Underserved Communities

Roostify Roundtable: Serving Underserved Communities


Even in today’s era of ever-advancing mortgage technology, many mortgage lenders may be unaware of how they can provide more significant financial assistance to a more extensive borrower base. Serving underserved communities from a home lending perspective requires a smart business approach and the right technology partners. Working together, lenders and technology providers can help the underserved achieve something that may have once been unthinkable to them: the American Dream of homeownership. 


To discuss how to best address this issue, Roostify hosted a panel of mortgage lending experts at the recent NEXTSummer20 virtual conference, view the full recording here. “How can a digital strategy be changed to address serving underserved communities? We think a lot about this at Roostify,” said Roostify’s newly named President of Home Lending, Chris Boyle, who served as the moderator for the session kicking off the discussion. The panel brought together Steve Adamo, Head of Mortgage, Home Equity, Consumer Loan Operations and Underwriting at Santander Bank, Leigh Oehler Smith, SVP, Head of Mortgage Operations for HSBC, and Kathryn Keeton, Director of Strategic Accounts at Roostify. 


The pandemic has hit underserved communities particularly hard. Before COVID-19, minority communities, in particular, relied on retail banking options, such as going inside branches and speaking to lending counselors face-to-face. Now with extensive lock-downs and restrictions on businesses opening to foot traffic, these services suddenly became less available or even unavailable.


“As a lending ecosystem, we should endeavor to leave no American behind” - Chris Boyle, President of Home Lending, Roostify


HSBC has implemented strategies to serve underserved communities digitally with educational resources by adding HSBC Financial Wellness Center to its website.  The wellness center’s educational content casts a wide net. It deals with home buying “how-to” information and student loans and advice on reaching other credit goals that potential customers would only have gotten previously by visiting a retail branch.


Since COVID-19 struck, HSBC saw increased demand for digital mortgage solutions as more and more people began the mortgage process online, from their homes, according to Smith. Their loan officers are typically active in local community groups, and those relationships are crucial to gaining access and maintaining communications in underserved markets. Partnering with a platform like Roostify has made the transition to remote lending much easier, and HSBC has been able to broaden digital access even to traditionally retail consumers. 


“As a global bank in the US, and an equal housing lender, we are focused on meeting all needs of all customers in all communities we serve and in any manner in which they chose to engage with us.” - Leigh Oehler Smith, SVP, Head of Mortgage Operations for HSBC


When it comes to buying a home, Roostify can support its clients in surfacing targeted products relevant specifically to borrowers in underserved areas.  By enabling these borrowers with a direct digital communication line with their loan team, Roostify can ensure borrowers get their questions answered in real-time. Through education and customized experiences, Roostify empowers lenders to execute new strategies for addressing underserved consumers.


“One of the things that is just so exciting for my role is that I get to work with these customers and think about what’s next. What are the ways we can take our product and continue to build and iterate on it so we can really flex and meet the borrowers of tomorrow where they will be?  - Kathryn Keeton, Director of Strategic Accounts, Roostify


COVID-19 forced the industry to figure out how to touch every market segment equitably and accelerate initiatives to support all consumers digitally.  In response to this challenge, Roostify client and partner, Santander, is doing virtual home buying seminars and conducting local and national advisory councils to understand better what the digital journey looks like in underserved markets. 


The challenge is getting a mortgage remains a very complicated transaction, whether in-person or digital, and continued simplification will support Santander’s journey to serve underserved markets better.


“How do we create products that will be better available to underserved markets? The answer is through greater digitization of the entire mortgage process.” - Steve Adamo, Head of Mortgage, Home Equity, Consumer Loan Operations and Underwriting, Santander US


So how should lenders approach incorporating digital capabilities into their origination and engagement strategy? Santander thoroughly looked around the market before deciding to partner with Roostify, and Steve Adamo offers some insight on what persuaded him to make the final decision to move forward. “For us, one of the reasons we chose Roostify as a partner, our thinking was it was not going to be just a “this is the product, this is what you get,” but more of an interactive process. We need to make decisions that are long-term decisions.”


The solutions Roostify presents to support lenders in targeting underserved markets also support other groups of borrowers and even other lenders who partner with Roostify. “All boats float on a rising tide,” said Steve Adamo


All financial institutions should strive to support lending efforts in traditionally underserved communities because it is the right thing to do in a joint effort to minimize discrimination and increase access to credit and educational resources. 


“Discrimination is definitely falling, and it corresponds to the rise in competition between fintech lenders and regular lenders,” said Nancy Wallace, chair in real estate capital markets at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, about the impact of digital lending solutions on discrimination and access in lending.  A study that Dr. Wallace co-authored in 2019 found that fintech algorithms discriminated 40 percent less on average than face-to-face lenders in loan pricing and did not discriminate at all in accepting and rejecting loans.


Partnerships with digital platform providers who utilize robust technology and artificial intelligence can help financial institutions meet those goals more quickly. To learn more about how lenders can leverage automation and AI to better support underserved communities, view the full recording of this important conversation or request a demo today


Chris Boyle, Former Freddie Mac Executive, Named to Roostify C-Suite

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