By Sean Peterson, Sales Manager, Land Gorilla
After spending portions of my career in both the mortgage and SaaS spaces, representing Land Gorilla at this year’s MBA Annual Convention and Expo in Austin was a unique intersection of industries that served as my introduction to the financial services conference circuit. It was certainly a memorable experience, so hopefully sharing my perspective as a “newbie” will offer more seasoned MBA veterans some fresh insight.
I didn’t have any real preconceived notions about the exhibitor landscape, but I was honestly (and happily) surprised to see such a large number of technology companies at the event. Having been a loan officer over a decade ago, I operated in a time when software was still making its way into the mortgage arena and, sadly, paper was still the preferred weapon of choice when it came to data collection and organization (or lack thereof). I was a quick and eager adopter of SFDC, so I came to appreciate the value of SaaS solutions faster than others. To this day, I know that I owe a good deal of my success to leveraging the grand poobah of CRM solutions effectively and I’ve been in love with software ever since. To see that the mortgage industry as a whole has shifted to a digital mindset is a testament to the fact that technology is a valuable ally as companies look to scale and differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
When I became a loan officer, it meant that my wardrobe needed an adjustment to conform to the industry norm of the ol’ suit and tie garb. Thankfully, it appears that mortgage bankers have let their collective hair down a bit and one of the coolest observations I made was that plenty of attendees and exhibitors let their personalities show via some non-traditional attire. Yes, there were still enough suits and ties to make George Zimmerman shed a tear of happiness, but there were also animal print sports coats, loads of trendy sneakers and even a few backward hats. I certainly didn’t feel out of place sporting our signature Land Gorilla logo on a t-shirt, but I also plan to lobby hard for some custom gray and orange kicks to rock at our next event now that I know it isn’t a massive faux pas. Also, my feet are still recovering from hiking through Austin in dress shoes, so there’s that, too.
What Everyone is Talking About
Yes, the industry is in the midst of a refi boom that has everyone doing cartwheels down the hallway to celebrate record-breaking months, but the sentiment is that it’s wise to look beyond the “here and now” in preparation for an increased rate environment. Many of the folks who visited our booth expressed a desire to think past refinances and explore other opportunities to serve their borrowers while keeping business healthy once the dust settles. Luckily, this made for some great discussions as the interest in construction and renovation lending seems to be on the rise. Although we at Land Gorilla definitely believe this to be the case, it was exciting to hear that so many lenders are eager to explore new loan programs and enter into the construction/renovation lending space for the first time. The housing crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, and it’s apparent that there’s an appetite to help solve this important nationwide need.
As 2019 comes to an end, the mortgage industry is wrapping up a rollercoaster of a decade on a high note. Luckily, it appears that some valuable lessons have been learned when it comes to planning ahead and lenders are focused on better tools to help them expand their footprints without taking on unnecessary risks. I may be a little biased, but I believe this is why technology companies are well-positioned to make a truly meaningful impact. In particular, the conversations I had at the MBA Annual reinforced the value that Land Gorilla offers in the way of scaling, efficiency and risk mitigation. Helping homeowners and businesses successfully navigate the waters of construction and renovation lending is the collective responsibility of the entire industry, and we’re excited to empower mortgage bankers as they address the demand in 2020 an beyond.