YoY increase in digital home equity applications
Shaved from mortgage and home equity application cycles
YoY growth in overall home equity applications
Innovative lenders like BMO Harris Bank understand that consumer lending isn’t changing — it already has. According to Tom Parrish, director of consumer lending product management, “We have an appetite to grow assets in both mortgage and home equity, but it’s a competitive space. We need technologies supporting positive experiences across products.”
As Parrish and the rest of the team have found, historically useful goals — like creating individually digitized product experiences — no longer suffice. Instead, portfolio-wide digital transformation has become a baseline requirement.
Adopting Blend “has been an important part of the profitable growth across our mortgage and home equity lending products,” according to Mark Shulman, head of consumer lending. With Blend, BMO Harris Bank has achieved true multi-product success.
Choosing Blend for a digital-and-more strategy
Before selecting Blend to power its cross-product lending platform, the BMO Harris Bank team understood the need for substantive change, focusing first on its mortgage product.
“We needed to grow our mortgage business beyond what our bankers could do,” explained Sean D’Esposito, director of product transformation. “We knew we weren’t getting our fair share digitally, and we knew that we needed some capabilities in that realm to grow our overall market share.”
Digital expansion is a powerful mechanism for gaining market share without expensive physical growth. The team leveraged its knowledge of research indicating that 81% of applicants prefer online loan solutions, but only 3% choose to undertake the entire process through digital channels.
As Shulman explained, “We have customers that can’t make it into the branch but are not quite comfortable with being totally digital.”
For digital natives, Blend allows near-complete autonomy. Applications can be driven by the applicant in-app, whenever is most convenient and at the pace most suited to his or her needs.
For those less comfortable with digital interfaces, Blend’s Co-pilot feature allows lending staff to jump in, providing in-app guidance and coaching. “From miles and hours away, our bankers are able to work with their clients and complete applications using Blend,” Shulman happily reported.
A platform for happy customers, happy bankers
With Blend in place, the BMO Harris Bank team achieved digital expansion while building on the company’s already stellar reputation for customer experience.
“When customers and our employees talk about Blend, they talk about how the experience has been transformed,” noted Melissa Garcia, head of mortgage sales. “In a world without Blend, getting a mortgage is an overwhelming, cumbersome experience. Blend truly has simplified the process.”
Core to this experience boost is the flexibility that Blend offers. Staff can easily move between purely digital, intermediated, and in-person interfaces depending on the customer’s needs. “Maybe a customer is not enthused or doesn’t have the time to do it in a branch — then the banker can send them a link to Blend’s digital app,” explained Shulman.
Digital improvement has also been very important for the branches, according to Shulman. By facilitating a self-serve process, Blend allows branch bankers the space needed to focus on in-person tasks, such as providing financial advice or building stronger customer relationships. He added, “I’ve heard several times from bankers that they now have more time to sell.”
Creating positive customer experiences would have been a win in itself, but BMO Harris Bank has also gained other benefits from this customer-focused approach. Parrish explained that they actively think through how to “delight our customers, which will then turn into revenue opportunities.” The excitement that Blend brings to a typically unexciting process drives growth. “Folks refer their family and friends, given their great experience with Blend.”
An easy decision to expand into home equity
Perhaps the biggest driver of success for the BMO Harris Bank team has been Blend’s consistent platform approach across mortgage and home equity product lines. After seeing positive results from Blend’s mortgage product, bank leaders decided to implement Blend for home equity. This created a unified experience for applicants and brought productivity to branch banking teams.
“We’re able to do things much more efficiently like collecting documentation with ease,” explained Parrish. “Less back and forth with our processors, underwriters, and customers is critical to our ongoing success as we grow consumer lending profitably.”
In the end, the numbers speak volumes. “With Blend, we’ve reduced mortgage and home equity cycle times by over five days.”
The cross-product success that BMO Harris Bank has experienced stems from Blend’s platform approach. “We were able to leverage the investment in the connectivity for mortgage and then repurpose that for home equity,” explained D’Esposito. As a true technology partner, the Blend team worked to incorporate a system that addressed BMO Harris Bank’s holistic needs, rather than providing a one-off temporary fix.
A partnership for continuously evolving solutions
The success that the BMO Harris Bank team has experienced stems from a strong understanding of customer needs and a dedication to fulfilling them. With Blend’s platform in place, customers and staff alike are enjoying a consistent cross-product experience.
Continued customer focus, however, requires constant adjustment — both the Blend and the BMO Harris Bank teams are ready to deliver. As Shulman put it, “With Blend, we believe it’s going to continue to evolve so that customers will be doing the majority of the processing and the majority of the closing with very little human touch.”
This forward-thinking approach is what will help BMO Harris Bank stay in the lead, despite continually changing customer expectations. D’Esposito summed it up best: “Blend helps us stay at the forefront.”
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