Mortgage Software Solutions Blog

4 Reasons to Implement a Mortgage Business Intelligence Strategy

bim.jpgBI visuals help employees in the company get on the same page.

Business Intelligence (BI) has come a long way since its first implementation.

At its most basic, BI has always involved analyzing reports and performance information to allow companies to make decisions based on past activity.

At the complex level of present-day information gathering, BI handles large amounts of unstructured, seeming unrelated data and then makes utilitarian connections between data points.

Using modern BI, a company can turn information sets into successful business strategies that give them the edge on the market and long-term stability over their competitors. Nowadays companies even have access to industry-specific BI tools.

Can you imagine why the mortgage industry should harness this ability? Here are 4 reasons to implement a Business Intelligence Strategy in your mortgage company.

  1. Integrated BI for Complete Data

By integrating business intelligence, a mortgage company has the ability to gather data on their activity via an existing mortgage enterprise management system (EMS) and then work with that data using the BI module.

With two or more applications communicating seamlessly, administrators have all the company information at their fingertips.

Integrating BI with existing tools like EMS and CRM platforms makes the data sets more ample and complete.

  1. Improved Strategic Awareness

Integrated Mortgage BI goes beyond just connecting platforms. It develops a rich business intelligence data warehouse (BIDW) that forms the basis for future decisions.

The BI module has the capacity of building data model visuals that are easy to understand. Using the full range of information available, this feature processes information to make it actionable. Pulling information from all sources means providing the company with rich prescriptive and predictive analytics output.

The strategy of information awareness and fact-based decisions produces a positive influence on the bottom line.

  1. BI Accessibility Breeds Positive Change

It used to be that companies needed IT analysts to interface with the data and come up with insight. It was a management level activity shared between tech folks and decision makers in the company.

With an industry-specific BI strategy in place, everyday users in a mortgage company can view easy-to-understand level-specific data related to their work. Placing BI in employee dashboards empowers them to make informed decisions. It goes beyond IT data and links up with HR, employee metrics, customized dashboards, and more to give the power of data to employees at every level of the company.

Smart decisions go from being seen as top-down directives to using real information as the basis for decisions company-wide. This change in company culture has the benefit of increasing employee job satisfaction and efficiency, which also affects the bottom line.

  1. Industry-Specific Bi is Affordable

There are plenty of BI applications on the market. From Tableau to Microsoft, the tech industry has developed a plethora of BI platforms with a range of executions.

There are also visionary platforms like Salesforce that are extremely flexible but require in-house IT customization. They come with bells and whistles that aren’t meant for the mortgage industry.

Mortgage companies without the resources to create their own fit have a better option. Industry-specific software with ample performance ability is the sweet spot. A mortgage-specific BI tool like this is the most affordable choice.

Mortgage companies who implement this type of “goldilocks” platform will be able to harness the power of BI quickly and easily.

Mortgage BI, developed by the same Northern California-based company that produces the data-sharing software MortgageExchange™, is a perfect example of this type of “goldilocks” platform.

ABT’s takes Microsoft’s Power BI software and their own MortgageExchange and combines them for a leading example of how companies can harness the big-brand power of BI without being oversized or overpriced. Not too expensive, no surplus of addons, and customized to be just right for the finance industry.

BI offers huge improvements to every modern mortgage company’s business strategy. The improved strategic awareness will save your company from financial missteps and BI-generated visual representations of performance data will put employees on the same page across the company.

With BI implementation, companies can efficiently put their data to work and move forward with clear direction.

Contact ABT directly to learn about Mortgage BI business analytics for your bank, credit union, or mortgage company.


Topics: Cloud Services information security for mortgage companies data interface solution data security mortgage software integration Business Intelligence Mortgage BI security productivity mortgage business mortgage regulations mobile technology mortgage industry

How New York’s Latest Cyber Security Law Will Impact You

sgfhj.jpgNew cyber security laws in New York mean strict accountability for businesses.

Cyber security is on the brink of an unprecedented crackdown in New York.

The finance industry is preparing for a new normal that looks vastly more stringent than before.

Part reaction to consumer outrage and part finger-pointing to the market for accountability when it comes to data breaches, the regulation titled Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Services Companies (2017) is a broad re-draw of the rules by the state regulator.

In a country where the sector has historically played fast and loose with handling missteps, all eyes are watching to see how quickly it can adapt to the new normal.

As everyone settles in for the ride, industry insiders are already forming hypotheses about how far this new regimentation will reach.

Laying Down the Law

The new law outlining consumer data security measures in New York State is the first of its kind in the United States.

Officially released in March of 2017 with a built-in year of lag time, the enforcement date has arrived. As of Thursday February 15, 2018 enforcement is in full effect.

Financial institutions are expected to have stepped up their game in safeguarding computer systems and the sensitive information stored inside. A full guide to the highly prescriptive requirements can be found here.

The end goal is to avoiding security breaches by making businesses sufficiently fearful of repercussions. If they do foster an environment that allows for future problems or leaks of personal data, the stakes are high.

Who the Law Affects

The current law has been interpreted to include all banking, insurance, lending, and mortgage brokerage firms that are operating in New York. Every company under that heading will be held to the new standard.

This means that entities must get in gear to assess their actual and potential cybersecurity risks and make a solid plan to mitigate them.

The good news for IT departments is that due to the highly detailed guidelines about policy and the use of technology to patch up the security gaps, they have rather exact instructions to follow.

Beyond State Lines

At first glance, companies outside of New York might assume they have been spared from the harshest regulations in the country. After a closer look, it seems imminent that the change will have a wide-ranging impact.

Going forward, consumers will rely on their financial institutions to keep personal data safe. Not only are the expectations high, but the safety net sets the stage for demanding the same in other states.

Mortgage companies across the country are targeted by hackers due to the quantity of information and the quality of its use for fraud purposes. Companies outside of New York in the same industry should brace for the arrival of comparable laws on their home turf.  

Out-of-state entities with branches in New York should have a response as well, even before their own states begin drafting something similar.

In fact, other states are already following suit. Colorado and Vermont introduced their own measures within months after the NY regulation was put in place.

Vermont’s law names “securities professionals” as the intended subjects of its tighter regulations. Without specifying banks, the use of this broad term leaves the door open for enforcement with entities that may not previously fall under the state’s traditional regulation agencies.

As a global financial hub, even entities doing business in New York should consider getting the jump on re-assessing their policies as a continuity plan.

Beyond the Finance World

The effect of intensified scrutiny over cyber security practices will logically spill over to third-parties who work in the finance world and businesses who directly manage cyber security for the industry.

Fortune magazine goes one step further, predicting that ripple effect will go well beyond the financial industry. It could cover security events by any business that stores personal data “from point-of-sale to payroll providers.”

After that, it seems the industry shake-up will likely bleed into any major industry that houses consumer data using any sort of technology. These days, companies who aren’t keeping customer information in a computer system are few and far between.

The only thing the industry seems sure of is how this trend in accountability will not be contained by state lines or by industry.

In the early days of this new law’s enactment, the extent of this chain reaction is yet to be seen.

Over the next fiscal year, New Yorkers will lead the way, with countless gazes focused on them for cues of how to adapt.

ABT’s cloud-based portal MortgageWorkSpace adds banking level security to email, servers, PC’s and mobile devices in the mortgage industry. Contact us to learn more.


Topics: Compliance Due Diligence cyber security mortgage company security financial data security cybersecurity mortgage business mortgage industry Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Compliance for Mortgage Companies Compliance Audit cloud-based data Mortgage Lending 23 NYCRR Part 500 NYSDFS network safety

Solid Steps to Safeguard Against Meltdown and Spectre

ghjfj.jpgTwo defects threaten computers and devices released on the market since 1995.

Meltdown and Spectre are the names given to two newly-discovered bugs terrorizing computers around the world.

At the sound of such unnerving names, it’s hard for security folks at enterprise-level companies to control the panic.

While protocols for dealing with these threats are still on the drafting board, there are solid steps that companies can take to protect themselves.

What are Meltdown and Spectre?

In early January of 2018, the tech world was rocked by the discovery of two colossal security flaws that affect almost every computer and smart device on the market since 1995.

First announced on January 3rd, the bugs’ initial discoveries are being attributed to Jann Horn at Project Zero, a Google-based program for security analysis.

These two separate flaws were simultaneously being probed and announced by a handful of security experts from around the globe. As bits and pieces came out about the exposures, the gravity of the situation became clearer.

Both Meltdown and Spectre exploit weakness in the CPU of most current machines and all their predecessors dating back to 1995.

Since both faults affect major brand-name processors, it means that desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and servers all contain the defects.

The spooky truth is that they affect a majority of computers in use today.

How They Work

Often linked due to the widespread nature of both flaws and the fact that they were discovered around the same time, they do not work in the same way.

The first defect, Meltdown, is named for what it does to affected devices. It sort of ‘melts’ the wall between applications and the machine’s OS and makes it a devastating entryway for hackers.

The second issue, Spectre, is a named for the process from which hackers are able to steal information—namely ‘speculative execution’.

Speculative execution is the technique whereby your device records your computer activity in an attempt to predict future actions. This process helps your device execute tasks quickly, but the records contain sensitive usage information that shouldn’t fall into the wrong hands.

The name also refers to an apparition, which is fitting since companies don’t want intruders ghosting around their private information.

Meltdown affects Intel processors while Spectre affects three kinds of CPU chip: Intel, AMD, and ARM.

Using these newly discovered gateways, popular tech forum Bleeping Computer says, “Malicious program can steal passwords, account information, encryption keys, or theoretically anything stored in the memory of a process.”

Vendors React

In response to the potential devastation, the tech community has seen a wave of security advisories and patches to deal with the bugs.

At the pace that vendors are trying to get information out, some have produced conflicting stories: While AMD maintains that its CPUs have a near zero risk of vulnerability, Microsoft quickly pushed out a patch for AMD devices that has caused computers to stop working.

In the haste to calm the masses, it seems some solutions come with problems of their own.

Beyond the CPU

Browsers are also vulnerable due to these glitches.

Safari came out with a patch in December of 2017 while Microsoft just released patches for IE and Edge. Microsoft announced that Windows 10 is safer to use than older versions, but did not provide further details.

After other vendors bumbled, Google reneged on a patch that was promised for January 23rd. Google’s Chrome browser and OS patch came out Friday the 2nd of February, over a week late.

Adding yet another layer to this confusing frenzy, Anti-Virus programs may be incompatible with some systems (notably Microsoft) so don’t go AV-crazy just yet.

In order to be proactive, here are three solid steps you can take to make sure your company is protected.

  1. Assess Your Risk

Guidelines for action from patches to future fixes are available at each vendor’s site. Your company can build a customized response based on vendor-specific information.

  1. Follow Instructions

Take the recommended steps to mitigate any security risks that would leave your company vulnerable.

A smorgasbord of vendors, from Amazon to Cisco, has released advisories to protect their clients and business partners from dangerous activity.

It’s up to your company’s security team to follow instructions based on the software and hardware that your system uses.

  1. Hold Out for More Information

Unfortunately, these bugs were publicly announced recently. The scramble to provide permanent answers is on.

The best thing to do after the initial patch scare is to await further details and instruction from the tech security community.

Businesses protected by ABT’s monitoring service Network Guardian receive monthly reports detailing security threats. Contact us to learn more.


Topics: mortgage documents mortgage business mortgage industry cloud-based data Mortgage Lending disaster recovery malware network intel spectre meltdown network safety

Understanding HUD in the Mortgage Industry

Understanding-HUD-in-the-mortgage-industry .jpgThe Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) oversees the Federal Housing Administration, the largest mortgage insurer in the world. Because HUD plays such a major part in today's mortgage markets, it is important that loan officers are familiar with HUD in the mortgage industry.

The information below gives you a picture of what you need to know about HUD, starting with a bit of historical background and then moving on to HUD's influence in the mortgage market today.

The History of HUD

HUD traces its earliest beginnings to the Housing and Home Finance Agency created under the Reorganization Act of 1945. This agency consolidated several agencies under its umbrella: the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Public Housing Administration, the Home Loan Bank Board, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), the Community Facilities Administration, the Urban Renewal Administration, and the Federal Flood Indemnity Administration.

The agency then became the Office of Housing and Urban Development in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson established it as a cabinet position under his "Great Society" program.

HUD's Impact on Americans

We can't talk about HUD's impact without talking about FHA—HUD’s mortgage insurance arm—and FHA's impact on America's home ownership trajectory.

FHA came into existence earlier than HUD, in 1934, and in the decades since its inception, it has helped millions of Americans afford homes. After World War II, FHA helped returning soldiers buy homes. In the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, FHA supported building apartments for elderly, disabled, and low-income Americans. During the recession in the 1980s, FHA helped individuals obtain financing when mortgage insurers pulled out of business in the oil states.

In 1934, only 10% of Americans owned their own homes, but by the third quarter of 2001, 68.1% of Americans owned their own homes. That's almost a 60% increase in less than 70 years.

HUD's Mission and Focus

HUD's stated mission is to support communities and individuals by doing the following:

  • Helping to build and preserve healthy neighborhoods and communities
  • Expanding home ownership, supporting affordable rental housing, and improving healthcare opportunities
  • Steadying disorderly credit markets
  • Operating in a fiscally responsible manner with public accountability
  • Valuing customers, staff, and partners

In addition to these initiatives, HUD specializes in three key loan areas:

  • Single family homes
  • Multi-family homes
  • Healthcare facilities

Single Family Housing

Harking back to its mission to expand home ownership, HUD provides mortgage insurance that allows individuals, who might not otherwise meet private mortgage underwriting standards, to build new or buy existing single family homes. These homes include traditional single family homes, condominiums, manufactured homes, and rehabilitated housing units.

HUD also provides mortgage insurance for reverse mortgages that credit elderly homeowners with the equity they have built up in their homes. The reverse mortgage market blends HUD's housing mission with the healthcare focus, since reverse mortgages often allow the elderly to age-in-place at home.

Multi-Family Homes

HUD provides mortgage insurance to HUD-approved lenders who want to build, rehabilitate, buy, or refinance multi-family housing developments. This program fulfills the mission statement that HUD will help build and support healthy communities. Keeping multi-family housing developments in good condition and financially stable helps retain the developments as a safe place to live.

Healthcare Programs

As the population grows larger and grayer, HUD's mortgage insurance program focuses more on healthcare programs and caring for our elderly population. HUD's mortgage insurance program facilitates loans to buy, rehabilitate, build, or refinance hospitals and residential care facilities.

Community Grants

HUD provides several grant opportunities for community, educational, housing, and faith-based organizations to apply for funds to help satisfy the needs of their constituent groups.

HUD's Influence in the Housing Market

HUD's influence doesn’t stop at providing mortgage insurance to buyers or development grants to nonprofit organizations. The agency has a counseling program that supports a network of Housing Counseling Agencies (HCA) all across the nation.

HUD trains the HCAs to help buyers find the right home and/or rental unit by empowering individuals to make the right choices for themselves and their financial situation. HCAs provide counseling to the public on buying a home, foreclosure, renting, defaults, and credit issues.

HUD's Regulatory Programs

As the overseer to the largest mortgage insurer in the world, HUD regulates the mortgage industry. The Offices of Risk Management and Regulatory Affairs has three sections that help buyers and homeowners by regulating best practices in real estate transactions.

First, the Office of Risk Management leads FHA in measuring and managing risk in the single family, multi-family, and healthcare areas within the HUD mission and vision. Second, the Office of Evaluation provides valuations of FHA mortgage insurance portfolios. These portfolios include single family homes, senior programs for aging-in-place, apartments, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospitals. Third, the Office of Manufactured Homes sets standards for consumer protection related to mobile home units.

ABT’s Cloud Technology Makes Mortgage Compliance Easy

Maintaining compliance for mortgage companies and keeping up with the changes in regulations can be an ongoing challenge. MortgageWorkSpace®, a cloud-based platform developed just for mortgage professionals, can help you meet security and compliance standards on any device, anywhere, all from one cloud interface.

MortgageWorkSpace® makes mortgage administration faster, easier, and more secure for your entire business. To learn more about our cloud-based software tools, please contact us.

Learn More

Topics: mortgage industry HUD