Lansing, Mich.-based reverse mortgage subservicer Compu-Link Corporation (Celink) has launched a new online portal designed to assist reverse mortgage borrowers with tasks related to their loans’ servicing, designed to improve the ability for borrowers to check in on various elements of their loan while also streamlining the customer service functions of Celink itself.
Using the new portal, customers will be able to check the details of their loan; download statements and common forms; reference a section of “frequently asked questions,” and have the ability to upload over a dozen different types of documents. The company also plans on expanding the portal’s functionality with new features including adding the ability to prioritize a paperless statement arrangement, and to receive regular digital communications via email and SMS text message.
To discuss the ways in which Celink developed and implemented the new portal as well as the timeline for development of new features, RMD sat down with Gail Balettie, SVP of client satisfaction at Celink.
Launch of the portal, and initial features available
After a development cycle of approximately six months, Celink launched the servicing portal last February to a select group of borrowers. Originally launching with a slim feature set, additional modules were added throughout 2020 and have culminated in the current version available to reverse mortgage borrowers. Part of the reason for some of the features simply came out of a series of questions that were asked by borrowers about access to documents, or copies of statements, Balettie says.
“Borrowers can view and download two years’ worth of statements, which is very helpful because they call all the time saying they’ve misplaced a statement, and ask for another copy,” she says. “Well, now it’s all-in-one. They don’t have to download it if they don’t want to, they can review it, or they can download it and save it if they wish. The other benefit is the forms. We’ve got 15 really common forms that borrowers use, which are now all available online. And when a borrower creates an account, they simply complete the form and upload it to us, then they don’t have to mail it any longer, which is a big help during COVID, especially.”
So far, the amount of problems faced by the portal’s development team has been minimal, mostly reserved for issues related to account registration, which are easily remedied with a support call. When compared with the processes available to a servicing customer one-to-two years ago, Balettie feels that the experience provided by the new portal is potentially transformational in terms of shaping the ways they can interact with their loans and servicing needs. One of the examples she provided is in the ability for an interested borrower to get a loan payoff quote nearly instantaneously.
“In addition to the line of credit, borrowers can pull a payoff quote instantaneously online if their loan is eligible,” she says. “So if I have an active loan, I can sign in, and there’s a box on the very first page I land on that says, ‘Are you interested in refinancing’ or ‘do you want a payoff quote?’ If they click ‘yes,’ they fill out the good-through date, and the payoff quote is presented to them. They can save it, they can email it or give it to their title company or their loan officer if they’re refinancing.”
Generally, the current mechanism for a borrower seeking a payoff quote requires physical document submission and a turn time of between one and three days.
Additional security, line of credit advance
Not only does the portal shave off a significant amount of time, but the portal also has the benefit of being more secure using login credentials and an online security apparatus called “two-factor authentication,” which requires the use of a unique code delivered to the user via another device that is only valid for a limited period of time.
“I think everybody is moving away from email, because it is less secure,” Balettie says. “So for example, if you have a line of credit with a bank, you can’t just email them a form and obtain funds, they require that you go on to their application, or their website and conduct your transactions securely. And so, we are following in those footsteps for the betterment and protection of our senior demographic.”
Another major feature of the app is the ability for a borrower to request a line of credit advance, which significantly simplifies that process for them, and does not require the borrower to fill out an additional form, Balettie explains.
“It’s so much simpler to go online, create the account and request a line of credit advance,” she says. “Of course, those funds go to the established method of disbursement on the borrower’s accounts already. So, if they have direct deposit set up, they go to their direct deposit account. Otherwise, they go out via check mailed to the borrower’s mailing address and the check is made payable to the borrower only, so it’s safe and secure.”
This functionality in particular is loved by borrowers, because they no longer have to go through the hassle of printing out a form, getting it with their statement, and needing to send it via fax, email or traditional mail.
“That feature has been a great benefit,” Balettie says.
Features to come
There are still features in development for the portal that Celink expects to be rolled out in phases, Balettie says. These include the ability to shift to paperless statements, which the company expects will help reduce the amount of incoming calls to its service centers while streamlining customer service in other areas.
“That functionality will go live in Q2, and we hear borrowers asking how to go paperless all the time,” she says. “And so we’re telling them that feature is coming. For years, I’ve been hearing from borrowers wanting to get their statements online, asking ‘can you stop sending me this paper?’ So, we know that’s going to be a very popular option.”
Other features still to come include a “document cabinet” which will allow borrowers to retrieve required loan origination or tax documents like a 1098 or 1099, as well as third-party contact authorization.
Response from partners, competitive landscape
Thus far, response from Celink’s lender and broker partners to the availability of the portal has been highly positive, Balettie says, particularly for loan officers who express appreciation for document availability.
“The loan officers love it, especially if they’re working with a borrower to refinance, and that borrower can go online and pull that payoff quote instantaneously,” she says. “That’s a huge benefit in a refinance situation. They can’t wait for us to add additional functionality, especially with regard to the statements.”
The competitive landscape for online servicing functions is also becoming a more vibrant space, as Longbridge Financial recently announced the availability of its own servicing mobile application. While Celink is still determining if the development of a dedicated app is the best use of its resources, the increased availability of servicing options for borrowers in the digital realm will likely become more prevalent with time, Balettie says.
“We have the hope that the majority [of servicing tasks] could be completed online,” she says. “Especially with the newer or younger borrowers, originating reverse mortgages in some proprietary cases at age 60 to 62 [for HECMs], that is going to be the expectation. I’m 55, and I prefer to do everything online. It’s just much easier. I also prefer to do things myself rather than talk to an individual whenever possible, so I think that automating is definitely the way of the future. And to the extent that [processes] can be automated, we will be looking to do that.”