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When buying a home, especially a first home, most buyers are focused on things like location, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and square footage. They’re most likely not thinking about things like current interest rates, loan underwriters, or whether or not their mortgage company is utilizing the latest technology. A company like American Financial Resources (AFR), however, is not only thinking about all the concerns of the homebuyer—bedrooms and bathrooms included—they’re also thinking about the latest innovations and how they can streamline processes for their clients. AFR is committed to making the dream of homeownership a reality for Americans, and they want to make that process as easy as possible.

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A modernized lending experience with AFR and Azure

The notion of simplifying the lending process has been a priority for AFR since their start in 1997. They’re a mid-sized mortgage bank with a commitment to assisting buyers from the moment they pick out a house. After a homebuyer makes the life-changing decision of choosing a home, their journey to secure residential financing begins. Often this process involves many people and several moving parts. AFR saw how trying this process was for buyers and knew they could do something to digitally transform the processes.

Having the resources that many of their clients—mortgage brokers, credit unions, and correspondent lenders—didn’t have, AFR agreed to incur the cost to provide clients with a solution that was competitive to the market’s larger lenders. What they built, with the help of the Digital Innovation Consultants at Tallan, was a digital mortgage platform. The platform is a hub where all the parties involved in the financing portion of the home sale can collaborate, and post and sign documents.

AFR knew that digitizing the residential financing process was crucial, and key to staying relevant in the competitive mortgage industry. Increased collaboration between the clients involved in the lending process was vital to simplifying operations. Cutting down on the number of e-mails and texts with a platform that could notify users in real time made communication much more efficient.  Being available to the other parties involved in the sale was especially important because of the level of investment a buyer was looking to make and the potential impact it would have on their life.

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The digital mortgage platform began in Azure

AFR’s partner in streamlining processes and creating the digital mortgage platform, Tallan, understood just how to leverage technology to improve the borrower experience. The digital innovation consultants at Tallan take pride in partnering with their clients on identifying, addressing, and solving business problems with technology. Tallan used Microsoft Azure as the foundation for AFR’s digital mortgage platform which helped both AFR and their clients to modernize their customer experience.

“There are all these capabilities that are cutting edge, modern, and only possible with cloud technology. We couldn’t have built them—or they would’ve been prohibitively expensive to build—another way,” explains Adam Worobec, Managing Director at Tallan. “It’s a whole host of new innovations that have been made possible by leveraging the cloud.”

Mortgage lending is a regulated industry, and AFR needs to protect an incredibly large amount of customer data. “Who do you think is better at guarding and protecting the infrastructure? A financial services firm that could devote a small number of resources to protecting our infrastructure or Microsoft, who has ten times as many people dedicated to security as I have in my entire company, all that are capable, well trained, and have the resources to better secure and get in front of threats?” asks Bill Packer, Chief Operations Officer at AFR.

Now that they’re leveraging Azure, both AFR and their clients have the capability of “delivering the same solutions at the enterprise class-level as the biggest folks in the mortgage space,” Packer explains. “You don’t have to be big to have the economies of scale to innovate.”

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Already seeing results from innovation

AFR’s clients are enjoying the benefits of the digital mortgage platform. Packer explains, “People want to work on their mortgage when they want, where they want, how they want, on any device—whether it’s on their smartphone, their laptop, or their tablet.” Increased mobility wasn’t a primary goal of AFR’s digital transformation, but it’s an exciting secondary benefit.

AFR is most assuredly seeing benefits of their primary goals as well—seeing a streamline of processes from the implementation of their digital mortgage platform. AFR is running about 70% leaner, they’re closing more loans with fewer staff.

“Now, our [board] meetings are focused exclusively on business capabilities and talking about advancing the business and being innovative,” says Packer. “We leave all the datacenter operations and infrastructure and patching servers to Microsoft now.”

By partnering with Tallan and building their cloud-powered digital tools, AFR is providing their clients with industry-leading innovation. “We consistently hear from our clients that we have some of the best technology in the industry,” Packer says regarding MyLoanCenter, the platform Tallan assisted in creating and rolling out. “When they say that, they mean that it’s the most usable technology in the industry. You don’t need a lot of training, it’s intuitive, and yet there’s still complexity to it.”

AFR’s digital mortgage platform has streamlined the residential financing process. By providing their broker and correspondent clients with unmatched technology, AFR is empowering home buyers to achieve their home-ownership goals.

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