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Mortgagebot bucks trend has record year

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MEQUON, Wis. (1/20/09)--Despite a down economy, Mortgagebot LLC and its automated mortgage solution, PowerSite, reported “another record-breaking year,” said Mortgagebot President/CEO Scott Happ. An underlying industry trend is at the heart of the increase in mortgage activity, Happ said. As big subprime players have disappeared, financial institutions--including credit unions--“have risen up to take their place. After years in the background, these steady, trustworthy and careful lenders are back in a big way--and they’re increasingly using online mortgage technology to grow their businesses, reduce their per-loan costs, and handle their increasing volumes without needing to add staff. “Now consumers are returning en masse to their trusted credit union or local bank to meet their mortgage needs. That’s why our clients’ volumes have increased--and why mortgage applications are flowing through our PowerSite platform at a record pace,” Happ added. Mortgagebot closed 2008 with more than 800 clients, including credit unions. About 230 of those were signed in the last two years. The company’s revenue also increased 17%--to more than $28 million for 2008, Happ said. Use of PowerSite, a Web-based solution, increased 38% compared with 2007. “Around Thanksgiving, when interest rates fell to 5.25%, applications began to really surge through our clients’ websites,” Happ said. Mortgagebot also reported that clients Vermont State Employees CU in Montpelier, Vt., received an industry best practices award in November. The credit union deployed PowerSite in 2007. Its mortgage application volume increased five-fold one month last year, said the credit union. Mortgagebot is based in Mequon, Wis.

Papers address social networking change management

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MADISON, Wis. (1/20/09)--Credit unions can learn how to reach members through social networking and how to effectively lead employees through periods of change with two new white papers sponsored by the CUNA Councils. “Social Networking as a Marketing Tool,” by the CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council, defines social networking and social media and their potential ramifications for the financial services industry. The paper outlines features of online search advertising, blogs, Twitter, Wesabe and Mint, product reviews on websites, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. It also details how some credit unions employ the products to reach their targeted audience and results they achieved. The paper provides a selection of books and other resources at the end for further review. The second new white paper, “Leadership and Change Management” by the CUNA CFO Council, examines characteristics of leadership during periods of change. As new national requirements and trends impact and evolve the industry, chief financial officers (CFO) are expected to be role models for change and assist the senior management team and inspire confidence among employees. CFOs also must translate financial arguments into terms understood by employees outside the accounting department and be aware of how actions and decisions impact the human factor within change-management situations. The second paper also includes advice from CEOs and chief operating officers about mergers, leadership succession, and other types of major changes. The paper includes additional resources and a recommended reading list. For more information, use the links.