During a time when consumer mortgage lending instruments are virtually identical from bank to bank, Waterford Bank, N.A. in Toledo, Ohio has distinguished itself among its competitors, including credit unions and large regional banks, by building a better customer experience.
Al Tinney, vice president of lending operations at Waterford says that the bank was founded in 2007 after its three principals—all former executives from a large regional bank—saw the need in Lucas County for personalized financial services backed by the power of local decision making. Reaching out to customers on a direct basis versus a broad basis is what we’re all about,” says Tinney. “With almost every financial institution offering the same mortgage products, we set ourselves apart by offering competitive pricing and a streamlined processing approach to enable our customers to get to the closing table as quickly as possible.
To achieve this end, the $463-million asset bank employs a tight-knit team of seasoned loan officers and underwriters who are compliance focused and can quickly move from point A to point B in an efficient and streamlined manner. By keeping originations, processing and underwriting in house, Waterford Bank retains complete control of the process and at any point in time can tell the consumer and the referral source (usually real-estate agents) the status of the loan.
When consumers work with a large regional or national bank, many times they don’t know where their Standing Out In A Vanilla Mortgage Market loan is in the process until there’s a problem or they hear, ‘Hey, we’re not going to be able to close.’” Tinney says that scenario never happens at Waterford Bank because they always know where the loan is and stay in constant communication with their customer and the loan source.
Communication on the back end is as integral to the process as communication on the front end. Waterford works with a small stable of mortgage investors that provide funding for its consumer mortgages, among them ICBA Mortgage Solutions, Powered by LenderLive™. Tinney says that the bank sought out ICBA Mortgage Solutions because his staff heard that the correspondent lender shared its hands-on approach to customer service.
Communication is key in this business and unfortunately there are companies out there that leave you staring into a black hole. We decided to work with ICBA Mortgage Solutions because we wanted a one-on-one, personal experience instead of a huge corporate feel,” Tinney says. Adding that ICBA Mortgage Solutions’ non-compete guarantee is another huge benefit. “There are investors out there that will tell you in their initial contract that after 12 to 24 months they are going to begin soliciting your customers. Obviously, we want to keep our customers as our customers.
Our loan officers want to retain that customer going forward, and if there is an investor out there soliciting them, we’re not happy.” Robert Kallio, senior vice president of ICBA Mortgage Solutions says that often times in secondary market transactions when banks think they are selling the loan they are really selling the customer. “As an arm of the Independent Community Bankers of America®, helping community banks succeed in this industry is our focus,” he says, “We don’t have another agenda.” Kallio points to ICBA Mortgage Solutions’ new correspondent rebate program, which on an annual basis rebates the standard correspondent fees on the first 20 delegated loans purchased ($4,000) and on the first 10 non-delegated loans purchased ($4,500). “We were pleased to recently recognize Waterford Bank as the first community bank to qualify for the rebate since we introduced the program,” he says.
Tinney says that there are no similar rebate programs offered by the other investors with which the bank works. “The rebate actually paid for Waterford Bank’s ICBA dues. We hope to qualify for it every year.
For more information about the ICBA Mortgage Solutions program contact Robert Kallio at (614) 785-6444 or visit www.icbams.com.