PERSON OF THE WEEK: Jay McCarthy is chief marketing officer of Churchill Mortgage, a privately owned mortgage company operating in 33 states. MortgageOrb recently interviewed McCarthy to learn more about how millennials are impacting lenders' marketing strategies and what lenders are doing to simplify the mortgage process for first-time home buyers.
Q: According to a report released by Zillow, the average age of a first-time home buyer is 33, which is at the front end of the millennial generation. How has this group impacted lenders' marketing strategies?
McCarthy: They have changed marketing, business, technology and customer service forever. To succeed, lenders need to be increasingly nimble, ready to give customers what they want, how they want it, where they want it. Millennials watched the 2008 upheaval in banking from the sidelines and are wary of financial institutions. They know a world where transactions are fast, safe and efficient. They expect that from their mortgage experience, and they demand transparency. Before reaching out, they research, which requires us to stay relevant and forward-thinking in our digital strategy to earn their trust from the beginning, then make sure we back it up every step of the way.
Q: The mortgage process can be overwhelming for a first-time buyer. What are some ways lenders can inform and educate borrowers in such a way that also engages them?
McCarthy: The newest generation of first-time home buyers is used to self-educating, so they tend to be well researched before contacting a lender. Aim to build credibility through education first; trying to sell them early is more likely to chase them off than win them over. Provide information they want in formats they already use. Multiple options such as self-paced online courses, in-person Homebuyer Workshops, and a library of short videos provide people with control over what they learn and how quickly they learn it. Offer a comfortable, no pressure, transformational experience, and you dramatically increase the likelihood that they will not only return and eventually do business with you, but share your information with others, too.
Q: Emerging technologies and new regulations have transformed the mortgage industry within the past few years. In your opinion, what has been the significant result of this transformation?
McCarthy: Our industry has been pushed to evolve quickly, offering many benefits to home buyers, thanks to a streamlining of the mortgage process through automation, electronic disclosure, online application, and the ability to securely sign and share documents. Buying a home is less intimidating due to apps and programs such as Mortgage Coach that allow customers to clearly understand different loan programs and see the effect they may have on their payments.
Lenders benefit from greater security measures, safeguards and an increased ability to ensure our compliance with new regulations. Smart data has provided greater insight into our customer base, allowing us to better meet their needs and increase the efficiency of our outreach. Mobile and cloud technologies allow us to securely communicate and transfer information with our customers, partners and parties within our own company throughout the loan process, regardless of anyone's location.
Q: Some challenges to homeownership are generation-specific (e.g., student loan debt), while others are the result of economic factors (e.g., limited inventory). How can lenders leverage marketing to help clear these hurdles?
McCarthy: Lenders can leverage marketing to help home buyers clear these hurdles by first knowing who the customers are, how and where to find them, and when to engage with them around the purchase process. The more we know about who we are talking to, the better our chances of connecting with them. Smart data opened the doors to unprecedented intelligence about the people who have trusted us to help them with their mortgages – and has given us greater insight on how to find others like them. We can now apply that information to anticipate their needs, become the expert on the answers to them and deliver solutions that improve their experience.