Q: How do you think the increase in regulations in the industry has affected the adoption of technology?
Kulkarni: Technology has become the backbone of any work process in today’s environment. It helps connect the missing dots and provide a full picture. With the housing market crash of 2008, it became evident that the mortgage industry was in disarray. Information was there and available; however, it was scattered and not easily accessible. Technology enables a cohesive picture to be formed, which assists in monitoring and implementing the new stricter and tighter regulations. Technology also offers flexibility in managing the rules - which was, and in some instances still is, missing. This gives regulators the adjustment tools that can help them make ad-hoc modifications and fine tune rules to maximize consumer benefits.
Q: With compliance being at the forefront of everyone’s mind, what do you think is the most important area of compliance the industry has not addressed?
Kulkarni: Cohesiveness between different parts of the industry is still a missing piece. The recent events in the mortgage industry clearly suggested that all parts of this economic engine are coupled together and there is no one part that is any less important than another. If we can manage to bring all these pieces together to work hand-in-hand as well-oiled machine, we can negotiate and better foresee a weak link. Hopefully, we can then adjust our processes to mitigate the effects of failures in a systematic manner, if we cannot avoid one altogether.
Q: How can technology play a role in making that area easier to manage?
Kulkarni: Inter-departmental and inter-company level information sharing is and will always remain a key factor in avoiding the next housing market crash. Right now, each and every department is using technology but within its own means. If a national platform could be developed where we all could share the information that other parties can use, we will be building a better safety net. Technology is the linchpin. This scenario will also help regulatory bodies make more informed decisions overall, rather than concentrating on a specific area of business. I do understand that there are complexities to be overcome, as well as willingness for such an initiative; however, we must start thinking along such lines to be successful in the future.
Q: What are some areas in which the industry still has not maximized the use of technology? What will it take for it to do so?
Kulkarni: The counseling world is still lagging behind in a technology perspective. Unfortunately, counselors are still using old methods and tools because that is what they are familiar with, and at this point, they are able to survive using them. As we know most individuals always tend to take path of least resistance, which also has its own distinctive disadvantages. Until the counseling world is ready to adapt the new processes that can be gained by deploying new technology, it will not experience all the efficiencies that could be reaped. The counseling world needs to change its attitude toward technology in order to break out of its cocoon.
Q: Counselors are becoming more active in the mortgage process. How will technology keep them relevant and productive?
Kulkarni: As suggested earlier, technology can make sharing information easier in the counseling world. With the proper technology implementation at back end, workflow processes will provide them with a bigger picture of their universe. It can also alert them in timely fashion if there are any red flags popping up well before they become bottlenecks. Passing the information, sharing the information and pulling the information they need could be done with just the click of a mouse. More educated decisions can be made because the information can now be available to them on demand. Using technology can also help them better understand, manage and adjust their processes, and do it more efficiently than on paper.