I did it! One of my goals this year was to simplify the mortgage process for me and my clients by going paperless. In the past, mortgage files could produce hundreds of pages of paper that were not only printed on paper but also need to be stored securely for seven years.
With my paperless workflow now firmly in place I wanted to share to my industry colleges the technology and processes I’ve used to go paperless in my office. If you think you are ready to go paperless in your mortgage business read on!
Computers & Hardware
My day to day computer is an Apple MacBook Air 10.5″. The small size of this computer lets me take my laptop anywhere and it easily slips into my portfolio when going to meet clients out of the office.
While working from the office I have an external monitor that I can attach to give myself some more screen real estate if needed, but I usually find myself just working from the laptops screen and fined the 10.5″ screen more than adequate for my needs.
I also use an Apple iPad and the Verico Mobile Office which allows me to take clients applications, keep up on rates and lender policies, organize my lender policy information PDF’s in iBooks and also sign paperless mortgage commitments with clients. This video explains all the apps I use on my iPad.
When dealing with electronic files you need a good PDF program. Apple’s computers come with a free PDF program called Preview. While Preview is an adequate PDF program it is definitely worth investing in Adobe Acrobat. This full featured program lets you combine PDF’s, re-organize PDF’s, shrink PDF sizes for easier emailing to lenders, add digital signatures and best of all you can convert other document types to PDF. If you’ve ever received a multi-page scanned document from clients saved as a .jpg image in high quality you’ll really appreciate using this program! It’s well worth the price. There is also a full function 30 day demo available if you use Windows. Unfortunately, there is no free Mac version to try, but trust me when I say it’s well worth the investment.
The company I use for receiving my e-faxes from clients is called Toll Free Forwarding. Their service lets me receive faxes to the same phone number as my toll free voice line. If a fax is received my phone doesn’t ring and a PDF is sent to my email as an attachment.
Online Mortgage Applications
Verico provides all their agents with an online mortgage application form which allows clients to securely submit an electronic mortgage application. The same forms are also available to brokers directly from Filogix for a yearly fee. Once clients complete the online application it is automatically imported to Filogix and assigned a new lender number and you are advised via email a new application has been received. One suggestion I have is once you receive a new online application via Filogix is to go to the “Forms” area save a copy of the “Application” so you have a copy of the application as submitted by the client. If you make any changes to the clients job, income, address etc. and have to refer back to the original application you’ll have a copy.
Early on I invested in a good multifunction printer/scanner/fax. While shopping for a multifunction machine find one that has a document feeder tray to make scanning easier and more efficient.
Although I try to be completely paperless and advise clients to either scan and email me documents or send to my e-Fax, there is the odd time when clients will provide me with hard copies of documents. When ever I receive a document on paper I scan a PDF copy and save it to a PDF. Any originals are returned to the client and copies are shredded and recycled.
While on the go I use JotNot Scanner Pro on my iPhone to make quick scans of documents while away from my office. It works well for a few pages, but for larger documents a traditional scanner is best.
Secure Document Storage
Now that you’ve gone paperless you still need to store your electronic documents somewhere securely. Protecting clients information is paramount. While working on a clients active file I keep all files password protected and stored on my laptop in their respective client folder.
Once the deal is complete all supporting documentation for the clients file is uploaded to Filogix Exchange . If there is any hard copies ie: signed commitment, disclosure forms etc. they are all shredded and recycled once they have been uploaded to Filogix Exchange.
Making the switch to paperless
Changing my workflow to be paperless wasn’t a quick transition. I already had workflows in place on how I managed clients files and it did take some time to get the new processes in place and I felt comfortable using them.
By using the tools outlined above you can see in the picture below the difference in going paperless does to the average mortgage file. On the left is just one file from a year ago. On the right is my most recent file that completed.
With the technology available to us now there really is no reason not to go paperless. Environmental savings alone are a worthwhile reason for going paperless but by doing so you will also realize that going paperless will allow you to become a more efficient mortgage broker and better serve your clients. Better efficiency means less stress for you and happier clients and referral sources when you can get your deals done quickly and efficiently.
I’d love to hear your thoughts. If you have any questions or a tip to share please leave a comment.