Ascentra Credit Union has kicked off the latest round of funding of LenderClose to accelerate the impact of CUSO-built lending technology.
Investors in the initial round, Collins Community Credit Union and Serve Credit Union, will double down on their investments into LenderClose in March 2018.
A Des Moines-based CUSO, LenderClose developed a proprietary, technology-focused lending platform that injects speed and efficiency into the lending process, greatly enhancing the borrowing experience.
The platform has experienced exponential growth over the last 12 months, more than doubling its user base year over year. Nearly 200 credit unions and community banks utilize the LenderClose solution nationwide. LenderClose expects to exceed 300 financial institution clients in 2020.
According to LenderClose CEO Omar Jordan, the 8-figure Series B funding round began as an exclusive opportunity for the company’s initial investors, but expanded in reaction to growing excitement about the technology’s ability to increase speed and efficiency for community lenders.
The plug-and-play solution is a single hub for multiple lending technology solutions. With pre-built API integrations into dozens of top industry vendors, LenderClose equips loan officers, processors and underwriters with a single point of entry for easier navigation of the complex home equity and real estate lending process.
The technology solution shortens the lending cycle dramatically, and in some cases, takes it down to a few minutes (vs. days or weeks). “We’re focused on enabling the best user experience through innovative workflows and process automation,” said Jordan.
“We’re seeing some revolutionary solutions produced by LenderClose which allows our credit union to focus on member experience,” said Stefanie Rupert, CEO of Collins Community Credit Union. “This matters, as credit unions and community financial institutions are up against a new era of FinTech’s, such as SoFi, Discover, Amazon and possibly Google Bank,” expanded Rupert. “The LenderClose vision aligns well with our objectives, which remain closely to providing the ultimate member experience.”
“Borrowers are looking for a fast, seamless experience that starts with a quick approval,” said Dale Owen, president and CEO of Ascentra Credit Union. Per PwC, a “fast end-to-end process” was one of the highest-ranked “Need to Have” qualities cited by home loan borrowers. “Most borrowers and business leaders want to work with local lenders, but they’re willing to set that benefit aside for a fast ‘yes’ and a smooth, efficient experience. That is precisely what LenderClose is helping credit unions offer, which not only allows credit union lenders to compete with lending powerhouses; it often enables them to lead.”
Striking the Talent Balance of Tenured Financial Pros and Innovative Technologists
Ascentra’s Owen also cited the LenderClose leadership as a major contributor to the decision to invest into LenderClose.
“Leaders of the company are fixated on positioning community financial institutions for competitive dominance in their local markets,” Owen said. “Doing so requires a delicate balance of industry knowledge and digital technology expertise. It’s an equilibrium LenderClose has struck incredibly well by bringing on the right mix of tenured financial leaders and innovative technologists.”
LenderClose’s Series A round allowed for aggressive job creation and hiring in the Des Moines area. Over the past year, LenderClose’s workforce more than doubled (from 15 to more than 30 full-time employees). The company’s leadership expects to create 35 more positions in the next 12 months.
LenderClose is led by Jordan and co-investor and COO, Ben Rempe. Joining Jordan and Rempe on the leadership team are Director of Operations Andrew Deignan, who came to LenderClose from Equifax, and SVP of Sales Allen Jingst who has devoted his career to helping financial institution clients realize immediate value from technology investments. Another of the heaviest hitters to join the team from a tech leadership standpoint is UX/UI expert, Colleen Kinsey, who leads the company’s elegant and consistent end-user experience.
Expanding Services to Include Borrower Experience Consultation
Accompanying the company’s talent expansion is the addition of what LenderClose CEO Jordan calls borrower experience consultation to its service offering. “Ironically, it’s technology that prevents many small lenders from harnessing the speed and efficiency that keeps them in the race for modern borrower business,” he said. “Most of the legacy tech providers that are servicing community lenders do not support transformation, nor do they enable small lenders to affordably and quickly meet changing borrower expectations.”
“While the megabanks have gigantic technology R&D budgets to solve for some of this friction, credit unions must make do with outdated systems and clunky integrations,” said Kristopher Kovacs, CEO of Constellation Digital Partners and a LenderClose board of directors member. “LenderClose has become a catalyst for credit unions, showing them how process and technology tweaks can dramatically improve speed, efficiency and the overall borrower experience.”