Radian’s Suzanne Powell on taking an “automation-first” approach

While the rise of digital technology has permanently shifted the world of lending, many borrowers still look for a human-touch experience to help create trust and transparency throughout the lending process.

“A successful model can maximize the use of both [technology and human processes], which creates efficiencies and improves employee participation,” said Suzanne Powell, SVP, Digital Client Experience at Radian. “Even in the most sophisticated automated environments, there will always be exceptions that the automated model cannot process.”

Powell was nominated as one of HousingWire’s 2020 Tech Trendsetters, representing the top 50 most impactful and innovative technology leaders serving the housing economy. In her current role, she has covered everything from developing and implementing bots that work alongside Radian staff, to using data to determine who at the company is best suited to review a particular loan application, to better harnessing the wide variety of information the company receives from its diverse set of business lines.

HousingWire reached out to Powell to hear more about how mortgage tech is changing the landscape in origination and servicing and how she’s preparing for an increasingly digital future. 

HousingWire: You have a track record of leading innovative solutions to the problems facing the mortgage origination and servicing industry. What’s the latest problem you and your team are trying to solve?

Suzanne Powell: We are currently focused on automating insurance underwriting and loan review to increase speed, consistency, and accuracy while reducing process friction. We are taking an “automation-first” approach using data and rules to auto-decision wherever possible. Even in the most sophisticated automated environments, there will always be exceptions that the automated model cannot process. For those exceptions, we are simplifying and streamlining the manual decision process, so files are able to quickly return to the automated path. 

HW: Where would you advise clients and colleagues to focus their technology resources as we navigate the second half of 2021?

SP: Focus on redesigning current processes to maximize the use of automation combined with human judgement. Bridge the divide of what can be done by technology and what should remain a human process. A successful model can maximize the use of both, which creates efficiencies and improves employee participation. Removing what we have traditionally called the “no brainer” activities by using automation allows our teams to do what they do best, making room for true innovation.  

HW: As an executive, how do you keep your learning curve steep and prepare for an increasingly digital future?

SP: Remaining curious and rejecting “that’s the way we have always done it” thinking. Having the curiosity to ask about something new and why it is being done expands your thinking. Most of the ideas I have had for improving a process have come from seeing technology applied to a completely nonrelated field. I am excited about new technology and never look at it as something that will make what we do obsolete. I look at it with a curious mind to see how it will change what we do. By looking at it that way, innovation comes to the surface. 

The 2021 Tech Trendsetters are now open for nominations! Nominate your technology expert today.

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