Sagent’s Shelli Girard: We can’t predict the future, but we can be ready for it

The HousingWire award spotlight series highlights the individuals and organizations that have been recognized through our Editors’ Choice Awards. Nominations for HousingWire’s 2023 HW Tech Trendsetters are open until, September 22, 2023. Click here to nominate someone from your organization, today.

A sluggish housing market can be a blessing in disguise for mortgage lenders as it affords them the opportunity to refine and enhance their technology and operational processes in the midst of unpredictability. This time allows lenders to identify pain points, address inefficiencies and implement innovative solutions that can ultimately lead to a more streamlined and cost-effective lending experience.

“After periods of overwhelming demand over the last few years, our position in the current market cycle gives clients and colleagues the opportunity to pause, figure out where they’re currently lacking on the technology side,” said Shelli Girard, VP of Software Development at Sagent. “By focusing on improvement now, our clients and customers can lay the groundwork for success throughout future market cycles.”

Girard was recognized as a 2022 HW Tech Trendsetter for her ability to be a steady hand in a tough market. Using her combined computer-science education with more than seven years of expertise in mortgage ops, she has built industry-changing LOS, decisioning and default-management platforms.

HousingWire reached out to Girard to hear her insights on the latest in housing tech and learn about upcoming projects at Sagent.

HousingWire: What have you been most surprised about in the emergence of tech capabilities in the industry over the past decade?

Shelli Girard: On the software side of things, I couldn’t be more excited with how we’ve driven iterative innovation across aging industry infrastructure. As “visionaries who get the details,” we maintain the industry knowledge required to operate in such a highly-regulated environment while embracing new technology to simplify the complex servicing space for our clients.

HousingWire: Where would you advise clients and colleagues to focus their technology resources as we navigate the second half of 2023?

Shelli Girard: After periods of overwhelming demand over the last few years, our position in the current market cycle gives clients and colleagues the opportunity to pause, figure out where they’re currently lacking on the technology side, and focus on where to make improvements on behalf of customers, internal challenges, and the future state of the marketplace.

Whenever we begin discussions with a new client team, we focus on speaking with the entire
team, learning about their challenges, and creating a prioritized list of pain points we can tackle. For example, if there’s an area of code that causes performance issues, we try to dive into that straightaway. Sometimes, those pain points aren’t technology-based: they have to do more with information silos, flawed processes, or single points of failure. In those scenarios, our integrated teams work with theirs to streamline information flows and optimize development processes. With an eye to the rest of 2023, we can’t predict the future, but we can be ready for it. By focusing on improvement now, our clients and customers can lay the groundwork for success throughout future market cycles.

HousingWire: Can you share any new projects that you’re working on that you’re excited about?

Shelli Girard: One thing I’m especially excited about is our Mortgage Assistance Hardship project. When borrowers face hardship, we want our technology to facilitate a seamless process that ultimately ends in them staying in their homes. Our digital experience for mortgage assistance determines the best approach for users based on a series of questions about their hardships and then prompts them to upload necessary documents for their applications. From there, our consumer self-serve platform, CARE, will keep them updated on application status (all with no calls to the servicer needed).

Two others projects we’re especially excited about: one streamlines the escrow experience
within CARE, and the other speeds boarding time on our LoanBoard onboarding platform.
Borrowers found that managing the escrow process was challenging and usually required a call to a customer service representative (CSR) to gather necessary information. To make it easier for borrowers, we’ve created a dashboard from which borrowers can view escrow analysis, manage payments, and show escrow disbursements all in one place. This also frees up CSRs for other, more complex customer support questions.