Make A Date Of It

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SAFE Credit Union is laying down the gauntlet to the mortgage industry by setting a funding date immediately when a member applies for a loan.

"We are the only mortgage processor in the U.S. that we are aware of that will commit to a funding date at the beginning of the loan application process," said James Allen, assistant vice president of Information Technology and applications manager with SAFE.

That feat was accomplished in part last year when Allen redesigned the mortgage-lending process to include automated e-mail management at the $1.2-billion credit union.

SAFE can now quickly handle incoming e-mail loan documents, and thus make promises straight away about when it will fund a loan, he said.

"The e-mail tool shortens our loan evaluation time, and allows us to set and meet time expectations with the customer," said Allen.

Allen saw an opportunity in the spiraling number of mortgage-related e-mails SAFE was receiving during the past few years.

Instead of bucking the e-mail trend, the 111,000-member credit union moved to make the most of the mortgage industry's electronic buzz.

"As we reengineered the way we communicated about loans with members and prospects, we recognized that e-mail was growing as a method of communication between our customers and our vendors," Allen explained. "We realized we had to support that method." "In addition, e-mail is effective for communication with vendors because it's a broadcast technology," Allen added.

A loan officer can open escrow and click an icon to immediately request appraisals, title searches, flood insurance and other loan documents, he said.

Furthermore, completed documents can be sent back via e-mail as well.

However, sorting and distributing those incoming e-mail documents wasn't efficient, Allen said. SAFE relied on administrative staff to notify loan officers when documents arrived and then to search for the manually-filed documents when the loan officer was ready to use them.

SAFE needed an easy way to remove and file loan document attachments from incoming e-mails and then notify the loan officer that the documents had arrived.

Solution Is Selected

Allen decided to build in an e-mail management solution that automatically removes, archives and indexes e-mail loan attachments. He chose Email Manager, provided by the Yaletown Technology Group, Inc. of Vancouver, British Columbia.

"We are able to receive documents by e-mail and build in automated triggers to the loan application process," said Allen. "The documents are archived to the case folder for each new mortgage application. The solution also triggers the loan manager that the title and flood have been received, for example, but that we're waiting for the appraisal."

Email Manager acts as the middleman between SAFE's optical storage system and workflow application, Allen said.

"An e-mail comes in, and based on the e-mail header and document attachment title, Email Manager indexes the e-mail in the optical storage system and triggers the correct loan in the workflow application," he said. "We can cross-index the documents on time, date, people and parcels, and the tool can handle orphan documents and errors as well."

Email Manager's straight-through processing capabilities are supported by FileNet Corp's P8 enterprise content management (ECM) platform.

Allen said E-mail Manager may come in handy for other business units as the 14-location credit union continues to reengineer business processes. "We started with the mortgage process because it is the most complex and because it involves many third parties."

CUJ Resources

For additional information:

* SAFE CU at www.safecu.org

* Yaletown Technology Group at www.yaletech.com

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