November 16th, 2020
Lendesk, Alex Conconi & Greg Williamson – #AskAPrivateLender Podcast, Ep 8
Welcome to the 8th episode of the #AskAPrivateLender Podcast brought to you by Mortgage Automator. In this episode, we are talking to our partners at Lendesk who have recently acquired another software company Finmo. Alex Conconi (Founder & CEO) and Greg Williamson (CRO) discussed with us the innovations in the private lending industry, security concerns, building the ultimate borrower experience, and more! It’s a must-listen for modern alternative lenders and brokers looking to understand the importance of technology for the industry.
Listen, watch, or read the interview below. And stay tuned for more episodes coming up!
Lawrence: Now, Finmo has been acquired by Lendesk. First of all, congratulations. I think that’s incredible. I think it’s a win for not only you guys but, I think, for the industry as a whole. I think it’s important when these different technologies come together, and they build something that’s better together than what could have been separately. Kudos to you guys.
Why don’t we start off with how this all came about? If you want to start off maybe with your background? Alex, you’re the CEO and founder of Lendesk. You guys started, I think it was seven years ago right?
Alex: Yeah. Crazy how time flies, but yeah it’s been about seven years since we first started on this project that’s now become my life.
Lawrence: Very cool. Greg, you guys started Finmo a few years ago, right?
Greg: Well, we officially incorporated in April of ’17, so just a little over three years.
Lawrence: Your original vision, being in the broker space for a significant amount of time. I guess you saw a void in the market? You saw that there would be a better way to do things for brokers, to submit deals, to get your work done. You guys started that venture to put it into place and help out the community?
Greg: Yeah. I was a broker. I was fortunate enough to enjoy some pretty good success in that business. It started out really, I met Carter, and he came to work with me at my brokerage, generating leads, particularly online. He was a master. He’s from the US. We got along famously.
Then he got to the point where he could drive so many leads, but if you recall back then, six, seven years ago, the drop off was massive when the customer says, “Okay, I’m interested. Now, what do I have to do?” To get the application, or to get the customer into the system, what was available at the time was not good enough, I guess. Interesting side story. Because he’s from the US his original inspiration was Rocket Mortgage, because Rocket Mortgage came into the market and it was like, “Hey, this is what I was talking about. Push a button. Get a mortgage. All digital.”
It’s just funny how the world works because here we are part of Rocket now. But that’s true. Then he was showing me Rocket Mortgage at the same time that I was understanding that there was an opportunity to disrupt the marketplace in terms of what was available. That’s how Finmo was born, and that’s how we came together.
Lawrence: How did this deal come about? Alex, was it something that you guys at Lendesk thought you were lacking in your system that you wanted to pick up? How did it happen?
Alex: Yeah. Greg, how did we meet? I think we met through… It would have been Greg Paul on our team. I know a lot of people know Greg Paul. He would have been calling Greg. I think you might have been on vacation in Hawaii?
He wanted to give you a demo of our system. I think your response at the time was, “Well, I’ll take the demo, but just so you know, I think I’m going to be starting a competing system. Before you demo me, make sure that you know that I might become a competitor someday.” Greg said, “Okay, well I’ll take that back to Alex.” Greg Paul brought that up with me.
I said, “Well, that’s very interesting. He’s clearly a high integrity individual who would say something like that. I got to meet this guy.” We had a call. You were still on vacation. He told me about his plans. Obviously, I think it was clear from the beginning. I mean I liked Greg as a person right away. Even before meeting him, just hearing about him through Paul.
But as soon as we got on that first call, I think it was clear to me that we shared a vision for how the process could just be made easier for everybody. But I think the first thing I tried to do was just convince him, “Look, you don’t want to get into this business.”
Greg: It’s a true story. He was trying to talk me out of starting it.
Alex: I was like, “Just work with us, because I’m telling you man, the only way you’re going to make a business out of this is to make sure that you’ve got access to lenders.” And really our journey was a little bit different than the Finmo journey in that Finmo really started with brokers and working with brokers.
We started on the other side, with all the lenders. At that point in time, I think we’re talking maybe two years or so ago, maybe three years ago, I was right in the thick of completing building our lender network, so flying back and forth. I lived here in Vancouver. I know you guys are in Toronto. Flying back and forth, Vancouver to Toronto, Vancouver to Toronto.
Meeting with these lenders who are mostly headquartered in Toronto. Trying to find the right person among these lenders to convince to connect with our system so we could make this vision a reality. I knew first hand just how difficult putting together that lender network was, but I also knew how important it was to make sure that you could deliver on this vision of digitizing the process, and right in the middle you’ve got this very important step which is getting the application into the lender’s hands.
That’s how simple it is today. We’re going well beyond that now. We’re doing the whole back and forth with documents, and statuses, etc.
Greg and I stayed in touch for over the years, and actually, I got to know Carter as well, and some of the other members of the team. Really, I think what brought this all to a head was just that we have completed our lender network. We now have access to over 200 lenders. Contrary to what you might hear from some of our competitors, we do have our own direct connections. There’s some number of lenders that we work with other partners on, but we do have our own direct connections with Scotiabank, First National, Home Trust, all the major lenders.
Meanwhile, Finmo had done a really amazing job of, I think building the number one digital mortgage experience for mortgage brokers and their clients in Canada, bar none. Another product we had at the time was we actually acquired last year, and really I think has blossomed over the last 12 months, is a product called Lender Spotlight.
I think it’s really just a matter of timing, that it just made sense to bring all those parts together. I think having done so now, we’ve got the most complete digital mortgage platform in Canada. It’s just a matter of putting all those parts together. I think our partnership with Mortgage Automator is a big part of that.
Lawrence: The way you say that “We put these products together…” Lender Spotlight, for instance, people go and they log into the Lendesk platform, and Spotlight is in the Lendesk platform. I don’t know how it works currently with Finmo. I would imagine that people go to the Finmo platform. Is that going to transfer over and merge into the Lendesk platform, or are they separated?
Greg: We envision a future that comes along with our grander vision of ‘mortgage in minutes’. We have all the data in Lender Spotlight. We have the third phase of ‘mortgage in minutes’, just getting the lenders to get a much better submission package. I think a lot of our competitors often focus on building a great tool for mortgage brokers, whereas at Finmo we always started our vision with the borrower experience.
If I focus on the borrower and do that really well, well then the mortgage broker is going to be happy. Joining up with Lendesk brought the other piece that we needed which is the lender.
Think about the two sides of it. You got the borrower, and you got the lender and the mortgage broker in the middle. If I can make the lender’s experience fantastic, and so reduce their costs, increase their efficiencies, well then once again as the mortgage broker, my target customer is better off and will choose my system.
We always did that side. Coming to Lendesk, we were focused on the lender. We hear this all the time. Lenders would say to us, “Look, man. I don’t need any more business. I don’t even want any more business. What I want is clean business. I want the best business.”
Most platforms, particularly if I’m only interested in creating the best mortgage broker tool, I won’t be thinking of those things. Most platforms will miss the obvious piece of, “If I can give the lenders the type of deals they want,” it’s not just typical validations in our systems.
You guys have done it. I know you guys have built connections. You know the brain-busting stuff of validations. It’s one thing to just say, “Yes, there is something in this field.” It’s an entirely different thing when it’s like, “I know what’s in that field, and I can compare it against the data set that I know at Lender Spotlight. I know that this actually is a cheque.”
For example, if I’m a lender and I’ve got all of your policies when the customer presses Submit on their application, I can run all of the queries in the Lender Spotlight database so that I can show a mortgage broker, “Here are the four or five lenders that would actually do this deal.” I know that they’ll do this deal because it meets their policies.
Then, “Do you want to send it to one of those lenders?” The mortgage broker could press send, and if all of the data with those lenders that are up to speed on this, and the documents could go all at once, that’s how you create a mortgage in minutes.
Lawrence: Joe, I remember when you were a broker back in the day, you had Lender Spotlight in your head right? I remember. We rented a condo together, and Joe, he’d always have all the products in his head. He’d have to know. He’d almost get quizzed, “Hey, what’s the product at whatever company?” He’d have to know exactly what that product is.
Joseph: Except, do you know what I had to do? I had to, via Excel, put in every single product at the time where there was like Citi Financial, HSBC, First National, all those lenders, and know every product from 75 to 85, to 95% with what premiums, what discounts, fixed rates, variable rates. It was a nightmare. I would have given away my unborn child at the time to literally have access to a system like that.
Alex: One of the big differences from when you used to do that, Joe, to today is that the governments have made things just more and more complex every year. Between 2008 and 2018, I think there was something like 10 different regulation changes, the consequence of which is that these rate matrixes that the lenders put out are just getting more and more complicated.
The rate that you’re able to get can vary based on loan-to-value. It can vary based on credit score. It can vary based on insurable, un-insurable, etc. One product now can have, just for one product and for one term, can now have a number of different rates. It’s become that much more complicated to keep all of that in your head.
I think that it’s a mutual problem not just for the brokers but for the lenders. They think about their own products, each of them in a slightly different way. They communicate them in a slightly different way. Then that means the brokers are left to interpret these different rate sheets from all these different lenders. It’s a real challenge.
I think with respect to alternative lenders in particular, what a broker might still be able to do, and certainly did back in the day, is for those main lenders that they use, they’ll at least be able to remember indicative rates, and they’ll at least be able to remember their favorite products. Maybe their five-year variable, their five year fixed, insurable, un-insurable. Normal ratios.
They’ll be able to remember a few of those key things, but what happens when the deal that comes across their desk doesn’t fit those particular products that they’ve remembered or memorized? That is where I think something like Spotlight comes in very handy.
I think it’s also a big reason why we’ve seen such explosive growth in the whole alternative side of the business, why your business has been growing. Why many of your customers’ businesses have been growing so rapidly is just that alternative lenders have never been more important than they are today.
I’ll give you a little bit of an inside track into some of the stuff that we’re doing right now. We are going to announce some real enhancements to the Lender Spotlight platform as it pertains to the whole alternative side of the business. I’ll be really excited to share that with everybody. We got a number of things to share in the next month or so, but we’ll be rolling that out really soon.
Joseph: I have to say I commend you guys for not only rolling out a product like Lender Spotlight, but I think connecting that to the Finmo platform. Just providing that whole experience is, I think, brilliant. I remember being a mortgage broker. The onus was on me to be really good at memorizing all these products.
It’s fair to say that not every broker is going to put in that kind of effort today. I think you’ve made it much easier for them to be successful right from day one potentially, just having all of that at their fingertips.
Now, I do want to ask you guys a question. You’re saying ‘mortgage in minutes’, and obviously we have a connection with Lendesk and creating that pipe from borrower experience to broker, to lender, and back. Walk me through the experience. I’m your borrower. I’ve spoken to you on the phone. I’m starting off with the Finmo application. Walk me through how that user experience is going to be different, or better, than the old traditional way.
Greg: Sure. I mean it’s actually a good setup for what our original vision was with ‘mortgage in minutes’. It was three different phases, but with respect to… The very first thing was like, “How do I get the information from the borrower as seamless, and as easy, and quick as possible”
The idea then, “Well, how hard can it be to create an application?” We used to hear that all the time. You’re just like, “Well, if you want to create an application that’s bad, then actually it’s not that hard.” We’ve seen all kinds of things where it’s just like, “Here’s a big form. Fill in all the blanks and rage quit when you can’t figure out why this thing won’t advance because you didn’t fill in a field.”
I’m being facetious to make a point. It wasn’t just that. It was, really think about the application. If the customer answers a question like this, don’t ask them another dumb question that’s not related to that first one. Ask them the next question that’s actually going to be smart. We spent a lot of time doing that.
Then, I would say, the second part of the application was to think four steps ahead. What am I going to do with this data? When I get it from the customer what am I going to do with it? That actually led us into SmartDocs. Easily the biggest friction point of any mortgage experience for all parties involved are the documents.
Similar to what I said earlier about Lender Spotlight, if the customer presses Submit on their mortgage, a computer should be able to fairly easily say, “Hey, based on how you answered these questions here are the documents I need.”
That seemed really simple, and we built that. Funny enough, nobody really tried to copy that too much that I know of, or didn’t do it well. We got lucky, because sometimes… When you’re too close to something, you can miss the obvious, when you’re solving a problem and you’re trying to write code for it.
What we learned was that the borrowers actually go get a lot of their core documents to answer the questions that are on the application. When they press Submit on their application and it says, “Hey, Joseph. Here’s the documents I need,” you’re like, “Oh, wow. I got them right here.”
Now every other system that’s in there, you press Submit on it and it’ll say, “Hey, Joseph. Thanks for your application. I’ll get back to you.” Then 24 hours later you come back and say, “Hey, here’s an email with all the crazy document list that I need from you.” The borrower is like, “Oh, wow. Where did I put those documents?”
That was a massive change for us. That was how we thought about documents, again, on this side. How we think about documents on the lender side is, how can we get more and more documents at source? Because it helps them from a fraud prevention standpoint, and it also just makes things smoother. We’re working on that, and as capabilities increase, we’ll do that.
In this day and age, the fact that I have to download my documents here, go walk over here, and upload them over here… Bizarre, crazy world. Lenders are starting to realize, “I got a competitive advantage if I can build modern API structures that companies like us can just, boom! Dump the documents right in for you.”
That’s the next big innovation I think that is going to be led by the lenders. But that’s how we thought about the first part in terms of getting that information into the system and always trying to stay a few steps ahead. Then it was so great getting connected with Lendesk because now I didn’t have to do that hard part that they had to do.
I remember I said this to Alex in the very first few days that we started talking. I said, “Man, this is a classic one plus one equals five. It’s unbelievable. We’re right at the exact spot where, put these two together and it’s going to be great,” and here we are.
Lawrence: How many people are on the product now, whether it’s Lender Spotlight, whether they’re using Finmo? Under that Lendesk umbrella, how many people are there?
Alex: Yeah. As part of this transaction obviously, we’ve looked at the numbers quite closely. We’ve taken a look at all of the broker users that are using our platforms, including Lender Spotlight and the brokers that are using Finmo. I think once you net for some numbers that are already using both, we’re over 10,000 brokers that are using one of our two platforms or both.
We’re quite excited about the opportunity to bring Finmo to those Spotlight brokers that aren’t using Finmo yet, and vice versa. We think that by leveraging the data and the functionality that we’ve got in Spotlight and bringing that to Finmo users, we think that we can make Finmo just that much stronger.
Lawrence: I’ve never been a broker before. I’ve never been on that side, but it sounds like a home run. I couldn’t imagine being a broker and not using Lender Spotlight, for instance. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Greg: It’s a good setup actually to talk about the elephant in the room. Here are some of the knocks that I’ve heard out there in terms of, “Why do I need a thing like Lender Spotlight?” Or on the opposite side of that, they might say, “Well, if you’re going to do all of this, is it your intention to try to get rid of me?”
We should just address these things. Joseph and I, when we were young people, were definitely in the mortgage business. And we get it. I think you’d agree with me. It wasn’t as complex as it is today in terms of all the different government regulations, and loan to value means this, and the rate is that. All those kinds of things.
We got like 7,000 or 8,000 different types of data iterations of the products that are in Lender Spotlight. How the hell am I supposed to remember all that?
Joseph: A human will not be able to. I remember the Excel sheets I used to have, and they were pages upon pages and lines and lines of repeat information. What you guys are doing is literally putting it on a silver platter with a bow, and a cherry on top, and making their lives ridiculously easy.
Obviously by closing the circle where you’ve got the consumer experience using Finmo, then that information is now flowing into Lendesk. Now that information is going to institutional lenders. It’s going to a plethora of private lenders now.
Now all the brokers have access to all the favorite privates digitally on that system. It just makes this whole thing so much easier. I want to ask you something. I don’t want it to get away from me because it is important to talk about. But you’re looking at everything from a high-level perspective and you’re seeing certain brokerage houses hosting data on their servers and their software.
You guys are independent, so if brokers feel like they want to move from one organization to another, they’re never held hostage with where their data is being stored which is on an independent product like Finmo and Lendesk.
You guys don’t own a brokerage house. You’re strictly providing them a tool and resources, and access to information, being able to send deals and data to appropriate lenders. What do you want to say about that? Because I think that is another elephant in the room, and I did want to bring it up because I think you guys have something a lot of people don’t have, and I think it’s something that brokers should very much be aware of and consider when signing up with Finmo and using Lendesk as their platform of choice to submit deals to privates and institutions.
Alex: I think you said it for us, Joseph. We are an independent company. We are not aligned with any particular brokerage. We will work with any brokerage and any broker at any brokerage. The opportunity we see here is to help brokers, lenders, and their mutual clients—the borrowers, with a better experience, to improve efficiency, and to reduce the opportunity for fraud and errors.
We want to eliminate the chase for the broker. That’s our mission. That’s what we’re focused on. And our incentives are aligned with our brokers to do that. We don’t have another business model like a brokerage that we are trying to protect or anything like that.
I think that Rob McLister said it best in a recent article on Canadian Mortgage Trends. He was talking about the mortgage wars. There’s obviously a lot of choice for brokers today, and we’re not the only independent platform. I think that’s very exciting for brokers. It’s a very exciting time for mortgage technology in our industry. But at the very end of the article, he makes a point that how do you pick? What do you do? There are so many different choices.
I think that one of the trends that we’re going to see going forward here is that people are going to pick the platforms that allow them the most portability and flexibility in their business. Brokers are no stranger to choice. Choice is, I think, one of the biggest advantages that a broker has. I think brokers know full well that having a choice to determine for themselves what’s the best platform for their business is very important.
Greg: I would say on top of the data there are a couple of things. You touched on it. This is one of those things you try to stay away from but sometimes people say to me, “Oh, it’s no big deal if I happen to be using a system that’s owned by a competing network,” or anything like that.
And it’s probably true. Maybe there isn’t a big boogeyman that’s going to do something, but why would I even risk it? Why would I even chance it if there are other options available to me that I don’t have to do that? That’s always something that I thought about.
But the other big one is data security. Lendesk is SOC 2 compliant, which I think it’s the only platform, including Finastra, that has got SOC 2 compliance, which is a seriously high level of security. Every single year we get audited by KPMG. It’s onerous. It’s on top of us, and that’s because we have bank clients.
Alex: I’m sure most people are familiar with the idea of a financial audit where KPMG might come in and audit your financial statements. Not as many people have heard of SOC 2 or know what SOC 2 is. But SOC 2 is an audit of all your non-financial controls.
What it does is it ensures that we have policies and procedures in place internally to govern ourselves to a very high standard on a broad range of topics, so data security. Employee background checks. Employee onboarding. Basically, who’s on our team? Who has access to what information? How do they access it?
Then I think the crux of it all is that it’s one thing to have these policies. It’s another thing to have procedures in place that make sure that they’re auditable, so that a third party, in our case it’s KPMG, is able to come in and actually audit that all of these things are taking place. When we say to people, “Oh, your data is secure, and don’t worry. We’re not going to sell your data,” or, “We’re not going to market to your client base,” or something like that, I think that it’s not just a promise in our case.
We’re audited. This is very real. That’s not a small investment. That’s a very big investment. We’ve been SOC 2 audited for five years. I was describing earlier our journey to go and connect with all of these major lenders. As a small company to be able to do that, we made the investment very early on in SOC 2 to help bolster our security qualifications to make that process that much easier.
It’s a very expensive undertaking every year in terms of both internal and external costs, but it’s one that I think is extremely important to us and our business. I would hate to see any sort of security breach or anything like that at any one of our competitors or in the industry. Certainly, something we want to fend off for ourselves, but it’s also very important for brokers to consider when thinking about the fact that they’re custodians like we are of their data, they are for their clients’ data, and wanting to make sure that that stays safe.
Greg: Here’s what I’ve always thought about, and I think we all could agree on this. Most of our industry, if we’re the mortgage brokers, are small, personal services business, or boutique, or mom and pop shops. I mean these aren’t big companies, right?
They go into any type of thing that they do in I think all of their lives, we have this weird thing where we just trust. We have some level of trust with whatever platform I decide that I’m going to put into this. But here’s something that I think all brokers should think about.
For example, there are platforms that we compete with that are in the space, that don’t even require that the customer puts a password in to get into their portal. That’s kindergarten level data security. If that link ever gets compromised, that customer ever gets their email phished, which happens alarmingly now…
How many times have you seen when you’re on Facebook and someone says, “Hey, don’t open that thing! I got hacked!” No, you didn’t get hacked. You actually gave your login credentials to somebody who was phishing you. Happens all the time. If your customer happens to get phished, and they get that out there, it’s not even that high-level anymore for that to happen, all of their documents are now compromised. As a small business person, what would happen? One time, my database gets compromised and I’m in small-town Ontario, and that gets out on the media or whatever might happen.
Alex: I think anybody is susceptible to phishing. We actually try to phish our own staff. It’s one of our procedures that helps us with our training. It’s one of our SOC 2 requirements. We actually have a third-party vendor that we pay to try to phish our staff. If they click on the wrong link we actually go and bust them, and they have to do the training.
But the point I wanted to make is that anybody is susceptible to this. It’s not just the client. Certainly, a password is a great start, as Greg mentioned, but it’s also brokers. They could still give their password inadvertently to somebody that could try to take that password and log into Finmo, for instance. That’s why Finmo is also one of the only platforms in the industry to have two-factor authentication. You can set up a text message, or the Google Authenticator App to require a second method of authentication when you’re logging in.
It’s not just a password, but you can also enable it so that you need a second key to get in which is dynamically generated, which means if somebody phishes you and gets your Finmo password, they’re still not going to be able to use that just to get into Finmo.
Greg: Just before we switch gears, I’d like to come back to something we left hanging. And the brokers that are listening are going to be like, “Oh, my God,” in terms of trying to eliminate their job or touching on this whole idea.
When Joseph and I were talking, it was sort of like brokers think, “I don’t need a tool like that. I know my lenders.” Which I think really, and I know this to be true because I did it, you have a small sample set of lenders that get 80% to 90% of your business.
I get it. That makes sense. But the world is changing, and the customer is now saying, “As a mortgage broker, insurance broker, whatever I might be, the term broker means that I offer choice. If I’m only ever showing up to my customer with one lender and one choice, that opens the door for them to shop.”
Within Lender Spotlight, for example, we have a tool where they can pick different lenders that would be specific to that particular customer. You filter it all out, and then you build a sheet that you can share with the customer with multiple choices.
Joseph: Essentially based on what documents they can provide, what income-
Joseph: Because a lot of people are self-employed. A lot of people are not claiming everything because they’re running a business. They have expenses. Their line 150s are going to be significantly less, even though they can comfortably service those loans.
Lender Spotlight says, “Well, you can’t prove your line 150. Your ratios are going to be out of whack, but these are the three, four products that are low doc, or will accept bank statements, or will actually give you a loan.” Maybe it’s a quarter percent higher than the lowest rate on the market, but you can actually borrow money at these rates guaranteed.
Greg: Yeah, the Compare tool in Lender Spotlight in my view is actually the best feature of the entire product, because the broker now can very easily push one button. Boom. I have a sales collateral piece. Then I can show the customer multiple different choices. That’s that part.
The other part was, “Man, if you guys are doing all this automation, what do they need me for?” We hear that occasionally. This is so simple of an answer. The idea that we’re trying to create the low dollar per hour activities, the administration, data security that we talked about, get all of that stuff out of the way so that you as a mortgage broker can spend more time doing what you’re supposed to be doing, or what you’re best at, which is provide advice. Provide counsel. Give options and talk about building your business. But shuffling paperwork from here to here, or getting a document from here to over there. Do you really want to do that?
Why don’t we take that out of the way so that you can do the high dollar per hour activity which is talking to customers and write some orders?
Alex: I think a great example was the example you gave earlier, Greg, about eliminating the need for you to review the application to figure out what documents you need to ask for.
By automating that, and by asking them immediately, we’ve done a few things. We’ve given a better experience, but we’ve also created more efficiency so you can do more business. But you’re also doing things you weren’t doing before. You’re offering a better experience.
Same thing with the text message notifications, as you’re getting the deal across the line, etc. Basically, we’re helping you streamline and optimize your business and your process so that you can consistently deliver the best experience that you guys can, and then scale your business to do that with more people.
Lawrence: We had a lending company and we felt we’re a lender. And everyone else is going to do everything the exact same way that we do. We found out very, very quickly that is not the case. Everyone does something differently, and a lot of people have great ideas. And they’ve been in the industry a long time.
We have to listen to them to evolve and create a better platform for all of the users. You talk about your platform, you have 10,000 plus brokers who use a piece of your platform. Those are 10,000 minds, 10,000 ideas.
Alex: People talk about what does the future of the business look like? Are banks going to compete brokers out of the space, or how’s technology going to change things? Frankly, brokers have a number… The first big advantage they’ve got is choice, but second of all I think it’s in line with what you just said, is the fact that you’ve got more than 10,000 brokerages and brokers in a space all running slightly different business models, all competing, all innovating, all constantly iterating on their process to try to make things better for their clients and for themselves internally.
I think that’s one of the most sustaining strengths of the broker model. I think it’s also a big reason, going back to some of the conversations we had earlier… Greg was mentioning why we don’t try to just be one solution, everything for all people is that there is so much variety in the way that people want to build their business that it’s up to us to be able to accommodate all of them. And we do that by working well with other systems.
There certainly are default ways that we over time are continuing to build into our system to try to solve certain problems, but I don’t think it’ll ever change that we will be the platform that has built a comprehensive ecosystem of partners.
We love to partner. We partner with you. We partner with a number of other CRMs and other platforms in the industry to make sure that any brokerage, no matter how they’ve built their business or even teams within a brokerage, or agents within a team, they have the setup and the system that they need to drive their success.
Lawrence: You said there are competitors in the space that are affiliated with brokerages. There are some that are not affiliated with anybody. You guys are big names in the space. But for those people who haven’t used your product before, but they’ve thought about it, they just haven’t made that phone call, why should they make the phone call? What sets you apart from the rest.
Greg: Honestly I say this all the time. I think you’re right. I mean yeah, we got this. I got that. We talked a lot about those things. I think some of those micro things are worth considering, but here’s what I really think is the bigger thing.
I think if I’m a small business person running my brokerage team or whatever it might be, I need to make a commitment to technology and digital. And we’ve seen that with COVID for sure. People are certainly making more of that commitment. If I need to make the choice, notwithstanding all of the other things we’ve already talked about, the thing I think what’s most important is innovation.
I would say, which platform that I pick is going to be committed to continually innovating on a lot of the stuff we talked about? The lender connection, this and that, all of those things? You might ask, well how do I know that? The only thing I can do is use the data I know right now.
I would think about, if I’m looking at Finmo, we’ve been highly innovative. We went from zero to a big amount of brokers in 18 months. We did that because we did product releases every two weeks. And I think brokers like that. If I think about Lendesk, quietly built the biggest lender network outside of Finastra, and that’s highly innovative.
Then if I think about, well, we’re backed by the company that actually innovated the entire digital mortgage space in North America, I would say I could believe that this is going to be a commitment to innovation. When I look at some of our competitors, I think, “Hmm, I’m not sure they have that same track record so far in terms of a real, strong commitment to innovating and making the space better.”
That’s what I would do. If I was thinking about the platform I would be thinking about who is going to be with me to continually help me grow my business? That’s Lendesk.
Lawrence: We think that it’s great. We’re excited about what you guys are doing. We’re excited to see the next five, 10 years. Yeah. Keep killing it, and we love working with you guys so thanks again.
Joseph: I was going to say we were excited to see what you guys are going to roll out in 2021. I think that’s going to be a pivotal year for everybody, and I think you guys are going to make a really, really big splash with this new acquisition going into next year.