Omar Jordan of LenderClose

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Omar Jordan, the founder and CEO of LenderClose, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of LenderClose – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

The real estate lending industry has not changed meaningfully since the 1970s. Juxtapose that with the exponential changes society has undergone and you have LenderClose’s reason for being. Community lenders have a monumentally important role to play in terms of financial health, but they are getting eaten alive by megabanks and fintechs that deliver loans faster and more efficiently, all while wrapped in a really elegant borrower experience. To keep lending local, we have to activate the people-centric values of community lenders while also putting really powerful technology within their reach. That’s what the LenderClose platform does for the nation’s credit unions and community banks, more than 200 of them at last count.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

There’s a pervasive sense among many in the legacy lending industry that unbroken things should not be fixed, and many of these same individuals do not see real estate lending as a broken process. They are making loans, everything’s working just fine, and they don’t want to confront change. This sentiment is not exclusive to the banking industry; you’ll find it alive and well in many incumbent sectors. Our team members get incredible energy from changing this mindset. So, while it’s our biggest hurdle, it’s also our biggest win. For example, when we can get inside a credit union or community bank and show chief lending officers how remote online notarization (RON) transforms an outdated, manual, and in-person process into a modern, tech-forward, and agile one, they flip out. It’s equally as fun to watch them experience things like our single click, property detail report, called the Subject Outline. Efficiency doesn’t always sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but when you watch loan specialists’ eyes light up as they electronically record their mortgages at the county level without having to snail mail paper documents, it’s a thing of beauty.

What does the future hold for LenderClose?

We are focused on a few things for the remainder of 2020, the first of which is helping our clients navigate the winding paths of COVID-19. Community lenders are burning the midnight oil to come through for their borrowers against incredible and unprecedented odds. Already, the LenderClose RON technology helps our clients push past some of the most arcane of the in-person requirements of real estate lending, and we’re exceptionally proud of that.

Also on our roadmap for the year is a series of new lender-facing features and integrations to extend the platform’s ability to inject speed and efficiency into the lending process, while also enhancing the borrower experience. We look forward to making those announcements very soon.

We are also getting very close to announcing an automated custom workflow module that will help credit unions and community banks shorten the lending cycle tremendously.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in West Des Moines?

There are so many places we could choose to base ourselves, especially now as we are attracting new team members from all over the country. But few come close to providing the support and resources of our state.

In addition to offering startups an eager and involved government, proximity to Iowa State University, and a slew of heavy-hitter insurance leaders, Iowa has a couple more really important attributes. First, there’s a proven willingness among our robust and open-door investor scene to finance new ideas. Second, our financial services community – a sector rich with incumbents hungry for innovation – is incredibly strong and active in the pursuit of transformation.

We feel fortunate to be part of a community that has gotten a lot of attention for being tech and startup-friendly.

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with people who match your energy but also challenge your thinking. You simply won’t survive in any market if you build alongside people who just smile and nod at your every idea. Some of your ideas will stink, and you need brave, confident, diverse voices around you that are willing to ask tough questions.

Entrepreneurs are problem solvers, and this can get them into trouble. They see something broken, they know how to fix it, and it’s often full steam ahead from there. But, of course, solving problems in meaningful, sustainable ways is never, ever that simple. Get to know the stakeholders that your problem solving will impact. Listen to their objections and really hear them. Find out what motivates them, what legacy processes and products they will fiercely defend, and what inspires them. If you can secure the buy-in of your most formidable opponents, you’re 90 percent of the way there.


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