Monday, May 20, 2024

Podcast: 6 criteria for choosing a backup loan servicer

The 2023 collapse of Silicon Valley Bank reminded fintechs and financial institutions of the importance of having a backup loan servicer in the case of a trigger event. 

Examples of trigger events could include a bank collapse, a change in leadership or a servicer being unable to keep up with the level of collections needed to fund a portfolio, Blythe Lawton, senior vice president of marketing and business development at Vervent, tells Bank Automation News on this episode of “The Buzz” podcast. 

“A lot of people sell backup servicing, but they don’t necessarily have what it takes to fulfill on the backup servicing if something should happen to the portfolio,” Lawton says. 

In looking for a backup servicer, Lawton says, a fintech or bank should consider:  

Hear about the increased demand for backup servicers in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse in this episode of “The Buzz,” and as Vervent’s Lawton discusses how to select a backup service provider.  

The following is a transcript generated by AI technology that has been lightly edited but still contains errors.

Whitney McDonald 12:38:15
Hello and welcome to the buzz of bank automation news podcast. My name is Whitney McDonald and I’m the editor of bank automation News. Today is April 2 2024. Joining me is blind lot in Senior Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at lending as a service provider bourbon, she will discuss the increased demand for backup Loan Servicing providers post the SBB collapse and share what people are looking for in backup service providers. Hi, blinds. Welcome to The Buzz.

Blythe Lawton 12:38:41
Thanks for having us. I am Blythe Lawton, I am the SVP of marketing and business development for vervets. I’ve been with a company seven years and we are a fintech. Who offers primary strategic services, things like credit card servicing, loan servicing capital markets, services, as well as backup servicing and credit card programs under our vent card division. So we’ve been around under our current CEO since 2008. And under the vent brand since 2019. And we’re excited to continue to be part of this industry. We’re a credible player, and we’re glad to be here and talking to you today.

Whitney McDonald 12:39:25
Great, well, thank you again, and welcome to The Buzz, we’re going to take a step back to 2023. And we all remember what happened in March of 2023, the banking crisis SBV collapsed, which triggered this importance of a backup service provider. So I would like if you could talk us through this, this new demand and this reminder of having a backup service provider following that collapse in March.

Blythe Lawton 12:39:56
Absolutely. So backup servicing provides security. And, as we saw last year, when you have a collapse, you have a large portfolio or a large bank, and you have a lot of portfolios and a lot of loans that are out there floating and not being managed by a servicing company. So you’re not you’re not collecting, you’re not you’re not collecting dollars, accounts are getting delinquent. So as you look forward post the SVP collapse, we see a lot more interest. verbund has been around for a lot of years, and we have a strong presence and capital market services. And as this collapse happened, we see more people becoming aware of the backup servicing need. And the service. Portfolios tend to be less educated, especially if they’re new or their startups, whereas the capital providers, all the big banks are very strong advocates of backup servicing because it protects their investment. And their goal is to have the insurance, if you will, on the money they’re lending to the portfolio so that if a trigger event or a you know, some sort of action were to happen, that they can protect their investment.

Whitney McDonald 12:41:10
Let’s talk about those trigger events. What might be an event that would have a startup or company saying Well, I’m glad I have this in place?

Blythe Lawton 12:41:21
Absolutely, it’s a great question. It’s not always dramatic, like a bank collapse, it could be, you know, a change in leadership, it could be a current service or a primary servicer who’s managing the portfolio but not really being able to keep up with the SLAs and the the levels of collections that are needed to continue the funding of the portfolio. That’s the most common reason for a trigger event. So let’s say you need to collect X percent, but you’re only collecting y, obviously, that’s going to be a concern to the capital provider and they are going to look to course correct. And of course corrections can be made, they may decide to trigger and move to a transition on the successor service or where the backup partner would come into play.

Whitney McDonald 12:42:12
Now you’ve shared with me these these six elements of backup servicing, maybe you could share with with our listeners, what those six elements are. Sure,

Blythe Lawton 12:42:20
things that are very important to have our asset experience, experience in a world of backup is huge. You know, a lot of people sell backup servicing, but they don’t necessarily have what it takes to fulfill on the backup servicing, if something should happen to the portfolio. So experience with asset classes and experience with adverse conditions is very, very important. So that’s one and also the people in play to manage those so they understand the nuances of what are happening and they can make smooth transitions. Scalability is another one if you don’t have scalability to support the servicing. So if you have a backup agreement, and your selling backup, but you don’t have operation centers, you don’t have a place to put the servicing if a trigger event would occur. So having scalable ality and the ability to scale quickly because no one wants to have their portfolio sitting on service without collecting. So having those open seats and that capacity, in order to take on the transition, the successor servicing immediately is critical. If you don’t have the recruiting flows, the seats, the it the setup, you can’t it’s like buying an insurance and not being able to pay a claim. Um, response time is also huge. Every day you’re not collecting as every day you’re not meeting the financial needs of your portfolio. So being able to transition if there is an event, quickly within 30 to 45 days is a key element of this and something that really drives credibility for those players who have had experience with trigger events and have been able to successfully transition within reasonable timeframes. Another one, I think I’m on for is the relationships. So having relationships with the investors with the warehouse providers with all the capital markets, participants are invaluable. You need to know the people, you need to know have the asset experience, but you need to also know the people and how to get things done. Because again, when you have an event with a backup servicing contract, and you’re trying to transition time is money. And so those relationships help clear things. And they also make sure that everything’s being done credibly and correctly. Advanced Notice you also the relationships also help a lot with knowing what’s coming down the line. You know, many times you have questions about a portfolio or corrections, things that need to be made. And there might be some conversation that happens upfront. But with those relationships, triggers usually aren’t a surprise. And that’s that’s a very important element. You want to know what’s happening before you have to make a formal industry notification. And then compliance compliance is the last thing. Anything in loan servicing or lease servicing has so much to do with compliance. There’s so many rules and regulations and having a solid oversight plan, you know, a plan of action, if you will, with the prospective backup if there’s a trigger event and having the oversight and the people to make sure that everything is handled in a legal and regulatory compliant way is critical. And the only way that you’re going to do that is by really understanding what is needed, you’re understanding the laws, the nuances of what loans the portfolio contains, and moving things through regulatorily and within the correct data security so that you’re compliant, and you’re able to take your servicing from one shop into the new shop seamlessly and seamless as a word I would strongly emphasize here. And then there’s also risk mitigation, having risk groups within your organization to oversee and really make sure that you are mitigating risk appropriately. It ties in a bit to compliance, but that’s also a very important component of transition.

Whitney McDonald 12:46:39
Now, with all of those elements in mind that you just broke down for us, which thank you for doing that. How does a FinTech really select their backup servicing provider?

Blythe Lawton 12:46:51
Well, they should be looking for experience, credibility capacity. And I’m gonna say response time swift timing, you know, but it really depends on the experience of the portfolio holder. So a lot of times it’s the capital providers who are driving the decision not driving the decision, but prompting the decision on whether or not there should be backup servicing and offering broad recommendations of organizations that are credible backup services. It’s ultimately the choice of the portfolio owners to get that backup servicing. But a lot of times, well, not a lot of times, depending on the experience level of the portfolio owner, they’re either going to know what to look for, or they’re going to need more guidance. And so there’s a lot of information about there on backup servicing, if you know where to look. But a lot of times newer portfolio owners or startups don’t always know where to look. And so there’s a lot of good advice within those industry relationships.

Whitney McDonald 12:47:56
Now, post SBB and we’re into a new year here. Have you guys seen an uptick in demand for bourbon, what are your clients really asking for or even prospective clients? What are those questions that are coming up?

Blythe Lawton 12:48:12
Oh, Mervyn’s, quite a stab left in the capital markets service space. So we have, you know, a lot of capital markets business across the thing, whether it be you know verifications custody backup, there’s a lot of services that we offer there. So we’re a very established incredible player within this mid space. So I would say we’re seeing a small uptick, but what we’re really seeing is increased scrutiny in ancillary services, things like our annual readiness assessment, where people are maybe doing more prep on certain portfolios to make sure that they’re even more prepared. With a contingency plan. We’re seeing people we’re seeing clients move from warm to hot back up, and then maybe back down to warm back up a little bit more. And we’re seeing more interest in the topic of backup servicing overall, if you’re in the space, you know, about backup servicing, and you know how important it is. But it’s one of those things that you don’t know about until you you don’t know what you need to know, kind of things until you need to know. So that’s what we’re really seeing a lot of.

Whitney McDonald 12:49:25
Okay, and what are, what are some of those considerations that that you don’t know, unless, you know,

Blythe Lawton 12:49:33
um, you know, just really understanding that backup servicing is something that that’s needed, you need the knowledge and experience to protect your assets. So, you know, you want the backup service thing, whether you’re in a time of strong performance, or when something that’s like an unexpected challenge happens with your portfolio. So, you know, in bourbons case, we’re ready to step in with solutions, that are proven solutions to preserve the investment, regardless of what happens, you know, it’s kind of I liken back of servicing to insurance quite a bit. And some of my peers have driven every once in a while, I’ll give a chuckle because I think I sound a little like a broken record. But it really is like insurance, you want it all the time, because you don’t know when something’s gonna happen, you can have an indication but you know, you don’t just buy car insurance for the day that you get in the accident. And backup servicing is very, very similar. Yes,

Whitney McDonald 12:50:29
and I mean, we’ve all been there, maybe not specifically on the on the backup service side, but yes, insurance or fleet insurance or wishing that you add something that you don’t have. But I like your point there too, about having it and when times are good, too, just to just to have that readiness in case an event does does come up. Now, we kind of talked backwards, we talked about 2023. And we talked about March of last year, but now we’re into 2024. I’d love to get your insight on what you’re watching for this year, when it comes to trends and keeping up with with what’s going on in the industry. So what are you watching for, as you as you get into deeper into 2024? I should say? Absolutely.

Blythe Lawton 12:51:19
So verbund Like everyone else is watching the macro economic landscape to see what changes they’re, you know, how the economy is faring, if it’s going to improve or deteriorate. So we’re watching that. And we’re since we are a business who works a lot in the b2b space, with the loan servicing on the capital market services. But we also have our fervent card division, where we work direct to consumers. And those are kind of weighted businesses where when one is is doing really well, the other is not. So we’re watching both sides of that on to see where we go and where we can add value for either our clients or for our DTC customers. On the back of on the capital markets, services front, you know, we’re really looking at ways to provide more coverage and more preparation for our clients. So ancillary services that we have always offered, but maybe we weren’t broadly marketing, because not as many people were taking advantage of them. But with the events of 2023. And everyone having a more conservative view going into 2024 and probably beyond. We’re looking at how we can add services farther up the capital markets funnel to make sure that people are protected, like I said, and those good times and bad times, and that could be anything from inventory backup, to the annual readiness assessment, to all the things with onboarding verifications, collateral management, we do a lot of different things, and we’re here for our partners and so we’re trying to help them be aware of all the steps they can take to keep their investment safe.

Whitney McDonald 12:53:08
You’ve been listening to the buzz, a bank automation news podcast, please follow us on LinkedIn and as a reminder or you can rate this podcast on your platform of choice thank you for your time and be sure to visit us at Bank automation For more automation news

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