|Sunday September 24|
Valley National Bank
an INTEGRA loan origination software client since 2001
Headquartered in Wayne, New Jersey (with approximately 167 branches in 119 communities located in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Sussex, Union and Warren counties and New York City) and more than $12 billion in assets, Valley National Bank is a commercial bank that originates mortgages for portfolio and for sale to the secondary market. In 2001 the company decided to invest in new mortgage software technology that would better handle its aggressive growth objectives. After a comprehensive search, Valley chose INTEGRA.
According to Al Engel, Valley's Executive Vice President, the functionality of INTEGRA's Destiny system, combined with his high level of trust in INTEGRA's people, led Valley to choose INTEGRA over other competitors. "I'd known the executives at INTEGRA —Jerry Pratt and Rick Allen —for many, many years," said Engel "I have a very high degree of respect for them and they are among the few people who I would do business with on a handshake.”
Valley National Bank decided that it wanted to save a large amount of its pipeline history–three year’s worth–and convert it onto new INTEGRA system. Even though these applications were long since closed, converting them would keep the data available for historical reporting purposes and archival retrieval that might be needed in support of any examination audits or in response to customer inquiries. Engel says, "INTEGRA was very helpful to us in writing the appropriate routines to allow that conversion to happen." In fact, his confidence in INTEGRA was so strong that he opted to go without any kind of parallel activity between the old and new systems. "We did extensive data validation checks, balanced old pipeline to new and verified calculations on a number of sample loans. The results of these tests were so encouraging that we decided parallel processing on old and new systems, both in production environments was not necessary. When we did finally convert, we turned the old system off on a Friday, turned INTEGRA on Monday, and were pumping out closing packages that first day. We never missed a beat."
While such extensive conversions can present challenges, According to Mr. Engel, the transition to Destiny was very smooth—with only minor adjustments needed. "It was like driving a new car, "he says, "and just having to figure out where things are and how to operate them like how to turn on the wipers or change CDs. Then it's easy."
Said Mr. Engel "Valley National Bank has been using INTEGRA’s DestinyLOS for five years now and during the height of the boom more than tripled our volume of loans while minimizing our increase in staff. We chose Integra because we knew they would be responsive to our business needs and our recommendations on how to develop the product. The system’s intelligence and workflow engine enables us to train keyboard-knowledgeable staff without mortgage experience to process loans in only two days—and avoid hiring experienced processors, giving us tremendous flexibility and cost advantage.”
“The benefits of INTEGRA's Destiny were immediate, and it was a good thing Valley switched systems when we did. With interest rates already dropping, and the mortgage industry really starting to take off—our business needed to be ready to ramp up quickly. Without Destiny’s bullet-proof reliability to help us handle our record volume, the boom years would have a lot more challenging to say the least. In hindsight, INTEGRA really paid off during the “Re-Fi” mania, especially 2002-2004. Now, we’ve actually got some time to learn more about the other new things Destiny can do, and we’re involved in some new Destiny customization. So we’ll be sure that we’re ready for that next major up tick in the industry.”
Mr. Engel continues to be impressed with Destiny's ease-of-use for its users. "Because the system provides so much guidance, intelligent workflow…it does the calculating and the forms… and handles so many steps, automatically, we've been able to bring relatively inexperienced people in as closers and processors and have them up to speed and productive very quickly. Over the past few years Valley has purchased other banks and opened dozens of new satellite offices. With Destiny we’ve been able to provide laptop origination capability for our sales people and handle all of those new locations.
Asked about the timing of purchasing a new LOS, Mr. Engel says, “The last thing to do during a boom period is to make major changes in your foundation LOS technology. Things are going too fast. You need people’s time and resources to do your research, negotiate contracts, get the system installed, do necessary customizations, get your people trained and much more. It’s a lot better to attempt this when things are a bit slow. Right now is definitely it’s a good time to ask yourself, “Is what I’m using going to get me to the next level when the market heats up again?” If not, you need to start thinking about a reasonable timeline because you don’t get a new, robust LOS up and going in a couple months. You’ve got to think about a 6 to 12 month timeframe.”
Says Mr. Engel, “Valley is sticking with INTEGRA as our LOS, but as I mentioned, We’ve got several things in the works now to make sure we’ll have the new Destiny functionality we know we’ll need down the road.”
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