2021 in review
Join us as we reflect on the milestones we’ve achieved for our customers, our company, and our vision for the future of finance.
With the rise of connected consumers driving product development and reshaping the overall trajectory of industries across the board, this year has proven that finance can be lightning fast, mobile-friendly, and customer-centric.
If Blend had a word of the year, in 2021 it would be growth.
In alignment with the changed expectations of a post-pandemic world, 2021 was a chance for us to deliver on the promise of truly end-to-end customer journeys. Our customer partnerships are an extension of our strategy and our values. And along with a strong employee-first culture, they have allowed us to thrive and grow. The work we’ve done with our customers has made it possible to stay ahead of the curve as we shape the future of finance together.
As we shift focus to this year and beyond, we’d like to reflect on that growth and some of the key milestones we’ve achieved with our customers, for our company, and for our vision at large.
Creating impact for our customers
At Blend, we place a premium on delivering outstanding value for our customers. Our technology enables them to make the most of every interaction, maximize operational efficiency, and ultimately build lasting relationships with their customers. We make that possible by building products that fit the way their business works.
By adopting Blend’s unified platform for mortgage lending, consumer lending, and deposit accounts, the Elements Financial team saw an 11% increase in approved applications for vehicle loans, personal loans, and credit cards. They saved on time, too. With Blend, there was a 60% reduction in application submission times for vehicle loans, personal loans, and credit cards. They also saw a 105% average increase for deposit account application submission rates.
American Federal Mortgage partnered with Blend to streamline the closing process for customers, closing teams, and settlement agents. By adopting Blend Close, some settlement agents reported being able to close twice the volume, while some borrowers reported closing times in as little as 10 minutes.
University of Wisconsin Credit Union (UWCU) has established a reputation among its members as a leader in technological innovation. Partnering with Blend paid off. Not only did UWCU see volume increase 33% above-market growth rate, with Blend they enjoyed a return of more than $2,800 per loan while shaving nearly two weeks from the loan cycle.
Improving the homeownership journey
The homeownership journey is complex for both lenders and borrowers. This year we expanded our Mortgage Suite to provide more products that can make things faster, easier, and less stressful on both sides of the desk. Here’s a rundown of our many mortgage improvements.
We’ve taken financial services from documents to data, but we believe that human-to-human connections are still the heart of financial journeys. In March we launched the LO Toolkit: an intuitive workspace that supports loan officers on all key workflows across the entire loan process. Automating repetitive tasks frees up valuable time to prioritize people over paperwork and power loan officer success.
Although Blend Mortgage has been transformational and garnered significant return on investment (ROI) for lenders, we thought it was time to reimagine the closing process. This year we worked on improving Blend Close by adding new features, like integrated scheduling, and becoming a Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-reviewed eClosing solution provider. We’ve not only given consumers the power to choose what their closing day will look like – in-person, fully remote, or hybrid – we’ve been able to deliver on our promise of providing our customers with increased simplicity, efficiency, and return on investment.
Between realtors, insurers, title agencies, and notaries — just to name a few — buying a new home requires keeping up with a lot of moving parts. Acquiring Title365 this year enabled us to integrate title and settlement into our services and offer more choices to our customers. Through one unified platform, users can conveniently automate title commitment, digitally reconcile settlement fees, and streamline lender-settlement-consumer communication.
Some borrowers don’t realize they need homeowner’s insurance to close, which if overlooked, can cause significant delays in the closing process. When we say end-to-end, we mean it. Blend Insurance is a natural extension of our digital mortgage and title services and just one part of the network of conveniences that we offer to improve the customer experience. Borrowers can easily get a quote and proof of insurance in less time and for less money – with borrowers who used Blend Insurance saving more than $700 annually.
FICO scores and W-2s have typically been the standard for income verification. We wanted to change that. In order to help financial leaders modernize their income verification strategies to include consumers with non-traditional income sources, we announced Blend Income Verification. It’s a comprehensive digital income and employment verification solution designed to work across the full suite of products available on Blend’s cloud banking platform.
Refining our products
As consumer expectations for digital experiences continue to rise, we understand that our customers need to offer their customers more of what they want: real-time personalization, contextual consumer experiences, and meaningful engagement at every step of their financial journeys. While Blend has built a solid foundation with our standout end-to-end digital mortgage experience, it’s only the beginning.
Since consumer financial needs don’t begin and end with a mortgage, we saw an opportunity to help customers make the same improvements across their entire portfolio of products.
This year we focused on refining our Consumer Banking Suite and adding new offerings like personal loans, credit cards, and speciality vehicles. Our extensive lending knowledge and no-code product designs make it easier to deliver any consumer banking product quickly — with most consumer banking applications taking an average of seven minutes or less to complete. The best part? No more siloed solutions. Just one unified platform that can do it all.
Scaling our company
From making the Forbes Fintech 50 list to acquiring Title365 in June, we experienced unparalleled growth. That, coupled with our IPO in July, ushered in a new era for Blend.
Becoming a public company solidified our place in the industry, and adding over 1,300 new employees and contractors to the team strengthened our ability to best serve our customers.
And it wouldn’t have been possible without each member of Blendkind who contributed to our success.
To support our growth and our customers, we officially shifted to an employee-first culture in response to the flexibility and commitment that our employees showed when faced with the unexpected arrival of COVID-19.
We’ve also been growing our diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIB) efforts. This year saw the creation of three new Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), taking us from seven to ten and counting. ERGs offer special events, networking, and professional development opportunities.
We strongly believe our continued investment in diversity, equity and inclusion enriches the fabric of our culture, leads to a growth mindset, and unlocks our organization’s full potential.
Committing to our purpose
Blend was founded on the belief that the world’s financial resources should be more accessible — and that the intersection of inclusion and innovation is critical to creating an equitable ecosystem. We’re a purpose-driven company. And we’ve been exploring how we can actively drive positive change.
Which is why we launched Blend Impact, an initiative to use our products, our time, and our partnerships to increase access and equity in financial services. The Blend Impact program includes three initiatives: the Equitable Ecosystem Initiative (EEI), Blend Gives Back, and Pledge 1%.
The EEI focuses on working together with our customers and partners to build technology that supports all aspects of financial inclusion efforts. Blend Gives Back is our commitment to encourage Blend employees to support causes of their choice by offering 24 hours of paid time off to participate in volunteer programs, alongside allocating an annual day of service to volunteer time to a company-wide designated cause. In May of 2021, Blend joined over 1,500 other companies and signed on to Pledge 1%, committing important resources like product development and employee time in support of the EEI.
Focusing on our vision
As we ring in the new year and look towards our goals for 2022, we’re mindful that benchmarking our progress against our larger vision for the future is the best way to measure success.
This year Blend grew, improved, and expanded our services across all major lending products. Together with our customers we made great strides to create better experiences for lifetime financial journeys. We’re proud of the progress we’ve made in bringing our vision of personalized and proactive finance to life.
But we’re just getting started.
While we achieved significant milestones as an organization, our focus remains on innovating solutions and building the connections that drive success for our customers today and tomorrow.
We’re eager to build on the momentum we’ve created. Blend is growing and evolving. But the commitment to our vision of providing a better financial future for all remains steadfast.
From all of us at Blend, here’s to 2022.