North Easton Savings Bank: A community bank on the leading edge of innovation
North Easton Savings Bank has been providing quality, home-grown banking solutions to the Southeastern Massachusetts community for over 150 years. An integral piece of the local economy in the towns they serve, the North Easton team knows that community banks are the heart and soul of their corner of the world.
With a mission to create the new standard of community banking, NESB has been searching for a technology partner to innovate a premium, modern home equity solution that the North Easton team can implement — all while allowing them to continue focusing on customer and community relationships.
Banking in 2023 and beyond: easier, better, faster
Horgan’s team works together to analyze how people use their platforms and services, and they find solutions to make it easier for customers to bank with North Easton. “Our goal is to make it convenient to bank with us while also offering full-feature accounts found at larger institutions. We require our digital banking platforms to operate at the same speed as today’s leading non-bank retail platforms.”
Big banks may have initially set the bar with regard to digital and mobile offerings in the evolving financial services landscape. But Horgan believes, through partnerships with fintechs like Blend, that community banks are poised to meet — or even surpass — the big banks by offering a robust range of bespoke, innovative financial services in addition to the community care and involvement that has always been North Easton’s hallmark. And that’s where Blend’s Instant Home Equity solution comes in.
Speed with soul
Given the current market landscape, the North Easton team decided to invest in a redesign of the home equity user experience and product offering. There is approximately $11T in untapped home equity across the nation. And as Horgan pointed out, if a customer has a 3-4% mortgage rate, it’s more advantageous for clients to keep the mortgage and utilize a home equity product. In this manner, customers are able to get the best of both worlds: Keeping their great mortgage rate while utilizing home equity to fund current credit needs.
Unfortunately, a historically manual process with too many roadblocks along the way has made most home equity solutions, even digital ones, too long and complicated.
The North Easton team was looking to reduce their reliance on manual steps, improve answer and approval time, and provide an overall better customer experience. With an intuitive UI/UX, and a mobile solution where 85% of activity takes place on the app, the North Easton team saw an opportunity to use Blend’s Instant Home Equity solution to say yes to more people, more quickly, and on their own terms.
Horgan believes that while a product’s speed can make all the difference for modern consumers, it’s “speed with soul” that sets community banks apart from their national competitors.
A solid platform and partnership for success
Horgan and the North Easton team have been able to find modern digital success with Blend. “With quick answers and quick approvals, Blend’s Instant Home Equity will make it possible for us to provide a faster solution and a better customer experience. In terms of speed and efficiency, it will be like going from a dirt road to a four-lane highway.”
There is a common industry perception that smaller community banks need to be bigger and have more resources in order to adopt the innovative, competitive technology that larger banks can afford. Or that they have to rewrite, rip out, or recreate legacy tech stacks.
But by finding the right technology partner, banks like North Easton are changing that. Speaking to Blend’s Instant Home Equity and the potential to leverage the Blend platform for other banking products, Horgan said,
Being able to compete with national banks or even newer, non-banks is critical for the North Easton team. But at the end of the day, Horgan believes that community banks exist to invest their time and resources locally, so that customers can improve their quality of living, working, and raising a family. Accessing Blend’s technology will allow North Easton Savings Bank to have a big bank platform, rooted in community bank values — now, and for future generations to come.
Virginia Credit Union delivers on mission to members with Blend
Virginia Credit Union (VACU) is a state-chartered credit union that has served the central Virginia community for over 100 years. “At the end of the day,” says Vice President of Mortgage Lending, Mitchell Jones, “our job is just to help our members live successful financial lives.”
Prior to implementing Blend, origination workflows were manual with lots of emails and phone calls. When looking for a partner that could bring all of that together, the ability to quickly and continually react to changing conditions were high priorities. They also had to make sure their solution would serve their members just as well.
VACU went live with Blend in 2020. As a result of the pandemic, mortgage rates had dropped significantly and volume increased dramatically. VACU’s team was able to serve many more members thanks to the new digital platform. “They were able to do more with less,” said Jones.
“Consequently, we were able to help our members take advantage of those low rates. And a huge part of that is because they were able to go online, complete the application and on top of that, Blend was able to also handle asset and income [verification].”
As a result of implementing Blend, turn times and pull-through rates are much better. The credit union ascribes much of the success to having a simple and effective online portal for members to interact with. In addition to a great member experience, leaders at VACU were impressed by the scalability of the platform. “I think overall we’ve seen a lot of scalability,” said Jones. “Again, we can do more with less and Blend is the catalyst of the whole thing. Blend has allowed us to take our members’ information very quickly, turn it around and get their qualifications out, partner with their realtor partners, and give them that information as fast as they can find a property.”
Leveraging productivity-enhancing tools
One of the most effective tools that VACU has used is the Loan Officer Toolkit (LOTK). “The Loan Officer Toolkit is a game changer for us,” said Jones. “With the limited inventory, we have to be able to act fast to get these pre-qualification and conditional approvals out to our members.”
In addition to the speed LOTK offers, loan officers love the ability to educate borrowers on the different scenarios using the built-in comparison tool. Jones added that it is not just helpful for improving the borrower relationship. “It also helps our realtor partners feel like we’re giving them everything they can to ensure they win those bids.”
Building on a successful partnership
The ultimate goal for the credit union is always to enhance member experience. “What we were looking for in a new partner was a way to streamline our processes and give us the ability to scale,” said Jones. “We needed to find not only just a point of sale solution but something that could help engage with our members and our borrowers from the beginning, all the way through to the end.”
In Blend, VACU found a partner and that partnership has continued to grow. “Blend has a consistent workflow that our members will get more familiar with over time, allowing us to bring forward the product offerings that they may or may not know that they need at that given time.” Looking ahead, VACU is building on the success with mortgage to implement Blend across the organization to create a single, integrated, and seamless delivery channel for all of their products while providing members with an intuitive and familiar experience.
Navy Federal Credit Union selects Blend to power deposit accounts
One of the things we love most at Blend is building and investing in our product. We know that having the best technology means we can solve the most difficult challenges for our customers with speed and agility. This mindset creates lasting partnerships with some of the most innovative financial institutions on the planet, and allows us to power their growth over time.
Earlier today we announced a major partnership deal with Navy Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the country. They’re expanding the use of Blend’s platform to cover membership and deposit account products, in addition to their existing mortgage and equity products.
With this project, Navy Federal will be leveraging Blend’s full Composable Origination Platform, which we recently unveiled at our March 14 event.
We’ve spent the past three years developing Builder, which underpins our Composable Origination Platform and will power innovation for all our customers in the future – including in the mortgage space, where even more automation and flexibility is needed over time given the shifts happening in the industry.
Through this new solution, Navy Federal will increase the automation of processes and unify workflows across different acquisition channels. And for Navy Federal, the data-driven user interface will allow them to open accounts in just minutes, from identity, fraud and eligibility verification to membership confirmation, decisioning and new-account funding.
It is deals like this that demonstrate our vision of building a much more digital, instant and personalized way of banking.
I want to acknowledge that this excitement and optimism is transpiring at a complicated moment. Amid the current macro volatility and banking industry concerns, markets are discounting long-term efforts in favor of short-term results. And like many of you, this is something we’re feeling at Blend.
But we will continue to be guided by the same principle we’ve been holding true since we started over a decade ago. While we can’t control near-term market sentiment, what we can control is building technology that generates significant value to our customers through any part of the market cycle.
Our Instant Home Equity product is another example that late last year helped us service the surge in demand from homeowners for a home equity solution amidst rising interest rates and increased home values.
Thanks to Builder, our team at Blend was able to help lenders adapt to changing borrower expectations in real time and deliver a proactive, personalized, and effortless Home Equity experience as the market shifted. Meanwhile, lenders were able to lower origination costs, drive pull-through, get loans closed faster than ever before, and even improve utilization, all while replacing rote work with automation.
And the beauty of our platform model is that we win together. We have always built with our customers top of mind, above all else, and will continue to do so. This means that our business grows along with yours, accruing benefits to customers and their borrowers.
So much like Navy Federal’s legacy has been to provide financial stability and security to millions of servicemembers and their families, we at Blend aspire to be the technology partner you need to help you drive growth, increase productivity, and deepen customer relationships.
I couldn’t be more excited to showcase our new technology to our customers over the next few months and demonstrate the innovation we can drive in any market cycle.
Click here to learn more about the composable origination capabilities powered by the Blend Builder Platform.
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