A leader with the qualities to administer the unpredictability that accompanies any venture and the ability to suffice the varying market orientation is something that is prevalent in all successful businesses. But no matter how well-versed a leader is with the unfavorable circumstances faced by business, only an apt leader with firsthand experience can get any situation composed and contained.
One such leader is Kiran Sahota, Executive Vice President of Strategy at Freedom Mortgage. With an extensive experience of more than 19 years and around seven years in the mortgage industry, Kiran specializes in helping organizations build and execute strategies to maximize individual, team, and organizational performance.
Under the leadership of Sahota, Freedom Mortgage continues to help Americans achieve their dreams of homeownership as well as financial betterment. She is driven by boundless stamina, an unwavering focus on continuous collaboration, and a relentless drive to seek the right loan solutions for every customer, every day.
Today, Freedom Mortgage provides service to nearly 2 million customers, with approximately $475 billion in mortgage loan assets, and consistently ranks as one of the nation’s top 10 lenders. In an interview with CIOLook, Sahota shared valuable
insights from her journey that led to her success.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Kiran, please share some background on your professional tenure in the industry and shed some light on your novelties that are enabling advancements in the residential lending industry.
I’ve been in the mortgage industry for seven years. Prior to that, I spent more than a decade in consulting, which provided me with great experience and exposure across a range of industries, with a focus on delivering value for my clients.
Since entering the mortgage industry, I have had opportunities to work in different roles across various functions to learn all aspects of the business. This collective experience and exposure to different areas of companies and industries have helped me to grow professionally in ways I couldn’t have previously imagined.
Tell us more about yourself, highlighting the skillset that makes you one of the most impressive leaders who are enabling advancements in the mortgage and lending industry.
My relentless focus on value creation and a strong desire to learn new things has not only helped me to grow professionally but also enabled me to deliver strong results. I focus on four things to help ensure that my team and I deliver value:
- Start with the big picture.
- Build an actionable plan to deliver the strategy.
- Build a great team.
- Communicate clearly and frequently.
Looking at the recent developments in fiscal and lending markets, please share your opinion on how these fundamentals are transforming the operations of the companies in the sector.
Most organizations have long had initiatives and goals focused on customer service and efficiency. However, with the current economic climate, all companies, regardless of the industry, need to focus on value creation.
For those of us in the mortgage industry, understanding our customers’ needs and desires could not be more important as we provide a critical service for them. Here at Freedom Mortgage, we always have—and will continue to—put our customers first, especially in today’s market.
Secondly, companies need to look for efficiencies in their business processes through technology that yields the greatest value. It is not necessary to automate everything; think about the moments that matter to customers and where there should be a human touch versus where technologies could optimize or automate the process.
Please tell us about Freedom Mortgage and its products and services that optimize the lending process for your clients.
Freedom Mortgage is a private mortgage company and one of the largest VA and FHA, government-backed, lenders in the country. The company was founded 33 years ago and has grown tremendously over the years.
Freedom Mortgage’s mission is to foster homeownership and financial betterment across America. We specialize in helping Veterans, families currently serving in the military, and those with low down payments to find the right type of home loan for them. We are proud to provide housing financing to nearly 2 million American homeowners.
How is Freedom Mortgage leveraging technological advancements to enhance its operations in the lending and mortgage process?
Over the past several years, we have made significant investments in technology to drive great experiences for our customers while also driving efficiencies in our business. We are capitalizing on the benefits of being “cloud first” so we can quickly and efficiently scale up and down, based on our business needs.
We implemented a new CRM capability for our agents, enabling them to have a 360-degree view of every customer so we can deliver a personalized experience and fulfill customer needs with one call while also improving our agents’ productivity. We are leveraging Robotic Process Automation,
Workflow Management, Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and Business Rule solutions, as well as other proprietary technologies that assist in maximizing scalability, pull through, productivity, and speed to close.
We are consolidating and modernizing every technology across the company so our customers and employees have the tools and tech they need to do their jobs.
As an experienced leader in the niche, how are you overcoming the challenges and ensuring a seamless residential lending experience for your clients?
The first onboarding experience is our moment to make a great first impression and introduce Freedom Mortgage to our new customers. Every interaction with them is an opportunity to deliver an amazing experience, and we provide our customers with choices on how they want to engage with us, whether through a phone call, chat, self-service, mobile, etc.
We also solicit feedback from our customers throughout the process. For example, in 2021, we received feedback from our customers that they wanted a mobile app. Listening to that feedback, earlier last year, we rolled out the Freedom Mortgage mobile app, which has seen great results and positive feedback. It is as simple as listening to the voice of our customers and doing what they ask us to do.
What would be your advice to the budding aspirants who are willing to venture into the lending and mortgage industry in the near future and provide fulfilment services in the niche?
For someone looking to join and be successful in the mortgage industry, my advice is:
- Be flexible, willing, and able to handle constant change.
- Learn how the business works and how your role fits in.
- Understand how external factors impact the mortgage industry.
Bottom line: Regardless of the industry you want to get into, learn how the business works holistically, build depth in a specific area first, then start getting a breadth of exposure and experience. Be agile and willing to move around departments and take on new roles.
Where do you see yourself in the long run, and how are you working toward achieving your future goals in this niche?
I have many personal goals that may or may not be tied to my career aspirations, but I use the philosophy of “bloom where you are planted,” so I want to make sure I am doing the best I can in the role I am in now and in the future. During my seven years in the mortgage industry, I’ve recognized that there are many opportunities to leverage technology to improve customer experiences, drive business efficiencies, and add greater worth all across the value chain.
I want to continue to pursue my passion for building great teams that deliver products and technologies with even greater impact that will transform the industry.