On this episode of Expert Insights, Lance Lemoine, president of the mortgage division at Evolve Bank and Trust, joined our host, Joe Welu, to discuss Evolve’s efforts to modernize its business. Lance is a 30+ year veteran of the banking industry and has seen how mortgage lending, capital markets, and consumer lending have evolved over the past three decades from positions at Fleet National Bank, USAA, and Wells Fargo.
In his discussion with Joe, Lance discusses Evolve’s focus on service, how to stay relevant in an ever-changing market, and the importance of using data in decision-making. Here are some of his insights.
Serve Your People and the Customer
Even though markets are in flux at the moment, that hasn’t changed the long-term importance of becoming a homeowner. With the constant changes in the market, customers are searching for someone they can trust to meet the needs of the moment. With this in mind, Lance and his team are “hyper-focused on service levels.” Last month, Evolve closed 100% of its contracts on time.
But, that’s only half of the story. The other half is about building a team mentality. “It’s about individuals serving one another and having that strong team spirit and team approach,” said Lance.
Evolve’s heavy emphasis on service has paid off with eye-popping retention numbers. Lance recognizes that there will always be challenges with talent retention, but the focus remains resolute on service. “If you can provide great products, great service, great support, great communications, friendships, partnerships along the way. I think that’s really what we all need to focus in on.”
Stay Relevant to Survive
Financial institutions can sometimes be accused of being too traditional, stuck in the old way of doing things and unwilling to make groundbreaking changes. The same technological advances we see in the automobile or service industries are not happening in finance, because many banks are hesitant to modernize. Joe and Lance agree that banks of any size can be fraught with bureaucracy, and Lance proposes a solution.
He sees courage as the most important attribute leaders can exhibit to break down barriers. “If you’re going to stay alive, if you’re going to stay relevant, if you’re going to be competitive, you have to demand.” Having come from large, global institutions and now working at a smaller, less traditional bank, Lance has seen how bureaucracy can start: “I think if you get more than 12 people, you could end up with a bureaucracy. Never mind thousands.”
The Importance of Being Data-Driven
Many banks struggle to offer a consistently high level of performance relative to competitors and high-quality service to both their people and customers. For Lance and his team at Evolve, it’s all about using data to achieve at the highest level. “We survey our employees, we survey our borrowers, we try to survey our Realtor partners,” he said. There is no such thing as having too much information on their performance, as they are tracking and reporting a host of internal and external metrics on a daily basis. Joe and Lance agree that following that data-driven approach helps keep everything focused and on the right track.
For Lance, it all comes down to dedication from the top down. “We are kind of fortunate to have a bank ownership, and a board, that are very familiar with mortgage lending,” he said. To have everyone very committed and very interested, in Lance’s words, is crucial to being a successful bank in the modern financial industry.
For more of Lance Lemoine’s insights, listen to the full Expert Insights episode here.