Canada’s IFT Trusts New Lending Process Platform Will Appeal to U.S. Credit Unions
By Roy Urrico
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada-based Integrated Financial Technologies (IFT), a provider of business process outsourcing (BPO) solutions for lenders including front-and back-office services to credit unions and other lenders, launched its fully compliant and brandable IFT Ignite platform.
IFT’s President Tod Chisholm sat down with Finopotamus to discuss IFT’s new Ignite platform and the company’s planned expansion into the U.S. credit union market.
Ignite is the newest iteration of the IFT’s servicing platform, and according to the company facilitates all lending management processes, including sales, onboarding, customer service, and collections.
“We are delighted to announce the launch of IFT Ignite, which intelligently combines years of lending experience with state-of-the-art AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning technology that will help lenders optimize efficiency, reduce costs, improve profitability, and build customer loyalty,” explained Chisholm. “Through the IFT Ignite platform, we can create and implement effective marketing campaigns, reduce receivables, provide accurate and consistent customer service, and give lenders confidence that all mission-critical back-office operations will be performed with unmatched speed, accuracy, and execution.”
In addition, IFT Ignite’s engine integrates with third-party data sources to ensure that representatives have the most accurate information at their fingertips.
“We have effectively built a solution for the Canadian credit union market that has direct application in the U.S. and now we're at the stage where we want to expand the (lender) servicing opportunities into the U.S.,” said Chisholm.
Building a Lending Foundation
According to Chisholm, IFT’s founding came from an executive team immersed in the lending space, and built on a foundation of deep market expertise, advanced technology, and a professional and outcome-oriented staff trained to provide a high level of service and support to borrowers.
“The business was born out of 25 years plus lending experience,” explained Chisholm. “We always knew that one of the obstacles to be able to grow your (lending) business, to get into new channels, to provide services or provide lending products to your customers was always technology and servicing.”
Developed on the Salesforce.com architecture, IFT Ignite facilitates the management and delivery of a wide range of essential lending processes. The cloud-based system enables agents to access and retrieve vital member data in real-time, including up-to-date personal information such as current account data, addresses and contacts, employment records, payment histories, past loan applications and decisions, and other necessary information.
Through this platform, IFT Ignite can provide accelerated and precise business process outsourcing (BPO) services to lenders, improving loan performance, compliance, and operations without their having to staff whole departments, Chisholm maintained.
Chisholm added that the solution provides all lending-related services through integration without requiring a massive technology lift or a huge investment in FTEs (full-time equivalents). “We like to say (we provide) configuration, not code, and in a very timely manner, without having to replace all of your core backend systems. You can actually use things like text messaging, which shockingly enough, a lot of lenders are still not able to use, (and) have a 100% QA (quality assurance) using artificial intelligence.”
Eyes on U.S. Credit Union Lending
Chisholm further spoke about the company’s reasoning to break into the U.S. market. “We have a decent footprint in Canada because of our expertise. As everyone knows, Canada's about the size of California from a marketplace standpoint.” He pointed out IFT’s sister company Inovatec, which provides cloud-based loan origination and loan management solutions, has already pressed heavily into the U.S. market.
He pointed out, from a servicing perspective, an opportunity exists within the U.S. lending marketplace. “Because we do such a good job with the credit unions in Canada, we think that same use case exists in the U.S.”
Chisholm perceives the IFT Ignite platform as a vehicle to grow the credit union lending base in the U.S. without credit unions having to make massive technology and operational commitments. “Through integration using the IFT Ignite platform, we can deliver that service in a white label format and enable it very quickly as opposed to trying to do it as your own dedicated siloed project.”
Chisholm suggested credit union use cases of IFT and BPO services generally fall into two scenarios:
· Small to medium sized credit unions. Chisolm said, “Because of size and scale, they don’t have the operational capacity or the expertise to do some of these things, but they have the capital. Most credit unions have a lot of deposits and maybe not as many lending products as they would like to deploy.” The servicing potential for this grouping of credit unions who do not have that expertise “is a good opportunity for us,” added Chisholm.
· Large Credit Unions. Larger institutions have a different problem, he noted. “They're so large that it's really hard for them to focus on a particular niche or a particular channel or to do those big technology lifts that I was describing. We can service them,” said Chisholm.
“So, there's really those two scenarios — those that don't have the expertise and are too small, and those that are too big to be able to turn the Titanic — to step into some of these areas from a process delivery and a member delivery service," Chisholm explained.
IFT Ignite also offers modular services. “We've had scenarios where we do the full turnkey solution with lender partners in Canada,” noted Chisholm. He added, those lender partners did not have any platforms, services, people, policies or procedures. “We gave them all of that, set it all up, launched it under a white label component and continued to run with that.”
Chisholm said IFT Ignite generally does not provide all of its services to everybody. However, the platform can provide any portion of its BPO service menu and integrate using the IFT Ignite platform. Some clients use just the customer service, collections or credit analysis pieces. There is also a “sales cycle component where you're actually selling these products to those folks that are applying online for various products,” pointed out Chisholm. “It's basically everything except for mortgages.”
The easiest way to describe IFT Ignite is not entirely dissimilar to say a SaaS (software as a service) product, noted Chisholm. “We have the platform and the integration depending on the use case. The entire lending life cycle all the way from the frontend through to the backend servicing. There is no component of it that we cannot deliver.”
Compliant and Ready to Mingle
Chisholm asserted IFT Ignite makes sure that everything is compliant to the current regulations in whichever segment they operate, including banking. The IFT president also assured that the company holds “100% QA” (quality assurance: the process of validating compliance with regulations); and is SOC 2 (systems and organization controls) certified, a voluntary compliance standard, which sets a framework for working with all organizations.
IFT Ignite records every call, text message, or interaction with a customer and reviews it using artificial intelligence, he said. The system also looks for sentiment indicators – keywords that reveal a customer's distress, desire to speak with a manager, or maybe happiness over their experience. “There is nothing that you as a lender when servicing through the IFT Ignite platform would not know what is happening. They can actually get access to every single iteration of everything that happens.”
“We have many customers in Canada, some of the largest credit unions, for varying levels of equipment, automotive and power sports, using IFT Ignite and also using our services,” Chisholm said. In the U.S. IFT has some partners in a joint venture and other non-credit union activities. They are able to partner quickly. “We will put together an entirely new technology roadmap with servicing. Depending on the use case, we are talking about six to eight to 10 weeks to implementation from an integration standpoint.”
IFT’s clients comprise credit unions, banks, automotive lenders, power sports financing companies, and other providers. Among them, the CA$16.9 billion Langley, British Columbia, Canada-based First West Credit Union and the Auto and Equipment Division for the CA$27 billion Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based Coast Capital Savings.