Employment Verification Platform Aims to Help CU Home Finance Market
By Roy Urrico
New York City based Argyle, a payroll connectivity platform for financial service organizations, aims to helps credit unions grow home finance market share by improving process efficiencies and the borrower experience.
Argyle maintains its automated income and employment verification solution not only eliminates steps in the authentication process to get credit unions to closing faster, but does it at 80% less cost than credit bureaus and manual workflows.
“We play in the verification of income and employment space,” said John Hardesty, general manager of the mortgage division of Argyle. He described how the company’s latest platform launch, Argyle 2.0, transforms how businesses retrieve and operationalize income and employment data.
Hardesty added that historically, verifications for credit unions and mortgage lenders have primarily depended upon entities such as “credit bureaus, holding data, buying consumer data, then charging a very high (amount) to credit unions and mortgage lenders to verify income employment during the mortgage process.” This unwieldly and high-friction verification process affects customer experience, loan conversion rates and funding times, he added.
Argyle’s 2.0 platform includes updates to its console, application programming interface (API) and Argyle Link, a white-labeled, embeddable front-end interface. Argyle Link allows consumers to instantly connect their payroll or employer accounts to share income and employment data with service providers in real time, completing the onboarding process without having to leave the provider’s offering. Besides payroll connectivity, Argyle Link also allows for the manual upload of payroll documents, covering all consumers with a single workflow.
Appealing to Credit Unions
In May 2023, Argyle announced at the Fintech Nexus Conference that it had grown its consumer verifications 100% year-over-year and welcomed more than 35 new customers — including a number of credit unions — to utilize its direct-source data portability tools across mortgage, lending, banking, background and tenant screening.
“We're on track [in 2023] to almost triple our mortgage clients. And a hefty bunch of it is credit unions,” Hardesty shared. Among the credit union that recently installed Argyle’s direct source verification of employment and income solution (VOEI) are Georgia United Credit Union ($2.1 billion, Duluth, Ga.), iThink Financial ($2.2 billion, Delray Beach, Fla.), Bethpage Federal Credit Union ($12.3 billion) and Lake Michigan Credit Union ($12.4 billion, Caledonia, Mich.).
"Time and accuracy are critical when processing member applications. We chose Argyle as our verification solution to ensure we receive the correct, real-time income and employment data as efficiently as possible," said John Harpst, vice president mortgage strategy, Lake Michigan Credit Union (LMCU). "With Argyle, we are confident we receive a complete income picture for the member without the concern that we missed important information that could affect the outcome of their loan approval."
In June 2023, Argyle announced it joined the American Credit Union Mortgage Association (ACUMA), a not-for-profit trade association dedicated to credit unions and mortgage lending, to bring its automated income and employment verification process to credit unions. “We're the first and only credentialed verification tool to be a part of that network,” said Hardesty.
ACUMA’s membership is comprised of credit union professionals and their primary suppliers. ACUMA member organizations include federal and state charted credit unions and CUSOs, mortgage insurance companies, secondary market investors, investment banking firms, and technology companies.
Using Employment Verification Technology
Hardesty explained one of the biggest pain points for credit unions is in the origination process when members seeking loans provide their pay stubs or W-2s. In some cases, they also need their employment and income re-verified later. This can happen when an applicant gets prequalified or a gap develops between application and the loan actually closing. Hardesty pointed out that the noted process is normally done by paper or by phone calls. In contrast, over the past four or five years, Argyle has built direct connections into payroll providers that can automate all of this.
On behalf of the consumer, Argyle packages income and employment data and ships that data directly back to the credit union. “So, we've solved (verification of income and employment) through a very programmatic approach that drives efficiency, better member experience, and lowers the cost of doing of verifications,” said Hardesty.”
When mortgage volumes are in a period of decline, Hardesty said credit unions and other lenders examine their profit and loss statements even more closely. “The fact that we can come in at 80% cheaper, but also enhance the member experience, is our one-two punch. And why, an association like ACUMA took us in very quickly to bring in this new technology to provide a cost savings opportunity to the credit union experience.”
Hardesty noted in some cases, Argyle is party to the credit union’s Uniform Residential Loan Application Form 1003 application experience. “Some of our credit unions have decided to use us at loan origination. Before it goes into processing or underwriting, they are actually emailing or sending a text out for the member to log in. Then we are getting the data once that happens. We work across the verticals.” Hardesty explained the Argyle platform can handle different types of loans such as auto, personal, consumer and mortgages. “Anything that needs a verification of in income, employment, we lean into those areas to support credit union.”
Argyle offers two experiences. A standalone platform (“turn it on, tomorrow we train you and you go”); and integrated into the credit union’s technology ecosystem to make it more quickly scalable, Hardesty noted.
In a May 2024 webinar that featured senior leaders from several Argyle credit union clients, Andy Woodman, senior vice president mortgage Lending and Loan Trading at Georgia United Credit Union described his experience. “We've been using it for about five months now. It is not integrated into our LOS (loan origination system). It is forcing our loan officers to have those discussions with our borrowers on the front end. As we explain this process, we have 70% (click through) with the link with Argyle. Overall, the success rate is about 40%, which is fantastic. The costs for a verification now is absolutely cut by more than half.”
Woodman also elaborated on time saved. “We have saved about three to four days in time spent in placing orders and placing calls for verifications of employment. Our close times have been cut by about 4 days since the start of the year.”
In the same webinar, Harpst from LMCU, stated: “It really starts on the front end with the loan officers at the point-of-sale side. Once they embraced that and say ‘wow’ this is efficient, where the member can upload their pay stubs, W-2s and we can just go in and get that and get updated paystubs. And that is being transmitted securely. Hats off to Argyle. Great product.”