Mortgage Alliance Canada is the country's largest independent mortgage broker. The company's 1,600 brokers funded $7 billion in mortgages in 2007 through programs that promise to provide the right mortgage on an individual basis for each customer. Customers have access to more than 50 monetary sources, from banks to private lenders, who offer hundreds of options for new home financing. Each Mortgage Alliance Canada office is an independently owned and operated franchise.
One of those franchises is Mark Herman, whose office is based in Alberta, Canada. Herman and his underwriting partner Katie McDowell were the number two brokers in 2007, funding more than $60 million themselves.
Herman and McDowell work out of four offices total, each of them has a home office, plus the company office, and a real estate office. Herman also spends a fair amount of time working from other locations, including a customer's home and various lending institutions. This high level of mobility made staying on top of the paperwork very hard. "Between customers and lenders we receive 7,000 to 8,000 faxed pages a year,"
Herman says. "Those documents could be needed at any of our 4 offices. It was nearly impossible to keep track of everything and make sure we had the right documentation in the right place at the right time. The cost and time involved in copying and filing alone was astronomical. And even then there was a good chance we'd have to drive from one office to another to pick up some other document. It just wasn't very practical."
Security was also a concern as documents were being sent to fax machines in open areas. "People are exposing their entire lives in a mortgage application,"
he says. "That's not the kind of thing you want out in the open for anyone passing by to see."
Another challenge was storage of faxes. By law, mortgage brokers are required to keep all documentation for transactions for 3 to 5 years. With 100% paper files, the company had to find room to store 10 or more banker's boxes for every year, or 30 to 50 boxes total.
Each of these factors was cause for concern by itself. Taken together, it became apparent relying on traditional fax machines was not the best way to operate the business. Herman decided it was time to look into alternatives.
Herman's search for a solution led him to MyFax. "MyFax seemed almost too good to be true when I first looked into it,"
he says. "Being able to send and receive faxes through my e-mail meant it didn't matter which office I was in - or even if I was in one. Wherever I was I could take care of things right away. Given how important it is to get documents to a bank within 5 to 10 minutes of receiving them that alone was huge."
Herman says he no longer has to find or wait by a fax machine that he has MyFax, As long as he has an Internet connection he is now able to receive faxes in his e-mail, preview them to see what they are and either re-fax or e-mail them immediately to the bank. That saves a lot of time compared to having someone stand by a fax machine to re-send a 30 to 50 page fax, he says.
Forwarding as an e-mail also helps preserve the integrity of the documents. Herman says by the time some transactions are completed certain documents may have been-sent 5 or 6 times. By using MyFax to forward them electronically, the documents remain as clean and readable as the original transmission, no matter how many times they are sent.
Another feature Herman likes is the ability to have inbound faxes sent to more than one e-mail account. "Katie is on my list and I am on hers, so we both receive the same faxes at the same time,"
Herman states. "If we're in different locations and there's a problem both of us can open the fax, talk right away, and develop a resolution."
In part because of the forwarding feature, signing up for a MyFax account is one of the first things all new employees are required to do. It's one of the few rules Herman has in place.
MyFax also solved the privacy concerns Herman had. Because all received faxes go directly into their e-mail Inboxes, there is no chance of a customer's sensitive financial information being viewed by unauthorized personal. "Customers feel a lot more secure when they know their documents are going directly into a laptop rather than to a fax machine."
To meet legal requirements for saving documentation, Herman now burns one disk per customer. "One hundred disks are roughly the size of a football,"
Herman says. "Paper files with the same information take up 5 or more banker's boxes, depending how many pieces there are to each. It's a lot easier and less expensive to store 100 disks than five banker's boxes."
Herman says that MyFax has made his business much more efficient and cost-effective. In addition to saving the cost of four fax machines, phone lines, paper and toner, there's the time element. "We save a good three to five hours per week every week because of MyFax,"
Herman states boldly. "Not to mention the money we save by not having to have a person stand by a machine feeding faxes to it all day. With the high volume of faxing we do, there is no question that MyFax is core to our business. I can't imagine what we'd do without it. And I don't want to try."
|"We save a good three to five hours per week every week because of MyFax. Not to mention the money we save by not having to have a person stand by a machine feeding faxes to it all day."
Managing Director, Mortgage Alliance Canada
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