Shifting Motivations for Supporting LEP Customers in Mortgage Lending
The Unites States’ Hispanic population is one of the demographics most prepared to buy a home in the country, not to mention one of the major growth sectors—more than 40% of Hispanic adults are mortgage-ready. Regulators, lenders, and servicers all recognize the significance of not only the Hispanic but also the greater limited English proficiency (LEP) population and the importance of reaching these consumers in their preferred languages. Fifty-one percent of the nation’s population growth is attributed to the Latino demographic.
Despite the permissive, though not directive, regulatory environment regarding enabling programs in-language, organizations are hesitant in their approach. Ultimately, demand yields some action in some channels. This reactive approach covers the business need but falls short of fulfilling the demographic’s true need as consumers and the true value of the opportunity for the organization.
First movers in the LEP space are executing one of the key tenets of multicultural marketing—authenticity in their market approach and enabling their LEP consumers to fulfill life and financial goals. As organizations, they are dedicating programs to coordinate the execution of their strategies—as mentioned, primarily Hispanic-oriented. These organizations are growing their businesses by way of Hispanic consumers in the early stages and, more importantly, are increasingly recognized as lenders to the Hispanic community—a trusted relationship that cannot be undervalued.
The recent implementation of the Supplemental Consumer Information Form (SCIF) addendum for foreign language preference is the new minimum to capture a home buyer’s language of preference—an operational requirement and a valuable data point. Top performers in the space leverage the language of preference to enable the Hispanic servicing experience (and facilitate strategic channel coverage in additional languages for LEP by way of over-the-phone interpretation).
Industry influencers are raising awareness for Hispanic and LEP segments and lobbying for even stronger, more directive language to guide broader program roll-outs across the industry. In the meantime, there are three actions organizations can take to push their programs forward in a compliant way:
- Enable your Loan Officers (LOs) to self-brand in the market – As the operators closest to the communities being engaged and served by lending institutions, their voices are the first to reach neighbors and future homeowners. Workflows that support compliant content creation and publication, including certifying a baseline linguistic competency of the LOs, is the first opportunity to demonstrate an earnest effort to engage with LEP communities and build invaluable trust.
- Lead with financial education content in-market – Engagement with multicultural communities is likely many LEP consumers’ first home-buying experience in the United States—a system that will be substantially distinct from their home countries’. Giving these home buyers confidence by enabling them to understand the process, expectations, and requirements is critical to the trust they will have in the organization moving forward.
- Enable language support in the application and underwriting – The expansion of in-language support creates options for the LEP borrower. Passing the cost of providing non-English documentation to the consumer and not being able to support non-English conversations increases the risk that these borrowers will seek better assistance and support elsewhere.
No matter the approach, there is certainly a path forward on the journey for a Hispanic program. Guaranteed Rate has recently announced its milestone of enabling the end-to-end Hispanic experience with the support of TransPerfect. Check out the spotlight here, and contact us for a conversation on best practices.