San Francisco, Calif.‑based mortgage technology firm Polly has positioned itself to help lenders negotiate around the changing housing market, with its decrease in demand, volatility, and the real possibility of six more interest rate increases between now and 2023, to ensure players stay on top of the rapidly evolving industry landscape.
Company Founder and CEO Adam Carmel sat down with Mortgage Professional America (MPA) to discuss just how his company is going about doing that. "We're building the mortgage industry's first and only native, vertically integrated capital markets software solution," Carmel said. The intent is facilitation amid a challenging time for the industry, he added.
Given the mortgage industry's role in generational wealth building, his charge is heightened in importance, he said. In launching Polly, Carmel suggested he's not taking that legacy for granted: "The mortgage industry is one of the core pillars of the American economy," he began. "It just is. It's an industry that is a bedrock. We are a software solution that is looking to help banks, credit unions, and independent mortgage companies to optimize their margins, or revenue, or reduce expenses."
The motivation to launch Polly is rooted as a reaction to the symptoms of such a changing landscape on many fronts. One focus is on company building. While current market conditions may not be ideal, they have created an opportune time to maximize efficiencies, as Polly recognized. More than ever, the current challenges yield opportunities to improve on lenders' technology, Polly posits. With greater access to technology, and by refining and enhancing your processes and procedures by adapting cloud‑native technology, lenders are able to scale their mortgage operations for the long term, as Carmel sees it.
"The industry historically is a cyclical industry," he said. "We happen to be in a difficult — very difficult — environment right now. Our view is this is a time to be invested in your policies, your processes, and your people. To look at your software vendors and determine if they are the best. Are they delivering value? Is there a demonstrable ROI? Do they support your company evolving to have a digital footprint? That is what we mean by company building."
Polly software also addresses the need for efficiency. Amid market fluctuations, hiring sprees are needed to keep up with demand but could lead to mass layoffs when the market takes a downward turn. By using scalable software, lenders can meet the demands of the industry without onboarding and off‑boarding any additional staff, Carmel explained.
"For a mortgage company, for any company, it's all about the people," Carmel said. "This is an amazing opportunity to look at which people in your organization are A+, A‑, whichever, and look back at the interview process you installed, and the screening criteria, and put in place maybe an enhanced process so that you're able to attract the A+ people, the top sales leaders, the top loan officers, the top underwriters."
As something of a badge of honor, Carmel acknowledged experiencing firsthand the gaps that exist in legacy software solutions upon which many lenders rely. Given that knowledge, he founded Polly in 2019 toward developing a vertically integrated, data‑driven capital markets technology solution that would not only enable, but accelerate mortgage lenders' success. The result: Polly's cloud‑native, end‑to‑end ecosystem leverages patent‑pending technology to automate and optimize all areas of the capital markets and secondary marketing functions.
Among some of its elements: a Next‑generation Product and Pricing Engine (PPE); loan settlement and trading exchange; business intelligence and competitive analytics; and broad partner and integration network.
Asked to name a Polly client, Carmel invoked Movement Mortgage, one of the nation's largest lenders funding some $30 billion in residential mortgagees annually while operating more than 775 branches and employing some 4,500 workers.
Carmel's vision in launching Polly presciently pre‑dated the pandemic. His company's SaaS solutions are built on cutting‑edge tech solutions available today, he noted. "Polly's vertically integrated capital markets solution was built in the cloud, for the cloud," according to his company literature. "Through our use of modern cloud technologies and a high‑performance infrastructure, our solutions deliver the most advanced security, near‑infinite scalability, and access to the most sophisticated data science and machine learning tools available."
By presciently, he described his inspiration for Polly well before the pandemic when he started a mortgage company himself largely relying on a popular industry platform. "There were just so many pain points from the product, to the service, to you name it," he said. "We ended up having to replace it and we built our own. I went around to the other industry executives and asked: 'Are you experiencing the same pain points?' And they said 'yes, but we've had no competition for 20 years.' So I thought this is an interesting opportunity."
Thus, Polly was born: "This is a manifestation of those conversations," Carmel said. "We're trying to solve a really, really big problem in a really, really big industry, and create a demonstrable value in higher ROI for our customers, and we obsess over their happiness and success and seek to constantly innovate."
If company growth is any bellwether of success, the company is off to a strong start as industry players seek to optimize efficiencies. Polly has some 80 employees, Carmel said, and is expected to grow to a 110‑worker firm by year's end. Indeed, necessity being the mother of invention can be a promising endeavor.