December 7, 2021

Why Banks Resist Innovation and To Never Forgetting Marge, featuring Courtney Thompson




Why Banks Resist Innovation and To Never Forgetting Marge, featuring Courtney Thompson
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Why Banks Resist Innovation and To Never Forgetting Marge, featuring Courtney Thompson
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Courtney Thompson is the founder of Consigliera. As she puts it, Consigliera is the mortgage industry's go-to consulting firm for people, process, and technology transformation while honoring the human experience. She’s passionate about consumer rights, fair lending, and treating people like humans, not just loan numbers. Before launching her firm, she was a senior executive overseeing loan operations for loss mitigation and default services at Flagstar Bank in Troy, Michigan. That’s where we met her.

We immediately recognized that she was a special person, someone who could make a real difference in this field. And she has. Her insights benefit fintech startups and others seeking to drive impactful and sustainable change to the lending sector.

4 noteworthy takeaways from the episode

#1: Why banks resist innovation

Courtney’s been on the front lines of mortgage servicing throughout her career. She understands the business side and people side—and the often uncomfortable intersection of the two. In our discussion, she described two central issues holding back loan servicing from making the most of technology to improve performance. 

“I think a lot of 55-year-old finance guys who know nothing about mortgage servicing operations are managing to the bottom line instead of looking at a holistic picture of how to do things better,” she says. “The second piece is the regulatory environment...There's a lot of rules about numbers of touchpoints and numbers of phone calls and letters and disclosures and information that needs to be given to the consumer at certain intervals.” 

With a lack of incentive to innovate at the operational level, companies remain stagnant. Courtney points out that this is the fundamental challenge for any fintech hoping to reach lenders, especially on the servicing side. 

#2: Some lenders think differently 

Fortunately, Flagstar Bank did see the value in innovation. And Courtney made it happen. 

She was the executive responsible for Flagstar’s Fintech Accelerator Program, designed specifically to bring new technologies to lending. 

When Stavvy first presented to her team in 2020 (at the height of COVID), we got nowhere fast. That is until Courtney suggested we retrofit our remote online notarization (RON) capability (which we had designed for closings) for use in loan servicing. She pointed out that RON could improve interactions with borrowers in default and do so safely during the pandemic. “It was one of the best gifts I never asked for,” she describes. “It was one of those moments where multiple parties were willing to open their eyes” and see new possibilities.

#3: Lessons for fintech

During our conversation, Courtney returned several times to the challenge of bringing innovation to the lending world, primarily in loan servicing. 

Inertia is a prime enemy for fintech. “When you ask people to think outside of the box, and they don't believe that they have the authority to do so, they don't have the courage to do so; they don't have the time to do so, it just doesn't happen,” she says. Fintech firms, she warns, will struggle to gain traction until they find the rare individuals ready for real change. “The fintech community has to seek those people out and latch onto them for dear life because those are the ones that will change the game.” 

Courtney reminds us that the companies and people who dare to revolutionize, make waves, and question the status quo with innovation will change the industry—for the better. She challenges us all to have the courage to be an early adopter, think differently, and embrace change. 

#4: “Always remember Marge”

She also offered another, more subtle tip. One that we still carry with us today. 

“Always remember Marge.” 

Marge is a nondescript person of limited perceived authority, who's nonetheless “keeping a universe afloat on her shoulders.” 

Courtney mentions that vendor management is typically the first person a fintech will talk to in a bank. “Those are people that are constantly pulled in 17,000 directions, and they just would like a little bit of kindness. So you have to treat everyone as if they're Marge.” Bring her a bagel. Remember her name and her kids’ names. You may need her support and buy-in more than you realize—it only takes one person to derail your whole mission. “So be humble; take care of Marge. And wear a button-down shirt, for God's sake,” she adds.

Thank you, Courtney

We love working with Courtney and always enjoy her unique, candid perspective on our industry, and we wish her continued success with Consigliera. To learn more about Courtney and Consigliera or get in touch, follow her on Linked In or visit her online

“I decided, ‘You know what? I'm going to choose to spend my time doing the things that I want to do, and it's really to help the mortgage servicing industry meet the consumer where they are.’”    

Courtney Thompson, Founder at Consigliera



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