The Lowdown on the Expert Outage

Filogix-ExpertFor much of the previous three days, thousands of brokers have had no way to submit applications to lenders. That’s because “Expert,” the industry’s biggest mortgage origination platform, was down.

The outage cost brokers deals in some cases, and prevented many from meeting client conditions, timeframes or appointment commitments. The aggregate industry-wide cost could easily be into seven figures, assuming even one out of 20 brokers lost a deal or a future client relationship because of this. There are also losses to lenders who now face application backlogs and potential lost deals.

Expert’s parent, technology provider Davis + Henderson (D+H), says the outage was caused by two separate issues. The first is suspected to be a database server problem (they’re still investigating to confirm this). The second was a disruption of service by its Internet service provider. D+H says the interruption was unrelated to it switching data centres last weekend.

As of this morning, Expert was back online with some brokers reporting a noticeable improvement in screen loading speed, compared to before the outage.

Davis-and-Henderson“Our biggest priority at the moment is stabilizing the environment and improving performance,” D+H VP of Lending Solutions Chris Pornaras told us today.

“We want to ensure that service levels meet what is expected of us before issuing a formal statement to our lending partners.” At that point—likely by the early part of next week—D+H will send out an official report on the incident.

All of this begs one obvious question: Why didn’t D+H have better redundancy? Expert is mission-critical to our industry. The brokerage business almost grinds to a halt without it.

Pornaras says, “We do have fully redundant systems…but because of intermittent service we wouldn’t go to full back-up (on Monday and Tuesday).”

When there is intermittent service, “We don’t call it an outage,” adds Jerry Lo, D+H’s Senior Director, Strategic Accounts. “Our redundancy plan takes effect (only) if everything is down.”

“…You almost always prefer to fix than to go to redundancy,” he notes. D+H therefore kicked in its redundancy plan only when it appeared that it would take longer to correct the problems than to cut over to its full backup system.

D+H would have made that call sooner, Pornaras says, but “Our partners assured us they would rectify (the problems) sooner than they actually did” and the diagnosis and fixes took longer than expected.

Many brokers will nonetheless wonder why downed users cannot automatically be switched over to separate backup servers in a separate data centre with a separate ISP. In 2012, where things like cloud servers and mirroring promise continuous application availability, you’d think there’d be a more instant backup system available.

This week’s problems are not the first for D+H. It has had “a couple of major issues over the last six months,” says Pornaras. March 28 was the last one.

He admits, “Outages are not what is expected of us,” and adds that D+H has made a “significant technology investment over the last several months” to “avoid these types of issues.”

MorwebThis week’s downtime has led some in the industry to re-evaluate alternative solutions. MorWeb is the obvious one. Kate Raynham, VP Client Services, Marlborough Stirling Canada, tells CMT, “We’ve had a noticeable increase in calls this week from brokers interested in setting up MorWeb accounts.”

(Just before this story went to press, MorWeb emailed the industry, claiming “8 years of 100% up-time.”)

In light of this, we asked Pornaras for his take on whether Expert deserves it dominant market position.

“We believe that competition is actually healthy,” he said. He noted very accurately, however, that alternative “technology has not been able to sustain user demands.”

This is true, and while some brokers rave about MorWeb’s user interface and back-end, its Achilles heel is its inability to route directly to lenders like TD, National Bank, B2B Bank, Home Trust and Bridgewater Bank.

(On the upside, MorWeb has various advantages like allowing all brokers to enter applications offline, including free integrated document management and storage, and imposing no contract minimum on the number of deals that must be submitted on its platform.)

Pornaras admits that there is a perception by some brokers that “D+H just doesn’t care.”

“That is simply not the case.” he says. “Folks have been working 24 hours a day” to fix the problems this week. “Clients don’t see that.”

“We don’t take for granted our customers…We enjoy our (leading) position at this point because we’re a best of breed solution.”

Sidebar: D+H is trying to get better at messaging the community when problems occur. This week, for example, it created a new Twitter handle @DHMtgMktplace to provide status updates to brokers in cases like these. Let’s hope brokers rarely need to use it.

Rob McLister, CMT

  1. I guess I’m one of those brokers who just can’t understand why D+H doesn’t have a better form of backup.
    As for MorWeb, I’d never even consider it if it meant having to fax applications to lenders not on the MorWeb network.

  2. For 99% of the brokers and agents using filogix, they are a faceless organization that does not meet our needs.
    Even ‘intermittent service’ interruption causes a huge amount of stress and anxiety for the people that use the system and the customers we serve. Filogix controls our business and way of life. We are paralyzed without it. I had to tell a number of customers that I could not tell them their mortgage was approved or even sent out because of a system problem this week.
    Now to see that the system has a redundancy that was not used because of a technicality is even more irritating.
    And for filogix to say this
    “We don’t take for granted our customers…We enjoy our (leading) position at this point because we’re a best of breed solution.”
    REALLY? When was the last time you saw a filogix employee in your brokerage’s office??
    Thanks, Brad

  3. I did start getting update messages on day 3, but why, when something like this occurs, do we not get immediate email notice of a situation. We then (potentially)can make other arrangements. Day 2 calls to Filogix did get a recording that there were issues and that they were being worked on. I think my clients expect me to be proactive and inform them of issues, rather than me simply waiting for them to call, and listen to arecording.

  4. I have been using Morweb for 3 years and will never go back. Don’t forget people, this call is up to your broker owner. Our firm offers Morweb and Filogix so we the brokers get to make their own decisions. A perfect example of the Morweb vs Filogix scenario is Mac vs PC.
    It is TD’s choice to not be on the Morweb system and because of that, we rarely send them business. In the rare event a lender requires us to use Filogix, then we simply use Filogix to submit. Morweb is a much more user friendly system and their staff actually care unlike the “before Morweb” years when I pulled by hair out in frustration with Filogix on a daily basis.
    Morweb is also client based instead of transaction based. This makes a HUGE difference. Are you only doing one deal with the client? I hope not! What happens when the client has 5, 10 or 15 properties? WAY easier to work on Morweb.

  5. I am a MorWEB user and I do not fax applications to lenders that are not on the MorWEB network… I have a Filogix key and when necessary, I send through that system (and hate it) so guess how much business those lenders get especially when I can find another lender on MorWEB that will do the same deal.
    Choice is everything when competing for deals!

  6. Due to a “technical error” I was not able to submit deals to FCX lenders (Scotia, Merix, Canadiana and others)if my name was anywhere on the file (co-broker, submission agent etc). This is because Filogix staff made an error when editing my user ID. This required me to transfer all files for these lenders to another broker in my office and have him forward all email corresponance to me so that I could work on my clients files.
    I called once a month for 10 months (and got nothing more than a ticket number) until they finally corrected the issue last week.
    Does this sound like a company that gives a damn about customer service?
    Almost one year to correct an issue that effected my business on a daily basis.
    If I had another option at my office I would use it exclusively on principle.
    D+H customer service is worse than the notorious Rogers Wireless.
    It’s time for a change.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copy link