Members of our nation’s military are making their home ownership dreams a reality with an assist from Veterans United Home Loans
Since World War II, the VA Home Loan benefit has afforded more than 25 million American veterans and their families upward mobility and helped them establish generational wealth for their families.
Since 1944, the program has experienced incredible growth. For young Veterans who served in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, VA home loans offer access to homeownership that sets them far ahead of their civilian peers. In fact, Fiscal Year 2021 was the biggest year in the history of the nearly 80-year-old benefit program. This year, the VA backed more than 1.4 million home loans — an all-time record — and represents roughly 10% of the mortgage market.
The nation’s largest VA purchase lender, Veterans United Home Loans, focuses on customer experience and helping veterans use their hard-earned benefits to make the home-buying process as easy and accessible as possible. While any major financial transaction can be a bit intimidating, the team at Veterans United has it down to a science.
“We do a lot of education about what that VA product is, because active duty, Reserve and National Guard members don’t always get that information,” explained Randy Raw, the company’s Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). “That's been one of our main emphasis points: helping to educate people on the benefit and how it can help them.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs and many lenders like Veterans United have invested heavily in technology and automation over the last decade. Those advances have helped streamline this benefit program and ensure VA loans remain competitive with other types of home financing. Today, most veterans and service members are able to take advantage of the VA loan’s incredible benefits (no down payment, no private mortgage insurance) with few or no additional complications compared to their civilian counterparts.
As CISO, Raw is also tasked with communicating cybersecurity planning, strategy, tactics, and outcomes to the company’s internal stakeholders.
“Security professionals must take a risk-focused approach and explain to their internal partners what that risk looks like and be willing to acknowledge that we're not going to be able to create a zero-risk environment. That's not a possibility,” he said.
Raw frames such conversations through the company’s culture and values, which have been very helpful in connecting leadership and supporting change management efforts.
“It's been beneficial, and when I go out and speak to different organizations and groups, my message is that this approach is applicable everywhere,” he said. “It may look a little different in each organization, and the opportunity and challenge for that leader is to figure out how it looks in their organization and how to work with their culture to make it happen.”
The department of ‘know’
In Raw’s view, security teams are often the department of “no,” with the power to deny requests that can be very tempting and easy to wield. That’s why his team operates the department of “know,” in which understanding the intention behind a request or proposal is the first step in determining the most appropriate security posture for the situation.
“Instead of being the ‘let's beat people with a stick’ department, let's join together with them and give them the help they need,” he said.
The approach ties closely to the firm’s outlook on innovation and the role cybersecurity has in bringing those forward leaps into fruition. In being the department of knowledge, Raw’s IT operation helps to move innovation processes in a positive direction that aligns with business goals.
“There is a level of risk that's going to happen,” he said.
Rather than looking at an innovation through a narrow, granular lens of possible risks, taking a broader, more proactive approach that centers on the organization’s appetite for risk is more sustainable. The question to ask, said Raw, is, “What is our actual risk and how can we do this with the acceptable level of risk where everybody understands what we're doing and everybody is on board?”
That takes a lot of relationship development and a great deal of trust, which the organization excels at building.
“We have relationships with other departments that are willing to bring things to us early so that we can begin to have a conversation around ways that we can approach a particular project,” he said.
The ability to foster great relationships extends to Veterans United’s ecosystem of strategic partners. Security analytics experts Chronicle, now part of Google Cloud, help the firm gain crucial visibility into their systems.
“Security has to have this ability to be effective and Chronicle gives us that,” Raw said. “We've subscribed to their service for a few years now and they've been a great partner for us. We influence and provide feedback about how the product works for us, and that's the differentiator between what I would consider a partner organization and just a vendor. There's a huge amount of value that we derive from that partnership.”
Strategic partnerships with resellers also come into play.
“We have a very good relationship with GuidePoint Security. They truly are a value-added reseller,” he said. “They are able to see a broader perspective than where we are in our specific vertical, and they can tell us what other organizations of similar size inside and outside the vertical are doing and why it's been impactful for them.” That insight helps the security team make better decisions.
Raw sums up the Veterans United mission this way: “We are passionate about helping our veteran heroes achieve the American dream of homeownership. We value their data, and we protect it.”
Just as our troops have done for all of us.
Note: “NMLS #1907 (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org). A VA approved lender; Not endorsed or sponsored by the Dept. of Veterans Affairs or any government agency. Equal Opportunity Lender. Licensed in all 50 states.”
We are committed to exceeding clients' expectations and creating an amazing experience with the VA Mortgage process by providing an abundance of information and personalized service to Veterans, military members, and their families across the U.S.
Veterans United consistently strives to amaze, measuring success by the positive impact on the lives we have of our clients, coworkers, and community.
Give us a call at 888-212-1958 for more information about your VA Home Loan benefits or to connect with a VA Loan specialist. You can also visit our site and see Veterans United reviews and testimonials from previous customers.
Learn more about Veterans United Home Loans at veteransunited.com/about.
Equal Opportunity Lender. NMLS #1907. NMLS Access: https://bit.ly/2jzFOrd. VA Approved Lender, not affiliated with any government agency. Info on our State Licensure: vu.com/licenses
1400 Veterans United Dr.
Columbia, MO 65203