Freddie Mac Boosts Home Lending Efficiency as Demand for Mortgages Grows

$2.9T

in housing market assets

11M

active single-family loans

80

terabytes of protected data

Home lending giant Freddie Mac needed a more efficient way to manage and protect information throughout its data ecosystem, especially as the home-buying boom gained momentum. By taking a platform approach – deploying automated quality controls and cloud-ready connectors – Freddie Mac protects data wherever it moves, mitigating exposure risks and meeting unexpected spikes in mortgage data processing with the same number of resources.

“With Informatica, we know we can trust our data and protect sensitive information whether it's on-premises or in the cloud. That’s critical as we continue our AWS and data modernization journey.”

Aravind “Jag” Jagannathan

Vice President and Chief Data Officer

Freddie Mac, ranked No. 41 on the 2021 Fortune 500 list of the largest U.S. corporations, is on a mission to make home ownership possible for homebuyers across the country. The government-sponsored enterprise (GSE), founded in 1970, buys mortgages on the secondary market, then groups and sells them as mortgage-backed securities to investors on the open market. This critical process increases the supply of money available for mortgage lending, allowing lenders to provide more loans to qualified borrowers. 

Single-Family is Freddie Mac’s largest business unit. With more than 11 million active loans and a balance sheet of over $2.9 trillion, Single-Family generates approximately two-thirds of the company’s data stores. Like any institution handling personally identifiable information (PII), Freddie Mac’s data policies stipulate that the GSE know where PII is stored, who has access to it, and how to protect it. These data practices are critical not only to meet the requirements set forth by its regulator, the U.S. Federal Housing Finance Agency, but also to minimize exposure risk as the organization moves data to the cloud.

“Our stakeholders need to trust that their data is being protected,” says Aravind “Jag” Jagannathan, Vice President and Chief Data Officer at Freddie Mac Single-Family.

Regularly scanning Freddie Mac’s huge volumes of data for PII traditionally required a team of dedicated experts who had to search a vast data landscape distributed across many different systems. “Although the manual process worked and successfully prevented adverse incidents, we needed to find ways to operate more efficiently, automate the discovery of PII wherever it’s located, and free our teams to be more innovative and take on new business challenges,” says Jagannathan.

This vision to drive scale and efficiency would prove invaluable, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused an unexpected surge in mortgage volumes which led to an increased demand for high performance mortgage data processing and reporting.

“Now we can scan an extremely large set of databases and file storage locations to find, classify, and identify PII. By automating previously manual processes, confidence levels in data across the business and team productivity rose significantly.”

Marvin J. P. Boyd

Director, Data Management Technologies

The Journey to Improve Data Management Efficiency and Simplify Compliance

Freddie Mac started its data journey well over a decade ago, when the GSE began to extract and standardize duplicate and fragmented data from source systems for improved decision-making, using Informatica as its ETL platform. The team also worked to eliminate redundant and obsolete information to enable better business decisions by adopting Informatica MDM to master loan counterparty hierarchies and relationships, and Informatica Data Quality to cleanse billions of records.

“Informatica has always been a great partner in our data journey,” says Jagannathan. “Having an honest dialogue and a trusted partnership creates a strong engagement model, allowing us to move forward and meet our business objectives.”

As mortgage volumes increased, so did Freddie Mac’s data processing and reporting demands. Hence, the data team automated discovery of PII with Informatica Data Privacy Management. Using predefined workflows to identify, analyze, and remediate data risk, the team successfully scanned close to 80 terabytes of information, 256,000 columns of data, 65,000 tables, and more than a trillion rows of data.

“Now we can scan an extremely large set of databases and file storage locations to find, classify, and identify PII,” says Marvin J. P. Boyd, Director, Data Management Technologies at Freddie Mac. “By automating previously manual processes, confidence levels in data across the business and team productivity rose significantly.”

Automating scans also provides the data management team with greater visibility into files and apps that aren’t directly related to data privacy or PII. Having awareness of these additional data types helps the team communicate with stakeholders about their data and ultimately improves the organization’s decision-making.

By reducing exposure risk and automating manual tasks, Jagannathan’s team gains the flexibility to take on new business challenges—such as managing the influx of data processing and reporting that came along with increased mortgage demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although Freddie Mac’s primary goal has been increased efficiency, these initiatives also make it easier to comply with privacy laws such as the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and emerging legislation in other states such as Virginia.

“We’re able to avoid risk rather than having to respond to it,” adds Fred Krimmelbein, Data Strategy and Governance Manager at Freddie Mac. “Informatica helps our teams be much more efficient. We can meet demand with the same number of resources, even when data volumes increase dramatically.”

Extending Data Privacy Management to the Cloud for Resiliency and Cost Savings

Approximately 72 percent of Freddie Mac Single-Family data is now automatically scanned by Informatica Data Privacy Management, and the business continues to scan additional environments. As Freddie Mac replaces legacy applications and moves workloads and data to Amazon Web Services for resiliency and cost savings, the team can easily extend Informatica to the cloud.

“Informatica is a key partner in how we manage and protect our data ecosystem,” says Jagannathan. “We know we can trust our data and locate sensitive information, whether it’s on-premises or in the cloud. That’s critical as we continue our AWS and data modernization journey.”

Using Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services, the Single-Family team keeps master records current, even as IT deploys new cloud applications like Salesforce. Informatica Intelligent Cloud Services also helps synchronize contact data across multiple platforms and domains, ensuring that cloud-based workflows are infused with the same trusted data.

Maintaining Confidence in a Trusted American Institution

By empowering its teams to be more efficient at detecting and protecting PII, Freddie Mac is keeping personal data safe and remaining compliant, continuing to build trust in an already highly esteemed brand.

“We have the right controls in place around PII, and we know that those controls are working,” says Jagannathan. “As the Chief Data Officer for Single-Family, I can attest to my business partners that we have a great solution in Informatica for scanning our shared assets and databases to identify and protect sensitive information.”

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