07/26/2017

From eClosing to zClosing

By Ryan B. Peterson

In 2007, the five largest mobile phone manufacturers ­– Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and LG – collectively controlled 90% of the industry’s global profits. That same year, Apple launched the first generation iPhone – at a time when it controlled just 4% market share of desktop operating systems and no market share in mobile phones. By 2015, Apple singlehandedly generated 92% of global profits while all but one of the former manufacturers made no profit at all.1 Apple disrupted a massive global industry controlled by five seemingly impenetrable incumbents. 

Disruptors and technological innovators are not new.  Today’s newest technology and latest disruption are tomorrow’s commonplace.  Tech moves quickly, and consumers’ tastes change even quicker. How does one keep up?  In particular, how do independent title agents keep up with ever-growing technology changes and consumer demands?

In our ALTA ONE panel discussion entitled “From eClosing to zClosing” Martin Stone, Eddie Oddo, and myself will discuss these and other concerns/opportunities surrounding disruptive technology in the title space.  Remember the slow evolution of the use of email in your agency?  Or mobile notaries and signing services?  What once seemed daunting is now customary.  In time, it will be the same for eClosings, eNotarization, digital mortgages, and whatever my children (Generation Z) demand when they come of age and buy their first home.  “How do I prepare for eClosings?” Though a valuable question, it is not the question because that is just the technology disruption du jour.  In this panel we look forward to discussing the right question(s) to ask, how to evaluate the myriad of technologies available, and specifically how to prepare your agency for the constant stream of new technologies and consumer demands.  We look forward to seeing you at our ALTA ONE panel in October!

 

Ryan Peterson is the Executive Vice President of Westcor Specialty, and is responsible for the overall vision, strategy, and growth of the Company.  At ALTA ONE, Peterson will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled "From eClosing to zClosing” with his colleagues Eddie Oddo and Martin Stone. Click here to register now.

 

[1] Van Alstyne, Marshall W.; Parker, Geoffrey G.; Choudary Sangeet Paul.  “Pipelines, Platforms, and the New Rules of Business Strategy.”  Harvard Business Review.  Apr 2016.

It’s Not Official Unless It’s on Instagram

By Julie McConnell

I met my best friend on Instagram. No seriously, it's true. I subscribe to an online workout which is done (cue canned line) from the comfort of your own home. I essentially work out by myself with no class or trainer waiting on me to show up. Luckily for my undisciplined self, I discovered a group of women who do the same online workout and have connected with one another on INSTAGRAM. When I found this community of women, I was hooked and that is how I met my best friend. She posted, I clicked like.  I noticed that we lived in the same city, sent a private message, and the rest is history.

If this tool is powerful enough to connect people from all over the world and give them a platform to motivate and encourage one another on a daily basis, can it be used in our business in the same way? Can real estate professionals use Instagram to create a community and start a mutually beneficial conversation with one another? Or to meet potential clients they would not normally have met? Could it allow for settlement professionals to have unique and unlimited access to real estate agents?

One of the things I appreciate most about Instagram is that it is a medium that allows for a conversation to take place without the need to be face to face. People can participate in an ongoing and open way, not constrained by typical every day limitations.  

In this ALTA ONE Engagement Lab, we will discuss:

  • How to have a productive and meaningful presence on Instagram
  • How to show your agents and consumers another facet of yourselves and your company
  • How to use Instagram to connect with your clients
  • Keeping your messaging and branding consistent

If you are not marketing on Instagram, you are missing out. Come discuss ways to market your company one photo at a time.

 

Julie McConnell is Vice President, Marketing for Long & Foster Settlement Services and has dedicated her career to the development of successful agent partnerships and the growth of new client relationships. McConnell will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “It’s Not Official Unless It’s on Instagram” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Don’t Be the Weakest Link: Training Your Staff

By Genady Vishnevetsky

Genady cartoon Earlier this year, the IDC forecasted that security spending will reach $81.7 billion in 2017, an increase of 8.2% from 2016. Enterprises from Fortune 50 to small businesses continue to seek a silver bullet. The economy produces a dozen new security vendors every month who promise to solve all our problems. Yet, according to a 2017 Verizon report, 43% of users are still falling for simple social engineering attacks and 81% of users are still using weak or re-claimed password.

We all are focusing on the wrong things. If we look at the fundamental shift in the security paradigm over the past five years, we can’t ignore the fact that traditional network boundaries are erased, while inherent trust from social media drives many of our decisions.  Protection is no longer working, so we shift to detection and response. Each of us carries at least one computer in our pocket that is as powerful as our desktop from five years ago; and it is always on, always connected.

Technology and protection are necessary, but we must shift our focus to what matters most – Dave, the weakest link. Our duty as security practitioners is to focus on continuous user education and awareness, but we must be careful with the approach we take.

When you are creating a security awareness program, consider these things:

  • Make it relevant. Make it resonate with your audience. Give real-life examples from work or personal experience to show why your message does or does not make sense.
  • Praise and reward. Use positive reinforcement. Take five out of a hundred people who clicked on a phishing email and report “we had ninety-five percent resilience rate”, instead of “we had five percent failure rate”.
  • Test, train, and test again. Consistency is important. Use training exercise results to tweak your program.
  • Just in time training is the best way to modify behavior. Correct mistakes as soon as users make them.
  • Be creative. CBT’s are boring. Engage your audience. If you’re using PowerPoint, make it dynamic. There are many good short videos available on YouTube for free.

Focus on Dave!

Genady Vishnevetsky serves as Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) for Stewart Information Services Corporation, and is an established leader with experience in building successful security programs and developing defense against emerging threats. Genady will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled, “Don’t Be the Weakest Link: Training Your Staff,” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

 

07/25/2017

Finding the Right Talent in All the Right Places

By Rich Griffin

Question: When is the best time to plant an Oak Tree? Answer: 20 years ago.
Question: When is the second best time to plant an Oak Tree? Answer: Today.

If you’re anything like me, you always have a need for talented employees. But if you’re anything like most of the managers in the world, you only look when there is an immediate need. So what’s the best way to avoid the treadmill of timing your hiring needs with finding the best talent?

Here are five ideas to consider:

  • Turn recruiting into a year-round process. Start with the premise that the interview should not be the first time you meet a prospective employee. Good people are all around us when we take off our blinders and look around.
  • Create a system to engage talent down a path that leads to your door. Hiring the perfect employee at the exact moment you have a need is very much like catching lightning in a bottle. You may do it once, but you will be lucky if it ever happens again.
  • Let people know you are looking. Hiring doesn’t have to be a one-person show. Many hands make the work easier. Let other employees, vendors, partners and customers know you’re looking. They may have rock stars you didn’t know about, or the perfect candidate is unhappy at their current place of employment.
  • Tell your story and network like crazy. Bring more people into your circle who are already fans of what you’re doing, and you’ll become a magnet that attracts people who want to be part of something good.
  • If you are hiring because of turnover, it may be time to look in the mirror and ask the hard questions about the work environment you’re creating. Sometimes you already have the best talent and they are running out the back door because you’re not doing something the other guys are.

 

Rich Griffin is the National Sales Manager for North American Title Insurance Company and will be leading a discussion on the topic, Finding Talent in All the Right Places, on Wednesday, October 11 at ALTA ONE this year. Click here to register now.

Going Digital from Start to Finish

By Vicki DiPasquale

Communication and data collaboration technology has progressed leaps and bounds over the past decade. Consumers not only want, but expect simple and secure digital experiences. Yet the real estate transaction has been slow to adopt a seamless, completely electronic workflow, even with e-signing, e-delivery, and e-recording gaining traction.

When it comes to settlement agents, phone calls, emails, and even faxes are still their primary methods of communicating with lenders. What needs to change? Mainly, people’s mindsets. The technology already exists for settlement agents and lenders to collaborate digitally from the initial application through the post-closing disbursement and trailing document delivery.

The benefits of sharing data and communicating in a single online platform are numerous. First, it saves time and reduces errors and miscommunication because all parties are working with real-time data and instant messaging.

Second, it creates consistency and confidence by having the most accurate and timely information. The user always knows where to go to find the latest update. No missed emails, calls, or faxes.

Third, it’s a more secure and auditable process. While most organizations have security measures in place to protect data on their servers, they may not provide the same level of security for their email or telephone systems, or the party receiving the information may not provide encryption. Thus, communicating via these mediums can inadvertently expose sensitive consumer data to unauthorized access by outside parties. Communication via phone or email also raises concerns about the ability of both parties to provide a verifiable record of communication in the event of a regulatory audit.

It’s time to rethink traditional workflows and communication processes. Phone, email, and fax should no longer be the gold standard for collaboration. The right technology can offer efficiency and peace of mind in this new regulatory environment with ever-changing security risks. It is time for organizations to take the leap towards adopting technology for the entire mortgage process.

 

Vicki DiPasquale is the national sales manager at Simplifile and has more than 30 years in the title insurance and real estate industry. DiPasquale and her colleagues Tim Anderson  and Jack Rattikin will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Going Digital from Start to Finish” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Convert Your Customers into Influencers

By Elizabeth M. Russo

Have you claimed your business on YELP? Do you have consistent feedback from customers online? Do you know the most effective strategies for obtaining reviews from your best customers?

We can all easily name the customers who regularly refer us business and tell their colleagues why they love our team, but how can we get this same recognition online?  81% of the US population has a social media profile and over 70% of consumers trust peer review sites. It is a necessity for modern businesses to build their presence online through the same word of mouth connections that have helped them for years.

Managing your online presence is essential in today’s world. Failing to engage on social media leaves an impression that you don’t care what your customers think about your service.  You could even be completely unaware of negative feedback circulating about your business. Promoting your positive business connections online puts you in control of your businesses reputation.

“When we are closed to ideas, what we hear is criticism. When we are open to criticism, what we get is advice.”

–Simon Sinek, best-selling author

Social media marketing is still new for many title professionals who spend their day resolving title issues.  That’s why a successful marketing plan must include the participation of all team members, not just the dedicated “sales people”.  For a business to thrive, the entire team should be engaged with customers in all platforms.

During thisALTA ONE engagement lab, we hope to bring title professionals together to share advice on engaging with your customers, asking for reviews, responding to negative reviews, and maximizing the benefits of having loyal and happy customers advocate on your behalf!

 

Elizabeth Russo is the managing member of MCP Title Services, LLC and has a passion for helping title professionals meet the needs of today’s customers. Russo will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Convert Your Customers into Influencers” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Enhanced Up Selling

By John Haynes

The peace of mind and protection afforded by having an Owner’s Title policy is invaluable. So why doesn’t every home owner have this policy?  One possible reason is that as an industry, we don’t clearly explain the benefits of owning such a policy.  A second possible reason is that insufficient time is given to the consumer to make a decision.

No one really likes to be sold anything.  Even if it is important to them, most people naturally resist being sold.  The other side of that coin is that people love to buy stuff.  Even stuff they don’t need.

So what is the difference?  In the sale scenario, customers often feel that the sales person is more interested in making the sale than in listening to their needs. They become defensive. In a buy scenario, customers are guided to see the value in what they are buying. They feel the buy decision is theirs.  When the consumer is made to feel this way, they are less defensive and more willing to listen to features and benefits.

Those who are most successful in using the buy scenario have developed two important skills.  They have learned to ask relevant, open ended questions and to listen to understand.  Asking open ended questions allows them to collect information that can be useful later in the conversation, or later in the relationship.  Listening to understand allows them to focus and concentrate on the customer’s needs.  By doing these two things, it increases the likelihood of the customer reaching the buy decision.

The final key to success in getting your customer to buy is giving them sufficient time to decide.  Suggesting they purchase an Owner’s Policy at the closing table is in no one’s best interest.  Suggesting they purchase this insurance when they open their transaction and giving them material to read and research, allows them time to ask any questions they may have. This in turn creates a greater likelihood of them seeing the value in an Owner’s Policy and making the buy decision; giving them better protection, and growing your bottom line.

 

For the past fifteen years, John has worked as a coach and consultant to the title industry and is the owner of Make Sales Happen, a business development consulting company. Haynes will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Enhanced Up Selling” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

07/21/2017

Marketing with Your Real Estate Partners: The Non-MSA Way…So, What Can I Do?

By Dawn Lewallen and Sharon Sluder Risch

With all of the buzz surrounding how to market and advertise with your real estate partners in compliance with RESPA, it’s no surprise that there are a lot of questions about what you can do to connect with customers. Join us at ALTA ONE for this interactive session where you will enter the courtroom of Judges Lewallen and Risch.  After providing a recap of RESPA and the impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s enforcement actions, the judges will divide you into jury teams! Each team will be presented with a series of RESPA scenarios for deliberation and your jury team will be asked to render a verdict on their compliance – breaking down what you can and cannot do under RESPA.  This high energy, competitive session will teach you how to market with your real estate partners – without violating the law. Prizes will be given to the top two jury teams.

 

Dawn Lewallen is a Senior Compliance Counsel for federal regulations and a Senior Underwriter in the national Legal Department of Stewart Title Guaranty. Sharon Sluder Risch is a Vice President and Director of Marketing and Business Development for Trident Land Transfer. Both regulation and industry experts will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Marketing with Your Real Estate Partners: The Non-MSA Way…So, What Can I Do?” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

New Tech Creates New Risks

By Marjorie R. Bardwell, Justin L. Earley, and Alan B. Fields

The title world has changed.  The quill pen was replaced by a typewriter, then by a fancy memory typewriter.  A short time later, computers replaced the memory typewriter.  Clerks’ records went from bound books, to microfilm to being readily available online at your desk.  Title plants no longer have that musty smell of old books and maps, or the glare of microfiche readers.  Each technological advancement enhanced our efficiency, and changed the way we do things.

Now,  we’re about to make the biggest change of all – moving from physically signed paper deeds, mortgages and promissory notes to electronically signed, electronically notarized e-documents with closings conducted by video-links across the country.  Promoters are promising great efficiencies, and huge savings – and they may well be right. 

But the question remains, have the laws caught up with the technology?  Do the relatively “ancient” real estate laws governing what it takes to have a valid conveyance or mortgage have enough flexibility to work with 21st century technology?

At this year’s ALTA ONE, you’ll hear three industry experts discuss how the law has – and hasn’t – kept up with the technology, and what they are doing to fix it.

 

Marjorie R. Bardwell is Vice President and Director of Underwriting Services for Fidelity National Title Group, Inc. Justin L. Earley is a Vice President in the Corporate Underwriting Department of First American Title Insurance Company. Alan B. Fields is Senior Vice President and Director of Underwriting Service for WFG National Title Insurance. All three title industry experts will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “New Tech Creates New Risks” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.

Building the Right Foundation for Your Team

By James M. Czapiga 

Leading by example.  Change comes from the top. Behavior breeds behavior. We’ve heard these kinds of sayings before. But what does it truly mean to change the culture of an organization from one that’s “process or rules focused” to one where the focus is solely on the stakeholder? How is that done?

 “Changing company culture requires a movement, not a mandate.”
- Harvard Business Review

In our session, we will discuss how everyday actions of a company’s leadership team can help transform a company’s culture to focus on achieving goals by walking the walk and talking the talk. Create the movement!

Core values, bottom-up communication and transparency, employee empowerment, polling of stakeholders on improving interactions with the company, and ways to unleash the power and potential of employees will be the topics covered in this interactive session.  

 

A 20-year veteran of the title industry James M. Czapiga has experience in claims administration, underwriting, sale, and operations management. Currently, he is the President and CEO of CATIC. Czapiga will speak more in depth about this topic during a session titled “Building the Right Foundation for Your Team” at ALTA ONE in October. Click here to register for ALTA ONE.