Using Technology As A Competitive Advantage In The Title Industry

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web-tme914-jackie-hoytThe TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) Rule was a game changer. Now, all title companies must prioritize security and efficacy. Technology can facilitate this; in fact, title and settlement providers who leverage the latest technology trends will better serve their clients and their partners. These benefits will become significant competitive advantages as the lending environment becomes increasingly regulated.

By implementing strategic technology initiatives to support industry regulation, we have been able to achieve critical efficiencies and exceed client service benchmarks. Below are the top four technology initiatives that have transformed practices at Hillsboro Title Company.

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Hire an IT Manager with industry experience

Traditionally, title companies have relied on an outsourced IT resource to provide internal technological support. While these providers are able to meet most needs and make sure your network and equipment is working as it should, they are not well-versed in industry-specific best practices and regulations. That’s why Hillsboro Title Company opted to hire a full-time, in-house IT Manager to advise on all technology maters. With almost two decades of title industry-specific IT experience, he can advise on day-to-day break/fix technological problems, but also make strategic recommendations to improve operations on a much higher level. Having a person of his capacity on staff has allowed us to utilize technology to drive business growth and exceed customer service goals.

Implement collaborative software that features real-time updates

In 2015, Hillsboro Title Company implemented the portal on ResWare (work flow automation software we adopted in 2009)—a collaboration portal for all title company constituents.  Many other companies use this software, but not to its fullest capacity—to serve lenders, real estate agents, buyers, and sellers. Our model offers a client and partner portal into which our various audiences can log in and gain access to the information most relevant to them. In addition, this software allows us to leverage third-party integrations, furthering the automation of title workflow. For example, real estate agents can upload or download documents, underwriters can quickly see where an open file is in the process, and clients can see where the title process is in real-time. This technology is even more crucial now in this heightened regulatory environment because it reinforces deadlines, timeliness, and partnership. We are able to tailor services, products, and subsequent workflow actions to the customers’ needs and state requirements.

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Additionally, because real-time information prompts proactive response, issues on files are addressed more expediently. Our lenders have given this portal and our construction disbursing software rave reviews because they can see, in real time, what funds have been disbursed on a project and the percentage of construction work completed. This portal has also served to answer some of our most frequently-asked questions, providing a more instantaneous form of customer service.

There are many software options available to the title industry to engage partners and clients and improve efficiency. The key is to do your research and make sure you have qualified staff in place to facilitate implementation and training.

Employ electronic reconciliation capabilities

Expedited processes have been of utmost importance since the TRID Rule created accelerated processes. Hillsboro Title Company has been able to adhere to the faster-paced closing cycle, in part, by utilizing Rynoh Accounting software. While most companies reconcile accounts every 30 days with an outside accounting resource, our accounting program reconciles multiple accounts for us daily.

Not only does this software fulfill the American Land Title Association’s Best Practice Pillar 2 which states that title companies should “adopt and maintain appropriate written procedures and controls for Escrow Trust Accounts and allow for electronic verification of reconciliation,” but it also acts as a watchdog. Daily, accurate reconciliations reveal issues within 12 hours (as opposed to 30 days); the faster problems are identified, the faster they can be resolved. In addition, Rynoh automatically sends these electronic reconciliation reports to permissioned Hillsboro Title Company employees and our underwriters.

Encrypt your email 

ALTA’s Best Practice Pillar 3 mandates an information security program to protect Non-public Personal Information (NPPI) as required by local, state and federal law. Even before this best practice was released, Hillsboro Title Company prioritized the protection of personally identifiable information (PII). For several years, all of our emails that contain non-public personal information have been encrypted automatically by an onsite security program. This means that when we exchange emails or documents that contain private information, the receiving party has to type in a username and password to retrieve the information.  This additional layer of security provides peace of mind to financial institutions—and helps lenders meet their privacy compliance requirements as well.

Final Thoughts

If you are not progressing, by definition, you are stagnant. As technology continues to advance and additional regulations are imposed upon the real estate, lending, and title industries, we must pool our knowledge of available resources. What exists that can make our systems more efficient, our operations increasingly streamlined, and our customer service unparalleled? As we vet and ultimately select technological innovations, we must invest the time and money into utilizing them for maximum potential—and profit. We are all in this heightened regulatory environment together; together we can navigate this new landscape. And embracing technology will allow for a more comfortable journey.

About The Author

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Jacqueline “Jackie” Hoyt is the CEO of Hillsboro Title Company, a full service residential, commercial, and construction disbursement title insurance agent serving areas across Missouri. For more, please visit www.hillsborotitle.com or call 636-222-8623.