The annual National Settlement Services Summit (NS3) took place earlier this month, and FAN and AMD were there in full force! While it’s always great to see old friends and make new partners and contacts, it’s also useful to check out the content…especially after having a year or so without many in-person events.
Here’s what our team took away from the Summit…
For many on our team, the star of the event was the session on the arrival of Real Time Payment (RTP) technology in the industry. Cheryl Gurz of The Clearing House did a great job of explaining how it works, as well as benefits such as fraud reduction, faster funding and more.
Chief Economist Elliot Eisenberg was another huge hit with his humorous, well-reasoned and entertaining look at what’s coming. While he does see an (almost inevitable) recession in the cards, he does not see a “crash” for our economy. He strongly emphasized that we’re not in for another 2008-like meltdown by any means.
Finally, whether in the sessions or overheard in the exhibit hall, it’s very evident that our industry is extremely focused on automating just about anything able to be made digital. That includes implementing new products to the tech-stack (like RTP or AI-enabled customer service) as well as upgrading existing technology. The buzz in the hallways also the continuing fallout from a very high profile data breach and ransomware attack in the past year. The message is finally getting through—it’s time for the title industry to upgrade its cyber defenses. And for those who still aren’t convinced, we’re hearing (and seeing) more and more lenders are beginning to demand the same of their vendors. It’s no longer a choice. Increased vetting and higher standards are quickly becoming the new normal if you want a lender’s business.
Finally, the closed-door roundtable that closed the conference reminded us that the CFPB is gearing up for increased enforcement activity, especially in the title space.
Overall, although the news was not always sunny, the positive attitude and determination that defines our industry was present throughout the event. It’s clear that 2022 and 2023 will be a bit different than what we experienced in the past few years. Fortunately, it’s pretty clear that we’re all preparing for it and ready to take on the challenge!
Except, this wasn’t the same old tech show. And there was little talk of things like “end-to-end” solutions or global fixes. The silver bullet we’ve all been seeking was not present at this conference. And it still doesn’t appear that Zillow, Amazon, Google or Tik Tok will be swallowing the biggest players in the industry and imposing a one-size-fits-all technology to save the day. (Thankfully.)
Finally, it would seem that the various CEOs and COOs, operations managers and tech buyers are learning to plan for tech stacks in order to achieve optimal results. They’ve tried, and failed, many times to make the major investment in an alpha production system, only to find their frontline workers using 3rd party phone apps and sticky notes to work around these “global solutions.”
By the way, this is not a knock on production systems. There are a lot of great ones out there. It’s just that few can solve every unique problem or challenge from a one-size-fits-all position.
The decision makers of our industry are realizing that the “best” technologies in the industry may not always be the best fits for their own unique operations. A multi-state title agency focusing on refinance business rarely has identical needs to the family-owned agency that’s built up a two state, multi-office system over four decades of purchase business. So why do we expect the same technology to have the same results for each of them?
We believe that the “traditionalism,” or “conservatism” or just plain stubbornness that once characterized this great industry when it comes to adopting new tech, is giving way to something else: practicality. Planned well, combinations of the right tech—even if it’s all single or simple use solutions which coexist and collaborate—can move mountains.
And that change of collective receptiveness? Well, it not only bodes well for our industry when it comes to new tech. It also portends good things for the adoption of existing tech. Like, say, RON or eClosings.
2022 may be a very good year in many ways. If this trend bears out, it could be a landmark year for us.
Although we’ve been to a few of the first in-person conferences to be had since before the COVID lockdown, ALTA ONE was a nice barometer as to what’s gone back to “the way it was,” and what hasn’t, as we slowly reopen the doors to society. We thought it might be fun to share a bit of that with you if you didn’t have a chance to attend. And, by the way, ALTA did a great job navigating some of those challenges!
One of the first things you’d have noticed if you had attended this particular show was that many folks seemed to be in a vacation-like mood, and were clearly very happy to catch up with old friends, partners and peers. The fall ALTA show has always had a bit of a more leisurely, social vibe to it—not that plenty of real networking and work doesn’t get done. So this was no surprise. But there were even fewer suits to be seen. Dress was just a bit more casual than we remember. The parties and after-hour events were a little livelier. And the typical attendee eye color was a little redder at those 8am sessions (Yep. Those are still a thing.)
We wondered how the exhibit hall would work out. Attendance was a bit lower than you’d have seen in the past, but more robust than one might have expected this year, especially with the recent storm damage and pandemic surge. But there were few reminders of those tragedies at this convention. ALTA also did a nice job creating a hybrid model so that attendees who couldn’t or didn’t want to travel could still attend all of the sessions.
The exhibit hall, always a barometer as to the success of any conference, was anything but stagnant or empty. What was especially notable about this exhibit hall, in addition to its vibrance and energy, was what types of businesses were exhibiting. Not that long ago, you were likely to see exhibitors from only a few categories at any major title/settlement show. First, you could count on the production technology (title and vendor management) providers, no matter what. Then, you might find abstractor/examiner businesses or online search tech providers. Finally, you could count on back-office service providers, be they “offshore” or “onshore.” After that, you could also expect an additional smattering of other related businesses manning their booths and conducting their raffles.
Not this year.
We were struck by the variety of tech providers at this year’s ALTA show, and not just production systems. RON providers. AI providers focused on customer service. Electronic disbursement providers. In short, less evidence that the only cure for the title industry’s ills is an “end to end” technology, and more specialization. We also saw a lot more engagement in the exhibit hall as well. Maybe the title industry is finally catching on to the idea that this is a process that truly needs to be streamlined!
We’ll only tease you by sharing that one entrepreneurial exhibitor went so far as to offer Bloody Mary’s and a local jazz band at their booth for the early morning hours on the first full day of the event. Kudos to them!
All of that’s just the starting point. We observed a lot more at the ALTA ONE convention this fall. So much so that we’ll be bringing you another raft of observations in part two of this blog…coming soon!
Conference season is one of our favorite times of year. Even the virtual conferences of 2020, although they didn’t have nearly the same appeal, were worth attending. But as we see society re-open for business slowly but surely, there’s no doubt we’re ready to hit the road.
You’ve heard it a thousand times before, but it’s really true. Ours is a relationship-based industry. We build our businesses on relationships and referrals. And those start at the face-to-face level. One meeting at a time. One conference at a time. One client at a time. Where better to meet new people and catch up with old friends than an annual convention?
There’s a lot to discuss on stage and in the breakout rooms, as well. A lot’s happened in the industry (not to mention the pandemic…) since fall of 2019. Heck. A lot’s happened since May, 2021. So it will be good to hear from the experts as well as hash it out over cocktails or coffee in the exhibit hall or hallways. You can’t always get the full measure of that in a chat room or a Zoom breakout. Again, we give a lot of credit to the organizations that carried on during the great lockdown. But we’re willing to bet they’re as happy as we are to get back to in-person events. After all, a Zoom happy hour has a lot more in common with drunk dialing than social networking, don’t you think?
This year, we’ve got our tickets in hand for the following events:
We’re heading to New Orleans for ALTA ONE (October 12 – 15).
And don’t forget NS3 in Florida (August 31 – September 2).
There will likely be more travel ahead for us, but this should be a fine start. We hope to see you at one (or both) of these great events!
As technology progresses, title agents must stay up-to-date on trends and advancements – or risk getting left behind. At FAN, we have embraced the digital age and are helping title agents across the State of Florida learn the ins and outs of title closings in this digital era.
Earlier this month, our CEO, Aaron Davis, led a presentation at a conference for licensed title agents at the Gaylord Palms Conference Center in Orlando with the aim of providing resources for title agents to get ahead of the game on upcoming legislation and the changes that will soon sweep the industry.
At the conference, attendees enjoyed learning more about the various types of eclosings available. They were also educated on the different types of eClosings, including hybrids, in person, and RON, or Remote Online Notarization, and discussed numerous digital closing topics, such as:
The attending agents were able to earn CE credit as a result of their participation and are now better prepared to transition into the era of eClosings and remote online notarization.
How are you and your team preparing for the upcoming legislative changes? Are you prepared to offer eClosings and accommodate closers who wish to utilize RON during their closing process? If not, you can now request a course from FAN to better prepare you and your agents before the New Year. Email us now to find out more information or to schedule your course.
Because of our attendees, clients, and friends, Florida Agency Network raised $11,000 for Metropolitan Ministries! Thank you, thank you! We are looking forward to what next year brings!
You can watch a recap video by clicking HERE.
Florida Agency Network (FAN) is dedicated to ongoing education and being at the forefront of the industry, so it was only natural for us to have several FAN Executives attend this year’s 2019 National Settlement Services Summit. From the Underwriter Panel and Compliance Management Systems Seminar to the Consumer Privacy and Protection Workshop, the eClosing Seminar, and all the interesting topics in between, Aaron Davis, Mike Larosa, Amy Gregory, Andrea Somers, and Jay Roberts made the most of their experience – and, of course, had a whole lot of fun along the way!
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