Raising the Professional Bar: ALTA's National Title Professional Designation Program
|December 31, 2013
Ask any member of ALTA’s Education Committee and they’ll tell you the same thing: For years, there’s been talk of developing a certification or designation program to highlight industry professionalism. Due to various reasons, a program never got off the ground—until now. During ALTA’s 2012 Annual Convention in Colorado Springs, Colo., the association launched the National Title Professional designation program, which is designed to recognize land title professionals who demonstrate the knowledge and experience essential to the safe and efficient transfer of real property.
ALTA began accepting applications in December. The designation has several elements, including industry and compliance prerequisites, and training requirements.
“It is important to ALTA to promote professionalism within our industry and the National Title Professional program represents a measure of achievement and commitment to career development,” said Michelle Korsmo, ALTA’s CEO. “In today’s evolving marketplace, a rapidly changing and increasingly competitive workplace, distinguishing yourself from the competition can be challenging, so it’s essential to illustrate your professionalism, advanced level of skill and experience.”
Herschel Beard, a member of ALTA’s Board of Governors, a 22-year member of the Education Committee and a member of the 2012-2013 National Title Professional Council, said there are many in the land title industry who are eligible for and deserve the recognition and prestige associated with the NTP designation.
“We’ve discussed developing a program like this for some time,” said Beard, owner of Marshall County Abstract Co. in Oklahoma. “Now is the right time to recognize the professionalism and ethical standards in the industry.”
Building a Program
At the request of ALTA’s Board of Governors, the Education Committee began to develop a designation program in May 2011. Over the past year and a half, the committee developed the program’s guidelines, procedures and requirements. Eric Schneider, chair of ALTA’s Education committee and a member of the NTP Council, said a program had to be developed that would be palatable to state land title associations and applicable to members across the country.
“Our industry has come under increased scrutiny and we wanted to be able to highlight the professionalism of the members of our association,” Schneider said. “We believe that we’ve developed a program that augments state programs. Hopefully, this will drive participation at the state level, as this is a prerequisite to achieving the NTP designation. Earning the designation evidences a member’s participation in their state association as well as ALTA, the depth and breadth of their knowledge and their desire to increase the professionalism of the title insurance industry.”
Earn Points Toward Designation
In addition to several prerequisites, NTP program candidates must earn 100 points that can be attained from various categories in order to qualify for consideration. Leadership, participation and educational activities, as well as attendance at industry meetings must have been completed during the five years immediately preceding the application. Applicants receive one point per year of industry experience. A maximum of 30 points can be received based on experience. Points also can be earned through attendance at ALTA meetings and state/regional land title association meetings. In addition, points can be awarded for membership in other professional organizations related to the land title industry, such as escrow, bar, Realtor, lender and recorder organizations.
In addition, applicants earn points for serving on ALTA committees, presenting at meetings and contributing to ALTA publications. Points also are earned by the same involvement with state and regional associations, as well as organizations related to the title industry.
Assuming a candidate isn’t new to the profession, Beard said the designation is attainable by all industry professions, adding that the “point system illustrates how well-rounded a professional is in the industry because of the variety of activities that are involved in attaining the designation. It’s not just about passing a test or working with ALTA.” He added that the designation gives those new to the industry goals to get involved with ALTA and state associations such as volunteering for committees or giving a presentation at a meeting.
“There are multiple benefits and I’m hopeful the NTP program will have a positive effect and create a new wave of volunteers,” Beard said.
Industry education and training allow applicants to earn points toward the designation. Applicants earn points for programs or courses offered by ALTA’s Land Title Institute, state/regional land title associations, underwriters or alternative coursework.
“The path to designation provides much more than an education,” said Cheryl Jones, chair of the subcommittee that developed the NTP program and a member of the NTP Council. “It exposes you to experience, networking opportunities and enhances your ability to communicate. These important tools assist you in staying current within an ever-changing industry.”
It is important to the association to promote professionalism within our industry. The NTP represents a measure of achievement and a commitment to the industry. Anne Anastasi, president of Genesis Abstract and past ALTA president, understands the importance of promoting the highly skilled and knowledgeable members of the industry. She earned her Certified Land Title Professional designation from the Pennsylvania Land Title Association in 1993 and has proudly included the CLTP initials after her name ever since.
“When a potential customer asks me what the initials mean, I proudly describe the program and the accomplishments necessary to attain the designation,” she said. “I am looking forward to applying for the ALTA designation. I know it will set ALTA members apart from others in the industry if they attain the national designation.”
Attaining the designation highlights a member’s diverse knowledge of the industry and shows he or she upholds high standards.
“There isn’t a better way to demonstrate that you have all of the qualities necessary to call yourself the consummate professional than to attain and market your professional designation,” added, Anastasi, who is the inaugural chair of the National Title Professional Council..
The designation also could help industry professionals prove their competence, concern for compliance and value to lenders who need to vet their service providers
Sandra Bell, co-chair of ALTA’s Public Relations Committee and vice president of corporate marketing and communications for First American Title Insurance Co., agreed that this is a great tool for members to set themselves apart from non-members.
“This designation is another powerful way in which our members can differentiate themselves in their communities, and give customers the confidence that they are working with a knowledgeable professional,” she said.
Those who complete the program and earn the NTP designation will be recognized in ALTA publications, on the ALTA website, at ALTA events and select state land title association meetings. Also, members who attain the NTP designation can enhance their industry credentials by using the NTP designation on their resume and in networking activities.
“There are a variety of ways a person can use the designation to effectively promote their expertise and capture more business,” Schneider said. “They can use the NTP designation and logo in their publications, on their business cards, company letterhead, email signature, company website or any marketing materials, subject to any state law or bar association restrictions or limitations.” (Refer to ALTA’s National Title Professional Rules of Use for proper use of the ALTA and NTP logo.)
Once awarded, the designation begins immediately and expires Dec. 31 of the third year following designation. Renewal applications must be submitted by Oct. 31 of the renewal year to allow time for processing.
“We are excited to roll this out to membership,” Beard said. “We had our first NTP Council meeting to discuss what’s next and how we will continue to improve the program and provide recognition and networking opportunities at ALTA meetings for those who attain the designation.”
National Title Professional Council
Jeremy Yohe is ALTA’s director of communications. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Chair: Anne Anastasi, CLTP, Genesis Abstract
- Christopher Abbinante, Fidelity National Title Group
- Eric Schneider, Lakeside Title Co.
- Herschel Beard, Marshall County Abstract Co.
- Peter Birnbaum, Attorneys’ Title Guaranty Fund
- Cheryl Jones, Old Republic National Title Insurance Co.
- Crystal Peltola, Alaska USA Title Agency
- Shari Foster, Fidelity National Title Group