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ALTA Developing Solutions Today for Better Tomorrow

October 10, 2013

ALTA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Korsmo opened the first general session of the 2013 Annual Convention at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla., sharing how the Association has focused on developing tools to help ensure members have tools to help turn market challenges into opportunities.

“We’ve been going through a lot over the past few years and there are many challenges ahead,” Korsmo said. “But, your trade association and this industry have done what American’s always do. We keep fighting, looking for solutions and working for a better tomorrow.”

Click here to watch a recording of Thursday’s General Session. First, Korsmo explained that ALTA has emphasized its advocacy efforts at the federal level and with state regulators, while improving communications with the state land title association partners.

She also touched on the launching last year of the Title Action Network (TAN), the premier grassroots organization promoting the value of the land title industry. In a year, TAN already has nearly 6,000 members with representation in all 50 states and 36 state association partners. ALTA also has developed the National Title Professional designation to help members differentiate in the marketplace.

These efforts and others have paid dividends as ALTA has gained more than 1,000 new members over the past year. With membership pushing 5,000, ALTA “is larger and stronger than it has ever been in its 106-year history,” Korsmo said.

Korsmo then turned to regulatory pressure on lenders to ensure the companies they work with also comply with consumer financial laws.

“Essentially, the CFPB is using banks as a regulator,” she added. “The CFBP is a different kind of banking regulator. Traditionally bank regulators are concerned about the bank as an institution. They are looking at the safety and soundness of the banks. The CFPB is responsible for actions of the banks that affect consumers at the household level. This is why we need to be serious about our compliance efforts.”

To help members compete in the market and highlight compliance of policies and procedures, ALTA rolled out its “Title Insurance and Settlement Company Best Practices” and associated tools such as the Assessment Procedures, Certification Package and Assessment Workbook.”

“The response from industry participants has been tremendous,” Korsmo said. “There are many aspects of the Best Practices that are difficult and cause real concern for companies of every size, but especially the smaller companies who have been the heart of this industry for a century. Because of this, we’ve provided tools and built a framework so ALTA members can show customers the written policies in place to help ensure compliance with financial laws.”

While ALTA has been busy the past year developing the framework, 2014 will be the year of implementation. The focus now will be on communicating with lenders to show them the benefits of Best Practices and how they can supplement their risk-management programs.

“We are working to ensure that lenders see a viable path to have as large network of settlement agents out there as possible,” Korsmo said. “The work our members provide helps ensure this. Often when I’ve spoken to national lenders, they tell me about how their local mortgage originators have such a strong relationship with a local title company because they are reliable, produce a quality product and create a great experience for the homebuyers and sellers.

The CFPB’s proposed integrated mortgage disclosures, which will replace the GFE and HUD-1, also will require title professionals to have a stronger, deeper relationship with lender clients. ALTA anticipates release of the final rule within the next month.

“ALTA is ready and has designed a strategy to ensure members have the needed resources,” Korsmo said.

In addition, Korsmo talked how ALTA is working to promote careers in the land title insurance industry by attracting a strong workforce by the future. ALTA has joined a Network of National Business and Industry Associations so it can reach potential employees and explain to them the career opportunities in the title industry.

“There is a lot to managing change,” Korsmo said. “It involves understanding where you are at the moment, understanding where you want to be, getting support from the people within the system and developing a plan to get where you want to go. Rest assured, ALTA is here to help be that support.”



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