By Vicki DiPasquale, Vice President, Simplifile
Communication and collaboration technology has progressed leaps and bounds over the past decade, yet when it comes to lenders and settlement agents, phone calls, emails, and even fax are still the primary workflow methods. Of course, as the saying goes, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” but perhaps this workflow is more broken than many realize.
Email and Phone Miscommunication
Communicating via phone and email creates an inconsistent process that can result in errors, missed information, and delays. Think about it: if information is being communicated via multiple channels, it’s impossible to know how that information is going to be communicated at any given time. For example, let’s say the lender is expecting a phone call from the settlement agent regarding an updated fee. If the agent sends an email instead, the lender may not be checking his or her inbox for that information, thus creating a delay that could affect closing. Furthermore, if the information is communicated by phone, it can be misheard or written on a sticky note that’s easily misplaced.
Using email or phone for communication also prevents both sides from working with real-time data. What may have been true on Thursday afternoon at 4 pm, when the information was initially communicated, may not be true by Friday morning at 10 am, when the information is received. Not only does this create additional complexity, but it also opens the door for errors and wasted effort.
A Matter of Security
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, especially VOIP , systems. Thus, communicating via these mediums can inadvertently expose sensitive consumer data to unauthorized access by outside parties. Not only does this represent a clear violation of consumer privacy laws, but communication via phone or email also raises concerns about the ability of both parties to provide a record of communication in the event of a regulatory audit.
Proving the content of a conversation held verbally is next to impossible. Even if notes are taken and included in the loan file, how can regulators verify that those notes accurately reflect what was said? Emails can be accidentally deleted, end up in spam filters, or just get lost in the shuffle. In auditors’ minds, without a verifiable audit trail, it’s as if those conversations never happened. Furthermore, this points to the instability of email and phone as a means of communication. Systems fail. Data gets corrupted. Outages happen. General office software and systems aren’t designed to facilitate the kind of collaboration lenders and settlement agents need to be effective and secure.
More and more companies are using integrated communication platforms for collaborating on projects. For example, Google offers tools for multiple users to work together on documents and spreadsheets in real time, with instant visibility into each other’s changes and live chat. At the enterprise level, many tech companies rely on Atlassian’s integrated tools like Confluence, JIRA, Trello, and more to constantly stay informed and work together. These solutions take direct email and phone communication out of the equation and often offer the peace of mind of data encryption and high security standards.
For settlement agents and lenders, there are now similar tools available for consolidating collaboration workflow and increasing security. For example, Simplifile Collaboration connects settlement agents and lenders under the secure and time-tested Simplifile platform. All parties are able to receive, track, share, and validate documents and fees using Simplifile. With built-in messaging, lenders and settlement agents can discuss changes, updates, and deficiencies instantly on a document and fee level. Since all work is done within one system, there’s real-time visibility into each other’s processes, which prevents errors and miscommunication.
Being tied to Simplifile E-recording, the nation’s largest electronic recording network, it’s also seamless for settlement agents to begin the recording process and return post-closing documentation to the lender once collaboration is finalized. This creates an end-to-end audit trail that protects all parties if questions ever arise down the road over who did what, when, or why.
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 to businesses in this new regulatory environment with ever-changing security risks.
About the author:
Vicki, who has a doctorate degree in management, manages Simplifile’s sales team, overseeing and supporting all sales activities for the company. With more than 30 years of title industry experience under her belt, Vicki has worked for underwriters, attorney, and corporate agents, real estate-related companies, and has independently lent her real estate experience to a number of consulting projects and as a traveling notary and closer.Vicki’s expertise encompasses all aspects of title insurance, closing, sales, agency, and management, and she has an affinity for using technology to simplify business processes.
For more information, contact Vicki DiPasquale at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801.223.1070.