Happy New Year! All of us here at The Legal Description are wishing you a safe and prosperous 2012.
The beginning of a new year is a time to plan for the months to come, set goals and priorities items on your to-do list. Last year ended with many things left on the title industry’s to-do list, as you can see from this edition’s cover story.
From another round of RESPA reform, to lingering regulator concerns about agent and underwriter solvency, much will be done on the legal and regulatory front that will significantly impact how the title industry operates for years to come.
“I think it’s so easy to look at all of these issues and feel overwhelmed and get a little bit of advocacy fatigue,” said Justin Ailes, vice president of government affairs for the American Land Title Association, before noting that one of the most important issues for industry members to speak out about is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s new closing disclosures.
This idea of advocacy fatigue reminds me of a famous quote by English clergyman and writer, Sydney Smith, who said “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can.”
That sentiment is echoed through many of the people I spoke with for the forecasting series. “I think if I were to pick one word to describe what we need to focus on for 2012, it would be engagement,” said Mary Schuster, president of op2. “It’s engaging the industry with the regulators.
“It’s almost like someone shook the etchesketch and we are starting from scratch,” Schuster continued. “I don’t view that as inherently negative, though it could certainly go that way if we don’t’ engage them thoughtfully.”
“What we need to be doing as an industry is taking control of the environment ourselves,” said Mary O’Donnell, president of Westcor Land Title Insurance Co. “I think our industry is stronger when we self-police it and when we self-analyze the risk in individual underwriters and agents and determine the risk profile we can and cannot live with around the country and the kind of market conduct we can and cannot live with. I’d love the day we can go to our regulating bodies and say we got it under control and here is what we are doing to control risk and control the solvency and control market conduct. To me, that is where our industry needs to focus, is individually as companies self-police what we do and give our regulators and legislative bodies the confidence that we do have this under control because we are controlling the industry risk factor ourselves and we have methodologies of doing that. I guess if I had an initiative for 2012, that is what I would be looking at as we build the confidence level bank with the legislative and regulatory folks that we can and do protect the consumer because at the end of the day that is what we do. The more we define that as a group and an industry and take control of it ourselves and not wait for our legislative and regulatory friends in a 50-state environment to decide what that should be, I think the better and stronger our industry will be.”
As the industry works through these issues and engages its regulatory bodies, The Legal Description and October Research will be there with the news, forums and education you need to thoughtfully participate in the conversation.
Until next time, stay legal.
Editor, The Legal Description