ALTA ONE 2018 in Review

Having returned from the ALTA ONE 2018 conference held at L.A. Live in Los Angeles, I’ve had time to reflect on the sessions, meetings and dinner conversations that stood out. In thinking about the topics, two big themes seemed to rise to the top: consumer protection (wire fraud) and consumer experience. Here’s what the title and settlement industry’s best and brightest had to say.

Consumer Protection

Across multiple sessions and dozens of conversations, it became clear that consumer protection is top of mind not only for real estate and mortgage professionals, but also especially in the settlement space where we have to ensure that the right people are receiving funds. Stewart’s own chief information security officer, Genady Vishnevetsky, provided numerous examples of security gaps and social engineering efforts of fraudsters seeking entry points into real estate and mortgage transactions where the money changing hands is always huge.

While the industry grapples with computer security and continues to demand training that keeps up with the ever-evolving threat landscape, the core issue is knowing the true identity of the parties in the transaction. Fraudsters continue to expand their efforts across desktop, mobile and now through VoIP.

In a small, informal meeting of long-time industry veterans, one of my counterparts accurately said, “The real estate business isn’t just local anymore, so we often don’t know who we are working with – or sending money to.” This led to a discussion of an effort underway by Microsoft® and other tech giants on a topic new to our industry: Decentralized ID’s (“DID”). The concept here is that people will have to “prove” who they are by various means and then will have full control over who sees what.

When you think “decentralized,” think blockchain. Blockchain is the darling of Silicon Valley and Wall Street that may just bring the power of identity management to the people. Look for more as the Digital Identity Foundation and similar efforts make progress in the tech world that will ultimately benefit us in our real estate world.

Consumer Experience

I had the privilege of speaking in a session entitled, “Tech Trends You Can’t Ignore” where my fellow experts and I focused largely on the consumer experience (CX) of today’s home buyer. Today’s title agent has to do more than just put up a website. Today, title agents must serve real estate and mortgage professionals and their consumer customers by meeting them where they are, whether that be in person; via website, mobile or phone; or through any combination of the above. And, while customers are increasingly demanding more options to suit their busy lifestyles, this business will never become a push-button business, as our A-List speaker on innovation pointed out in his presentation (below) at the Stewart breakfast:

At the end of our session we provided a recap in “The List,” which included the top seven areas where today’s professionals must focus to meet today’s demands. Would you like a copy of “The List”? Just email me at or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Until next time,


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