Five Star Conference and Expo 2013

2013 Five Star Conference and Expo
Dallas, Texas
September 8-10, 2013

The 2013 Five Star Conference and Expo was held once again at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX. Speakers at this year’s conference included, Former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice, Former First Lady Laura Bush, Former US Representative Barney Frank and Vice Chairman James B. Lockhart III from WL Ross & Co.  Throughout the conference there were discussions about compliance, foreclosure and loss mitigation, short sales, property preservation, preventing blight and much more. Safeguard was honored to participate on one panel and moderate another. Summaries of these sessions are below.

Save Time and Improve Efficiency with Today’s Field Service Technology

George Mehok, Safeguard Properties

Charles Newcomb, Best Assets
Lee Martens, AMS
Dave Dolan, ZVN
Paul Palmer, Proven

Technology’s Role in Business Today
Technology has proven effective for many businesses in recent years. Best Assets has been able to complete more work utilizing the same staff. Lee Martens added that technological advances have enabled AMS to direct more revenue to the vendors in the field.

Going Mobile in the Field
Mobile initiatives help to obtain real time quality control results and make real time adjustments. Safeguard received 85% of work results from the field so far this year, with half of the users sending the results within two hours. AMS receives half of their inspection results from the field and most of Best Assets agents complete their work from the field as well.

To keep phones durable in the field, Martens suggested utilizing an OtterBox case. Proven proposed that users can buy noncontract phones with Wi-Fi for $100. While Mehok recommended disposable Androids, which are an affordable alternative.

Mobiles GPS Functionality
Mehok discussed mobiles GPS functionality and how it helps determine who is performing work at a location during a specific date and time. This information is critical for staying compliant with new background check requirements. Paul Palmer added that in the near future, controls will enable locking of date, time, and GPS coordinates associated with photos.

Mobile transmissions from the field provide information quickly, allowing assessments of property status and damage conditions to be made earlier. Using GPS coordinates available through mobile devices, vendors nearby can be sent to a property immediately if necessary. Palmer also described GPS technology which notifies a vendor that they are at the correct property.

Palmer also provided information on Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs) and the advantages they will afford in “store and forward” functionality. He noted that tablets will become increasingly popular and enable vendors to keep up with detailed requirements.

Improving Quality Control
Dolan described ZVNs multiple layers of quality control afforded by their system, including subcontractor self-QC and interoffice queues for quality checks and duplicate photo checking.

Martens described AMS’ duplicate photo checks that scan approximately 500,000 to 1 million images per day for duplicate records. He noted the importance of managing exceptions from such a large volume of intake and that AMC saw a $30,000 savings the first week after implementation.

At Safeguard quality revolves around data. Data warehouses supported with advanced analytics tell users where problems are occurring. Those findings, in conjunction with client scorecard data, lead management’s choices on sampling standards and targets. Mehok also emphasized the importance of workflow technology in efficiently routing and disposing of exceptions.

Assisting Work Order Management
Martens described AMS’ process for vendor assignment, including system analysis of over 40 variables to identify the top three vendors best suited to complete the requested work. This enhancement saves processes considerable time and ZVN echoed similar functionality that aids their operation.

Best Assets has automated vendor assignment to eliminate any favoritism in their operation. Their employees can now handle a larger case load since they are processing only work on its way back in following completion.

To help avoid challenges associated with integrating a client and GSE systems, ZVN recommended Web services as an integration method since it eliminates security issues. Absent that approach, screen scrapes were the second choice.

Turning Data into Actionable Information
Best Assets retains data to be used for future compliance checks and client audits. That data must be extractable or it becomes inefficient. ZVN utilizes data to generate scorecards for external subcontractors and internal associates.

Safeguard’s utilization of dashboards is to measure operational status against specific performance goals of each business line. He also noted Safeguard’s evolution to utilize maps to display complex data regarding field trends in a way that clients and third parties can easily understand.

Technology in the Future
Palmer expects further development on flexible forms allowing users to design data collection plans more expeditiously and react in real-time to business requirements. Dolan anticipates more technology around identification of employees physically performing work and integration of this information with background check procedures. Newcomb looks to see increased effort toward integrating client, field services provider and subcontractor systems to make business efficient and secure. Martens encouraged all present to be considerate of the cost passed on to business partners as technology and requirements evolve.

Preventing Community Blight and Supporting Neighborhood Stabilization

Lynn Effinger, Assurant Property Advantage

Robert Klein, Safeguard Properties
Jeannie Fantasia, SecureView
Marc Hinkle, Mortgage Contracting Services (MCS)
Reggie Stewart, Freddie Mac

During this session, the panelist discussion focused on innovative ways to prevent community blight and to support neighborhood stabilization. 

Lynn Effinger began the conversation by elaborating on how vacant and abandon homes can negatively impact the communities in which they are located. Robert Klein elaborated on the subject by discussing the adverse effects of a lengthy foreclosure timeline for vacant and abandon homes. In states with a judicial foreclosure process, properties could remain unoccupied for up to four years. Klein explained that fast-tracking this process would be of great benefit to communities and servicers by decreasing the amount of time the home stands vacant. 

A Three Prong Approach
To highlight another tactic the property preservation industry is using to mitigate the effects of blight, Reggie Stewart elaborated on steps that can be taken by servicers to avoid foreclosures and support community stabilization. Stewart described a three prong approach used by Freddie Mac to educate consumers, support local partnerships that aid revitalization efforts, and increase oversight and quality control. While the goal of the approach is to educate homebuyers in order to prevent foreclosure, it also takes steps to lessen the negative effects of vacant and abandon properties. 

Vacant Property Registration
Marc Hinkle also elaborated on the growing use of vacant property registration (VPR) ordinances by communities to combat blight. VPR provides a connection between a property and the servicer responsible for maintaining the home. Hinkle explained that the point of the registration process is to ensure that property preservation standards are met and problems are addressed. Robert Klein also pointed out that these type of ordinances support improved communications between servicers and local code enforcement officials. 

Jeannie Fantasia wrapped up the session by introducing SecureView, an innovative product that communities are now using to secure vacant and abandoned homes.  SecureView is an alternative board up system that is designed to look like traditional windows. Fantasia also explained that SecureView is virtually unbreakable and prevents entry from unwanted visitors. This is a powerful tool for communities in stabilizing neighborhoods and battling blight, as it does not expose vacancy and provides unprecedented security for vacant properties.

The Five Star Conference and Expo 2013 took place at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX. 



Alan Jaffa

Alan Jaffa is the chief executive officer for Safeguard, steering the company as the mortgage field services industry leader. He also serves on the board of advisors for SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Alan joined Safeguard in 1995, learning the business from the ground up. He was promoted to chief operating officer in 2002, and was named CEO in May 2010. His hands-on experience has given him unique insights as a leader to innovate, improve and strengthen Safeguard’s processes to assure that the company adheres to the highest standards of quality and customer service.

Under Alan’s leadership, Safeguard has grown significantly with strategies that have included new and expanded services, technology investments that deliver higher quality and greater efficiency to clients, and strategic acquisitions. He takes a team approach to process improvement, involving staff at all levels of the organization to address issues, brainstorm solutions, and identify new and better ways to serve clients.

In 2008, Alan was recognized by Crain’s Cleveland Business in its annual “40-Under-40” profile of young leaders. He also was named a NEO Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year® finalist in 2013.


Chief Operating Officer

Michael Greenbaum

Michael Greenbaum is the chief operating officer for Safeguard. Mike has been instrumental in aligning operations to become more efficient, effective, and compliant with our ever-changing industry requirements. Mike has a proven track record of excellence, partnership and collaboration at Safeguard. Under Mike’s leadership, all operational departments of Safeguard have reviewed, updated and enhanced their business processes to maximize efficiency and improve quality control.

Mike joined Safeguard in July 2010 as vice president of REO and has continued to take on additional duties and responsibilities within the organization, including the role of vice president of operations in 2013 and then COO in 2015.

Mike built his business career in supply-chain management, operations, finance and marketing. He has held senior management and executive positions with Erico, a manufacturing company in Solon, Ohio; Accel, Inc., a packaging company in Lewis Center, Ohio; and McMaster-Carr, an industrial supply company in Aurora, Ohio.

Before entering the business world, Mike served in the U.S. Army, Ordinance Branch, and specialized in supply chain management. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point (U.S. Military Academy), where he majored in quantitative economics.



Sean Reddington

Sean Reddington is the new Chief Information Officer for Safeguard Properties LLC. Sean has over 15+ years of experience in Information Services Management with a strong focus on Product and Application Management. Sean is responsible for Safeguard’s technological direction, including planning, implementation and maintaining all operational systems

Sean has a proven record of accomplishment for increasing operational efficiencies, improving customer service levels, and implementing and maintaining IT initiatives to support successful business processes.  He has provided the vision and dedicated leadership for key technologies for Fortune 100 companies, and nationally recognized consulting firms including enterprise system architecture, security, desktop and database management systems. Sean possesses strong functional and system knowledge of information security, systems and software, contracts management, budgeting, human resources and legal and related regulatory compliance.

Sean joined Safeguard Properties LLC from RenPSG Inc. which is a nationally leading Philintropic Software Platform in the Fintech space. He oversaw the organization’s technological direction including planning, implementing and maintaining the best practices that align with all corporate functions. He also provided day-to-day technology operations, enterprise security, information risk and vulnerability management, audit and compliance, security awareness and training.

Prior to RenPSG, Sean worked for DMI Consulting as a Client Success Director where he guided the delivery in a multibillion-dollar Fortune 500 enterprise client account. He was responsible for all project deliveries in terms of quality, budget and timeliness and led the team to coordinate development and definition of project scope and limitations. Sean also worked for KPMG Consulting in their Microsoft Practice and Technicolor’s Ebusiness Division where he had responsibility for application development, maintenance, and support.

Sean is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts and received his Masters in International Business from Central Michigan University. He was also a commissioned officer in the United States Air Force prior to his career in the business world.


General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard and oversees the legal, human resources, training, and compliance departments. Linda’s responsibilities cover regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human resources and training initiatives, compliance, litigation and claims management, and mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans over 20 years, and Linda’s experience covers regulatory disclosure, corporate governance compliance, risk assessment, executive compensation, litigation management, and merger and acquisition activity. Her experience at a former Fortune 500 financial institution during the subprime crisis helped develop Linda’s pro-active approach to change management during periods of heightened regulatory scrutiny.

Linda previously served as vice president and attorney for National City Corporation, as securities and corporate governance counsel for Agilysys Inc., and as an associate at Thompson Hine LLP. She earned her JD at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Linda holds a degree in economics from Miami University and an MBA. In 2017, Linda was named as both a “Woman of Influence” by HousingWire and as a “Leading Lady” by MReport.


Chief Financial Officer

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the Chief Financial Officer for Safeguard. Joe is responsible for the Control, Quality Assurance, Business Development, Accounting & Information Security departments, and is a Managing Director of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets.

Joe has been in a wide variety of roles in finance, supply chain management, information systems development, and sales and marketing. His career includes senior positions with McMaster-Carr Supply Company, Newell/Rubbermaid, and Procter and Gamble.

Joe has an MBA from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), and holds a bachelor’s degree from The Ohio State University’s Honors Accounting program.


AVP, High Risk and Investor Compliance

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer is the assistant vice president of high risk and investor compliance for Safeguard. In this role, Steve is responsible for managing our clients’ conveyance processes, Safeguard’s investor compliance team and developing our working relationships with cities and municipalities around the country. He also works directly with our clients in our many outreach efforts and he represents Safeguard at a number of industry conferences each year.

Steve joined Safeguard in 1998 as manager over the hazard claims team. He was instrumental in the development and creation of policies, procedures and operating protocol. Under Steve’s leadership, the department became one of the largest within Safeguard. In 2002, he assumed responsibility for the newly-formed high risk department, once again building its success. Steve was promoted to director over these two areas in 2007, and he was promoted to assistant vice president in 2012.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve spent 10 years within the insurance industry, holding a number of positions including multi-line property adjuster, branch claims supervisor, and multi-line and subrogation/litigation supervisor. Steve is a graduate of Grove City College.


AVP, Operations

Jennifer Jozity

Jennifer Jozity is the assistant vice president of operations, overseeing inspections, REO and property preservation for Safeguard. Jen ensures quality work is performed in the field and internally, to meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. Jen has demonstrated the ability to deliver consistent results in order audit and order management.  She will build upon these strengths in order to deliver this level of excellence in both REO and property preservation operations.

Jen joined Safeguard in 1997 and was promoted to director of inspections operations in 2009 and assistant vice president of inspections operations in 2012.

She graduated from Cleveland State University with a degree in business.


AVP, Finance

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of finance for Safeguard. She is responsible for the company’s national workforce of approximately 1,000 employees. She manages recruitment strategies, employee relations, training, personnel policies, retention, payroll and benefits programs. Additionally, Jennifer has oversight of the accounts receivable and loss functions formerly within the accounting department.

Jennifer joined the company in April 2009 as a manager of accounting and finance and a year later was promoted to director. She was named AVP of human capital in 2014. Prior to joining Safeguard, she held several management positions at OfficeMax and InkStop in both operations and finance.

Jennifer is a graduate of Youngstown State University. She was named a Crain’s Cleveland Business Archer Award finalist for HR Executive of the Year in 2017.


AVP, Application Architecture

Rick Moran

Rick Moran is the assistant vice president of application architecture for Safeguard. Rick is responsible for evolving the Safeguard IT systems. He leads the design of Safeguard’s enterprise application architecture. This includes Safeguard’s real-time integration with other systems, vendors and clients; the future upgrade roadmap for systems; and standards designed to meet availability, security, performance and goals.

Rick has been with Safeguard since 2011. During that time, he has led the system upgrades necessary to support Safeguard’s growth. In addition, Rick’s team has designed and implemented several innovative systems.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Rick was director of enterprise architecture at Revol Wireless, a privately held CDMA Wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana, and operated his own consulting firm providing services to the manufacturing, telecommunications, and energy sectors.


AVP, Technology Infrastructure and Cloud Services

Steve Machovina

Steve Machovina is the assistant vice president of technology infrastructure and cloud services for Safeguard. He is responsible for the overall management and design of Safeguard’s hybrid cloud infrastructure. He manages all technology engineering staff who support data centers, telecommunications, network, servers, storage, service monitoring, and disaster recovery.

Steve joined Safeguard in November 2013 as director of information technology operations.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was vice president of information technology at Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana. He also held management positions with Northcoast PCS and Corecomm Communications, and spent nine years as a Coast Guard officer and pilot.

Steve holds a BBA in management information systems from Kent State University in Ohio and an MBA from Wayne State University in Michigan.


Assistant Vice president of Application Development

Steve Goberish

Steve Goberish, is the assistant vice president of application development for Safeguard. He is responsible for the maintenance and evolution of Safeguard’s vendor systems ensuring high-availability, security and scalability while advancing the vendor products’ capabilities and enhancing the vendor experience.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Steve was a senior technical architect and development manager at First American Title Insurance, a publicly held title insurance provider based in southern California, in addition to managing and developing applications in multiple sectors from insurance to VOIP.

Steve has a bachelor’s degree from Kent State University in Ohio.