Five Star Default Servicing Conference & Expo

Safeguard was honored to be the hosting sponsor for the 2014 Five Star Conference and Expo, which was held once again at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, TX.  This year’s conference included a special Q&A session featuring President George W. Bush, Former First Lady Laura Bush, and their daughters, Barbara Bush and Jenna Bush Hager.  Additionally, Lt. General Leroy Sisco (Ret.) and Kathy Ireland were featured speakers during the Military Warriors Support Foundation home donation presentation, along with a special live performance by renowned recording artist Wynonna Judd.  The sessions during the conference focused on compliance, foreclosure, investment, property management, REO and servicing. Safeguard participated on three panels. Summaries of these sessions are below.

Tomorrow’s Elements of High Risk

Ann Thorn, Bank of America

Robert Klein, Safeguard Properties/SecureView
               Rick Sharga, 
               Edward B. Kramer, Wolters Kluwer
               Adam Codilis & Associates, P.C.

Identifying Risk
During this roundtable session, panelists offered insight on how they identified future elements of high risk.  Participants agreed that due to complicated regulatory standards it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what those risks might be when executing a foreclosure.  It was suggested that past and present guidelines set forth by the CFPB could potentially stifle future lending if regulations are not made clear.  When evaluating future elements of high risk panelists agreed that compliance was at the crux of this discussion. 

Credit Resets Create Future Risk
Rising home values over the last several months will most likely create positive equity for many homeowners; however, we should still proceed with caution.  Borrowers with a HELOC that’s due to reset should contact their lenders to become aware of how this with affect their rates. 

Negative Effects of Lengthy Foreclosure Timelines
It is widely accepted that extended foreclosure timelines can cause distress to homeowners, servicers, and communities when properties are vacant.  In the past decade charge-offs and walk-aways have been a looming obstacle.  To solve this problem law makers nationwide are crafting legislation to establish a definition for vacancy and shorten the foreclosure process for these homes.

Procedural Issues Arising With Vacant Properties
A major challenge in the creation of these rules is how a servicer establishes vacancy and what steps should be taken to protect the rights of homeowners.  Achieving this balance creates a degree of risk for lenders.  Participants concluded that while not all laws are created equal and crafting them should be done so with respect to the homeowner, recognizing this problem is a step in the right direction.

Property Preservation in the New Regulatory Environment

Edmund Buckley, Aspen Grove

Paul Carlson, Assurant Field Asset Services
               Alan Jaffa, Safeguard Properties
               Brandon Kirkham, VRM
               Chad Mosley, MCS

Compliance with Local Ordinances
Field services vendors must manage the assignment from servicers to achieve compliance with regulations.  To do so, it is important to receive accurate data from clients and from local vendors who have a presence in communities.  Partnerships with municipalities also enables field services companies to stay knowledgeable of changes – sometimes even before they are enacted.  However, it is a challenge for the industry to ensure full compliance since there is no technological solution today.  Additionally, the interpretation of the data also presents a challenge.  VRM has a process by which key business partners are part of implementation discussions and a change board meets regularly to understand global impact.

Vendor Background Checks
Background check requirements for vendors are applicable at the same level for all vendor types.  Applying a different level of check to vendors based on the type of service they will provide could aid field services providers by opening up more vendor options for jobs. However, implementing a system like that would change the vendor management approach throughout the industry.

Validating Completion
Validating data is accurate is vital within this industry.  One way discussed to ensure accurate completion was to capture who was where and at what time.  Then have the ability to obtain validation through a third-party.  However, the financial impact of these new requirements is still unknown to the industry.  Therefore, the panel recommended collaboration across field services companies to raise these issues.

It was suggested that the conversations start even further upstream, with investor requirements. As technology and compliance requirements evolve, using video to validate work completion and condition reporting will soon become a reality.  Taking advantage of this tool and other new ideas is one critical way the industry can get properties looking better more quickly.

Industry Collaboration
It was proposed that field services vendors work with one another on a global technology solution for the industry, instead of each building their own systems.  However, members of the panel pointed out that this may not be the best idea given that each company has their own standards and requirements which need to be honored.  Additionally, this path might hamper progress to integrate with client systems.

The Cost and Consequences of Compliance

Donald Lampe, Morrison and Foerster

Mike Greenbaum, Safeguard Properties
              Barry Hays, TeleVoice,
              Marc Hinkle, MCS
              Maria Moskver, Walz Group
              Kevin Wall, First American Mortgage Services

New Regulations
During this session, discussions focused on the increase in new regulations, in particular the involvement and regulations that have been implemented by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The panelists looked at how these new regulations have affected the way companies manage their processes, adopt and invest in new technology, enlist third-party assistance, and even recruit and retrain staff, all of which increase the cost of servicing.  Each panelist discussed how their operations were handling and implementing these new regulations.

Field Services Companies Response
Looking at the changes to regulations, field services companies have had to add additional procedures and controls.  In doing so, it is important to start with an intentional design of the company’s process.  This needs to include diagraming out how work flows to the company’s network, how results are produced and then how the results flow back into the company’s operations.  Making sure the right controls are in place to ensure the information being received is what’s expected is the key to developing a compliant process.  It is important to make sure these control offer the ability to gather data so immediate reporting can be produced to support that the operation is meeting the regulators, clients and company’s expectations.   

When Management Listens
Safeguard’s consumer complaint response and tracking started with management listening to complaint calls.  From this experience the management team designed a process and scripts so the staff could respond to the complaints that were being received.  The staff was then trained on the process.  Management continues to listen to calls so that the process can be updated and improved.  As updates are made the team is brought back in and trained on the updates.  This process continues and includes our clients listening to calls.  The entire time all calls are tracked to allow for detail and immediate reporting.  

Higher Expectations
The group discussed the ever-increasing expectation from regulators and how important it is for organizations to have the ability to adapt to change swiftly, technology resources that allow for data retrieval and retention, and a system that allows for the documentation of operational changes.  The future holds an environment that will continue to be heavily regulated and we as an industry provider need to be prepared to respond and compile.

To view a recent DS News article featuring session comments from Safeguard VP of Operations Mike Greenbaum, please click here.

To view a recent DS News article featuring session comments from Safeguard Founder and Chairman Robert Klein, please click here.

About Safeguard 
Safeguard Properties is the largest mortgage field services company in the U.S. Founded in 1990 by Robert Klein and based in Valley View, Ohio, the company inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions. Safeguard employs approximately 1,700 people, in addition to a network of thousands of contractors nationally.

The Five Star Default Servicing Conference & Expo was held 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.