MBA Servicing Conference

On February 21-24, Safeguard attended the MBA Servicing Conference.

MBA Servicing Conference
February 21-24, 2012
Orlando, FL

The Mortgage Bankers Association hosted its annual servicing conference last month, welcoming members from all aspects of the mortgage field services industry to sunny Orlando, FL.  Safeguard’s CEO Alan Jaffa was honored to introduce this year’s keynote speaker, Paul Begala, who is best-known as a CNN analyst, as well as a best-selling author and a former member of the Clinton administration.  Begala’s address touched on an array of topics, including current events, the 2012 general election, and support for America’s military personnel. 

The opening session was then turned over to three industry experts.  Carol Galente, assistant secretary of the FHA Commission, spoke on the role of the FHA, the FHA’s current financial health, and plans for the future.  Theodore Tozer, president of Ginnie Mae, provided insight into Ginnie Mae’s plans to aid with the housing crisis and the status of its portfolio.  He also indicated that HARP 2.0 will be successful since it removed the LTV (loan-to-value) cap and extended the program by two years.  He noted that HARP 2.0’s key challenge is in garnering the trust of the borrowers, who may believe that it is too good to be true.  

The final speaker of the opening session was Darius Kingsley, chief of homeowners with the US Department of the Treasury.   Kingsley also commented on HARP 2.0, as well as improvements to HAMP—which includes greater flexibility in its debt-to-income ratio expectations.  He closed by saying he believes the housing market will begin to recover in 2012.

Protecting Neighborhoods
Safeguard’s CEO Alan Jaffa had the opportunity to participate on two panels during this conference.  The first, entitled Property Preservation—Protecting Neighborhoods One House at a Time, was moderated by Wells Fargo’s Sherilee Massier.  Additional panelists were Matt Martin from HUD’s National Servicing Center, Kevin Osuna with Gateway Mortgage, Vicky Beever from JP Morgan Chase, Kellie Rohling with Everhome Mortgage, and Tracy Hager from Mortgage Contracting Services.

The session focused on pressing issues and challenges faced by servicers regarding the spike in property registration ordinances popping up across the country.  HUD also offered statistics regarding their volumes and the panel shared the successes over 2011.

2011 Successes
Jaffa attributed much of 2011 successes to the tremendous amount of dialogue between the servicing industry, investors, and city officials.  Some highlights include, MCB’s monthly newsletters and quality control feedback forum, the active MBA working groups with each of the investors, and HUD’s updated policies and FAQs.  Alan and the other panelists concur the successes are a result of collaboration and discussing data and trending, not the exception cases. 

The next challenge offered to HUD was to establish a joint-training session for the servicers, field service providers, FSMs, and MCB.  HUD offered joint training several years ago at the onset of M&M II and agrees the industry is due for updated training.  Safeguard is working with HUD staff in Washington, D.C. to coordinate this training in 2012. 

Property Registration Requirements
The expanding property registration requirements offer significant challenges to the national servicers due to the local requirements varying so greatly.  Servicers shared their best practices of communication and outreach to the city officials and all agree that centralizing state-wide ordinances would be a tremendous efficiency to the servicing shops.  The suggested plan of attack is to take the message to the road and educate the city officials on the role and intentions of the servicer to comply with all city code. 

Vicky Beever offered Chase’s approach to work with cities to open the lines of communication and reduce city citations and violations.  A key strategy of Chase is the established team of field officers in key cities across the country, including Chicago and Detroit.  The field officers maintain a physical presence in the cities and work with city officials to ensure the city is aware of their intentions to maintain each property within code.  The field officers also provide a level of quality control and routinely inspect their inventory to ensure the properties are safe, secure, and free of debris. 

Matt Martin offered a host of statistics on volume processed by MCB for over allowable requests, extensions, title packages and reconveyances.  He also encouraged servicers to get involved in the MBA working groups to help HUD change processes to be less burdensome for all.

REO Challenges
Jaffa also participated on the panel for the session entitled Current Challenges in REO Management and Disposition, which was moderated by Caroline Reaves from Mortgage Contracting Services.  Additional panel members were Mark Paniccia from SunTrust, Joe Cutrona from CoreLogic, and Matt Sylvia from Bank of America. 

Because of the increased ratio of REO sales to completed foreclosures, the industry is seeing a shift toward the short sale alternatives, deeds-in-lieu and auctions, as well as movement from portfolio REOs to agency REOs.  In addition, the representatives from SunTrust and Bank of America both said they are taking steps to improve the timeframe within which short sales are being processed.

Retail Alternatives
Matt Sylvia noted Bank of America is building a platform to handle retail alternatives, but it is a complement to traditional flow.  They aim for 10% of dispositions to follow this path.  Jaffa questioned if the 10% goal of Bank of America would potentially increase with the onset of rental initiatives.  Mark Paniccia noted that SunTrust has no rental program at present and emphasized the importance of maintaining assets that are financeable.  SunTrust uses auctions where it is hard to identify a target buyer and often utilizes bulk sales for parcels of vacant land.  Sylvia also commented that there are more online auctions being conducted today than in the past. 

Paniccia indicated SunTrust uses asset class to determine the appropriate disposition strategy.  Joe Cutrona added that strategies can also be determined by value band.

Jaffa offered commentary on single family rental, noting that there is no company who manages a large volume of these assets today.  To do so will require an incredible network of vendors and managers.  Ultimately, servicers’ success in this arena will be determined by tenant satisfaction—even after the property is sold.

Return on Investment
In discussing the repair decision-making process, Paniccia remarked that SunTrust can assess each as the owner since they fully own most REO assets.  He takes two perspectives into account:

1) What can we do for the shareholder?  There is usually a 30% discount for a cash buyer and this must be compared against the ratio of an as is to as repaired assessment.  The difference between the as is and as repaired valued is assessed over the cost of repairs plus the cost of holding minus market decline and claims processing.

2) What can we do for the neighborhood?  Servicers want properties to look like the neighbors.  They will generally err on the side of repairing since an increased sale price helps the neighbors too.

Jaffa questioned whether a servicer would ever repair to yield the same sales price; Paniccia said it depends if finance ability is a concern.  If a low-dollar spend will improve the likelihood of financing, the servicers will repair the vast majority of the time.

Sylvia relayed that Bank of America has a repair strategy but it can be an art, not a science.  They focus on cosmetic repairs, rather than full rehabs and rely heavily on recommendations from agents and Asset Managers.

Jaffa and Reaves confirmed that, from the field service perspective, the trend to repair continues to increase with most repairs ranging from $7,000 to $10,000.

Combating Fraud
Cutrona offered perspective that people are inclined to take advantage of weak process flows and a lack of local management.  Paniccia described SunTrust’s approach of preventative and detected controls, which include a minimum of 10 days on the market before offers are taken.  They receive multiple offers on 25-40% of assets. Sylvia added that Bank of America receives offers on two thirds of properties within 60 days of listing.  Detected controls are in place to conduct “flip checks,” subsequent transactions on the asset within six months of sale and patterns of the aforementioned with the same realtor.

Panelists recommended an escalation process to address these types of concerns along with the expanded use of technology to add transparency and accountability to processes.

Opening Communications within Default
Paniccia posed questions to the audience as to how servicers can avoid listing in REO for less than a short sale offer and how they can take the REO valuation method upstream to make better foreclosure decisions.  Using the REO broker in deed-in-lieu calculations was offered as one method to improve results.

Jaffa questioned panelists on their use of predictive analytics in determining volume or location of volume 6 to 9 months in advance.  Sylvia and Paniccia indicated it would be very helpful but cautioned against the impact of rapidly changing factors.  Jaffa noted Safeguard is looking at area concentrations by client to provide detail where possible. 

Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act: 3 Years Later
Jaffa stated that home ownership rates will never be what they were several years ago.  All indicators are that rental programs are coming and those moving into the space will need to choose their partners wisely.  Systems exist today to handle rent collection and property management functions.  The true driver will be the folks on the ground handling resident interactions and concerns.

Paniccia noted that most former owners are targets to be residents.  He questioned what will need to happen to prices to entice them into the arena.  Jaffa noted the shift in perspective from buying early in one’s life cycle to renting for a awhile and then buying down the road.  Reaves noted that many young couples want a home but don’t have the means to get one; rental is a great opportunity for them. 

Upon receiving an audience question about who will manage the rental assets, Jaffa confirmed that Safeguard and, presumably, other field service companies will be involved since these programs will require scalability not present today.  Jaffa reiterated that success will depend on company’s ability to address resident concerns quickly and with enough finesse to keep the resident satisfied.

About Safeguard
Safeguard Properties is the largest privately held field services company in the country. Located in Cleveland, Ohio and founded in 1990 by Robert Klein, Safeguard has grown from a regional preservation company with a few employees  and a handful of contractors performing services in the Midwest, to a national company with over 800 employees. Safeguard is supported by a nationwide network of subcontractors able to perform any requested superintendence, preservation, and maintenance functions, as well as numerous ancillary services in the U.S., the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.

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CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER

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.

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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.

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CHEIF INFORMATION OFFICER

George Mehok

George Mehok is the chief information officer for Safeguard. He is responsible for all strategic technology decisions, new systems deployments and data center operations supporting a national network of more than 10,000 mobile workers.

George has more than 20 years of leadership experience dedicated to high-growth companies in the mobile telecommunications and financial services industries, spanning startups to global industry leaders.

George played a senior role in the formation of Verizon Wireless, leading the IT product development and strategic planning team. He led the integration planning for the Verizon merger including: GTE, Vodafone-AirTouch, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo.

As chief information officer at Revol Wireless, a VC-backed CDMA wireless communications network operator, George’s team implemented an integrated technology infrastructure and award-winning business intelligence platform.

George holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Eastern Michigan University and an M.B.A. from The Ohio State University. He is a board member of Akron University’s School of Business Center for Information Technology, in addition to an advisory board member for OHTec.

In 2013, George won the Crain’s Cleveland Business CIO of the Year award for his team’s work in completing a major acquisition and technology transformation at Safeguard. In 2015, George’s team was recognized by InformationWeek’s annual Elite 100 ranking of the most innovative U.S.-based users of business technology. The mobile inspection technology developed at Safeguard was selected as InformationWeek’s “One of the top 20 ideas to steal in 2015”.

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General Counsel and Executive Vice President

Linda Erkkila, Esq.

Linda Erkkila is the general counsel and executive vice president for Safeguard, with oversight responsibilities for the legal, human resources, training, compliance and audit departments. Linda’s broad scope of oversight covers regulatory issues that impact Safeguard’s operations, pro-active risk mitigation, enterprise strategic planning, human capital and training initiatives, compliance and audit services, litigation and claims management, and counsel related to mergers, acquisition and joint ventures.

Linda’s oversight of the legal department along with multiple compliance and human capital focused departments assures that Safeguard’s strategic initiatives align with its resources, leverage opportunities across the company, and contemplate compliance mandates. Her practice spans almost 20 years, and Linda’s experience, both as outside and in-house counsel, covers a wide range of corporate matters, including 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.

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VP, Finance

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the vice president of finance for Safeguard. Joe leads the accounting and information security departments, and is a key leader in the management of SCG Partners, a middle-market private equity fund focused on diversifying and expanding Safeguard Properties’ business model into complimentary markets. He also leads the service supply chain including vendor sourcing, field quality control, and delivery, in addition to the quality assurance function for the company.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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AVP, Mobile and Analytics

Jason Heckman

Jason Heckman is the assistant vice president of mobile and analytics for Safeguard. He is responsible for both Safeguard’s mobile development and strategy as well as the company’s data warehousing and business intelligence. Jason oversees the design, development and release of all Safeguard’s internally developed mobile applications. He also oversees the development and delivery of operational and analytical data technologies throughout the organization.

Jason joined Safeguard as manager of mobile in 2012. During that time he led the development and integration of Safeguard’s mobile applications across the company’s vendor network to provide real-time data from the field. In 2014, he was promoted to director of mobile applications and named assistant vice president in 2017.

Prior to joining Safeguard, Jason was the director of application development and business intelligence for Revol Wireless, a privately held wireless provider in Ohio and Indiana.

Jason holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio.

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AVP, Business Development

Tim Rath

Tim Rath is the AVP of business development for Safeguard. He is responsible for developing innovative growth strategies for Safeguard and developing and overseeing potential partnerships, mergers and acquisitions.

Tim joined Safeguard in 2011 as project director and has filled numerous roles within Vendor Management, most recently serving as director of vendor management, a role he assumed in 2011.

Prior to Safeguard, Tim worked as director of supply chain at PartsSource Inc. in Aurora, Ohio, a provider of medical replacement parts, procurement solutions and healthcare supply chain management technology services. He also has held sales positions with Rexel, ComDoc, and Pier Associates, all based in Ohio.

Tim holds a degree in marketing and sales from The University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. He also earned his FAA Certified Commercial UAS (Drone) Pilot license in 2017.