Never Too Big to Serve

Editorial
July 13, 2017

Successful field services companies are designed for the high-touch needs of small servicers

The mortgage servicing industry has seen a seismic shift over the past few years as a result of the enhanced regulatory environment brought on by the housing crisis. As a result of these new regulations and restrictions, many financial institutions have been exiting loan servicing and there has been a proliferation of nonbank servicers entering the market and/or buying portfolios or servicing rights and gaining a greater market share.

Today, servicers are tasked with many obligations, including managing field services activities, dealing with oversight and compliance mandates, managing continual changes within the regulatory environment, unfunded mandates resulting in expansion of responsibilities, and ensuring adherence to strict budgets and heightened cost controls.

For years, national field services companies have been working in partnership with both large and small servicing shops to provide a comprehensive default services outsourcing model that enables the smaller servicing organizations to deploy compliant practices in a timely and cost-effective manner.

National field services providers, like Safeguard Properties, have developed tools and resources that provide value-added service and information regardless of a client’s portfolio size.

While some servicers see national field services companies as too large to handle their portfolios efficiently, nothing could be further from the truth.

For example, at Safeguard, our clients range from smaller local banks, small servicers and sub servicers, governmental agencies and large blue chip financial institutions.

Under a true outsourcing model, smaller volume servicers have the benefit of operating in a state-of-the-art default servicing platform environment at no additional cost to them; with the customer centric focus and resources one would expect from a local provider.

These benefits can provide value to the smaller volume servicers in that they can share risk with their field services provider by ensuring timeliness of service, compliance with applicable rules and regulations, as well as leveraging comprehensive data analytics and a cutting edge technology platform.

These servicers are enabled to do more with less as they outsource typical in-house functions to their field services provider.

Field services companies need to remain committed to providing the highest level of service to their mortgage servicing clients regardless of their portfolio size and to ensure that all work is performed in accordance with their clients’ agreed-upon criteria and investor/GSE requirements.

Keeping Servicers in Compliance through Outsourcing
There has been much change in the servicing industry since the housing crisis. Numerous regulations have been enacted by Dodd-Frank, Federal Housing Administration, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Veterans Administration, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), designed to protect borrowers and provide guidelines for those maintaining defaulted inventory.

This has put many organizations in a situation where they do not have the resources to comply with these unfunded mandates. A full outsourcing model provided by a field services company enables smaller servicers to maintain compliance without any additional cost.

For instance, an outsourcing model with a field services company typically provides for some or all of the following activities:

  • Managing and tracking of allowables to ensure efficient preservation of properties in compliance with investor guidelines
  • Managing the bid process, when applicable, by submitting bids to the investor using the investor’s bid submission program (such as P260/Yardi for FHA loans)
  • Ensuring conveyance extensions are submitted and managed when necessary
  • Managing cost-to-date information
  • Managing and remediating customer complaints and ensuring proper tracking, disposition, and auditability of results

An added benefit is that the servicer can leverage their field services provider’s relationships with communities around the country to efficiently address code violation issues enhancing their reputation in the community and can take advantage of the company’s industry knowledge where quite often they have helped to shape policies, regulations and guidelines through direct partnership or committee participation with investors and GSEs.

By leveraging a field services company’s outsourcing options, mortgage servicing organizations have been able to decrease the size of their internal default staff, saving time and money, as they fulfill their servicing responsibilities.

Technology for Efficient Operations
Investing in new technology has been key for field services companies in providing innovative solutions. Through mobile adoption by vendors, investing in data centers and piloting new technology, like video in the field, field services companies continue to ensure quality and innovation for the mortgage servicing industry: a major benefit for all sizes of servicing organizations.

When deciding on a partner to work with, servicers should pay particular attention to determine if the field services company:

  • Has invested in latest infrastructure, security, applications, and database technologies;
  • Has deployed business process management systems that provide order and loan level processing automation to ensure efficient service delivery;
  • Has deployed mobile technologies to provide timely, comprehensive, and accurate property results from the field;
  • Offers full-service, secure Internet portals for servicers and contractors with access for ordering, communicating, reviewing work order/photo results and reporting;
  • Utilizes integrated data warehousing capabilities that provides web-based reporting, extensive portfolio data analytics and automated report scheduling capabilities;
  • Has integration plug-ins to communicate with third-party order processing and invoicing platforms such as Aspen Grove, Equator, Black Knight, and iClear;
  • Utilizes an incident management platform to accurately track client requests and compliance status;
  • Has state-of-the-art data centers with 24/7 monitoring; and
  • Utilizes a centralized call center supporting multiple service center locations.

Of particular value to servicers, both large and small, is having a secure client portal. This comprehensive web-based site should offer a wide array of reports that can be scheduled to run on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

These reports can be configured to track and report on problem resolution activities and change requests. Once access is granted, each person should have historical loan level information of the services conducted at the property including work orders and updates, photo documentation and audit support, detail of all bids provided and their disposition, expenditure details including cost-to-date and problem-resolution timelines.

Conclusion
Mortgage servicers, both large and small, have come to rely on their field services companies as an extension of their own staff’s duties and responsibilities.

In times of tight budgets and cost containment initiatives, it is imperative that that smaller servicing organizations leverage the tools and resources that a national field services company can provide.

As compliance mandates continue to proliferate, it is only prudent to investigate what your field services company provides today and determine if the value add technology and outsourcing services that a national provider provides as part of their suite of services can benefit you as well.

Source: HousingWire (Never Too Big to Serve pdf)

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CHEIF 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 and Vendor Management

Joe Iafigliola

Joe Iafigliola is the vice president of finance and vendor management 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, Human Capital

Jennifer Anspach

Jennifer Anspach is the assistant vice president of human capital 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.