RENOWNED SCIENCE FICTION AUTHOR ISAAC ASIMOV once wrote, “It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.”

For Notary Signing Agents, this has become the mantra for their dealings with the mortgage finance industry, and the pace of change is only growing faster. Driven by federal regulators, these changes are rooted in a mandate for the industry to implement strong consumer protection systems to shield borrowers’ financial and identity information.

During the past two years, NSAs — classified as third-party service providers — have felt some pain as the industry scrambled to comply with the mandates established by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Most lenders, title service providers and signing services, among others, have attempted to implement their own security and compliance systems. That has resulted in NSAs having to meet different requirements and follow unique procedures, for each company they work for.

If you work for a dozen or more entities, meeting the mountain of requirements has been challenging at best. But in October, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) took a bold move to try to bring some order out of the chaos. For the first time, the Association that promotes professional standards for the title industry updated its Best Practices to include recommendations for vetting and overseeing Signing Agents — creating a uniform industry framework for member companies to leverage. “We’re going into a compliance management world,” said ALTA Chief Executive Officer Michelle Korsmo, explaining the need to update the Best Practices. “Title insurance and settlement companies need to have strong consumer protection programs that they talk about with their business partners.”

The hope is that companies will use ALTA’s best practices as a framework to adopt standardized requirements and rules for hiring NSAs, underscoring the importance of maintaining a current certification, background screening and insurance. But it’s still too early to tell how the industry will leverage them. All we know is that they will, and NSAs need to be ready. “Most people don’t like change,” said Lori Dorman, Director Risk Management for Agents National Title Insurance Co. and a member of ALTA’s Internal Audit Committee. “Instead of looking at it as a challenge, it is more a matter of embracing the change.”

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