Defining ALTA Best Practice Approaches

As the American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) Best Practices are fast becoming an industry standard, it is important for title and settlement agents to understand the types of recognized engagements that accounting practitioners can perform and that mortgage lenders will accept. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) released non-authoritative Technical Questions and Answers that describe four types of acknowledged engagements: examinations, reviews, agreed-upon procedures, and consulting engagements. Some lenders may also consider allowing a title agent’s self-certification in some instances.

PYA provides all the engagement types identified by the AICPA for, and on behalf of, title and settlement agents. The following table provides a comparison of each engagement type.

Defining ALTA Best Practice Approaches


PYA Title Industry Experts to Facilitate Roundtable Discussions at ALTA Springboard

ALTA SpringboardEugene McCullough, the title industry service director at PYA will join Debra Gentry, a director within the ALTA Best Practices Services group, as facilitators for the American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) 2017 Springboard.  The Springboard is an opportunity for title insurance and settlement industry professionals to network, attend informative sessions, and derive inspiration for their careers.

McCullough and Gentry will facilitate general sessions during the “Ideas Festival,” covering such topics as:

  • Staffing and development
  • Culture of compliance
  • Connecting to the customer

The Springboard takes place March 8-9, 2017, in Fort Worth, Texas.  Learn more and register.

If you would like more information about ALTA Best Practices compliance or implementation, or would like to request a speaker on this topic for your organization or event, contact one of our executives below at (800) 270-9629.

ALTA’s Newest Tool: The Best Practices Maturity Model

tool-alta-suit-e1477675972236Recently, the American Land Title Association (ALTA) prepared and published a new tool, the Best Practices Maturity Model Index (Maturity Model), to assist title companies and settlement agencies with benchmarking their compliance with the ALTA Best Practices Framework (Best Practices).

Historically, maturity models demonstrate an organization’s progress toward a specific goal by identifying areas that need improvement.  At the most basic level, ALTA’s Maturity Model is a way to identify and document an organization’s progression toward full compliance with ALTA Best Practices.  This model uses five different “Benchmark Compliance Levels” ranging from Ad Hoc (no established policies and procedures) to Optimized (fully compliant with Best Practices).  As each element of the Best Practices Framework is outlined on the vertical axis, an explanation of the standard to be met to attain a Benchmark Compliance Level is included on the horizontal axis.  By matching the organization’s level of compliance with a Best Practices Framework element to the applicable explanation, the organization can determine how close it is to being Optimized.

When using the Maturity Model, it is the responsibility of the organization to establish its level of readiness and compliance with Best Practices.  The Maturity Model prompts title companies and settlement agencies to examine their organization’s implementation of Best Practices policies and procedures to determine their level of compliance.  Once completed, the Maturity Model displays the results in a dashboard format, indicating which areas need improvement and which areas are fully optimized.  For organizations with a compliance officer, this dashboard is an effective tool for updating the leadership team on the organization’s compliance with Best Practices.

Completing the Maturity Model can help identify the next steps (if any) the organization may need to take to fully comply with Best Practices, as well as prepare the organization for a third-party assessment.  The Maturity Model also can be used to help an organization maintain compliance after a third-party assessment.  It is important to note that the Maturity Model serves as an internal resource and is not intended to be provided to financial institutions to demonstrate compliance.  Organizations should inquire of the lenders for whom they provide services to determine the type of compliance assessment the lender prefers.

The development of the Maturity Model indicates ALTA’s continued focus on Best Practices.  ALTA understands the importance of demonstrating regulatory compliance and securing consumer information.  Title companies and settlement agents benefit from staying abreast of Best Practices as they seek to protect their clients’ sensitive information while simultaneously mitigating their business risk.  If agents are uncertain where to begin in assessing their organization’s level of Best Practices compliance, the Maturity Model is a good starting point.

If you would like more information about ALTA’s Maturity Model or Best Practices compliance and implementation, contact one of our executives below, (800) 270-9629.

PYA Executives Provide Insight on Succession Planning and Effective Marketing at ALTA Convention

succession planning marketingPYA Senior Manager Mark Brumbelow presented “Transitioning Within a New Market” at the American Land Title Association’s (ALTA) 2016 Annual Convention, October 4-7, 2016, at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The presentation provided insight into proper succession planning, as title or settlement agents contemplate retirement or an exit strategy. It analyzed various ownership transition options available to business owners as they consider retirement, expansion, or ownership succession.  Attendees learned about:

    • The common components of every succession plan.
    • The importance of identifying and developing the right team members to step into leadership roles and how to expand the candidate pool, if necessary.
    • The role family dynamics play in the success or failure of a succession plan.
    • The impact taxes have on a succession plan and ways to get the best tax treatment for your particular situation.

View the presentation below.

Debra Gentry, Director of ALTA Best Practices Group at PYA, also presented “Compliance Is One of the Best Ways to Market Your Business.” Her presentation covered:

    • The use of the compliance “seal of approval” when promoting title services to the marketplace.
    • The role of social media.
    • Radio/TV advertisement.
    • Other industry relationships that may be used to promote your services.

View the presentation below.

If you were unable to attend the ALTA Annual Convention, but would like more information about succession planning or capitalizing on compliance to grow your business, contact one of our executives below, (800) 270-9629.