I am positive the time is now
I have been reflecting on the positivity toward improving the conveyancing experience and how, at least to me, it has not always appeared that way.
As I write this article the government have just released the draft trust framework for governing the future use of Digital Identities, that will hopefully lead to further identity enhancements, and significant improvements for the client experience throughout the home moving journey.
Before joining ULS technology, I had worked at a well renowned business school as Product Owner for their virtual learning systems managing the development team. My career up until that point had been leading projects to maximise operational efficiency as a Business Analyst. For its time and industry, the school was advanced, office productivity tools were fully implemented in the cloud, and online learning environments allowed students across the globe to learn, be assessed and collaborate remotely. In comparison, conveyancing seemed like a different world – client experiences were primarily paper based, and the processes that conveyancers followed appeared inflexible and antiquated.
I started at ULS technology in 2016 as Lead Business Analyst for DigitalMove. I had bought and sold several properties but had no real knowledge of what conveyancing entailed. Andrew Weston’s passion for DigitalMove, the vision to transform home moving for everyone, all combined with my own experiences, captured my imagination. Naively, I thought we would have all the problems solved by Christmas, but I quickly found out that I had a lot to learn and a lot of people to win around.
Step 1 – Client Onboarding: Andrew and I spent the latter half of 2016 travelling the country visiting conveyancers, sharing the vision, understanding processes, and analysing the contents of welcome packs. I remember that every pack was different, and how manual everything appeared to be. Wet signatures were a must on all documents and identity verification required physical certified copies – one from list A and two from list B. Attempting to build a complete standardised digital pack seemed to be an uphill battle.
Digitisation seemed so obvious, but I had been ignorant to the true extent of the compliance obligations and risks placed on to the conveyancers at the time. As a client I had seen only the tip of the iceberg and had not considered all that conveyancers had to do. It is a journey of discovery that I have witnessed many others take since. With the support of our conveyancers, Legal-Eye and the tenacious ULS team, DigitalMove did produce a standardised solution including digital signatures.
I am positive that the time for significant change within conveyancing is upon us. In the last year we have seen changes in policy, technology, and behaviour partly due to the pandemic. Our policy setters have begun to instigate change, the Land Registry led the way with guidance on the use of electronic signatures, and the draft Safe Harbour identity checking standard. Technology advancements have led to a marked increase in the number of technologies attempting to solve problems such as source of funds and reporting on Title. And social distancing has resulted in large increases in firms using real time self-serve electronic ID verification tools such as CREDAS.
It is exciting to be involved with DigitalMove in this time. It has long been a desire of conveyancers to embrace change, and the pandemic has proved to them that change is not only possible but also essential. With the barriers that we have faced previously having been substantially removed, it is recognised there are ways around anything now. Conveyancers are increasingly engaged with solving problems, and refreshingly it is now rare that digital solutions are hampered by risk and compliance.