Managing a lender’s conveyancing panel: improving efficiency and tackling mortgage fraud



Conveyancing panels are a crucial element of a lender's ability to operate effectively in the UK mortgage market. However, the resource required is increasingly significant given the need to fully check and vet law firms as well as the need to monitor and track individual transactions.

Unfortunately, fraud is always an area where diligence is key, thoroughness is essential and lenders need to stay one step ahead. This coupled with the desire from all stakeholders for processes to run as smoothly as possible will always be a prominent aspect of delivery and a cause for criticism when not exercised effectively. It has therefore never been so important to have a fully vetted and reliable panel who can deliver the service to customers in the way that lenders would wish, indeed the best examples can provide competitive advantage.

Lenders face a host of challenges to control their individual law firm panels and also need to retain control over the firms they choose to work with. Activities can typically include sourcing and managing individual law firm requests, panel renewals and applications as well as completing and monitoring each individual case registration. These activities have become more complex and time consuming at a time when available resource is at a premium.

Protecting against property fraud

Fraudulent activity in property transactions will always be a serious concern due to the disastrous consequences for the customer as well as the lender. To respond to this challenge, lenders’ systems and staff must be able to ensure processes and procedures are strictly followed. Protection against more and more sophisticated threats is vital in maintaining a strong reputation and market confidence.

Further significant progress has been made in securing the monetary chain from both a digital and automation perspective. Such processes reduce the risk of intervention and also have the happy consequence of reducing turnaround timescales and offering customers delivery channel choice. Adapting to technological developments also curries favour for lenders among their customers, who enjoy, for example, the option to access services via mobile technology.

LMS Panel Link® is an example of a service that creates an economy of scale for lenders whilst allowing each to maintain autonomy over their law firm panel. It allows the lender to lean on the experience of a team that specialises in understanding the law firm market and in assessing and monitoring law firms to ensure they meet the lender's requirements. The service assists in securing the monetary chain through electronic distribution of mortgage offers, receipt of COTs and monitoring post completion activity. We continually work with our lender partners to look for ways to further enhance the service. Managing transactional panels online and in one place also allows legal professionals to better communicate with each other and to facilitate the conveyancing process more easily, bringing together the processes, checks and documentation whilst facilitating important aspects of collaboration when dealing with risk issues.

We have an extensive database of law firm client account data that can be used to further secure the COT process and we continue discussions with our lender partners to see how this might assist the individual customer. Fraud activity will always look for the point of least resistance and as all industry stakeholders work harder at intervention prevention, we need to ensure the customers' deposit money is equally protected.

LMS continues to work with a growing number of Building Societies and is proud to be an associate member of the BSA. We have dialogue both with clients and non-clients aimed at improving process, reducing fraud risk and ultimately working collaboratively to improve the conveyancing landscape.

Paul Davies, Director of Business Development at LMS