Transforming Title Insurance with WFG Technology
The Williston Financial Group (WFG) has been saving clients time and money on real estate transactions since they formed in 2010. A leader in title, closing, and settlement services for mortgage lenders around the country, WFG provides the best in end-to-end title services and technological solutions for clients. We spoke with Jeff Bernheisel, VP of Project Development at West (a WFG company), about WFG's impressive growth, their personalized, progressive approach to title insurance, and their partnership with Updater.
WFG brings a fun, innovative approach to the title insurance industry. Without giving away any trade secrets, how do you do it?
No comment! Okay, fine… I think it really boils down to the team we have in place. From upper-level management, all the way down… most of us have been in the industry for a while and have come from other environments that didn’t have much going on in the way of innovation. So, when Pat Stone started WFG with his vision of “doing it better” for the consumer, I think that really set the tone for what we’re doing here today.
More specifically, how do you keep agent partners engaged and learning new things? How do your agent partners then distill that down to the realtors they work with?
We have a great team on the agency side that’s constantly out in the field working with our agent partners, making sure they have everything they need to be successful in everything from the underwriting side of things to branding, marketing, and technology strategies that can be used for both themselves and their realtor clients. Because WFG is positioned as a true partner (i.e., WFG doesn’t have direct operations in most states where our agency clients do, so we don’t compete for their business) — compared to most the other national underwriters — we don’t mind completely opening up our playbook and sharing anything that might help them have greater success.
Can you tell us about WFG Spark?
As part of the above strategy — opening our playbook to our agency partners — we decided to create WFG Spark, multi-day regional events where we can bring in both internal WFG/West staff and external subject matter experts to speak on the topics of branding, digital marketing, sales tactics, etc. for our agency partners.
We give a high-level overview and also provide deep-dive breakout sessions where we oftentimes work hand-in-hand to help them understand how they can take the ideas back to their market and implement them with their own realtor clients. A few weeks ago, our event in Orlando had over 300 agency partners in attendance, and they keep growing and growing as the word spreads about what we’re doing.
WFG has grown in leaps and bounds. Can you tell us more about your impressive growth?
I think we can attribute this to our upper management. Patrick Stone has been to the top of the mountain. When he decided to come back and do it again… a lot of people got in line to follow him back to the top. When you’ve been there once, it’s easier (and faster) to avoid the mistakes you made the first time!
What role does your company West play in providing amazing technology to your team and your agent partners?
Well, I like to say our MarTech team at West has some of the best in the business, (but obviously I’m a little biased so take that for what it’s worth!). We’re still in the very early stage of the company, but transitioning our team over to West will allow us even more opportunity and flexibility to work with outside vendors, technology partners, and agency partners to help improve processes and the overall title and escrow experience for everyone involved.
How do you think Updater helps improve the client experience?
For us, integrating Updater directly into our workflow simply added a level of service for the consumer that other title insurance companies didn't provide. Most still don’t! It was one of the first steps we took in creating a more transparent and helpful closing experience through integrations and a consumer-facing dashboard system. The way we all want it to be. The way it should be.