Williston Financial Group (WFG), a Portland-based, full-service provider of title insurance and real estate settlement services for commercial and residential transactions nationwide, is marking its 10th anniversary in 2020 with record sales volume and three new Fintech product releases.
WFG says its mission had a central goal: to create a single technology platform that could bring together all real estate transaction participants, then leverage it to provide maximum collaboration and efficiency.
In 2020, examples of this came from WEST, WFG’s wholly-owned technology and data security services subsidiary. By enhancing and expanding the availability of three of its proprietary technology offerings, WEST allowed WFG to advance the industry at large. DecisionPointSM, an automated title-decisioning system enables lenders to know a loan’s application-to-close time almost instantly, according to the company.
The WESTprotectSM cybersecurity helpdesk service now includes a new self-service cybersecurity website. Introduced in September, westprotect.com enables real estate agents, lenders, title agents and other settlement service providers to sign up for alerts about active Internet fraud threats and submit questionable emails for evaluation. Later this month, WEST and WFG Lender Services are formally co-launching MyHome® for mortgage lenders—an expanded version of the company’s consumer collaboration portal service, which has been in use for several years within WFG’s direct title operations.
The company looks back on a decade of tradition.
In 2010, still in the shadow of another financial crisis, Stone saw great opportunities for a client-centric, tech-focused family of companies in the title insurance and real estate settlement services industry, according to the company. He had already built a prominent career in C-level positions with three public companies and directorships on two Fortune 500 boards, and spent nine years as president and COO of the nation’s largest title insurance company.
According to Stone, WFG had an advantage then because, although established title insurance underwriters had made some changes to take advantage of new technologies, those companies remained burdened by sunk costs and committed to traditional operating standards.
In just five years, WFG National Title Insurance Company, WFG’s Portland-based flagship, had become one of only six national underwriting firms, and accomplished it faster than any other company in history, reports the company.
The emphasis on technology, says the company, has allowed WFG to grow both steadily and securely into a family of companies providing products and services across much of the real estate and mortgage spectrum. Its Enterprise Solutions group includes title and closing service providers WFG Lender Services, WFG Default Title Services and Valutrust Solutions®, a national appraisal management and property valuation provider.
“The market remains underserved in the sense that the mortgage lending market has changed so quickly that everyone is still trying to keep up,” Stone said earlier this year. “The opportunity for a new player to come in 10 years ago, and be client-oriented and use technology to replace hierarchical management structures, is exactly the kind of firm lenders want to partner with today. In these uncertain times, we see our vision of a fully integrated tech stack as the main force of customers’ stability.”
WFG, Stone and President and CEO Steve Ozonian all receive high marks from consumers and industry insiders. Both executives received Progress in Lending “Lending Luminaries” awards in 2019. In September 2020, Stone received October Research’s “Leadership Award.”
According to the company, WFG continues to receive consistent Net Promoter Score (NPS) ratings from customers, in the high 70s or above—a “world-class” service rating across all industries.
“We adopted NPS some years ago,” Stone said, “and we are proud to maintain such positive feedback. It has helped WFG measure performance and improve service levels. This, combined with the drive of dedicated teams throughout the WFG organization, has us well-poised for success as we enter our second decade.”
To view a special 10-year anniversary message from WFG Founder and Executive Chairman Patrick Stone visit: national.wfgnationaltitle.com/wfg-news/10th-anniversary.