Since the first lockdown was imposed in March this year, law firms have been faced with a rapidly changing industry. The Law Society’s Simon Davis makes a case for digital solutions being firms’ best bet to ‘weather the storm’ of the pandemic, noting that, ‘it is clear that technology will play a vital role in driving the post-coronavirus recovery across all sectors of the economy, including legal services.'
So, what does this recovery look like? Moreover, how can firms make sure they’re equipped to survive if advice continues to change?
More recently, UK conveyancers have reported a significant backlog (amounting to £82billion) in the buying process as a result of transactions halted during the property market freeze, amounting to increased time-sensitivity being placed on transactions. Search Provider SearchFlow stated that ‘many firms are under increasing pressure to clear workloads. There are also issues in ensuring firms are ready and able to help clients realise the benefits provided by the Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday, as announced by the Chancellor.’
With property exchanges taking on average one month longer than usual, firms will benefit from products that offer savings in both time and cost. Sheffield firm PM Property Lawyers reported their average onboarding time as 4 times faster after implementing eIDV. They also reported that admin time post-eIDV was slashed from 30 to just 2 minutes, and that clients who would’ve had to be chased for further verification 1-4 times previously could often complete their Client Due Diligence checks without needing to be chased at all. This unburdened fee-earners from the cumbersome admin associated with traditional ID checks and allowed them to focus on progressing transactions.
As the Government introduced travel restrictions across the UK, empty houses being left unmonitored during lockdown meant the risk of property fraud was significantly higher. This left both conveyancers and their clients vulnerable to potential scammers.
Not only this, but Government advice to work from home introduced a more obvious issue: how to securely onboard clients. Commonly used alternatives to eIDV, such as verifying ID via Skype or Zoom, simply aren’t sufficient to detect the increasingly sophisticated fake IDs used by scammers, and so put firms at unnecessary risk. Electronic identity provider Onfido’s Michael Van Gestel puts this simply- ‘A big misconception is that ID fraud is hard to commit. In reality it is very easy to obtain or create passable fake documents that will fool human reviewers.’
Using document scanning and facial recognition technology, eIDV solutions can detect anomalies in IDs that may be overlooked with the human eye. In addition, eIDV solutions incorporate facial biometric technology to match a client’s face to their ID, and ensure they are who they claim to be. Mishcon de Reya’s Rowena Herdman-Smith explained to us in a recent webinar how essential she feels eIDV was for Mishcon’s security, explaining that traditional methods just ‘aren’t actually safe anymore’, and likened manual onboarding to ‘papering over cracks’ rather than addressing the fundamental security issues with an outdated manual system.
3. Client experience
Most digital solutions allow firms more flexibility and an improved client experience, whether this be through reduced transaction times, a more secure way of providing documentation or simply an easier way of completing CDD checks. Electronic ID Verification delivers all three. Often available in the form of a smartphone app, eIDV empowers clients to complete their CDD checks in the comfort of their own home (where many of us have been spending a lot more time of late!) When we spoke with Thomas Legal, they highlighted how much ‘clients appreciate being able to take responsibility for completing [CDD checks] in a convenient and timely fashion’.
A well-designed solution should be intuitive and guide clients through the process, making ID checks infinitely more client friendly. In the same way eIDV provides firms with insurance against changing compliance regulations, it can also arm firms with the flexibility required to adapt their onboarding process as COVID-19 advice continues to unfold, so they can operate remotely.
Part of the anxiety associated with COVID-19 is the uncertainty faced by firms in its wake. What will change, and will your firm be equipped to adapt to these changes? We’ve found that implementing an eIDV solution like Thirdfort goes at least part of the way to easing this uncertainty and making conveyancing during a pandemic more streamlined, easy and secure for all involved.
How do you choose the right eIDV provider for your business? Read our guide.