Joined-up ID checks provide a commercial opportunity for conveyancers

As I write this, I am about to be in the proud position that Credas – the company that I lead – is to be one of the first accredited with DIATF status. DIATF is the new Government approved framework that prescribes rules and standards in providing trustworthy digital identity solutions. Think of it as a kite-mark.

So what, you may ask?

Well, anti-money laundering checks and the whole digital identity, PEPs and sanction environment is now evolving, and I believe that it’s an opportunity for a more joined-up approach – especially for lawyers. It could also have commercial advantages for you, too.

ID checks have become a way of life. Not just when engaging a lawyer or listing a home for sale, but in fact we’ve always lived with them. When traveling; when buying alcohol; getting into nightclubs (remember them?); for driving; borrowing a library book; even the fingerprint or facial recognition access technology on your iPhone is an ID check – and you use that multiple times per day without even thinking about it being a “check”, but it is.

In the property world, we’re moving from an environment where ID checks were first seen as a mandated pain, to the acceptance that customer verification is part of our own due diligence and is mitigation against criminal activity and indeed protects against vulnerability to civil legal action. At present, an ID/AML check is typically done three times for every client. The estate agent does their check, then the mortgage broker does theirs and then you as the conveyancer do yours too. Doesn’t that strike you as wasted time and money and a bind for the customer? It’s not exactly efficient.

Soon, we will launch a product upgrade that allows an individual to perform one ID/AML/sanction check that they can then freely share with any third party. This is designed to solve the problem of multiple requests for such verification and has huge benefits to the consumer and the third parties responsible for such compliance too.

The roll-out of this initiative to the individual will of course take time (and some clever and expensive marketing on our part no doubt). Meantime, it strikes me that a simple tweak to the home selling process would immediately benefit lawyers, agents and the public…

So, many of you will have existing relationships with estate agents, agents that refer you to their clients regularly. Therefore, it is often possible for you to be placed front of mind when the agent is initially discussing their proposition at “pre-listing” stage.

Now, imagine that the agent at the point of signing up their selling client introduced you as the conveyancer at that point, as a means of professionalising the listing and starting the process of ensuring that the client was “seller-ready”?

The agent’s conversation with their client goes something like this:

“We’ve partnered with a very experienced and reputable legal firm [Trust & Co] to look after the conveyancing process and we’d like to introduce you to them early on so that they can put things in place to ensure a faster and more certain transaction.

That starts with an ID check, something that the government mandates for all home sellers and their buyers for anti-money laundering purposes. We prefer to involve the legal firm at this point so that they undertake that check. It only takes a few minutes, and it kicks off the formal process nice and early and helps gather all of the relevant information that they’ll need in anticipation of a buyer being introduced. Make sense?”

The upshot is that the lawyer can then guide the ID check via an accredited DIATF provider so that it is shareable.

Commercially, you as the conveyancer now have immediate, early access to that seller and can start pulling together PIQs and importantly, you will gain instructions much more readily than running the gauntlet once they’ve found a buyer and are therefore competing with the agent on the buy-side and their recommended conveyancers.

I’m interested in how property lawyers think this might work. With an open mind and yes, a little education on the part of the agent, is this a better way to handle property listings and to ensure more conveyancing instructions?

I’d love to know. I’m at, or please do post your comments below.

Tim Barnett is CEO at Credas Technolgies, the digital ID, AML, PEPs and Sanctions compliance platform

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