Conveyancing firms can deal with “scope creep” through digital solutions – CA Conference

Conveyancing firms are having to deal with a significant amount of “scope creep” when it comes to the work expected of them in today’s marketplace, but technological solutions can help them move towards a more “trusted advisor” status with clients.

That was the view of multiple speakers at the Conveyancing Association’s (CA) Annual Conference, which outlined the benefits of greater technology usage and digitisation within the home buying and selling legal process.

However, speakers said there was still a lot to do in order to get the many thousands of firms active in conveyancing to see the benefits of adopting such tech, and to put in the necessary investment and resource to deliver these benefits.

This month’s CA Annual Conference and Charity Dinner took place on Tuesday 6th February at the Hilton Deansgate Hotel in Manchester.

Under the title, ‘Moving Towards The Digital Age’, the Conference focused on how conveyancing firms can prepare for, and benefit from, digital-focused solutions within the home buying and selling process.

Landmark Information Group was the headline sponsor, while PEXA was the event sponsor, and Conveyancing Data Services the headline dinner sponsor.

Introduced by CA non-executive chair Nicky Heathcote, with panel sessions chaired by Eddie Goldsmith, director of the CA, Rob Gurney of Ochresoft and Andrew Lloyd of PEXA, the conference also included breakout sessions titled: Future Vision Digital Conveyancing, Delivery of Material Information from Upfront Information, Digital Signatures/Source of Funds, and Workplace Issues.

In a session on Digitisation and Automation, the conveyancing industry was urged to push for universal adoption of solutions by all firms in order to ease the administrative burden and duplication of work across the entire process, otherwise there would continue to be issues with the slow pace of work carried out by certain firms and impacting on all stakeholders.

It was also highlighted in the Future Vision Digital Conveyancing panel session, that those firms which moved quickly in terms of tech adoption, and continued to do so in areas such as digital ID verification, digital signatures, provision of upfront information, had and would secure a significant competitive advantage, as well as feeling the benefits in terms of future cost and resource levels, particularly reduced PI insurance premiums.

The keynote speech was provided by Kate Faulkner OBE, who provided her own property market and economic forecast for the year ahead, focusing on the dangers of believing there is an all-encompassing national picture when it comes to house prices and activity.

Faulkner urged conveyancing firms to drill down into their regional and local markets for a better understanding of how these and individual factors, plus population growth, act as the catalyst for transaction levels.

Following the conference, delegates were invited to a drinks reception and networking opportunity, followed by the Charity Dinner, which this year raised over £1,300 for the chosen charity, The Children’s Society.

Nicky Heathcote, non-executive chair of The Conveyancing Association, said: “This year’s Conference and Awards Dinner was the best attended event we have held since we began bringing all our membership and stakeholders together, and I would like to thank all those delegates who attended, our sponsors, our affiliate firms who exhibited, and our excellent Secretariat and Executive who put in so much work to making it a real success.

“The theme of the Conference seemed particularly pertinent when we chose it, and it was apparent just how important the move into the digital age for conveyancing firms is, and will be, in the future, especially if we want to continue to improve the home buying and selling process, and importantly, improve the sector for conveyancers.

“It’s now up to us as the CA – working with the providers of technology solutions – to help conveyancing firms make informed decisions and help them adopt the right technology, at the right price for their clients and their business.

“We appreciate not all firms can do this in the same way with the same resource or investment, so it’s important they have the knowledge and information to get the best results for their business.”

Heathcote added: “In that sense, we hope all delegates were able to take away a range of insight and information, plus hints and tips on how the technology available to them in order to improve their individual firms and the customer journey through to completion.

“We are an industry that has to be closely aligned with others, and again it was encouraging to hear of the level of collaboration that is driving these improvements.

“Finally, I would like to thank everyone who attended the Charity Dinner and who helped us raise, once again, a substantial amount for The Children’s Society.

“It is a truly worthy cause and everyone was incredibly generous during what was a fantastic day and night. We are already looking forward to the 2025 event – more details on that very soon.”

Eddie Goldsmith, Conveyancing Association conference chair, said: “This year’s Conference saw many experts singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of the obvious benefits of digitisation, particularly in a process which – up until now – has been an almost entirely analogue one.

“Having recently been in Australia, I was struck by how the process has been revolutionised there by technology solutions, cutting the time it takes to complete a transaction to just weeks rather than months.

“There is nothing stopping us in the UK from completing a similar journey but, as we heard, it is going to need buy-in from the vast majority of firms, and in that regard, we clearly have some convincing to do.

“However, the benefits in terms of shorter process times, less fall-throughs, and happier clients are there to be grasped, and I would suggest that if we can secure this, conveyancing becomes a much happier industry to work in and will undoubtedly help us in terms of recruitment and highlighting the benefits of the many excellent firms we have active in this space.”