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Fintech Firm Brace on Creating Seamless & Secure Workflows for Loss Mitigation


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    Homeowners struggling with mortgage payments have already reached peak stress. It doesn’t help that beginning loss mitigation is largely an opaque and sluggish process or all involved.

    This is where Brace comes in. In a mortgage servicing landscape that still relies on paper and phone calls, Brace digitally connects homeowners and their sensitive data to mortgage servicers.

    If, for some reason, sensitive information can't be shared via Brace, the company uses Virtru’s encrypted email plugin as a safety net to ensure that customers' sensitive information connected to their mortgage remains protected.

    We spoke with Susan Watkins, Brace's Director of Customer Success, about the importance of ease of use in all customer interactions, and how Brace occasionally turns to Virtru to maintain quick and secure workflows. Select the button below to listen to the full conversation between Watkins and McCrae, or keep reading for the highlights.

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    Loss Mitigation is a Ticking Clock

    The clock is ticking for both the borrower and the servicer during loss mitigation, and the Brace Customer Success team must help users on both sides.

    For homeowners, the tick-tick of possible foreclosure is an unbearable sound. Brace’s platform is where they can go to speedily answer questions relevant to loss mitigation — this can entail divulging names, addresses, phone numbers, amount of mortgages, or occasionally social security numbers. Then, Brace packages and sends the Personal Identifiable Information (PII) to mortgage servicers for analysis.

    For mortgage servicers, time-sensitive regulations are ever-looming. Servicers are mandated by the U.S. government to acknowledge receipt of various homeowner documentation within five days. But say there’s the occasional “blip” in the system, and a homeowner’s document cannot be sent through Brace’s encrypted software. The Customer Success team needs a reliable "Plan B" to meet the deadline, and do it securely.

    With Virtru, Brace CSMs can quickly encrypt emails and the documents within them in just one click. No major software install or account creation is needed for the sender or the receiver. It’s just data encryption, sped up and simplified.

    “The fact that we have the email plugin, it just makes my life so much easier,” said Watkins. “It's helping my client because they're getting the information they need. [It’s] helping the end user, the borrower, because they're going to get a solution faster, because I can do things kind of on a whim. As soon as I get the error message, I'll get that document through an encrypted email, send it to my servicer, and it's no issue.”

    A Difficult User Experience is a Non-Starter, Especially in Highly Regulated Spaces

    Compliance is baked into the fabric of all mortgage and finance workflows — which for decades has obscured relationships between borrowers and servicers. It’s the same reason so many large financial organizations have such muddied processes, including hazy communication and impossible collaboration procedures.

    In reality, the harder it is for people to do something, the more they will seek to find a workaround. McCrae emphasizes the risk this poses, especially when it comes to security. For example, what happens if an organization doesn’t allow transfer of sensitive data through email?

    “Somebody in your organization probably is [sending sensitive information through email]. It's just a question of: Does security and IT know about it? And... are there proper controls around that communication that's happening anyway?” he asks.

    It’s one of the reasons Brace uses Virtru. Not only can data be encrypted at rest and in transit, but Virtru’s Data Loss Prevention feature can detect potentially sensitive information and encrypt it automatically.

    “Even if someone is brand new to the company, maybe they don't know a thing about securing PII,” explains Watkins, “the organization can set up [Virtru] so that you are not reliant exclusively on the human being to secure the appropriate things. You can have the system kind of fall back and have a policy where they are covered, even if they forgot to or didn't know they had to.”

    McCrae agrees: The only real way to remain in compliance is to make it as easy as possible for the end user to comply.

    “Look, if it's not easy, it's not going to get used,” says McCrae. “If it's not going to get used, it doesn't do you any good. And it doesn't help your business do the things that it needs to do to stay compliant, to be fast and agile, and ultimately effective at delivering the solution that you provide to your customers.”

    Security is a Vital Component of Customer Success and Trust

    Both McCrae and Watkins emphasized the importance of responsible data stewardship as a mechanism of delivering on the whole customer success promise.

    “We do one thing really well; it's loss mitigation software,” said Watkins. “But we also consider the full picture, like the information that's coming in, the borrower experience, how we're going to get that information safely, kind of in a one-off channel if needed. So it's all a big picture.”

    That’s why Watkins uses Virtru as a secure alternative for sending sensitive information via email, when it cannot be sent through Brace.

    “[There are] probably very few times in your life you put all of this sensitive information in one spot,” said Watkins. “Anything that’s connected to PII is connected to your mortgage; information that is sensitive to you, and could mean real trouble if ever mishandled or lost.”

    This can even include instances in the future when the information sent via email may need to be referenced again. Compared to other cumbersome encryption services, Virtru allows for "forever control" of the data being shared. This means a week, month, year, or decade from now, the data owner will maintain complete control over an encrypted email; this includes the ability to grant or revoke access to it.

    For Watkins, customer success not only means her Brace clients successfully move through the system, but that they also feel taken care of and confident that their information is in good hands.

    “A lot of times during the day when we're dealing with a lot of end users, sometimes you get kind of lost and you just start to look at numbers and things like that,” she said. “But I'm dealing with homeowners. I'm dealing with people who are having trouble paying their mortgage. And every piece of information counts and every piece of information is sensitive. And so making sure I can get that one person, I can make sure that one person continues down the right path, gives me peace of mind and makes me feel good.”

    Virtru + Fintech: Filling the Gaps in Your Compliance

    We asked Watkins how she’d summarize the impact Virtru had on her daily work.

    “Some of the key words that come to mind are confidence, success, peace of mind, helping me do my job, and feeling good about doing the right thing.”

    Brace uses Virtru Email Encryption as one puzzle piece in their holistic compliance strategy—along with thousands of other organizations, too.

    If you’re looking to comply with various financial regulations, securely share files, encrypt data within Zendesk, Salesforce or custom applications, apply gateway encryption to your organization and more, book a demo with us today.

    Listen to the full podcast with Virtru’s Brett McCrae and Brace’s Susan Watkins by selecting the button below.

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    Shelby Imes

    Shelby Imes

    Shelby is the Manager of Content Strategy at Virtru with a specialty in SEO, social media, and digital campaigns. She has produced content for major players in healthcare, home services, broadcast media, and now data security.

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