2016 HW Vanguard Award Winners

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40 executives leading the mortgage industry were chosen for the 2016 HW Vanguard Award including Michael O’Connell who steered Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. to new levels of quality and performance in 2016.
Michael O’Connell steered Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. to new levels of quality and performance in 2016. There are two key indicators that drive a company’s success and its ability to survive in any competitive industry. It has to be profitable and the products it produces have to be of a high quality. In his role as chief operating officer, O’Connell is directly responsible for both of these statistics and his focus has been to give the mortgage industry what it wants: high quality that can be achieved without penalizing service level agreements.
During the last year, NTC maintained a 99.98%+ county compliance rate while at the same time experiencing a steep decline in the county reject rate. Since June 2015, NTC’s reject rate dropped to a consistent 0.79% while sending record numbers of documents to record. This was all planned and based on a few simple fundamentals orchestrated by O’Connell and his team. 
To accomplish this, the team reviewed and revised the training and quality control policies and procedures to focus on the potential higher risk areas, focusing attention on the actual issues and not just a perceived industry acceptable percentage of quality inspections.
“We treated the actual problem instead of mandatory checking 10-15% of all work just to create a perception. We wanted to catch as many errors as possible,” O’Connell explained. “We wanted to have the highest quality possible and we are closer to that now than ever before in our history.”
With the programs NTC has in place today, it can focus its attention on any individual’s work and raise the QI to 100%, or drop it to as low as it wants to, based on the actual quality of the products produced by that individual. NTC has an apprenticeship in place to control the complexity levels of the work given to each employee. O’Connell explained that each person is given personal attention from the quality division and is not allowed to proceed to more complex files until they have reached a high standard of quality on the process they are currently on. 
After an employee completes extensive basic training, there is an hour a day of training and enhancement available to all employees going forward. NTC continues to monitor the employee’s quality until they reach a certain standard, at which point NTC reduces the total number of files reviewed on that individual. O’Connell said that this has proven to be a major successful action and is a direct contributor to the high-quality standards NTC achieves today. 
NTC has around 150 individual training courses, apprenticeships and seminars available to all staff. Created inhouse and adjustable to the changing industry needs, the training is available to all staff but in the case of the higher trained staff, leads, managers and directors, courses are a mandatory part of training. 
To make it onto the floor and perform the basic functions at NTC, the average employee will receive at least two to three weeks of full-time training and senior positions or more complex processes training can take up to eight weeks. O’Connell said that whether someone joined the company with a lifetime in the mortgage industry or has no experience at all, everyone is trained. 
“My role here is to lead by example and to help forge a team that takes pride in the products it produces and makes every effort to produce quality,” O’Connell said. “Where I gain the most pleasure is when I observe that culture being passed on between team members at NTC.”