- Consumer Info
By Ethan Powsner, Esq., VP of Technology and Market Development, Fidelity National Title Group
Robocalls: Many of you receive phone calls on your smart phones where it appears that the phone call is originating from the United States or from within your home state. It didn’t take long for you to figure out that these calls are robocalls. How many of you have gotten to the point where if you don’t recognize the number, you will not answer the call? This is a sound strategy, but does diminish your responsiveness to legitimate callers and forces them to prove their legitimacy by leaving a voicemail.
The same technology that allows telemarketers to fool your phone’s caller ID are being used by fraudsters to attempt to get homebuyers to wire money to improper accounts. The general idea is that the fraudster pretends to be from the appropriate title agency and advises the fraudster that there will be a change in wire instructions; you can guess the rest. There is not much you can do to prevent this other than to keep educating your customers about their need to be eternally vigilant, and verify.
Staffing, Technology and Training: Those of you who are familiar with the TV series “Downton Abbey” are probably familiar with how World War I changed the functioning of the estate. The initial problem was caused by the fact that able-bodied males were being called into military service. In order to cover the workload formerly handled by footmen, Carson (the butler), they had to resort to using maids to help serve meals at the larger gatherings. This required both a willingness to face the new reality, and the need to make sure that the maids were trained properly to handle their new fill-in roles. Local farmers had to learn to use tractors.
In my meetings with agents, I am finding that the shortage of qualified title employees — caused in part by a tighter job market and in part by retirements — is being handled by both cross training of remaining employees, implementing new technology skills, and by outsourcing the more generic title functions. I have worked with agents that are outsourcing services such as order entry, commitment typing, and policy typing. The outsourcing of title searches, considered by some to be a core function that defines their agency’s identity as a title agency, is also on the upswing. Additionally, I have worked with agencies where, by diving deeper into tools built into their title production software, they have more than doubled the output of employees that perform the more clerical parts of the title process.
In order to maximize your flexibility to operate your agency in the manner that comports with your ideas of how an agency should be structured and what functions an agency should provide, take a closer look at both training and technology. Your (remaining) staff has the ability and desire to do a good job, give them the tools they need by providing proper initial and recurring training. It’s an on-going process. As Bob Dylan wrote (and sang) years ago – still true today: The Times, They Are A-Changing.