- Consumer Info
Ethan Powsner, Esq., VP of Technology and Market Development
Fidelity National Title Group
While there is a lot of discussion in the title media about cybersecurity and safe wire practices, there are other technology issues that a prudent title agent should be aware of. These issues, while not as glamorous or as dramatic as wire fraud, probably have a larger global impact than wire fraud. In the title media, you will not read about the day in and day out losses caused by the failure of title agencies to utilize common technology tools in their daily operations. This article will cover some of the basics.
One common complaint members of the Technology Committee hear while going about their full-time job responsibilities is the difficulty title agents have in recruiting and training staff. This means that if you are constrained by your market and the only personnel resources you have are your current employees, the only way to accommodate an increasing number of orders is to have your staff stop performing inefficient, time wasting tasks.
Here are some examples of inefficient, time wasting tasks that the author has observed: 1) an agency where the title staff was using Microsoft Word to create title commitments and policies, while the escrow staff was using SoftPro in the escrow function; 2) an agency where the bookkeeper was spending almost a full day hand manipulating QuickBooks reports into policy reports; 3) an agency where documents were routinely printed then scanned back into the system as a method of having digital copies. Due to space constraints, this article will not explain how each of these operations was materially slowed by these practices.
This author believes that the top daily productivity-related technology issues an agency should address are:
• Title/Escrow Production Software: Regardless of which brand you are using, your staff must know how to use templates – a) simple templates, such as setting up refinance files versus purchase files, and b) customer level templates, for example where each lender has a template set up so that their consistent, particular requests can be addressed.
• Microsoft Word: Many agents send dozens of standard emails over and over, such as “Enclosed please find the attached commitment. If you have any questions please call me. Thank you.” A few agents have figured out that you can use the “Signature” feature in Word to create keystroke shortcuts that will automatically type that boilerplate in those repetitive emails.
• Microsoft Excel: Many title agents overlook the productivity of their bookkeeper or bookkeeping department and don’t see the amount of time being wasted manually manipulating data because of the lack of training in most of the native Excel tools.
• Adobe Acrobat: Most PC/software bundles include some form of Adobe, but generally only the Reader version of Adobe. This Reader version has very limited functionality, as compared to the full Adobe Acrobat version. The productivity tools available in Acrobat will amaze your staff.
Conclusion: While it may not be glamorous to become an effective user of Adobe, Excel, Word, and other well-known software products, it can certainly improve your office productivity and profitability as well as remove a lot of drudgery from your employees’ daily grind. There’s an old adage “You don’t know what you don’t know,” so make 2019 the year you empower your staff with some of the basic technology tools already in your office. Pay for some training. While the cost may seem high, in a vacuum, when weighed against the productivity gains, the cost are trivial.