As part of its mission to provide valuable help to title industry stakeholders, Alliant National has launched a program incentivizing agencies to report any suspected instances of fraud. Firms that do so are eligible to receive a $1,000 reward.
Since its inception, the program has proven to be a model for how underwriters and agencies can work together to prevent financial malfeasance within the industry and help lower premiums. In the past year alone, Alliant National and its agents have successfully averted over $1.8 million in liability costs.
Those results carried over into 2023 with yet another successful example of how fraud can be effectively detected and prevented when different stakeholders work together proactively and in tandem. Marion Lake Sumter Title, an agency based out of Ocala, Fla., recently noticed a potentially fraudulent transaction regarding a roughly half acre plot of vacant land valued at $20,000. As per the agency’s protocol, Marion Lake contacted the seller about the sale and instructed them to call their office if anything was amiss and if they were not, in fact, selling the property. The agency’s suspicions turned out to be correct, as the owner called back immediately, provided two valid forms of photographic identification and scheduled a video conference call to discuss the matter. Conversely, the fraudulent seller was asked for the same items and never responded.
“As soon as we received a call from the real seller, we notified our underwriter as well as both real estate agents on the transaction,” said Heather Pierport, Manager, Licensed Escrow Agent and Post Closer at Marion Lake Sumter Title, who initially identified the suspicious transaction. When asked about why fraud detection and prevention programs are important, she said, “These types of transactions are emotionally draining and can put agents in a depressive state. Programs like Alliant National’s help keep morale up when dealing with fraudsters.”
“Heather has been instrumental in keeping our underwriting team updated on both the fraudulent seller schemes and fraudulent checks they have encountered. I wish we could clone them!” said Lisa Yates, AVP, Agent Training Manager, Fla., for Alliant National, when discussing the incident.
Lisa then addressed Marion Lake Sumter’s anti-fraud efforts more broadly: “The way they strive for attention to detail and research each order is such a benefit to customers, underwriters and the title industry as a whole. Heather and her team have the best ‘trust your gut’ reactions to questionable transactions. As fraud continues to plague our industry, it is very important to double-check transaction details to make sure they all match-up.”
For her part, Heather concurred with how important it is to catch fraud before it occurs for the larger title insurance industry, taking the time to explain how continuing education and digital solutions have also made a positive difference: “We are constantly learning about the latest fraud trends. We also use Positive Pay to catch fraudulent checks that may try to post to our escrow account. This November, for example, we had almost $90,000 in fraudulent checks try to come through our account. With Positive Pay, I rejected those items, and we never lost any funds. I truly believe that solution should be a requirement for every escrow account.”
For over two years, Russell Gonzales has served as Assistant Vice President and Southwest Agency Representative for Alliant National Title Insurance Company. Although the role encompasses many responsibilities, Gonzales’ main priority has been signing policy-issuing agents for Alliant National and helping them grow their businesses. It is a demanding position, requiring expertise in agent examination, escrow, marketing and policy reconciliation. But thankfully, this is hardly Gonzales’ first rodeo.
In fact, Gonzales’ time in the title insurance field began long before 2020. He got his start back in high school when he enrolled in a cooperative education program during his junior year. The title company he worked for during this program eventually hired him as a full-time employee. The rest, as they say, is history.
Having spent his professional life in title insurance has afforded Russell a unique perspective on industry trends. Unsurprisingly, the technology associated with the field has advanced considerably, with Gonzales noting that new technology solutions have “changed the way we do business for the better.” However, Gonzales emphasized that certain qualities that make a successful agent or agency have largely remained the same and are just as important as ever: “The biggest trends I have noticed are all related to service,” he said. “Customer service and hard work really continue to pay off,” he said. He added that successful industry people always “remember to have a servant’s heart.”
Service and hard work are qualities that Gonzales is pleased to see reflected in Alliant National. The company is “positively different,” he said, discussing how the firm stacks up against its competitors. “Everyone at Alliant National knows that home ownership is one of the biggest investments someone can make.” Because of that understanding, everyone is “truly eager to help. Whether you are internal or external to the company, you will always be treated like family.”
Being able to deliver this level of personalized service to families pursuing the dream of home ownership is a benefit for Gonzales, whose own family is his greatest joy. “Outside of work, I really enjoy spending time with my family,” he said. “Having a 26-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter allows my wife Grace and I to focus on ourselves. Together we enjoy working out with our personal trainer, watching great movies and shows and building our relationship with God.” For nearly 30 years, Gonzales’ family, industry expertise and service-oriented mindset have allowed him to build an enviable career. His work in the title insurance field has benefited companies, individuals and the industry as a whole. As one of the leaders of Alliant National’s Southwest operations, he has found the perfect home to continue applying his passion for the industry and helping the company solidify its position as the premier independent underwriter for the independent agent.
It is safe to say that public trust in institutions these days is at an all-time low. According to recent reporting, only 7% of Americans have “a great deal” of trust and confidence in the news media,[i] with only about a third saying they trust the U.S. Congress.[ii]
When it comes to the business world, the perception amongst Americans is no better. Only 14% of citizens find big businesses to be trustworthy,[iii] while over 70% have little faith that brands will deliver on the promises they make. One conclusion that can be drawn from these statistics is that displaying authenticity in your marketing has never been more important. In this blog, we will talk a bit more about why authenticity matters, as well as how you can weave it into more of your marketing initiatives.
The Power of Authenticity
Why does authenticity matter? Well, because it can make a real difference in dollars-and-cents. 86% of customers are on the record stating that brand authenticity is important when deciding where they are going to shop.[iv] In addition, Gen Z, one of the most powerful up-and-coming consumer groups, wants to purchase from companies that support social and environmental issues over those that do not.[v] What is abundantly clear is that companies must put authenticity front-and-center to compete in the marketplace today and tomorrow.
How You Become More Authentic
Luckily, there are a variety of easy steps business leaders can take to start promoting brand authenticity:
First, clearly define your values. After all, being authentic means that you are what you say. But you can’t live up to what say you are until you define it. And no, that doesn’t mean simply just listing your products or services. Instead, develop a comprehensive brand story, including a “promise” for how your company will help customers live better lives.
Next, communicate your story. You have likely already heard about content marketing: a strategy for using content to draw people to your website and convert them into leads. However, you can also use content marketing to highlight your brand story and promise. To do this, reduce how often you’re hard selling and produce more educational content. This can solidify your reputation as a helpful resource rather than merely a money-making entity.
Consider reviewing and revising your brand’s image – including fonts, colors, slogans, logos and imagery. So much of how human beings perceive others depends on non-verbal characteristics. Think about what’s right for your target clients. If you want to position your business as a socially conscious enterprise that Millennials and Gen. Z. will love, then those principles must also be reflected in your brand aesthetics.
Put the human at the center of your communication. It isn’t good for companies to drift into cold, impersonal communication – which certainly doesn’t scream authenticity. Always remind your customers of the real humans working hard behind the corporate veneer, figures who are passionate about helping them solve problems. There are variety of ways you can do this – from taking people behind the scenes of your business to running employee spotlight features on your blog.
Authenticity is the Way of the Future
In our digital-first economy, customers are growing increasingly savvy, and unsurprisingly, this has changed their expectations. It is no longer sufficient to have good products or service; customers are also prioritizing companies that are invested in improving their lives and communities. Just like any other market trend, companies that don’t adapt do so at their own peril.
In today’s battle for clicks and conversions, personalization is key
By now, pretty much everyone knows how important digital technology is to the modern economy. From streamlining communication to improving product lines, digital makes the business world go around. Yet while digital technology has been a net benefit for companies, it has also raised customer expectations significantly. Today, it is not enough to merely offer the best product or service, you must also use your digital infrastructure to create unique, seamless and personal experiences for your clients. Here are some simple ways you can start doing so today.
Bring in the bots
I’ve previously written about the immense benefits of using chatbots on your website. From a customer service perspective, it just makes sense. In today’s “always-on” economy, you need to support your customers around the clock. Thankfully, chatbots have advanced enough to now answer a variety of user questions, direct visitors around your website or even provide educational or product resources.
Personalize content assets
One benefit of the digital age is that it has never been easier to deliver personalized communications at scale. Take email marketing. There are small, pre-written code snippets that you can insert into your subject lines or body copy that will populate with each email recipient’s personalized information upon delivery. The data shows that this simple action can have a big impact on the overall ROI of your email marketing campaigns, with some studies depicting a bump of nearly 50% in open rates.[i]
Always leap at a chance to solicit and collect customer feedback. In doing so, you’ll gain valuable insights to improve your processes, operations and service delivery.
This is another area where digital technology can play an invaluable roll. Many standard CMS platforms offer built-in customer contact forms. The drawback is that this method is inherently passive – meaning your customers may take the time and effort to respond but also may not. A more active approach would involve creating a customer feedback survey that you disseminate directly to your customer base. SurveyMonkey or even Google Forms have made it a breeze to accomplish something like this, providing free or low-cost tools to help you connect with your clients and gather valuable opinions.
Create meaningful landing pages
An often-overlooked element of a given marketing or customer journey effort is landing pages, which is unfortunate for a variety of reasons. Not only can a shoddy landing page harm the overall impact of your marketing campaigns, but it wastes a chance to further personalize your client’s experience. While you shouldn’t overload your landing page with extraneous links that distract visitors from the action you want them to take (such as filling out a contact form), including a few other strategic resources targeted to their unique goals and pain points can help you create more valuable experiences.
Personalization and optimization = better business
It’s tempting to put personalization and optimization initiatives on the back burner, especially when you have many other competing priorities. Yet even making small tweaks to your digital ecosystem can go a long way toward developing more powerful connections with your audience and creating modern brand experiences.
The company meets rigorous SSAE 18 Type II standards for the ninth consecutive year.
Alliant National Title Insurance Company, the title insurer that is uniquely responsive to the needs of independent agents, announces that it has successfully completed the Service Organization Control (SOC 1) SSAE 18 Type II examination of its Agent Quality Management System for the ninth consecutive year.
Upon completing the examination, Alliant National received an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)-endorsed report stating that the company has maintained effective controls over its Agent Quality Management System, the framework it uses to approve and monitor its agents. Alliant National agents are independently reviewed against over 100 rigorous quality standards under this system and are designated as Authorized Service Providers of Alliant National.
“Alliant National was the first title insurance underwriter in the nation to obtain SSAE 16 – which is now SSAE 18 – Type II certified compliant status. It is also the only underwriter to achieve compliance for nine consecutive years,” said David Sinclair, President and CEO of Alliant National.
The SSAE 18 Type II exam also validates the company’s systems for minimizing the risk of insureds’ financial loss with real estate closings. Lenders relying on Alliant National’s oversight procedures gain additional assurances by virtue of the company passing the examination. It firmly establishes that the company’s Quality Management System processes are complete and function at the highest-possible quality.
“This certification provides additional levels of confidence in our agent oversight systems to lenders and stakeholders,” Sinclair said. “Our goal is to provide lenders with strong and unequivocal evidence of our agents’ quality through an independently audited system. By once again achieving this certification, our partners can rest assured that we take these responsibilities seriously.”
A-Lign Certified Public Accountants of Tampa, Fla., conducted the examination and certification. The unqualified satisfactory report, with no findings or exceptions, was issued January 6, 2023, and it covered the full year of 2022.
Alliant National supports its independent agents by combining expert residential and commercial underwriting with a passionate heart for service. The company delivers uncommon help that promotes the wellbeing of agents and the communities they serve.
Alliant National is on a mission to empower independent agents while protecting property owners with secure title insurance. The company partners with its agents and never competes against them with direct or affiliate operations. Alliant National serves thousands of title professionals as a licensed underwriter in 30 states and the District of Columbia.
This blog contains general information only, not intended to be relied upon as, nor a substitute for, specific professional advice. We accept no responsibility for loss occasioned to any purpose acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material on this blog.
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