Paper-Dominated Industry Pivots to Online Technologies
Real Estate Company Implements New AP/AR Processes, Resulting in a Reduction of Time and Paper
AGENTS NATIONAL TITLE INSURANCE COMPANY | COLUMBIA, MISSOURI
Real estate transactions involve reams of paper and hundreds of checks. In an industry that relies on documentation, utilizing technology and online resources can be challenging. That task becomes increasingly difficult with a virtual, displaced workforce. Ultimately, that challenge provided Agents National Title the impetus to turn to technology solutions from CommercePayments™.
Agents National Title sells residential and commercial insurance products through local title companies that provide the title and transfer deeds during real estate transactions. Agents National Title insures the transaction and oversees the underwriting, legal and risk-management functions.
“Our business is very document-oriented, which results in a stack of checks from appraisers, realtors, buyers and mortgage companies in addition to checks going to our title companies,” said David Townsend, president and CEO. “It’s important to have a reliable, auditable tracking system for all of those checks, but manual processing is time consuming and dependent on personally receiving each check.”
While Agents National Title was already considering changes to its AP/AR processes while staying compliant, the 15-year-old company made that initiative a priority when its in-office staff began working remotely. Those solutions included ACH payments and Lockbox services.
ACH Helps Expedite Payments
“When we began working from home, we needed to receive payments from our 200 agents via today’s technology,” said Elizabeth Blake, chief financial officer.
By making payments electronically rather than by check, companies can lower their processing costs, reduce the risk of fraud and simplify account reconciliation. With the ACH program in place, the agents can manage deposits, payments and invoices through NetSuite, the company’s existing business management software program.
“The agents are increasing their office efficiency and loving the ACH capabilities,” said Blake.
Agents National Title expects all of its agents will be using ACH payments by the end of 2020.
Lockbox Provides Solution for Processing Receivables
When employees started working from home, no one was in the office to deposit the hundreds of checks the company receives weekly.
With lockbox services, Agents National Title’s incoming payments are now collected at a secure post office box by Commerce Bank personnel and transported directly to the bank for processing, thereby eliminating the need for employees to handle and deposit incoming checks. Lockbox advantages include faster processing of payments, mitigating potential risk of theft, fraud or error and reducing clerical work.
“The task of manually entering thousands of checks each month took me hours,” said Justice Miller, staff accountant. “Now, literally in minutes, I can access the scanned check deposits report through Commerce Connections®.” The check PDF is especially helpful if there’s an audit, she noted.
“We notified our agents of the new remittance address and I was actually very impressed with the seamlessness of the switch,” said Nicole Azdell, financial analyst. “It only took two months to complete the transition.”
“The implementation of the ACH and lockbox solutions completely changed everything we do for the better,” said Azdell. “It was the right time to make changes, and everyone in our office and our agents’ offices embraced those solutions.”
We value our banking relationship with Commerce Bank and stay with them because they are a well-run operation with tools and solutions to help us grow. The company is strong and established, but also has a community presence and provides personalized service.”
— Elizabeth Blake
Chief Financial Officer, Agents National Title
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