After taking a few months off from my monthly Blog, it is time to get back to sharing news about First National Title Insurance Company (FNTI). I also want to use this forum to share what I think is important in the title industry and how it relates to our customers—the independent agent. I keep reading about the record profits and record revenues of the “Big Four” underwriters and wonder if you feel the same way I do when I read these glowing press releases. Personally, I’m irritated every time they brag about their success. Not because I’m jealous or envious, but because I am baffled that independent agents keep supporting their biggest competitors. I am proud of FNTI’s steady growth and strong financial results, yet it is a mere drop in the bucket when compared to the Big Four. All of us–the independent agent and the regional underwriters—are trying to increase our market share, hire talented people, keep our costs down, and drive revenue up. And yet 80 percent of every revenue dollar goes to one of the Big Four.
I think the time is ripe for change and this is the decade to make that change. Our service, experience, and dedication to the independent agents far exceed that of the Big Four. It is also time to get the message out that, through our relationship with re insurers ATRA and Fidelis, FNTI and many of the regional underwriters have the same insuring capacity as the Big Four. The need for you to keep your biggest competitor happy so that you can have the “privilege of occasionally sharing” a small percentage of those large commercial transactions is no longer a necessity. FNTI has the capacity to write $200 million transactions, and we are spending considerable time and resources to get the word out to the national lenders and their counsels. The reinsurance market is getting disrupted, and you will see a positive difference in the acceptability of underwriters like FNTI in the very near future.
Although the national underwriters took more of your business in 2019, I am proud to report that many of you chose to support FNTI. That led to another successful year for our company. Interest rates stayed low and the volume of business was strong throughout the year. We continued to grow our revenues and reached $134 million in gross premiums–placing us at #9 in the market share rankings of underwriters. Remember that $134 million pales in comparison to $1.2 billion in gross premiums of the Big Four.
We have big plans for this decade. Our territory is expanding, as we recently received our Certificates of Authority to do business in Colorado, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee. We are committed to growing a national company that is better suited to meet the needs of the independent agent and to compete with the other national underwriters. There is a change in the market—and change creates opportunities. The industry is evolving with new technologies, new players, and new ways to do business, and we want to be the underwriter that helps the independent agents find, partner with, and create these new opportunities. Watch for future Blogs about these opportunities.
I am thankful for every milestone our company reaches and recognize that they are only possible because of the hard-working independent agent family that chooses FNTI daily.
Our company motto that we “…do business with those we know, like, and trust” still rings true. It is a motto we live by. We want you to know us, like us, and especially trust us.
We are all looking forward to another busy and prosperous year. Let us help you compete and win in this changing market.