Prior to the pandemic and the most disruptive event in our nation’s recent history, the economy and the title industry were experiencing record levels of revenue and results. I am confident your agency experienced a very successful first quarter. Actually, I know that many of you had a very good start to 2020, because I saw your remittances and appreciate your continued support of First National Title Insurance Company (FNTI). I am thankful that together, you and I are diligently working to earn our share of the title insurance market. Unfortunately, all of our hard work and efforts pale in comparison to the market share given to the Big Four underwriters. As you may have read in our industry publications, the Big Four are reporting up to 30 percent increases in revenues year over year. Growth and huge profits seem to be reported every quarter. Have they truly earned it? Or, have the Big Four’s share of the market been given to them? When a lender or lender’s attorney rejects FNTI as a commercial underwriter and limits the size of the transactions they allow us to insure, we give the transaction to one of the Big Four. When challenging underwriting situations arise that require you to get authorization to insure and one of the Big Four doesn’t make the same requirements, we give them that transaction. When that large commercial transaction finally arrives in your county and the deal is controlled by an east coast law firm, at best, you might get 25 percent of the premium and give 75 percent to one of the Big Four. You decide—who has earned 80 percent of the national title insurance market? This inequity has been slowly growing over the years, but as one of the newest underwriters to enter the market, FNTI is doing its part to reverse this trend. We want to help you earn your share of the market and together we will change the traditional “big business” model in favor of one that supports and rewards the entrepreneurial independent agent.
Market share comments aside, it is more important to focus on today and our plans for the future. As we enter early May, the economic impact of the pandemic is evident throughout our state, our nation, and globally. There are record numbers of temporary (and possibly permanent) business closures, unemployment filings, and mortgage forbearances. Yet the title industry, as an essential business, has demonstrated a remarkable level of ingenuity, innovation, determination, and dedication to its employees and customers. We have kept the real estate and financial markets moving. Customers are closing transactions and refinancing with record low interest rate loans. I feel fortunate to be a part of an industry that has accepted the “new normal” and developed the processes and procedures to continue to operate as a viable, essential business. Please review the information we have on our Covid-19 webpage at www.fnti.com/covid and take advantage of our experience, guidelines, and tools. And if we can help you or your customers adapt to this new world, we would be honored to be a part of the solution.
FNTI will back in our offices on May 18 and anticipate a backlog of projects to get done. Our office is adhering to CDC best practices to do our part to prevent the spread of this virus. We have plans for educational presentations and agency visits; however, you have complete control over our efforts. If you are not ready for in-person training or visits, please let us know. There is a change in the market and the way we will do business in the future. New technologies, new players, and new ways to keep our customers and employees safe is the wave of the future. FNTI is the underwriter that is here for you today and will help you find opportunities in the future.
I am thankful that you and your team are safe. I am thankful the FNTI team is safe, and I am hopeful that this pandemic will soon be under control. We have successfully survived the initial impact of social distancing and hope that further disruptions to our state, nation, and world are minimized with thoughtful planning and a joint effort by all of us to put this disaster behind us.
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.