Company culture is a big buzzword these days in the title industry… along with wire fraud. Understanding and implementing a plan for both are important to help you grow your title insurance business, and, in fact, strong company culture can help influence a stronger defense against wire fraud.
It doesn’t matter if you’re the owner of a small title company with less than a handful of staff or a transnational title insurance underwriter with thousands of employees, if you want any lasting change to occur, you must have a strong company culture to support it. This is especially important for fighting wire fraud attempts since the threat is always evolving and many people in the real estate transaction are potential targets.
Why does company culture matter in wire fraud prevention?
Whether you’re trying or not, every place of business has a culture. It could be described as apathetic or innovative, either way, the tone is set by those in charge. What kind of culture your company has boils down to the core values and everyday behaviors that drive the company. These values and behaviors have a huge impact on whether a company succeeds or fails.
Fraudsters are masters of manipulation. This manipulation, or social engineering, is how they get away with stealing massive amounts of money at a loss of nearly $150 million in 2018 alone, according to the FBI. While their specific tactics or scams may pivot as businesses create new internal processes and technology changes to make it harder to penetrate your email and gather sensitive information, the basics of social engineering in a wire fraud scam remain constant.
Work to eliminate fear in your company
The biggest emotion that cybercriminals play on is fear, like the fear of negative repercussions should the funds not be wired immediately. This is where having a leadership team that has clearly defined a set of core values and desired behaviors will keep your employees from acting out of fear and falling for a scam.
There’s a common trope that many employees are afraid of their bosses… Just because someone is in charge, it doesn’t mean they have the leadership skills to foster an open culture with the right balance of communication and accountability. In fact, that’s usually what sets a leader apart from an authority figure. Horrible bosses leverage fear to motivate their employees while good leaders create lasting change by aligning their company’s culture with strategy and processes.
Imagine a scenario where one of your employees received an email from you or another manager with new wiring instructions and demands it happen as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to have an employee who doesn’t follow the best practices for wire transfers because they fear retribution from you or another manager, especially since spoofed emails are the most common way wire fraud scams succeed.
Company culture will also have a big impact on how quickly (or if at all) an employee will report a mistake. If you’ve taken the time to cultivate a culture of learning and openness, employees are more likely to report problems quickly so they can be resolved swiftly. If there is a culture of intolerance, fear may cause employees to hide mistakes that could have a lasting impact on the business.
How do you build a strong company culture?
You’ll often find the HR team or marketing department gushing about “company culture,” but if you want to make any real changes, it should also be top of mind for owners and executives. This shift is about more than emotions like fear or happiness; it makes good business sense as well. There is evidence showing companies that focus on employees’ strengths instead of their weaknesses do better than their competitors.
Here are some ways to create a strong company culture that promotes employee wellness and productivity for your team.
- Be specific about your values. Have you defined the core values of your company and what sort of behaviors reflect them? Use clear and specific language when coming up with the terms. Everyone from processors to closers to directors should understand how each value translates to actionable behaviors for their role.
- Align your values with internal processes. Don’t default to a “do as a say and not as I do” mentality. It’s easy to create a splashy mission, vision, and values to add to your website or share in a social media post. These values should permeate every aspect of your company, including hiring, performance reviews, compensation, and promotion of talent.
- Take ownership. For a culture change to last, the CEO and board of directors or owner have to be a visible proponent of the change. Create a process to measure and understand the impact on performance.
- Embrace accountability. Mistakes happen. In the case of wire fraud, those mistakes are a result of a criminal, but title agents still have the burden of monitoring the transaction to protect consumers. In December of 2018, Aaron Cole lost $123,000 in a wire fraud scam. Even though his title insurance company, WFG National Title Insurance Company, wasn’t responsible, they decided to do more than saying sorry. They formed a creative partnership to warn other consumers.
- Invest in change. Change takes time and money. Be ready to invest enough of both to make the changes you want to see. Even if you don’t have the resources to do everything now, don’t delay in taking steps toward creating a better company culture. Culture change won’t happen overnight, but start small and start now. Remember to be patient though, as you will have to explain the reason for the change. Some employees will need more guidance than others, so be ready with a clear rationale and encourage questions.
Acknowledge emerging leaders
It’s important to remember that not everyone in a position of authority is a leader and not every leader is in a position of authority. Providing a safe and secure closing is the responsibility of everyone at your company, which means everyone should be encouraged to take ownership in the fight against wire fraud.
As you make changes to better align your internal process with the beliefs that matter most to your company — like protecting consumers from wire fraud, you may see some employees take up the mantle and influence others around them even without the title of manager or director. Be sure to find ways to acknowledge and reward this behavior to reinforce it. You’d be surprised how far a simple “thank you” can go.
Learn more about how to improve your title company’s or real estate law firm’s internal process to fight wire fraud. Join PropLogix, CertifID, and Sophos for an American Land Title Association compliance webinar this June.
This article was created by guest blogger, Amanda Farrell at PropLogix.