If you have not yet heard what is going on which will directly affect you, I want to be the first to tell you. A committee made up of the following members has been formed and they are calling themselves the “Signing Professionals Workshop” or SPW for short.
Bank of America
Fidelity National Financial
LSI Title Company
Old Republic National Title Insurance Company
Westcor Land Title Insurance Company
The National Notary Association has been instrumental in assisting this group by purchasing their domain name and creating their website. They are also acting as Advisors to this group and as such are unable to represent their members or any other notaries. As advisors they will not be given a vote.
So, just to be clear, as of now there is no notary representation in these proceedings. However I have been told by an officer of the NNA that they will be opening it up for notary comments eventually.
This group of people have come together and decided that Signing Agents should now be better trained and will not be hired for any of their signings unless they hold a certification from the SPW. The new official designation is CSS or Certified Signing Specialists. Every educator will be required to incorporate certain information into their training which will prepare notaries to pass a 50 question exam (provided by the SPW) which they must pass with a minimum score 80% in order to be certified. I would like it if each educator could prepare the exam and present but the way it is written it sounds like the SPW will be presenting the exams and issuing the certification to those who pass. Let’s hope that they will make the cost of the exam reasonable.
I, in my usual mode of operation, was up for hours last night (while my house was quiet), trying to dissect all of the information available to me and was eventually able to break it down quite simply. I will be breaking it down for you here in this letter and I want you to know that Notary2Pro is already ahead of the game. I have been doing for four years what this workshop has just now decided are some of the necessities of good training.
And, although it could be anywhere between January 1, 2014 and mid 2014 before everything in finalized, we will incorporate everything required by SPW as of today, into our course very soon. I want every one of you to be prepared to take their exam and pass with flying colors. I am not sure at this point whether or not we will provide you with the information before you become certified with us or once you earn your Notary2Pro Certification. There is already so much information in the Notary2Pro course for students to absorb and our demands for certification so high that I do not want to bombard students with more information than they can handle.
I do know that we want to present it to our students and graduates at no additional cost. I am pretty certain that most companies who train will be somehow looking for ways to make extra money for themselves as a result of this new wrinkle.
I have to admit that I am excited about this because it will mean that more people will be seeking education and my personal goal of “raising the bar” in this industry will be closer to coming true. I will also admit that I do hope a lot of people seeking training will turn to Notary2Pro and I want to thank all of you for recommending our course to others. It has been your recommendations that have allowed us to succeed and grow and we cannot tell you how much we appreciate your help.
The following is a breakdown of what they will be demanding from you in order to hold the CSS Certification:
BACKGROUND SCREENING STANDARDS will contain certain requirements that will need to be met. It appears that as of now it looks like as long as these requirements are met they will not designate any specific companies to issue your background checks. So for those of you who have gone through either Sterling or NNA should be fine and if you have gone through other companies they will have to go through the scrutiny of the SPW.
TRAINING AND EXAMINATION: The annual Certified Signing Specialist™ Examination demonstrates knowledge of sound mortgage signing practices and understanding of the Certified Signing Specialist™ Code of Conduct and the Certified Signing Specialist™ Signing Script.
For new certification applicants, the Examination consists of 50 rotating questions from a bank of 150, and for renewing Certified Signing Specialists™, the Examination is 30 questions and is required each renewal year. An 80% passing score is required for certification.
Examination covers the following topics and will be updated each year to reflect changes in the industry:
• Unauthorized Advice or Services
• Illegal and Suspicious Activity
• Privacy and Confidentiality
• Certified Signing Specialist™ Script
I actually had a smile on my face when I read their “script” because our graduates have been handling their signings already using a script of their own that is superior to the one created by the SPW.
All of the information covering the aforementioned topics will be available on our website.
INSURANCE STANDARDS: The Standards define the minimum amount of $25,000 professional liability errors and omissions (E&O) coverage for CSSs to maintain in order to be eligible for job assignments from members of the SPW.
SCRIPTED SIGNINGS: This script goes through the Introduction, Instructions, Opening and Closing Ceremony. I have one question for the SPW and that is who of you went through the Notary2Pro Course? They even talk about directing signers to their seat at the table. You all have this in the bag!
CODE OF CONDUCT is very lengthy and will take some amount of study. Most of it is just plain common sense and much of what we do cover in the course. We will have the entire Code Of Conduct available to you on-line and available for you to print.
So that is it in a nutshell (a big nutshell). It is really important to me that you not be afraid of these new regulations and in fact we should all embrace the changes. These changes will absolutely put all of you who graduate from the course and pass their certification test on a much higher level which will result in more work and I am hoping more money.
Over the 10 years of training Notaries to become professional Notary Signing Agents, the one thing I found to be the most difficult for them is their first signing. This journey truly begins with their first step into a stranger’s home. People have certain expectations when someone enters their home such as their appearance, behavior, attitude and the professional assistance offered during the signing of their loan documents.
There are a few key items that have helped our graduates over the years to overcome their insecurity. These are all simple tasks but make a huge difference when beginning this new career.
I am active on several social media forums and see some Notary Signing Agents complaining about the competition in their area taking away their business, fees offered that do not allow them to make a living and complaints from others that the business is slow and there is little work.
This industry has become flooded with a lot of hopeful NSAs who have been misled to believe that this is a quick and easy way to make a lot of money. I know for a fact that it doesn't take too long before they realize that this job is not what they thought it would be and they are out of business. This industry has always been one that is busy for long periods of time with periods of time when it is slow. The true professionals understand this and prepare for it.
My advice to my students is to work very hard getting in with as many companies as they can. We offer our graduates a list of companies who are top rated companies seeking highly trained certified Notary Signing Agents. It takes a lot of time and patience to reach out to them and to provide them with whatever documentation they require. It requires repeat phone calls and emails. Be the squeaky wheel so they remember you and where you are located. You WILL start to get calls. When you do, make sure that you get enough money to, not just pay your expenses, but are able to make a decent profit. Otherwise you will be one of those who quickly go out of business.
Treat every signing as though it was the only one you have! Do your best to be error free and give great customer service. It only takes a couple of signings to rise above the rest and become a company’s GO TO person.
And lastly, diversify! We offer additional training so that our graduates can add other skills to their businesses which allow them to continue to earn money even if times are a little slow. Do General Notary Work (GNW) as well. There is so much you can do to get this business and it can be very lucrative.
Instead of whining and complaining spend your valuable time doing something to put yourself above the rest! Believe in yourself because your failure is YOUR FAILURE, no one else’s!
When I was young our 12 inch black and white TV had only 2 to 3 channels available during the day, a drawing of the American Indian on the screen in the evening until midnight, when the Star Spangled Banner played and the TV went off. Things like cell phones, computers, video games and the internet did not even exist for me for many years so it is amazing to me that I am now dependent on the internet to run a successful business.
After retiring as an Escrow Manager I was not content to sit in the rocking chair all day so I entered into the very new field of being a Notary Signing Agent (NSA). Even though my background included working with Buyers and Borrowers and their real estate transactions, I searched for some comprehensive training but there was none available, so I dove in and trained myself.
After doing this job for a number of years I was convinced that there was a tremendous need for some really good training. There were a lot of people all over the country doing this job and for the most part they had to really struggle to learn. By 2009 I had successfully completed about 6,000 signings. I loved this job but based on my interaction with various companies and borrowers I was well aware that there were a lot of people doing this job who did not have a clue as to how to do it well. That was when I decided to create a course which would teach notaries how to become truly “Professional Notary Signing Agents”. And so in 2009, at the age of 66, I created “Notary2Pro”. I literally worked day and night putting the program together but here were some of the obstacles I faced:
And the solutions to my problems were:
It took a full year but finally giving the course away for free started to pay off and little by little we began to get referrals from title companies and signing services. Our students loved what we had to offer and began to bring in other students.
Now here we are in 2015 celebrating our 6th anniversary. WE HAVE COME A LONG WAY since the beginning! We have thousands of successful NSA’s all over the country, recognition from a lot of hiring companies who trust and value our graduates, almost 100% of our business is from referrals only and we are, little by little, accomplishing my original goal of “Raising the Bar in this Industry” and to act as an advocate for notaries everywhere.
What will the future bring? No one can know that, but for now, I am blessed to have my daughter Barbara working with me, I am happy to have a good reputation in this industry and so grateful to have lots of wonderful graduates who make me so proud every day!