Best & Worst of Vendors; True authenticity in a crisis (and one big OMG!)

March 25, 2020 – Message to the vendors in the mortgage and credit union marketplace – You make me PROUD!  I have no doubt that even Linda Richman is ‘getting a little verklempt’ at this point.  She was the Saturday Night Live (SNL) ‘Coffee Talk’ character played by Mike Myers in the early 1990s.  [Give me a break!  I could have made reference to Austin Powers, Wayne’s World, Shrek… or The Legend of Shep Gordon – whomever the heck that is.]

Rule #1 in attempts at humor.  When you have to explain it… uhmm, consider skipping.

More to the point.  My blog today calls out the best and the worst actions and reactions to the current chaotic times we find ourselves in.  Companies like Ford, Tesla and others are offering to produce medical devices.  Locally, here in the St. Louis area, Anheuser Busch and smaller ‘mom and pop’ sized brewers and distillers are temporarily producing hand sanitizer.  They show their true colors as authentic, and a ‘just doing what is right and good’ cultures.  We have vendors stepping up too.

Then, I get the ‘email from Hell’ from a national title due diligence company.  I shall start with the absolute worst, and end on a high note as the lasting impression of your read.

THE WORST

Biggest Loser: A national title company sent out the following email (verbatim):

Having Issues with Production in India or other off-shore countries?

A Message from (company) CEO, (name withheld):

     "I have received at least 3 calls in the last 2 days from firms that are struggling to meet their current production volume due to COVID-19 lock down in India. There is a 1-day national lock down curfew placed by India Prime Minister.

     "First, let me share with you that I lived in Pune, India for 3 weeks and know the culture quite well. I have a deep respect for hard-working Indian people. At the same time, work environment and living conditions in India are one of the worst from the virus spread perspective. Over populated cities, homes without doors on main streets of Pune, constant humidity, overcrowed markets and shops. While you have great people there, COVID-19 virus will spread there fast without stopping. The India offshore production will come to a screeching halt. Is your business prepared for it? Most of the Title Industry off-shores their production there, many financial institutions will suffer, while Refi and Asset Trade market is about to explode. Many firms I personally know made a decision to lay off FTEs in US to completely replace them with off-shore contractors. Today, these firms are scrambling for solutions.

     "What is missing from keeping the flawless and speedy execution during shaky times is a back up option from on-shore firms. In my mind, this should be a part of the Disaster Recovery and Vendor Management plans. We are in midst of disaster now and having full offshoring of production work will make many title and financial firms fail. My call is for action to review your disaster plans from the country failure perspective and learn a lesson from COVID-19."

My Response: (painstakingly cleaned up because I have to appear somewhat professional)

  1. Seriously… an entire DAY on lock down. What’s happening in your Pennsylvania town?
  2. Genius IQ… lived in Pune three whole weeks – now a cultural oracle on all of India
  3. Call me Alex, tell me more about your ‘deep respect’ for India and it’s people. I missed that part, much the same as you did
  4. “Most” offshore their production? Being that genius, I suspect you don’t have or need actual data to back that statement up
  5. Alex, you have provided the most shameful example of trying to capitalize on fear for financial gain. Consider yourself lucky I only left clues to whom you are, and did not name your company.  I only do it out of respect for the people on your payroll, as I have zero for you.  I don’t want to kill your business and your employee livelihood.  Plus, you clearly need NO HELP in that department.  

I have another whole segment of the industry in mind to award ‘Dishonorable Mention,’ bailing out and temporary shutting down when things get tough.  This segment is vastly tech-driven and online, with minimal human interface involved, but balance sheets are now suffering a bit, so time to pause – and hurt consumers in all stages of the process.  But, I choose to move off the negative and highlight vendors deserving of our admiration.

THE BEST

To help financial institutions serve customers during these critical times, we have discovered at least 25 vendors offering augmented, free, discounted or fast-track products and services.  We applaud them! 

Disclaimers –

  1. We have direct relationships with a handful of the following vendors via our Vendor Surf search engine (www.VendorSurf.com)
  2. All special offers cited herein are presumed to be for a limited time and subject to change at any time. We have interpreted their offers as best we can, and could have misinterpreted some. Validate for yourself please
  3. I/we do not specifically endorse vendors listed, overtly or implied. We always encourage thorough vetting and due diligence

The Closing Exchange  www.theclosingexchange.com/

Launched a New Curbside Closing™ Signing Option for title agents and lenders to continue to serve their customers in a world of social distancing. Effective immediately, The Closing Exchange is offering Curbside Closing as a signing option during the COVID-19 crisis. “We’re doing our part to prevent the spread of the virus, but also recognizing the critical role we play in the economy by supporting the real estate sector and by keeping thousands of people working in a safe and compliant manner,” said Alan Frelix, CEO. “Our Curbside Closing provides clients and their customers the peace of mind of a germ- and stress-free signing experience in a time where stress levels are high. Abiding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) social distancing guidelines, our Curbside Closing option allows the signer(s) to sign the documents at a convenient place and time without the need for a signing agent to enter the signer's home or to meet face-to-face without a protective barrier.”  Frelix continues, “We are fortunate to have built flexibility into our business model from the start, and have been able to quickly adapt our existing technology and processes to operate in today’s COVID-19 environment.” 

Capacity  https://try.capacity.com/covidbot/

Offering a free chatbot loaded with coronavirus / covid-19 FAQs from the CDC and WHO.  The state-of-the-art language algorithms provide auto responses with the most relevant information available from experts.  The free, AI-powered bot comes preloaded with FAQs about Coronavirus health, response, work policies, and more. You can get answers in seconds.  All someone has to do is go to the page, fill out the form, and then they'll get an email with instructions to install.  Does not get any more easy than this.

Dytrix  www.dytrix.com

Dytrix is a leading financial technology company that enables secure financial transactions through a state-of-the-art technology platform for wire/ACH transfer validation and closing agent management.  In recognition of the ‘perfect storm’ lenders currently face, Dytrix will provide special pricing on the first 6-months of any new subscription agreement for new agreements signed by April 30, 2020.  Lenders can be active and receive transaction reports in just about 10 days.  Dytrix has a 24-hour SLA for immediate closings.

Sheldon May & Associates, P.C.  www.maylawfirm.com

Most states, including New York State, have deemed financial institutions and their critical vendors as essential businesses, mortgage law firms included.  This esteemed law firm has announced the following changes with regard to their real estate/REO closing operations which will stay in place for as long as this pandemic crisis lasts (maybe longer); (a) All closing fees, commercial and residential, have been discounted by a factor of 15%; (b) Being an “attorney state” (New York), Sheldon May & Associates now offers: Facetime closings (or whatever other face-to-face technological platform is available and/or preferred); (c) Closing through U.S. mail and/or overnight delivery; and (d) the use of remote notarization which is now allowed by New York State.

Awesome Technologies, Inc.  www.awesometechinc.com

ATI has committed to a wide range of helpful actions to contribute to the betterment of direct victims, employees and clients, including: Victims – Donation to a Dallas-based hospital where COVID patients are treated, 2% of total April 2020 revenue; Employees – Work from home without any lay-offs or salary reductions; Current Clients – Retainer and hourly-based clients each get 10% more hours for free; New Clients – They get the same 10% bump up, plus 50% off initial installation fees. Those opting for any of plugins will get 10% off, and new clients won’t be charged the subscription fee for the initial three months of April through June 2020.

Clear Capital  www.clearcapital.com

Clear Capital launches OwnerInsight™, a no-cost, nationwide solution to maintain proper social distancing while giving lenders, appraisers and AMCs timely information from inside homes they are unable to physically enter because of COVID-19.  OwnerInsight will launch the week of March 30 and is being offered for free in response to the COVID-19 health situation. OwnerInsight works seamlessly on camera-enabled mobile devices with no need for app downloads, and photo metadata is captured to ensure protection against fraud. Clear Capital developed OwnerInsight for the mortgage industry in response to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac’s temporary approval of alternative appraisal products that reduce the frequency of in-person interaction to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  EVP of Valuation Strategy, Jeff Allen, sums it up well, “During the COVID-19 health situation, OwnerInsight provides critical efficiencies for lenders and appraisers to access information that is indispensable to the appraisal process.” Allen added, “Without OwnerInsight on the market, homeowners and appraisers would face a manual and confusing back-and-forth, trapped in email and phone calls with unclear requirements and no fraud mitigation. We want to ensure the industry remains active and capital remains fluid during these difficult times.”

SYNRGO  www.synrgo.com

SYNRGO not only provides an eRecording solution for your Remote Online Notarization (RON) and Hybrid Closing transactions, but also a paper recording solution when the documents, notarizations or recording require physical paper.  ‘A hybrid solution to a hybrid problem!’  As an active service provider in an ‘essential industry’ of the U.S. economy, SYNRGO has adjusted operations, without passing along the extra costs, to accommodate current conditions. For example: 1) If a specific county is closed, SYNRGO can provide the original documents via transportation and/or direct mail to facilitate the recording. 2) The transportation team is equipped to handle any additional pickups or specials upon your request. 3) Regardless of a county’s current status, SYNRGO will adjust to your needs to process eRecordings immediately, or at the time counties reopen. 4) SYNRGO will offer unprecedented extra coordination, logistical, set-up and training support. 5) SYNRGO is willing to jump in today and augment your staff – remotely eRecording the documents on your title production platform. 6) SYNRGO can assist you with public requests for recordings and other accommodation recording referrals via Recordmydocs.com.

Propertybase  www.propertybase.com

To help brokerages and teams during this difficult time, for a limited time, they are offering their real estate intranet for FREE. The most widely used module in the Propertybase platform, Back Office Intranet, can now be leveraged to improve collaboration, foster connectedness, and provide a central hub of important updates as we all work from home and weather this storm together.

CREtech  www.cretech.com

Are you hiring during the pandemic?

If you're one of the companies hiring during this pandemic, CREtech applauds and support you. Let's work together to get your job in front of this amazing community. It's easy and free to publish your job to the CREtech Jobs Page, and for a limited time, enjoy 50% off sponsored content to get your job featured on the homepage and Briefs email newsletter too! Use code "IMHIRING" to save 50% on sponsoring your job.

Finosec  www.finosec.com

WOW, one of the most authentic and genuine vendors out there.  Look HERE -  Finosec’s mission is to change the way information security and cybersecurity are managed in banking via a platform to automate the labor-intensive tasks that are required to keep banking systems secure.   This includes systems access rights management and validation, employee information security training, information security program governance, and overall cyber hygiene status.  Finosec is providing the following for free (temporarily): Remote worker policy; Acceptable use form; Working from home cybersecurity training videos. In addition, they have a COVID -19 Response Kit, free for 90-days.

RES NET  www.res.net

Res Net is a community for sellers and buyers to manage real estate assets and to connect with the entire supply chain. Since its establishment, RES.NET has continued to grow, creating a network that empowerrs its community members to expose, connect, and manage all aspects of the real estate transaction. They are offering free implementation of their REO Portal and Loss Mit Portal during the crisis, waiving the setup fees – training is included.

LiveVox  www.livevox.com

LiveVox is a leading provider of enterprise cloud contact center solutions, managing more than 12 billion interactions a year across a multichannel environment.  During the crisis, LiveVox is currently helping financial institutions with contact centers by offering their product free of charge.

eDOC Innovations  www.edoclogic.com

eDOC Innovations is an eCommerce software company specializing in mobile enterprise digital transaction management solutions, servicing small and mid-size financial institutions and other segments. eDOC Innovations’ flagship solution, DocLogic®, provides a comprehensive digital transaction management solution that is deployed on premise or in software as a service (SaaS) model. eDOC Innovations is offering their Basic version of their eSign solution, named eDOCSignature, for free until September 30, 2020.

Kasasa  www.kasasa.com

Kasasa is a leader in branded, community-powered banking products proven to drive profit and growth for community financial institutions.   The Kasasa® suite provides a comprehensive strategy that integrates breakthrough products with world-class marketing and unprecedented access to training, compliance, research, support resources, and customized consulting.  They now temporarily offer no monthly license fees until 2021 for clients who sign by June 1, 2020 for their account-generating websites and deposit account opening platform. In addition, Kasasa is waiving fees on its Kasasa Loans platform in an effort to help institutions with loan retention and portfolio performance in the midst of this crisis.

Datanomers  www.datanomers.com

Datanomers technology works by collecting massive amounts of structured and unstructured data and applying their patent-pending Self Calibrating machine learning and AI algorithms to find trends, patterns and anomalies. This machine learning technology continuously learns and calibrates itself as business dynamics change.  Doing their part during the crisis, they commit to accelerate deployment of their “Customer Insight Manager” solution to banks and waive the first 2-months of subscription charges.

CS3 Marketing  www.cs3marketing.com

CS3 Marketing is a full-service marketing solutions provider specializing in the development and execution of complex, data-driven, multi-channel marketing programs. CS3 Marketing has deep roots in the financial services space. Working with banks and credit unions large and small, in the past five years alone, they have helped over 300 financial institutions.  They are providing a free hosted Branch Appointment Scheduling tool to allow financial institutions to schedule appointments with existing or new account-holders (relevant for banks and institutions that have closed lobby operations.

POPi/o  www.popio.com

For a limited time, they are allocating 10,000 free seat licenses for web video banking that credit unions and community banks can use for 60 days.

OnSystem Logic https://lnkd.in/emTEFDQ

Waiving fees for 3-months, or until the pandemic ceases, they are providing free copies of their OnSystem Defender software, which protects your infrastructure by stopping all dynamic memory attacks.

Float  https://try.floatapp.com/extended-trial-covid19/

Offering free access until end of May 2020 to help businesses forecast cash flow.

Digital Align  www.digitalalign.com

Offering their service, and two fintech products, for free to credit unions and community banks, such as: Mortgage process automation; Align Money, a white label platform that includes both onboarding and online banking.

Zuci Systems  www.zucisystems.com/halo

They claim an artificial intelligence-based underwriting solution (HALO) that uses machine learning and help render underwriting decisions in less than 10 seconds.  They are waiving HALO fees for 90 days, with an ability to integrate with you in 40 hours, and we believe they are also waiving associated integration costs (if we are understanding their offer correctly).

Kafafian Group  www.kafafiangroup.com

Their ‘Performance Measurement’ SaaS product measures profitability at multiple levels – line of business, branch, and product level. The Kafafian Group is waiving set-up fees through June 30.

Interface  www.interface.ai

Interface powered omni-channel Intelligent Virtual Assistants make every digital channel intelligent.  They offer a ‘digital banking teller’ that helps customers 24×7 through every step of the journey from being a prospect to a customer.  To help you handle capacity bottlenecks, and make your customer operations efficient, Interface can set up an AI-powered instant call center for you in a week.  Plus, they are temporarily offering a deferred payment plan.

Lend-Grow  https://lend-grow.com/lenders/services/

Lend-Grow generates ‘Hyperlocal’ leads to mid-sized banks and credit unions in their geographical footprint, leads that are currently going to the larger institutions.  Lenders pay the referral fee only for closed loans. For a limited time, they are waiving the $5,000 setup fee for new lender partners.

Clear Core  www.clearcore.info

They bridge the gap between your financial institution's members/clients and the outside world - giving you the bigger picture. Networking data from thousands of sources to pinpoint where your members/clients live, work, and spend; and in-depth profiling telling you how to better meet their needs.  For a limited time, they offer up to 20 free hours and are discounting services by as much as 25%.

Sherpa Technologies  www.sherpatech.org

Providing ID-Pal, an identity and document verification solution.  For the Essentials ID-Pal package, thru June 30, 2020, Sherpa is offering a specific number of free ID verification transactions per month to credit unions, and waiving fees for implementation and monthly maintenance.

IN SUMMARY

It’s a very long list, making this post long enough without a quippy summary.  Hope you find it helpful.

Well-done everyone – except for Alex in Pennsylvania, of course!

Thanks for reading.

Scott@VendorSurf.com