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Managing Business Partnerships, Pandemic-Style

State National DVP, Joe McMullen, offers strategic insight into staying connected, providing support, and maintaining and growing business relationships post-pandemic.

My experience staying connected, providing support, and maintaining and growing my business relationships during the pandemic

Without exception, I always look forward to my annual journey to D.C. for the Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), which offers the opportunity to network with friends, business partners, and coworkers. The atmosphere is traditionally upbeat and it’s a great way to see many of my favorite people, making the event a positive way to kick off each year. Little did I know that 2020’s GAC would be one of the last times I would have this kind of face-to-face interaction with people in my industry for quite a while.

Navigating Unexpected Change

In early January, my daughter told me about a terrible virus that was rapidly spreading. I discounted it somewhat, thinking the threat was probably exaggerated. In February, I began to pay more attention. As you know, soon after that the world changed dramatically, and now we find ourselves living in a very different time.

I have spent over twenty years building relationships with people in the financial services industry, and I most often meet with them in person. Safety regulations no longer make that possible. Given our current limitation on business travel, I wanted to research how business partnerships are navigating the current situation, and what plans they intend to initiate post-pandemic.

In search of reliable feedback, I reached out to two CEOs I know and trust, one from the Southeast and the other in the Northwest. My questions to both centered on how they are managing their business partnerships currently and what that process could look like once the pandemic threat has passed.

How Are Financial Institutions Transitioning?

Financial institutions have transitioned many employees to an at-home work environment over the past few months. This transition has been of paramount importance, not only to follow local guidelines but also to protect employees from unnecessary exposure to the virus. Both of the CEOs I spoke with shared that their company’s employees were very productive in a remote work environment, and they expected this work-from-home trend to continue even after the pandemic is over in some cases when feasible.

As someone who has routinely traveled at least 100 nights each year to meet face-to-face with my contacts in person, this definitely caught my attention. Both leaders’ opinions appeared consistent when it came to predicting this significant shift in where many employees will work. The question I wanted to understand is how doing business and maintaining business partner relationships will look for now, and in the future.

How Is State National Transitioning?

The same considerations apply to State National as well. By May, we had moved 98% of employees to a remote work environment, and this will continue for the time being. What does this mean from a business partnership perspective?

One leader advised me that he was limiting contact with vendors for the immediate future and that most of the key meetings he participates in have been made virtual. One of his projects was placed on hold to focus on what is most important, being able to reach and provide members with the technology needed for their financial service requirements. It appears the focus today is on “inward” investments, including more robust internet banking platforms, improved call centers, and anything designed to increase staff efficiencies and better serve members remotely.

Growing in Virtual Efficiency

In January, I had little understanding of just how rapidly the COVID-19 virus would change our world into what it has become today. Webex, Zoom, FaceTime, Teams, and other video communication platforms will play a key role in connecting financial institutions with their business partners. Fortunately, State National had already invested in this technology, because the need for efficient virtual communication will only increase as we make our way through this pandemic and beyond.

I miss seeing my business partners — waving to someone on a screen is just not the same as a handshake or happy hour in person. So I am encouraged when meetings are scheduled at restaurants and coffee shops, or when I am privileged with a quick round of golf. News of companies working on vaccines and therapeutics are generating hope that life might start looking more recognizable before too long, and I look forward to the day where we can all sit around a boardroom table again and have a good business discussion. In the meantime, I’m doing everything I can to stay connected and to maintain and grow the business relationships that are so important, and provide whatever help I can to business partners who need it.

Joe McMullen
Joe McMullen
Joe McMullen is a Division Vice President of Sales at State National Companies with more than 20 years of industry experience. He leads a team of sales professionals encompassing half the country. Joe’s main responsibility is to ensure division growth through strong business partnerships within the financial services industry. Joe has a B.A. degree in Political Science/Business Administration from Columbia College and currently resides in the Overland Park, Kansas area.

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Tackling Inflation and the Automobile Industry: A Simple Solution to Reduce Future Auto Loan Charge-offs

Despite Inflation, You Can Still Maintain a Competitive Advantage and Protect Your Auto Loan Portfolio   Spotlight Soundbite: The Value of Customized Portfolio Protection in the Subprime Auto Loan Market     Borrowers Are Facing Financial Stress The government’s stimulus checks have long run out, as have the grace periods many financial institutions implemented during the pandemic. Interest rates have soared and prices have inflated. Individuals have returned to work and are again bearing the costs of gas, transportation, and childcare. While cheery, the holiday season may be met equally with foreboding for some as they contemplate how to balance their checkbooks with the looming expectation of events and gifts on top of already heightened regular expenses. While buy now and pay later programs may offer temporary relief, borrowers will ultimately not be able to put off making tough decisions about where to spend and save. Unfortunately, a growing number of auto loan borrowers, and especially subprime borrowers, are choosing to drop or reduce their auto insurance coverage as a result of having to decide which bills to pay with their increasingly stretched paychecks. And these uninsured or underinsured borrowers pose a threat to your institution’s loan portfolio and profitability. The news isn’t all grim, however — State National can help protect your financial institution from the risks posed by this group. How to Minimize Charge-offs Caused by Uninsured Borrowers Do you currently use an insurance tracking system to keep track of your borrowers’ coverage status in an attempt to prevent charge-offs? It’s a good start — tracking is a critical part of monitoring your institution’s risk exposure. However, having your staff track insurance in-house is a time-consuming and inefficient solution. More concerning, even if you employ an outside vendor to track coverage for you, studies show that tracking alone is not enough to encourage borrowers to keep their insurance in force. Without a consequence for remaining uninsured or underinsured, it’s been shown time and time again that a significant portion of borrowers, particularly in the low prime and subprime space, simply will not heed warnings to bring their loans into compliance no matter how many letters or phone calls they get reminding them to do so. Without a mechanism that will actually change borrower behavior, tracking alone still leaves too much risk in your portfolio. A Persistent Problem — With an InsurTech Solution The good news is, you can more thoroughly protect your portfolio while also saving labor costs and freeing up your staff to perform other tasks to grow your business. And you can do it all easily, seamlessly, and with total peace of mind when it comes to compliance. Protecting collateral from loss is most definitely not the same as it was “in the old days” — or even just a few years ago. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other leading-edge technology solutions have changed the game when it comes to mitigating the risk from uninsured borrowers. From software bots that can log in to insurer websites and update thousands of insurance statuses in seconds to nearly effortless multichannel borrower submission options including QR codes, email, text, web, and more, collateral protection problems of the past are simply not an issue today, especially with State National as your provider. As I like to say, “This isn’t your grandpa's CPI!”     Save Time, Money, and Aggravation — What’s Not to Like? State National’s solutions provide tracking AND protect your portfolio. We also save your financial institution time with seamless implementation and multi-option borrower insurance submission solutions. Even better, there’s InsurTrak – our custom-designed proprietary technology platform where you can view all program details in real time with just a few clicks. Additionally, you can personalize your coverage around exactly what works best for your business. Whether you need you need a full-featured, comprehensive program, one that keeps costs at a minimum for borrowers, or something in between, State National can customize a program that best fits your needs.   A Simple Solution for Reduced Risk and Increased Profitability We have heard from some financial institutions that they “have no charge-offs” because they planned and allotted for a certain amount of loss. But money lost is still money lost even if you budgeted for it! What if you could save your company hundreds of thousands of dollars this year? Well, you can! Let me show you how you can leverage State National’s advanced technology and 50 years of experience mitigating loss from uninsured borrowers to proactively protect your business against today’s unpredictable economy and the wave of charge-offs your financial institution may be facing soon. It’s not too late to protect your portfolio from what’s coming our way.  

Amazing Things Happen When Female Executives Get Together

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With Custom QR Codes, It’s Now Even Easier for Your Borrowers to Upload Their Insurance!

State National brings back QR codes — now new and improved!   When was the last time you scanned a Quick Response (QR) code? Was it on a restaurant menu, on a real-estate sign, or maybe to access a form? The reliable QR code has now become a part of our daily life. In our mobile-first technology era, QR codes are back, giving consumers instant access anywhere to the targeted information you want to provide them. There is no need to keep pamphlets in stock or worry about your customers going to the wrong website when scrolling past noisy ads on search engines. While State National has offered our clients the ability to have QR codes on their borrower notices before, there was not a real demand for them until the recent increase in use sparked by the pandemic. With increased consumer receptiveness to these abstract squares and State National’s dedication to constant improvement, we are harnessing the power of QR codes again — adding on improved customizations that make it even easier for borrowers to submit their insurance when they take out a new loan or have a lapse in coverage. "We appreciate having a good vendor partner that understands your needs sometimes before you even know you have a need. State National is always looking for ways to make things better for your staff as well as your leadership.” – JAX Federal Credit Union QR Codes for Borrower Notices Borrowers can scan their personalized QR code on their mailed paper notice and be directed straight to their personal account on MyLoanInsurance.com. On this borrower-friendly site they can view their insurance status and easily provide updated proof of insurance. Since the QR code on each borrower’s notice is specific to them, no reference ID or PIN is needed, and the webpage will automatically populate with their name and vehicle type. A helpful short video applicable to their particular situation will instruct them on exactly what they need to provide to resolve their specific impairment. And finally, the site will also show them how to easily upload and submit their information. Our borrower-specific QR codes personalize the website borrowers are directed to, including details such as informing them if the lien holder is missing or if their deductible is too high.   QR Codes for Lenders Lender custom QR codes are another way we provide total access and empower your borrowers to easily update their insurance with us before they even enter our notice cycle. These institution-specific lender QR codes can be used anywhere you choose, including your website, lender agreement, and loan closing documents. Borrowers who scan your custom lender code are directed to a MyLoanInsurance.com page branded with your financial institution’s name and logo. From here, borrowers can upload insurance even if they do not know their access PIN.   Pro Tip: Add Your Lender QR Code to Your Lender Agreement to Prompt New Borrowers to Submit Their Insurance We encourage you to add your custom QR code in your new loan packet and actively point it out to borrowers when they take out a vehicle or home loan. Let your borrowers know they can scan that QR code to quickly and easily provide their insurance details. The visual effect of having the QR code on the agreement packet reminds the borrower to take action, and as soon as the website pops up, it tells them exactly what they need to do to update their insurance. MyLoanInsurance.com is accessible 24/7, so borrowers with missing information or a lapse in coverage can update their insurance at any time, at their convenience.   Scan Here for an Example of a Lender QR Code Leading by Always Improving Since 1973, State National has been dedicated to a culture of continuous improvement. We are proud to be the technology leader in our industry, and are consistently evolving to make portfolio protection easier, faster, and more user-friendly for your borrowers and your staff. We are glad to provide our lenders with these customized QR codes as the latest feature to make the process even more seamless and convenient. Borrower QR codes are already actively employed on all mailed notifications. To find out more about getting your own customized lender QR code, contact your Client Executive today!