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A Message From the Abstracter-Agent Chair

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September/October 1999 - Volume 78, Number 5

If there is a theme running through the state conventions that I have attended this year, it is CHANGE. Change is also a continuing theme at ALTA®, and ALTA® has been working diligently to help members affect change in the industry. It seems that we have finally passed the talking stage industry-wide and are in the throes of implementation. The talk and implementation stages of change are a continuous cycle. It seems that the title industry is no different that any other industry which is in the process of change. We have to be told that things are going to change - and told over and over-until we believe it and make the changes. I prefer to say "make the change" rather than react to change.

By the time this goes to print, we may know if there is a federally legislated change in the industry which allows national banks to sell and underwrite title insurance. ALTA® policy prefers that there be no such federal mandate and that the marketplace dictate what changes are necessary to the industry, but we must work within the system. The threat of this particular change strikes fear into the heart of the independent agent and, I suspect, each underwriter. But, this threat of change is really no different that any other threat of change that has occurred through time in the title industry. Any threat of change creates the same reaction in terms of fear of the unknown. How will these new business relationships work? Will there still be a role for the independent agent to play? Who will do the work that the title industry does that we know that no one else wants to do - at least the work that no one wants to pay for?

Dr. Steve Byrum, in speaking to the LTI Management Development Program in Houston last March, told participants that change needed to be embraced and that only through taking control and being proactive about change will we feel better about the process. THAT CHANGE IS A NATURAL PART OF THE PROCESS OF OUR BUSINESS AND PERSONAL LIVES. And that each of us has the innate ability to change and to affect change. We learned at that program in Houston that there are many tools to aid in change. ALTA® helps to provide many of those tools. The education programs such as the Management Development Program which are developed by the Land Title Institute are tools. The ALTA® Technology Forum and Expo, the work of the Systems Committee, and the web site of ALTA® are all tools. The grassroots efforts from members through the urging of ALTA®’s legislative counsel, Ann vom Eigen, and our grassroots director, Charlie Frohman is a tool. Ann’s lobbying on the hill is a tool. Our TIPAC is a tool. The liaison work by staff with various agencies which affect our industry is a tool. Committee work in the various areas is a tool. The ability to meet together at conventions and conferences is a tool. The work of Rich McCarthy and the research committees is a tool. The new meeting next April of the Abstracter-Agent Section is a new tool. All of these "tools" help us to understand the direction from which the demand for change comes, help us to learn what change is necessary, and help us to have the POWER to affect the change. That ability to be proactive and affect the change is what makes us deal with change in a better way.

Change is always a present reality and a future promise. How we handle the demand for change and how we plan for future changes makes the difference in whether we are proactive toward change or reactive to change. Our chances to survive change are great if we are proactive. Being proactive makes our chance for success even greater. Membership in ALTA® is a good start for being proactive. Take advantage of all that ALTA® offers, support ALTA® programs, become proactive on the political front, and learn all that you can. Your business and the entire industry may undergo change, even dramatic change. But if you are prepared and informed, you can survive. And not only survive, you can prosper.

Cara Detring

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