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Banking services hit the ground running.
AUTHORRay Guanlao, Sterling National Bank
Use of technology has soared during the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some of the hot spots:
Our biggest challenge as it relates to the property management companies is definitely technology. The companies that have invested in technology and have been actively using it are having an easier time in this market. The companies that haven't, they've certainly had a crash course on using the technology, and maybe they were a little bit behind. But I've been very impressed with what I've been seeing from management company owners adopting new technology.
To give some specifics, technology that's been around for a very long time but is now seeing a much higher utilization rate are things like remote scanners, Automated Clearing Houses, wire transfers. We've seen a big increase in fraud over the last few weeks, and so fraud protection has been a hot topic.
The commonality between those products is that they’re paperless. I've been saying for a long time that the hot trend with management companies is going paperless, both on the receivable side and on the payable side. The companies that rely on pen and paper for any movements of money, they are struggling a little bit more during this time frame. But that being said, there are a lot of banks and technology companies that are willing to come out and talk to them about products that will help them through this time.
There are a lot of banks targeting this space, and what is the difference between them? Certainly in this day and age, aside from the technology, it's customer service. Our whole team is completely remote. I've encouraged my team to go above and beyond for customer service. If we were responding to emails in 10 minutes or less in the past, we're doing it a lot quicker. What I always encourage my team to do is respond, don't react.
It's a little bit more difficult these days, but banks are still lending. Sterling National Bank still has a lot of capital. That said, it's a crazy world out there, and we’re getting bombarded with requests for loans, for forbearance, for loan modifications. I've probably taken a hundred calls in only one week just to talk about the Paycheck Protection Program.
So there are a lot of inquiries and questions, and what does that all mean? Banks and service providers are backed up, so it just takes a little bit longer. We have to prioritize relief-related loans over regular loans, and so what we've been doing is just over-communicating to our clients. Our clients fully understand that if it's not relief-related, their loan is not going to be a priority. But we are keeping our clients in the loop every step of the way.
When dealing with lawyers, we've seen a lot of cool technology and some cool regulations that make our lives a little bit easier. We have a lot of law firms that we partner up with to close deals, and a lot of those firms have gone to remote closings, so you don't have to show up at the closing. We've been working very closely with those law firms that are doing a better job at that than others. And it's been pretty seamless on the closing front.
New Uses for Old Technology
Things like DocuSign, e-signatures – we've had this technology for years, but now we're using it. For video conferencing, I've been on probably a hundred video calls over the last two weeks. Again, video conferencing is not new technology, but we are now finally utilizing it, and it's been fantastic. So, it'll be interesting to see, when we come out of this, which technology sticks around and which companies and banks are using it to make themselves more efficient.