December President's Message
When I think about the people who make up our industry, the word “survivor” comes to mind. When the real estate market crashed in 2008, many companies and individuals left the industry. But together, we survived. And then the new HUD came out in 2010 with all its buckets and tolerances, and we took classes together and survived that too. And then the CFPB’s TRID Rule was implemented in 2015 and we once again had to revise our forms and processes and yet—together—we survived. And we have not yet been replaced by national title companies or AI. Together, we have survived all these challenges to our industry.I see a new challenge to our industry. And you can see it too. Just think about who you do business with today. How many people do you work with in their 20’s? How about 30’s? What I am saying is that most of us are closer to the end of our career than to the beginning. Just think what our industry might look like in 20 years, 15 years, or even 10. There are going to be a lot of empty seats in our offices.
This challenge to our industry is known as the “silver tsunami”—the fact that our industry is dominated by more mature, experienced individuals that will soon be leaving the industry one way or another. And yet there is not a balancing segment of younger, inexperienced individuals coming into our industry. If we are to survive this new challenge to our industry—this silver tsunami—we need these younger, inexperienced individuals to come into our industry and learn from those that are more experienced before these veterans leave the industry.
Just imagine for a moment what would happen to our industry if that did not happen. Imagine that the silver tsunami comes and goes, so a large segment of title and settlement veterans leave the industry in a short period of time, only to be replaced by people who have little or no experience. What happens to an industry that is dominated by people who—in large part—do not know what they are doing?
If the answer to that question troubles you like it troubles me, then the next logical question is, “How do we attract fresh blood to our industry now so that those of us who are more experienced have an opportunity to pass on our experience to the next generation of title and settlement professionals?” I think that if I reached out and asked each one of you, “How did you find your way into this industry?”, no one is going to say anything like, “Ever since I was a little child, I wanted to grow up to be a title professional!” I mean, who says that, right? No one knows our industry even exists, right? Instead, what you are going to say in answer to my question is some unique story of how one day you got sucked into this industry and thrown into the fire and now—somehow—here you are. Am I right?
Should we depend on all that fire and happenstance to attract the next generation of title professionals? It doesn’t have to be that way. The reason you got here through happenstance, and the reason that folks out there don’t know that this industry even exists, is due in large part by that fact that there is no comprehensive educational path to train people for a career in our industry, to reach out to people in college—or even high school—and say, “There is a bright future for you in the title and settlement industry. Here is how you get from where you are to where we are.”
I submit to you, that if we are going to survive this next great challenge to our industry—the silver tsunami—we must start working together now towards developing a comprehensive training program that attracts the next generation of title and settlement professionals, giving them a viable career path.
This makes sense—not only if we are to survive together as an industry, but so that we can thrive together as an industry. Attracting and training fresh blood to our industry means more competent people in our industry, more people who know what our industry is all about, more people to value the services that we provide.
Wouldn’t you want to work in an industry like that? I would. And I intend to. That is why I am asking for your help. A training path like the one that I am describing doesn’t happen overnight, and it can’t be accomplished by just a few people. I admit—I’m not sure exactly sure what it should look like. Does it include college courses? Internships? Training certifications? College degrees? Perhaps—those all sound like great ideas. Again, I’m not sure exactly what such a career path should look like. But I am sure that if we are to survive and thrive together as an industry, we need something like this.
In light of all this, the VLTA Board of Directors has recently developed a Workforce Development Task Force to explore all facets of industry-specific education and professional development—to include higher education in conjunction with the Virginia Community College System. The Task Force will review current national programs, consult with outside educational agencies, and develop strategies that promote a career in the land title industry—all with an end goal of developing recommendations to the VLTA Board regarding potential programs and initiatives to increase the land title workforce in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
For anyone interested in serving on this Task Force, please email your professional bio/resume to email@example.com with the subject heading “VLTA Workforce Task Force”.
We can all play a part, big and small. I am committed to playing my part in this endeavor, and I look forward to working with all of you as you play your part—whatever that is—as we survive and thrive—together.