Notary2Pro Roundtable Recap [April 26, 2022]

Notary2Pro Roundtable Discussions provide engaging, highly impactful, and valuable information for professional loan signing agents. We want to enable notaries and signings agents to grow their businesses, expand their skillsets, and improve their life and work experience.​

On April 26th, 2022 Notary2Pro’s Roundtable series continued with this month’s topic “Financial Literacy for Loan Signing Agents.”

Financial Literacy Month for Loan Signing Agents

The United States has observed April as National Financial Literacy Month every year since 2004. Financial Literacy Month is a time to highlight financial literacy and teach and offer people techniques and opportunities to gain economic intelligence. Notary2Pro’s faculty and staff thought this presented a fantastic chance to examine financial literacy for notaries and loan signing agents. Our C.E.O Michael Ray, faculty members Andrea Douling, and Stephanie Rowland discuss setting standard fees while considering expenses, tracking notarial costs, and the best ways to stay organized and manage your records. 

Notary2Pro Faculty Members

Notary2Pro is very excited to introduce our expert faculty members, Stephanie Rowland and Andrea Douling. Both graduates of Notary2Pro are distinguished and respected names in the loan signing industry who hold decades of experience and knowledge. As Notary2Pro faculty, they are determined to deliver quality service and expertise that mirrors our company’s mission and values. They offer their knowledge to our staff, assist in course creation and updates, and provide advice, and feedback to students and graduates. 

How to determine your standard fees?

Learning financial literacy and setting standard fees can be a sensitive topic for notaries and loan signing agents. Notary2Pro’s founder, Carol Ray, believed it was essential to establish yourself in the industry before becoming picky about fees. Our faculty member Andrea Douling agrees, “Carol’s advice is spot on and still accurate to this day. When I first started in the industry, I took all that I could get to gain experience, become familiar with the documents, and ensure that I did not make errors. Once I felt comfortable and knew what I was doing, my fees began to go up.” 

Confidence comes from experience, and as you make a name for yourself, you can feel confident in setting standard fees. Andrea states, “When I first began setting my own fees, I had a standard fee in my area, and anything outside of my county would have a price increase. For example, if I am doing a standard refinance in my county, then I do not accept anything less than $125. If it is outside my county, then my fee increases”. Expert faculty member Stephanie Rowland recalls taking her very first signing for $75. After shaking her initial nerves, she knew she had the knowledge to proceed with loan signings error-free and did not accept less than $100 after her first signing. 

There are multiple factors to consider when setting standard fees, and as we face record-breaking inflation in 2022, there are even more to regard. 

Will other notaries in my area affect how I set my fees?

Setting your fees for your notarial services is about knowing your worth as a notary and loan signing agent and the kind of product you can consistently deliver. If you can provide error-free signings to satisfied clients every time, you can be confident in your set fees. Our expert faculty member Andrea states, “There might be an influx of notaries in my area, but my fees have not decreased because everything else around me has increased, such as gas, paper, toner…EVERYTHING! The companies I work with know there are a lot of other notaries around me, but the quality of work that I put out is still worth the fee that I am requesting.” 

Should I display my fees on my website?

Although some signing company websites may request your fees, our experts advise against displaying your fees on your website.

What if I must decline an offer for a signing because of the fee?

Do not feel guilty about declining an offer from an employer or potential client. Our expert Andrea says that when she must refuse a proposal for a loan signing because the fee is too low, she will politely inform the company why she is declining the offer. She might counter her cost for the signing and explain why she has not chosen to accept their fee (gas prices, location, etc.)

When deciding to accept a signing, it’s beyond just the location of the signing. It would be best to consider transportation to and from the signing, wait time, loss of time and amount of time at the signing, time spent preparing the package, and time spent delivering the package to UPS or a title company. Stephanie adds, “I’m starting to turn down closings because they are far away, considering the gas prices. Traffic is a serious issue where I live, and you never know how long it will take you to get somewhere.”

Andrea notes, “There are many things that loan signing agents and notaries must consider as expenses. There’s gas, upkeep on your vehicle, the supplies, the paper, the toner, the pens, the journal. You also must look at your E&O insurance, which costs me a little over $400 a year, and you must consider the certifications you have taken to be proficient in the business.” 

You know the costs that go into your business. Your clients and borrowers do not! Hold your ground, know your worth and stick to your fees! As you gain experience, your confidence will grow, and you will know how much your services are worth. 

What about notaries accepting lower fees?

Notaries that accept low fees should consider their worth and if they are getting their money’s worth in their business. That’s right. It’s your business! It is okay to accept low fees at the beginning of your notary journey, but in the long run, if you continue to take these low fees, it will create a deficit in your budget. 

How do I record my fees? 

Keeping an organized record of your notarial fees is vital to help measure your expenses and profitability in your notary and loan signing business. Notary Assist and Notary Gadget are great software tools for managing your business expenses and fees as a notary and loan signing agent. Our experts Stephanie prefers Notary Assist, while Andrea prefers Notary Gadget. Both services are affordable and offer excellent services. You can track the number of notarial acts you make, list names of title companies and clients, record expenses, track vehicle mileage, create and send invoices, track who has and has not paid you, and even generate tax reports. 

Andrea and Stephanie emphasize the importance of organization and using a software system. Stephanie adds: “I keep on top of all of my bookkeeping, I don’t let receipts sit for more than a couple of days, so I don’t have much to do at the end of the year because I’m prepared.” Andrea remembers initially recording all her fees and expenses on an excel spreadsheet, “I thought I would be good, but I was terrible with keeping up with it and inputting the data. Notary Gadget gives me reminders. I use it for all of my bookkeeping.” Andrea admits that she is not the most proactive with her accounting, but the Notary Gadget software allows her to play a little catch-up. 

Any advice on taxes? 

As previously mentioned, Notary Assist and Notary Gadget are valuable tools for accounting and generating year-end tax reports. 

Andrea advises every professional loan signing agent, regardless of how well you feel you are handling your accounting, to investigate consulting with a certified public accountant. CPAs offer invaluable advice on accounting and taxes.

Stephanie offers some additional advice to loan signing agents on taxes: “I put 20% into a separate tax account and I forget about it so that I don’t have to come up with extra money at the end of the year. I do not make quarterly tax payments.”

What do I do about slow-paying employers or employers who don’t pay at all?

It is not common for companies to not pay out for notary services, although it does happen. A check might be lost, there may be a miscommunication behind the scenes, or a company may have changed ownership. Regardless, you should receive compensation for your services on time. Stephanie believes, “There is no excuse for an employer to be paying you beyond 30 days out. They get paid sooner, so should we.” Andrea agrees and states that “if it is not specified in your contract or agreement, anything beyond 60 days is outrageous.” Our C.E.O Michael Ray states, “Loan signing agents deserve to be paid in a reasonable amount of time or communicated with around payment.”

In some extreme cases, reaching close to 75-100 days after delivering notarial services and repeated attempts to collect fees, Stephanie and Andrea have threatened to leave bad reviews on notary websites to receive payment.

What if I have more questions?

If you have any more questions or concerns regarding financial literacy for loan signing agents, make sure to watch the recap and tune into Notary2Pro’s May 2022 Roundtable for information on training and skills development for loan signing agents.