With offices in Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, my law firm does a considerable amount of transactional work. Our six attorneys serve as title agents for several title insurers and work with a variety of lenders to execute thousands of real estate closings each year, both in the commercial and residential markets. As a result, our staff deposits millions of dollars in checks each day at local banks.
Remote Deposit has resulted in increased efficiency and safety for the associates of the law firm Schwartz, Orgler & Jordan. Left to right, Hancock Whitney Commercial Banker James Kaigler; Schwartz, Orgler & Jordan Managing Partner Robert Schwartz; Attorneys Jay Jordan, Jordan Matthews, Christian Strickland; and Hancock Whitney Treasury Specialist Heather Olivier. (The safety of our clients and associates is a top priority for Hancock Whitney, and we follow all CDC guidelines for masking when it is not possible to social distance.)
A critical success factor at our 23-year-old firm is the ability to perform that check-depositing function quickly, efficiently and accurately. So when our Hancock Whitney banker last fall suggested a way to improve that process — make our staff more efficient while enhancing client service — we were all in.
In the Biloxi office I manage, we started depositing checks into our Hancock Whitney accounts using the bank’s Remote Deposit service. That includes an average of about $20 million in real estate closing checks that we now deposit remotely each month into our trust account.
Old Ways Can Be Improved Upon
Before we adopted Remote Deposit, our associates in Biloxi filled out deposit tickets and physically transported checks to our local Hancock Whitney branch as many as eight to 10 times a day. These frequent trips were necessary because after a closing is completed, parties to real estate transactions want their money, and we can’t disburse it until we have good funds in the trust account.
The bank trips were time-consuming and took staff members away from other work. In addition, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, these trips created a safety concern.
From a client service perspective, we also had to deal with the bank branch closing at 4 p.m. local time (5 p.m. on Fridays). If a real estate closing didn’t begin until late afternoon, closing-related checks often couldn’t be deposited until the next day, meaning our clients and their realtors had to wait another day for their funds.
A More Efficient and Timely Process
Hancock Whitney Remote Deposit enables our associates to save time and stay safe. Today the same employees who were delivering checks to the bank branch now deposit checks using a check scanner and a computer.
To make a deposit, they enter deposit data into the computer and run the check or checks through a desktop scanner. The scanner captures the check images, performs a quality check, verifies the total deposit amount, repairs any scanned checks that need it, and submits the deposit, including the check images and data, as a secure file. We receive immediate credit and a detailed report file on the deposits online that matches up to our accounting and real estate systems.
Best of all, our associates never have to leave their desks.
In addition to freeing them up for other client-focused tasks — and reducing potential exposure to COVID-19 — Remote Deposit allows us to deposit checks into our trust account for same-day credit until 7 p.m. Those three extra hours on most days (two on Friday) enable us to disburse closing-related funds, in most cases, on the day of closing.
‘It’s Not Our Money’
At Schwartz, Orgler & Jordan, we’re a service business. If the client can’t receive funds from a transaction immediately upon closing, somebody is going to be unhappy.
In addition, as attorneys, we have a fiduciary and ethical duty to accurately account for every client’s money in a prompt and timely fashion. After all, it’s not our money. So we want to deposit it and disburse it quickly to the recipients.
Remote Deposit allows us to perform these duties better and more consistently. It’s saving us time and money, and allowing us to give better service to our clients. We’ve been completely satisfied.
As I think about it now, I only have one question about our decision to adopt Remote Deposit: Why didn’t we do it sooner?
Learn more about how Remote Deposit can provide greater efficiency to your business by speaking with a Hancock Whitney Treasury Services Specialist at 1-866-594-2304.