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SPW focuses on Signing Agent standards

Signing Professionals Workgroup logo

Launched in response to sweeping regulatory initiatives by the federal government, the Signing Professionals Workgroup (SPW) has shifted its focus to only developing “recommended” Standards for Notary Signing Agents.

As part of that shift, the SPW decided that decisions about training and testing requirements and service providers should be left to the companies that contract with NSAs. Consequently, the Workgroup will not create a standardized exam or certify education providers.

However, the Standards still include the recommendation that NSAs undergo regular testing. The SPW believes Signing Agents should stay informed about professional practices and industry changes by seeking out training, and testing their knowledge on a regular basis.

Regular training and testing also is a good way for title and settlement services companies to verify that NSAs understand their responsibilities and comply with government requirements.

This decision reflects how the SPW has functioned since publishing its first set of voluntary Standards in October 2013. It also opens the door to a wider number of training providers available to NSAs, creating greater competition.

The revision also is in line with the SPW’s ongoing commitment to updating the Standards as market conditions and regulations change. After the TRID roll-out last year, the SPW worked diligently to incorporate numerous industry changes and helpful suggestions from Notary Signing Agents in the Standards.

Code of Conduct

The Code of Conduct remains at the heart of the SPW Standards and is organized into 10 Guiding Principles that cover everything from protecting signers’ privacy and reporting illegal or suspicious activity to acting in a professional manner and not providing unauthorized advice or services. A list of changes made to the Code of Conduct is available on the SPW’s website.

Signing Presentation Guidelines

The original Signing Script has evolved into the new Signing Presentation Guidelines, which are intended to help create consistency at the signing table and to ensure a positive customer experience.

NSAs may use these Guidelines during the closing and easily refer to descriptions of particular closing documents in the loan package if the borrower asks questions.

Annual Background Screening

The Workgroup retained its recommendation for annual background screenings because Notary Signing Agents have access to borrower’s private residences and non-public personal and financial information.

To provide a necessary level of protection for their customers, SPW members agreed that acceptable screenings must include federal, state and local record searches and be assigned a pass or fail result based on the updated scoring specifications available for download on the SPW’s website.

E&O Insurance

No changes were made to the fourth Standard of maintaining a $25,000 Notary errors and omissions insurance policy. This kind of policy only covers notarial errors and should not be confused for a Notary surety bond or a general small business liability insurance policy.

Kat Garcia is the Senior Content Strategy Manager at the National Notary Association.

Related Articles:

Five myths about background screenings explained

The truth about Notary Signing Agent fee discussions

What you need to know about E&O

Answers to Signing Agent questions about background screenings

Additional Resources:

Background Screening Quick Facts


Add your comment

John Cown

14 Mar 2016

What's really needed is Standards for Signing Services

R. J. Angell

16 Mar 2016

When we need all of the above items and that we are so professional our pay standards are so very low. As our representatives and in that we pay you often times more than we get for doing our signings, you should make sure that Signing Agents are paid properly for the time and effort that goes into this process. Costs of E @ O, Costs to NNA, costs for tests, costs for Background Checks, costs for fingerprinting and on and on. Not to mention the costs associated with the signings, ie: paper, Printers, ink Computers, Driving mileage, and time reviewing the documents, and time at the signing. Looking at these items we make about $20.00 per hour for our time. Not a great "salary" in this economy. Even though you get people to do this work, and expect tem to be very professional, trustworthy and also want them to be licensed by the State, some people will offer to do this work for so little pay. In closing your company needs to work on getting us better pay, which could be accomplished by charging the clients a fair cost for the service.

National Notary Association.

16 Mar 2016

Hello. Neither the NNA nor Notary signing agents can engage in actions to fix prices. We also can’t host discussions calling to set specific fees. For more information, please see this article:

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