Catch me if you can

.357 revolver, jet ski and trampoline are things that have been stolen from me. I thought about that as I listened to Frank Abagnale, Jr. present a speech about identity theft and business security. Mr. Abagnale was played by Leonardo DiCaprio in the movie Catch Me If You Can. He became the most successful bank robber in US history at age 17. The redemption story comes later as an FBI agent helping the agency identify bad guys for the past 40 years.

His presentation had me thinking about two things: 1. Are there potentially thieves within my company and 2. How secure is my office? Question No. 1 wasn’t about my employees, but rather discerning if there were inefficient processes and lack of technology that effectively was stealing gross revenue from my commercial appraisal firm. No. 2 resulted in an evaluation of our in-house security including password management, server OS, PC and laptop updates, accounting security, cloud backups, and teaching employees how to identify email phishing that may lead to ransomware (potentially wiping out your firm).

One form of stealing for commercial appraisers is the absence of sharing. Having appraisers simply share office costs lacks any synergy relative to the valuation (comps, techniques and best practices). Not implementing a common software solution companywide, even if it’s just a few appraisers, is commensurate with forgery. Comp database, report writing and appraisal workflow are baseline tools every commercial appraiser needs. Reevaluate your current software, is it working the way you like to work?

When it comes to securing your office systems, I recommend outsourcing this task. At a recent all-day security seminar presented by Digital Hands, I discovered that I don’t know what I don’t know. In other words, the sophistication of thieves has improved significantly and I don’t have the skill set to keep up. The state of deception is way past the obvious Nigerian Prince scams, but rather careful guile techniques and attacks on internal systems including your accounting software.

Mr. Abagnale said Steven Spielberg made the movie because he was interested in the redemption part of story. The former criminal, now FBI agent was his giveback. What’s your giveback to your appraisal firm? Consider investing time and money (on an ongoing basis not a one-time pop) for solutions that can substantively improve your business. Secure your business borders. Manage your assets. Protect your people. Be better than the thieves.