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Thought Leadership Thursday

Things Work Better When We Work Together

Bracken NAUPA

Thought Leadership Thursday Article

Things Work Better When We Work Together
March 19, 2020
Assistant Treasurer & Director of Unclaimed Property, Massachusetts President, National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators

Dear Colleagues:

This year, I have the honor of serving as the president of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. NAUPA is the leading, trusted authority in unclaimed property and our purpose is to facilitate collaboration among administrators in their efforts to reunite unclaimed property with the rightful owner.

As the world gathers in solidarity to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we would like to talk about another global effort, unclaimed property. NAUPA is a global organization with membership representing all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, several Canadian provinces, and Kenya. Each year, these programs return billions of dollars to their rightful owners. No two offices are exactly alike, but as news stories from KenyaBritish Columbia, and around the US show we are all united in our mission to reunite unclaimed property with the rightful owner.

Right now, we are working together to keep returning that property even through the challenges of social distancing. Each office faces unique challenges to keep working in the face of a global pandemic, but by sharing information and working together we are overcoming these hurdles. Many administrators are preparing to work remotely to process claims and answer questions.

While many of my southwest colleagues are teleworking over the next few weeks, Unclaimed Property Administrator Dennis Johnston from Utah has his staff staying connected to their constituents through a live chat feature he has implemented on his divisions website. In the state of South Dakota, Unclaimed Property Administrator Lee Dejabet has implemented a process on her website where claims can continue to be submitted even though her office is temporarily closed. Here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Treasurer Goldberg took the unprecedented step to close all Treasury office operations in order to respond to the impact of the ongoing pandemic and to ensure the safety and well-being of her staff and the public.

Even though our physical office is temporarily closed our operation continues to thrive. Massachusetts Unclaimed Property Division employees have all been equipped with laptops, docking stations, wireless keyboards and mice, dual monitors, cell phones and printers so they can set up successful home offices. While our main phone lines and queues have been shut down, an informative message has been recorded driving callers to our state-of-the-art one stop shop website, and if the constituent cannot complete their task on our website they are directed to newly created voicemail and email boxes that are checked in real time during the hours of 8:45am – 5:00pm Monday-Friday by our telecommuting staff. These actions, combined with other measures we have taken will ensure that there will be next to no disruption to the constituent’s experience as we continue to load reports, generate claims, approve claims, and issue payments.

If you are stuck at home or planning to work remotely, here are a few tips to help.

  1. Have a dedicated space to work…that isn’t your couch!
  2. Try and structure your day. Set a schedule and stick to it. But don’t forget to take breaks.
  3. Communicate. Make sure you check in regularly with your coworkers whether it’s through email, phone, or video chat.
  4. Search for unclaimed property. Look up your name as well as your family and friends. Who knows who you could surprise with missing money!

Whether you manage unclaimed property, debt management, investment portfolios, or college savings plans let us all remember the mission that unites us and that things work better when we work together.

Mark William Bracken, J.D.
Assistant Treasurer & Director of Unclaimed Property, Massachusetts
President, National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators
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