A few years back, I spent quite a bit of time as an agent for a respected ISO. Once I outgrew my agent shoes, I wanted more. I wanted either to become my own ISO or to have some form of ownership in an ISO. I chose the latter. After wearing both MLS and ISO hats, I gained “double vision,” and I realized there is a major problem in our industry: the negative perception agents tend to have of most ISOs.
I have respect for MLSs who must roll their sleeves up every day and be on the front lines. I also have respect for any CEO, CFO, or president of an ISO who has to hold the fort down and manage the back office. However, I realize the communication and expectations between company and agent are often way out of synch.
As an agent, I found too many behind-the-scenes items I wanted to know about but that never got disclosed. Agents become resentful when they think an ISO does nothing but collect 40 percent of the revenue; however agents typically do not realize all the costs and risks associated with running an ISO.
There is a common perception of ISOs being shady, not giving true revenue splits, being misleading through the application and boarding process, and more. ISOs should first think about MLSs and second thinks about themselves. Agents are the backbone of the industry. If you’re an MLS, I recommend aligning yourself with with an ISO that will help you prosper in the long run. I hope, as I progress in growing my own business, I can add much more insight about the industry for readers of The Green Sheet. I’d love to hear other payment pros’ insights about the agent/ISO relationship.
Originally published in The Green Sheet Forum, issue 11:10:01