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Security, Profitability, and Compliance In The Cyber-Age

We don’t have to look very far to understand the damage of a data breach to individuals, corporations, and governments. Data breaches have become public relations nightmares; the cost to fix and identify the breach plus the costs to win back business hits the bottom line hard, or worse, leads to shuttered services.

In 2017 alone, 143 million consumers were impacted by the hacking of credit rating agency Equifax; the data of 51 million Uber users was stolen; and Yahoo revealed that all three billion of their accounts were hacked.

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As compliance management costs continue to mount, so do the costs to innovate and match the pace of advancing technology and data breaches. The result: Capital One exited the mortgage and home equity loans business in November of 2017 citing lack of profitability, marking a pattern of decline across the traditional mortgage and financial lending industry. Meanwhile, an uptick in agile digital lenders steadily filled the void, with Quicken Loans taking 4.9% of total market share in 2016.

The urgency to protect terabytes of data with legacy systems in light of the increase in cybersecurity breaches has put incredible pressure on the financial services industry to quickly secure its data, while simultaneously tackling complex compliance regulations and preparing for a new set of HMDA 2018 data requirements.

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How can we help the industry quickly adapt to protect its data, efficiently respond to compliance requirements, and maintain a profitable business?

Users of products and services from Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, and Google recently learned of security vulnerabilities in a wide range of computer chips installed on millions of personal tech devices. While the hardware was the source of the vulnerability, cloud-based software solutions closed the vulnerability. All it took was an automatic update.

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To successfully maintain a competitive edge in the mortgage and lending market during the cyber-age, securing the high volume of sensitive mortgage data is paramount. It needs a system that can immediately close security vulnerabilities and update compliance calculations and requirements through the ease of an automatic update.

Cloud-based platforms have revolutionized the security of dynamic document generation software with system infrastructures that increase the protection of consumer data and deliver safer, faster, and more user-friendly systems. This solves for several mortgage industry challenges: the costs to secure big data, protecting the myriad of personal, and much more.

About The Author

David Greenwood

David Greenwood is Chief Technology Officer and oversees all aspects of Asurity Technologies’ technology vision, strategy, and execution for the firm, ensuring that its innovative compliance solutions meet rigorous standards for quality, security, and resiliency. David has significant breadth and depth of executive leadership experience in IT management, technical strategy, solution design, and technology planning, development and delivery. Prior to Asurity Technologies, David served as Chief Information Officer at Promontory Financial Group, where he had executive leadership over corporate information systems and business applications. David was also a Managing Director, Technology, in the U.S. tax business of PricewaterhouseCoopers, with a focus on leveraging new technology to deliver innovative products and services.

Now What?

Over a year in the making, TRID 2.0 was finally released on July 7, 2017. With an effective date 60 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, and a mandatory compliance deadline of October 1, 2018, the industry is sure to have a lot to say about these new regulations.

TRID 2.0 is meant to provide additional clarity to the original TRID rule that went into effect on October 3, 2015. Changes include:

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Cooperative Housing. Loans on cooperative housing are now covered by TRID, having previously been left to state law definitions of real and personal property.

Tolerances. New tolerances have been added and others have been clarified, including total of payments, the “no tolerance” category and good faith, and property taxes.

Rate Locks. A new Loan Estimate, or Closing Disclosure, must be provided upon rate lock, even if nothing has otherwise changed.

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Escrow. The Closing Disclosure Escrow Account Disclosures have been clarified, allowing for 12 months in “Year 1” calculations.

Additional Guidance. The amendment provides additional guidance around disclosure of construction to permanent loans, simultaneous second loans, disclosure of principle reductions, and a reiteration that re-disclosure of the Loan Estimate (LE) or Closing Disclosure (CD) is permitted at any time.

What’s Missing?

The CFPB has not yet finalized proposed changes to resolve the infamous “black hole” issue; instead, they published a new proposal. In case you’re unfamiliar, complications arise due to potential timing conflicts between the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. If a borrower experiences a change in circumstance after they have received the Closing Disclosure and needs to delay the date of closing, there are concerns that a lender will be unable to comply with both the requirements to provide a revised disclosure to the consumer within 3 business days of the change and simultaneously within 4 business days of consummation in order to reset the tolerance thresholds for the good faith determination. There is even uncertainty of the ability of a re-disclosed Closing Disclosure to reset tolerances at all. Can we expect a final TRID 3.0 to resolve the issue? Only time will tell.

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Similarly, the issue of disclosure of simultaneous title quotes for owner’s and lender’s title premiums remains unchanged and unaddressed. The current, and very complicated, method of calculating lender’s title in the case of a simultaneous quote still stands and is not currently included in the “black hole” proposal.

What Happens Next?

Our main concern after dissecting TRID 2.0 is the phased implementation. On the surface this sounds like a great thing for lenders, but what happens when a consumer compares disclosures between lenders? This gets tricky when it comes to the application date. Additionally, you don’t want to change to the new calculations in the Calculating Cash to Close table mid-loan cycle with your consumers. This would result in re-disclosed Loan Estimates, or the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure on a single loan may utilizing different logic. This could confuse consumers as well as investors on loan purchase, and examiners down the line.

Regardless of the outcomes our industry will adjust. One thing is for sure, policies, procedures, and technology will continue to play an essential role in mortgage compliance.

About The Author

Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips is EVP Legal and Regulatory Compliance for Mortgage Cadence, an Accenture Company. She works closely with Mortgage Cadence Product and Development teams to help interpret compliance requirements and assist in developing risk mitigation strategies and implementing the requisite controls within the Mortgage Cadence platforms. She also communicates with clients regarding Mortgage Cadence compliance interpretations and controls. Phillips joined Mortgage Cadence in January 2014 as its Legal and Compliance Lead, guiding development of the organization’s technologies, including the Enterprise Lending Center, the Loan Fulfillment Center and the Document Center.

Lenders: Are You Unwittingly Violating The Consumer Credit Protection Act?

The Consumer Credit Protection Act. No doubt you’ve heard of it but, unless you’re a consumer protection lawyer or a masochist, you’ve probably never sat down and read it. Sure, everyone knows that law prevents “evil corporations” from taking advantage of consumers, but did you know that it also might penalize you or your company for trying to help your potential clients?

That’s right; you can be sued by the CFPB for providing assistance to your potential clients. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the way the law is written, if you or anyone in your institution attempts to help clients clear up some blemishes or inaccuracies on their credit reports with the goal of qualifying them for one of your financial products, you can be sued under a sub-part of the Consumer Credit Protection Act commonly referred to as The Credit Repair Organizations Act.

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At this point you’re most likely thinking, “I work for a lender. We don’t provide credit repair, nor do we work with any credit repair companies. This can’t be true.” The alarming part is that you are not alone in making that assumption. Although the law was drafted to protect desperate consumers from people and entities that would otherwise prey upon them, in practice, it could potentially have a disparate impact upon upstanding lenders and others that work in the financial sector.

A multitude of lenders often provide seemingly innocuous advice with the intent of helping potential clients when their FICO scores fall short of the qualifying range.

However, in doing so, they’re actually violating federal law and breaching contracts with vendors without even knowing it. This article will provide you with a basic explanation of the Credit Repair Organizations Act, give some examples of how it has recently been enforced, and provide some tips on how to avoid potentially putting yourself or your company at risk.

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Credit Repair Organizations Act

Overview

The Credit Repair Organizations Act (“CROA” or the “Act”) is a federal law, which falls under the broader Consumer Credit Protection Act. It was enacted to address growing concerns about unfair and deceptive trade practices in the Credit Repair Service industry. Specifically, the purpose of CROA is twofold: 1) to ensure potential customers have sufficient information to evaluate whether to purchase credit repair services; and 2) to protect the public from false advertising and deceptive business practices.

Prohibited Practices and Statutory Rights

CROA prohibits deceiving any credit reporting agency or any potential creditor, whether directly, or by counseling a consumer to provide misleading information. Furthermore, it specifically bars any credit repair organization from charging an up-front fee for its services, or otherwise defrauding potential clients.

In addition to prohibitions, CROA also dictates the manner in which credit repair companies must engage new clients. All credit repair companies need to provide a written service agreement to any potential clients prior to performing any services. Specifically, the service agreements must set forth the total amounts of any payments to be made, a detailed description of services, and estimated deadline for completion of services, and the right of the customer to cancel the contract within three business days of execution. Furthermore, the customer must also be given duplicate copies of any form that requires a signature.

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In addition to a written service agreement, credit repair companies must provide a separate list of statutory disclosures regarding the rights of the consumers. Among them are the right to access and correct information on consumer credit reports, the right to sue under the Act, and the right to dispute information found on consumer credit reports. The complete list of disclosures may be found under § 1679c of CROA. These disclosures must be provided to potential consumers independently from any service agreement or other documentation, and must be retained for two years after the consumer signs off, acknowledging that they were, in fact provided.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

CROA was drafted to be narrowly interpreted. What this means is that any contract that fails to strictly adhere to all requirement set forth in the Act is automatically void; it cannot be enforced in any state or federal courts. Furthermore, the consumer may not voluntarily waive any provision of the statute, and any attempt to do so will be void as well.

Aside from contract enforcement issues, the statute also allows consumers to sue credit repair companies if those companies violate the provisions of CROA. In addition to being liable for all fees collected under the service agreement, credit repair companies who violate CROA will be liable for any financial harm sustained by the consumer, attorney’s fees, and potential punitive damages. The punitive damages, as the name indicates, are meant to punish companies that violate the provisions in the statute. Although the statute does not set forth a specific amount, factors taken into account when deciding an appropriate award are: 1) how often the company violates the statute; 2) the type of violation(s); 3) whether the violation was intentional; and 4) the number of consumers affected by the violation.

So what? I already told you that I don’t do credit repair.

Many lenders have this reaction after being forced to read through the seemingly irrelevant, dense legalese, above. However, few ask the fundamental question that really puts everything into perspective: How does the law define “credit repair organization”? The answer surprises almost everyone who is not intimately familiar with this law.

A “credit repair organization” is obviously any person or entity that provides a service with the aim of improving a person’s credit. However, the law also deems any person or entity that provides any advice or assistance to any person with the goal of improving their credit is a credit repair organization. That’s right. If you, as a lender, provide advice or assistance to any potential client in order to help that person improve his or her credit to qualify for one of your products, your organization falls within the definition of a “credit repair organization”.

Lenders’ innate desire to help their existing customers and potential clients qualify for loans and other products may, unfortunately, lead them down a slippery slope that could potentially impute unwanted and unintended liability. Once a lender takes any action to land itself under the purview of the statute, not only are they subject to potential law suits from consumers and the CFPB, they are also at serious risk of losing the ability to pull credit for violating the terms of service agreements.

CFPB

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (commonly known as the CFPB) is a governmental agency that was formed after the 2008 financial crisis. The agency was established with the aim of protecting consumers from deceptive and unfair trade practices, and operates with the goal of acting as a watchdog and consumer advocate across a wide range of industries, which includes the prosecution of CROA violations in the credit repair industry. The CFPB has made itself a prevalent force in recent years by vigorously prosecuting violations of the law. When the CFPB gets involved, those companies that find themselves in its crosshairs are usually subject to hefty penalties. Below are two examples of recent cases in which companies were sued for violating the law.

CFPB v. Commercial Credit Consultants, et al.

In June 2017, the CFPB filed suit against three companies and two individuals in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. In its complaint, the CFPB alleged that the defendants charged upfront fees, made misrepresentations about their ability to remove negative entries on credit reports and ability to improve credit scores, failed to adequately disclose the terms of their “money back guarantee”, and misrepresented the costs of their services. On June 30, 2017, the Court entered an order granting an award of $1,530,000.00 against the Defendants.

CFPB v. Federal Debt Assistance Association, LLC, et al.

In its most recent filing against credit repair companies in Maryland, the CFPB coupled its consumer protection allegations with violations of the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act. In the Complaint, three companies and two individuals were accused of deliberately misleading consumers to make them think that the defendants were affiliated with the federal government, falsely advertising that they could reduce consumer debt by at least sixty percent, encouraging consumers to stop paying debts without advising as to consequences of non-payments, and collecting up-front fees for their services. This case is still pending as of the date of this publication.

Credit Reporting Companies

Credit repair companies are generally viewed in a negative light because of a few bad actors in the industry. Public perception is easily skewed when most publications and news outlets only report about companies defrauding their clients and/or cases in which the CFPB is prosecuting claims of statutory violations. In fact, this view is so prevalent, that some credit reporting agencies have even incorporated prohibitions on working with credit repair companies into their contracts with lenders.

Many of the largest providers of independent verification services in the financial services industry require lenders to certify that that they are not credit repair companies. These prohibitions are commonplace in the contracts across the industry, and have the unfortunate effect of preventing lenders from forming partnerships with credit repair companies to help their prospective clients begin taking steps toward credit-worthiness. This also means that if you or your company do, in fact, provide the type of assistance or advice contemplated by CROA, you could very well lose the working relationship with credit reporting companies and ability to pull credit, along with it.

Solutions

It would be very simple to just swear off companies that provide credit repair, altogether, and conduct business by only marketing to those consumers who already qualify for your products. The issue with this mentality is that, according to a 2016 study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, over one-third of all Americans have a FICO score below 620. If banks simply refused to work with or help these people, they would be, in effect, writing off over 80 million potential clients. That is a very large, untapped market that can’t just simply be disregarded. So, how can you help these consumers qualify for your products and get the funding that they need without violating the law? The answer in short: responsible strategic partnerships that do not run afoul of the law.

Under federal law, not-for-profit companies are specifically exempt from being classified or designated as credit repair organizations. The rationale behind this carve-out is that the primary purpose of those companies is to aid consumers in need, rather than maximize revenue. Referring unqualified consumers to one of these non-profits is a great way to ensure that the your potential clients receive the help they need, while simultaneously growing your pool of qualified applicants.

When choosing a partner, it is imperative that you are able to identify and choose a reputable, full service company that not only provides credit remediation services, but also provides consumers with a wealth of resources such as coaching and education. The company should focus on educating the consumers so that they are able to understand ramifications of their financial decisions to ensure responsible borrowing in the future, which will help consumers and lenders, alike. By referring these potential clients to these non-profit companies, lenders can insulate themselves from potential liability and help consumers get the assistance they need to become financially healthy.

About The Author

Elizabeth Karwowski

Elizabeth Karwowski is the CEO of GCH360, a technology company that has developed a proprietary process and solution, which seamlessly integrates with the lenders’ loan origination software (LOS) and customer relationship management software (CRM) in order to create new loan opportunity and recapture leads. GCH 360 helped their partners create over $100M of new loan opportunities in 2017 alone, and plan on continued growth in 2018. As a recognized credit expert, Elizabeth has been featured on NBC and Fox News, and published in a number of financial industry publications.

Helping Lenders Comply With 2018 Regulation

Veros, a provider of data, analytics and technology for the mortgage banking industry, has developed a solution for lenders specializing in PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loans in the state of California, where new compliance requirements went into effect on January 1, 2018.

VeroPACE, available through the VeroSELECT ordering platform, will generate, analyze, rank, and report the multiple Automated Valuation Models (AVMs) now required for PACE lending by California State Assembly Bill 1284 and the companion State Senate Bill 242.

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“The passage of this legislation significantly changed the valuation process for PACE loans, which are used to finance greater energy efficiency in homes,” said Veros VP of Sales Rob Walker. “Historically lenders could process a PACE loan in California using the results of a single AVM, but they now need three AVMs and must use a new method of calculating the final value.”

AB 1284 intends to enhance PACE underwriting by requiring lenders to obtain the three AVMs from a third-party vendor, then choose the one with the highest confidence score and calculate the midpoint of that AVM’s high-low value range. The resulting value, combined in a report with data from the three AVMs, becomes the valuation submitted with the PACE loan application.

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“Ordering three AVMs on the same property can be difficult,” Walker added. “And because different AVM providers have different methods of producing confidence scores and values, the mid-range requirement has presented some significant challenges for many PACE lenders. Also, if lenders cannot get three AVMs, they have to get an appraisal, which will add time and cost to the loan application process. To combat this, lenders need to achieve high AVM hit rates.”

“The good news for PACE lenders who are struggling with this new compliance requirement is that VeroPACE handles the entire process for them,” said Luke Ziegenmeyer, Director of Product Management at Veros. “And, if need be, we have an optional add-on for VeroPACE users that can facilitate the request and delivery of appraisals as well.”

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When VeroPACE is ordered through the VeroSELECT platform, a single data call is made, which generates a “cascade” through which up to 10 AVMs may be run to increase the likelihood of getting a hit. The VeroSELECT system stops requesting AVMs once it has received three valid hits. VeroPACE then determines the AVM with the highest confidence score, calculates the average of its high and low values, and returns it to the lender in a standardized data format. VeroPACE also generates a coversheet with all the data elements that can be put in a file of supplemental information.

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

The Cost Of Real-Time Compliance

At a recent regulatory technology conference, RegTech Enable, two telling statistics revealed the mounting cost for financial lending institutions to maintain and respond to government compliance United States Bank paid out $150 bullion in fines, settlements and penalties since 2008, and financial institutions spent $70 billion on regulatory compliance, American Bankers Association reported that 84% of banks needed to hire more staff to manage the growing influx of information and changes.

Thomson Reuters Regulatory Intelligence monitors more than 950 regulatory rulebooks worldwide published by more than 550 regulatory bodies. In 2015, it reported that daily updates for the financial industry increased by 127% from just 68 per business day in 2012 to 155 in 2014. That adds up to a total of 40,603 in 2014 alone – more than double from the previous year. These updates are not restricted to legislation and published regulations – there are numerous sources from which to gather information on what is going to actually regulate a particular lender, including rulebooks, policy papers, speeches, and enforcement actions.

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The Information Pipeline

Approximately 70 individual regulatory entities sit at the center of lending compliance. The process of sifting through their many updates and requirements is layered, starting at the top with nationwide regulations on lenders produced by agencies such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), to name a few.

At the state level, regulations depend on the type of loan or specialized loan product. If a given lender wants to make a loan in Ohio for example, it needs to know which regulations apply to that loan type in that state. If the loan is sold, there is an additional layer of requirements imposed by the investor entity that must be considered.

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Investor organizations, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, operate by a set of corresponding guidelines called “investor requirements,” which, alone, are thousands of pages worth of compliance requirements. That is thousands of pages of compliance requirements for a single mortgage loan in addition to implementing state-specific and federal lending regulations, reviewing enforcement actions regarding compliance, and knowing the subjectivity of regulation interpretations.

Lenders conducting business in multiple states must maintain the capacity to address that entire regulatory environment, because it determines the structure of the loan, documents, required disclosures, and eventually calculations for the interest rate, APR, and payment amounts.

There are varying degrees for how a regulator might regulate a particular mortgage lender.

Enforcement actions, for example, may not be consistent nor follow standard administrative procedures, but do indirectly regulate mortgage loans and therefore must be monitored and considered as well.

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Comprehensively, the environment for making a single family mortgage loan is a complex spider web of regulation.

It Takes A Village

Within a financial lending institution, compliance management should begin with the chief executive officer who tasks the chief compliance officer or perhaps an internal auditor with regulation implementation within the business practices. With the emerging RegTech sector, there are a number of technology solutions to help manage compliance from loan document preparation to mortgage portfolio analysis. But who is keeping up with the ever-changing rules of compliance? One day you are in compliance, and the next day you could be out.

Document preparation companies should be maximizing their collective compliance knowledge, building specialized teams stacked with individuals who have decades-worth of experience and are dedicated to overseeing and implementing the many changes mandated by regulatory agencies. To keep up with the quick pace of changes in today’s complex environment and properly implement compliance in real-time, teams must engage a range of experiences and skillsets, from attorneys and compliance experts to programmers and IT experts.

But it is not enough to simply monitor the updates; they must be interpreted, evaluated, integrated, and disseminated.

For example, if the CFPB issues a new regulatory interpretation about how lending disclosures are to be made on a particular type of loan, specialists must learn of that regulation and review it with their lawyers. If the lawyers determine that the regulation changes the status quo, they must identify which lenders and loans it affects and the impact it will have. This change could potentially disrupt the lending process of a single loan or multiple loans – requiring adjustments in documentation, marketing areas, and business practices – across the entire lending business. Once the lawyers determine what the change means and who is affected, there are three paths the information can take.

The first is directly within a loan operation and document preparation platform, which might require minor quantitative adjustments to calculations or data organization. If the change affects the financial institution’s operations, such as how loans are marketed or disclosed, the institution must address it directly. If the regulatory interpretation has a broader impact on a certain loan type or loan area, a more comprehensive analysis of how the change will affect the business at large needs to be conducted.

Managing Compliance In Real-Time

Keeping current is half the battle of any lender, but mortgage executives also shoulder the other half: forecasting.

Regulatory updates released daily are by-products of greater powers at play, trickling down from decisions made by the individuals in charge of each regulatory agency. The Director of the CFPB or the Chairman of the House or Senate Financial Services Committees are dictating the changes, directly impacting that particular agency and the regulations it issues or the legislation the committees may introduce.

To ease the burden and free up more resources for monitoring what is coming down the road, or simply because there is a lack of bandwidth, organizations can rely upon their document preparation company to manage the present day concerns.

It sounds understated to say that this is a major responsibility. Lenders are not only trusting document preparation companies to stay current on all the changes, but also to interpret them, incorporate them into the document packages, and make sure there are no conflicts or inconsistencies across the layers of compliance.

Dedicated teams with many years of collective experience are best suited for the challenge of managing compliance in real-time because they have the bandwidth and depth of knowledge to respond swiftly, accurately, and reputably. The greatest responsibility of a document preparation company is to ensure that regulations are understood and adjusted on a timely basis – whether immediate or taking effect on a specific date – so that documents always remain compliant.

For mortgage executives, that is one less thing to worry about.

About The Author

Michael L. Riddle

Michael L. Riddle is the managing director of Mortgage Resources Group, LLC., responsible for the overall operations of the firm. He guides the teams within the firm that develop and deliver “best in class” compliant disclosure and documentation systems to single family mortgage lenders throughout the country. Mr. Riddle is the co-founder and managing partner of the Middleberg Riddle Group, one of America’s preeminent mortgage banking law firms and, in that role, has spent much of his 40 plus year professional career providing advice and legal counsel concerning regulatory compliance, enforcement and litigation to clients including banks, mortgage lenders, insurers and related financial service entities.

Acquisition Furthers Automated Data Verification

QuestSoft, a provider of automated mortgage compliance software, has purchased Laguna Hills, Calif.-based IMARC, a leader in data verification and audit services to the financial services industry. The acquisition adds IMARC’s services to QuestSoft’s new Verification and Audit Services division, “QuestSoft Verifications.”

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The acquisition enables QuestSoft customers to easily conduct loan audits, as QuestSoft Verifications will now offer all of IMARC’s verification and audit services to QuestSoft’s existing 4506-T and SSA-89 capabilities. This new division brings Verification of Employment (VOE), Verification of Income (VOI), Asset and Occupancy Verifications as well as full loan audits to QuestSoft customers, eliminating the need to use time-intensive manual orders to verify all information needed to ensure loan compliance.

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“Combining IMARC’s verification and audit services with QuestSoft’s compliance software gives lenders a one-stop shop for all of their compliance needs,” said Leonard Ryan, founder and president of QuestSoft. “IMARC also brings with it a strong tradition of outstanding customer service and a dedication to providing high quality services quickly and efficiently, blending well with the QuestSoft commitment to our customers.”

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All IMARC employees transferred to QuestSoft’s corporate headquarters in Laguna Hills, California. Bob Simpson, founder of IMARC, is now serving as QuestSoft’s senior vice president and director of the Verifications Division.

“High quality products, ease of use and outstanding service are the three pillars that build strong relationships between vendors and lenders,” Simpson said. “By combining our services with QuestSoft, we have created the best resource for lenders to handle all of their mortgage compliance, verification and audit needs.”

About The Author

Tony Garritano

Tony Garritano is chairman and founder at PROGRESS in Lending Association. As a speaker Tony has worked hard to inform executives about how technology should be a tool used to further business objectives. For over 10 years he has worked as a journalist, researcher and speaker in the mortgage technology space. Starting this association was the next step for someone like Tony, who has dedicated his career to providing mortgage executives with the information needed to make informed technology decisions. He can be reached via e-mail at tony@progressinlending.com.

To Solve Compliance Complexity, Look To Einstein’s Principles

In 1915, Albert Einstein proposed the general theory of relativity, where he explains gravity as a consequence, rather than a force. Anything of mass, he theorizes, has an equivalent amount of energy. And, the greater the mass, the greater the energy. E=MC2. And like Einstein’s mass-energy equation, compliance is the consequence of regulation.

Nearly twenty years later in 1934, The New Deal emerged along with the Federal Housing Administration, the 30-year mortgage loan, and a number of regulations to fuel America’s economic recovery, protect consumers, and increase home ownership among middle income brackets. The mass of the regulatory system was relatively small then, and the force necessary to counteract regulation only needed a relatively small amount of energy.

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Mortgage document preparation was a simple process thirty-plus years ago. Within 48 hours, you prepped a set of documents on an IBM Selectric typewriter, sent them to a title company with a note to close, and then shook the hands of a happy new homeowner.

In the same span of time that witnessed the typewriter’s evolution into a smartphone built for efficiency, the regulatory system grew more complex in equal opposition.

For every regulator action, there is an equal and opposite compliance solution.

The regulatory system of today is an expansive and complex environment embodied by a number of housing, finance, and regulation bureaus that dictate compliance for nearly every aspect of a loan. The mortgage industry alone supports an incredible variety of loan products and an immense amount of data, and a single document package can require nearly 60 compliance state and federal compliance checks.

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Take one mortgage document set and multiply it across the total number of mortgages produced in one state, and then again over several – or all 50 – states’ regulatory policies. The result? A very expensive mortgage origination process. It should come as no surprise that by the end of 2016, production costs per originated mortgage was at an all time high.

It’s no question that a lender’s focus to maintain a profitable origination business can be slowed by the ever-changing and ever-growing regulatory landscape. As the pressure on the industry mounts, so does the need for an equal and opposing force to effectively – and profitably – navigate it.

The financial tech (FinTech) and regulatory tech (RegTech) sectors have risen to the occasion by building Software as a Solution (SaaS) products. Over the past decade, the industry has accumulated a number of analytics tools and services while compliance-related tasks are still primarily performed across a wide staff. But, an increase in the number of tools and people to learn, implement, oversee, and manage those tools can be tricky. Banking is still people doing a job, and mistakes are a natural result.

Technology alone is not a perfect solution, either. For all the ease and accuracy technology can provide, the rate at which technology solutions are rendered outdated is exhausting. Many best-in-class tools struggle to adapt fast enough in the ever-evolving regulatory landscape when maintained by companies with a primary expertise in software and not compliance.

The exposure of a lender is twofold: out-of-date software exposes potential security risks and out-of-date regulatory systems expose potential compliance risks. Both can result in millions of dollars of recovery costs.

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For the documents space, this has taken the form of document prep programs that produce generic legal packages attuned to state regulations, but are not customized to a specific product or to a unique variability that may have specific state regulations. While there are many one-size-fits-all solutions, this can lead to challenges when it comes to maintaining compliance.

An Ecosystem of Mortgage Compliance. E=MC2.

The DIY solution to maintaining compliance would take any institution thousands of hours of research and manpower to implement policies that adhere to federal and state regulations, not including the technical know how to build a platform to manage it.

While the complexity facing the industry appears daunting, the answer exists at the intersection of regulatory, legal expertise and technical mastery: a holistic and advanced ecosystem of mortgage compliance (E=MC2). The true best-in-class solutions crossbreed software engineers with experts steeped in regulatory compliance knowledge. The result is a holistic compliance management systems (CMS) maintained on both fronts.

Effective compliance management ecosystems can and have served the financial services industry for the better, guiding institutions safely through any potential risk. Bonus: CMSs are supported – and even encouraged – by the federal government.

A well-run, wide range, and comprehensive system that includes policy, procedures, testing, controls, automation, and risk assessment lead to examiners reviewing banks more favorably. The Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been direct in saying that the more comprehensive a CMS, the more they will believe in a bank.

While still relatively new, there are integrated tech solutions built on the backbone of legal, financial, and regulatory ecosystems that produce compliant document packages on one end and proactively manage redlining and fair lending risk on the other. Compliance technology can minimize errors, automate processes, save time and resources.

With an all-inclusive approach, institutions can access an incredible number of compliance solutions including dynamic document preparation, data validation and testing with legal backing and HMDA, CRA, REMA, geocoding, and Fair Lending solutions. The right solution will improve the agility and speed of these diverse compliance platforms across an enterprise in a controlled, transparent, and organic way.

And while the industry might immediately view CMS a proactive and offensive approach, it is also a good defense. Think of it like a well-protected house: the more prepared you are for a break in, the less likely it is to happen.

For an industry that has been slow to innovate, the emergence of a sustainable, smart, and reliable compliance ecosystem fosters an incredibly pioneering environment in which to manage regulatory changes and deadlines.

These expertise-fueled compliance ecosystems can empower financial institutions to react to the ever-growing regulatory mass with equal force. The weight of the regulatory system is counteracted by the power of integrated compliance tech solutions. And by alleviating the burden of regulation, banks can focus on profitability knowing it is no longer a weight they need to carry alone.

About The Author

Michael L. Riddle

Michael L. Riddle is the managing director of Mortgage Resources Group, LLC., responsible for the overall operations of the firm. He guides the teams within the firm that develop and deliver “best in class” compliant disclosure and documentation systems to single family mortgage lenders throughout the country. Mr. Riddle is the co-founder and managing partner of the Middleberg Riddle Group, one of America’s preeminent mortgage banking law firms and, in that role, has spent much of his 40 plus year professional career providing advice and legal counsel concerning regulatory compliance, enforcement and litigation to clients including banks, mortgage lenders, insurers and related financial service entities.

Loan Document Automation

The mortgage lending industry presents a number of unique challenges for classifying and extracting data from key documents, due in part to the large volumes of disparate documents in most loan files.

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New documents and the regulations related to them put a new emphasis on the need for quick and very accurate data. Lenders in particular face significant penalties for inaccurate data and missed delivery deadlines. Sorting and capturing critical data from thousands of diverse documents has historically been labor intensive, slow, and expensive. To stay competitive, and meet these new and constantly changing challenges, automation through technology is no longer optional.

The key is finding a provider that specializes in automated document classification and data capture specifically for mortgage lending and the financial services industries, which scales to process millions of pages per day.

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Leading edge OCR solutions offer significant efficiencies for classifying large quantities of differing document types and extracting key data elements from those documents.  In the mortgage market, these capabilities allow for quick and accurate identification of over 500 unique documents in the typical mortgage file, along with the ability to capture nearly any data element from those documents that an organization requires.

Here are some examples of applying this advanced technology to specific mortgage documents:

Application Processing

Extract relevant content from borrower-provided pay stubs, W-2s, bank statements, and tax documents to expedite underwriting and reduce origination costs.

Post-Close Processing

Identification of each document in the loan file, bringing structure to what was a 300+ page blob of content.

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Verification that relevant documents have been signed

Compare key data elements from loan file with your systems of record to verify changes haven’t been made without your knowledge.

UCD File Generation

Create the Uniform Closing Dataset (“UCD”) file required (as of Sept 25, 2017) when selling loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

Reporting And Audit Automation

Extract key loan file data elements to support the following reporting/audit activities:

HMDA reporting – our system is ready to capture the additional demographic data on the new Uniform Residential Loan Application (effective Jan 1, 2018)

RESPA audit

TRID audit

Lenders can longer afford to manually classify and manage large volumes of disparate documents. Manually preparing a batch for scanning by inserting document separator sheets and manually classifying loan documents is a labor-intensive, inefficient and error prone process. Not only is it critical that this process be done accurately, but also that it be done efficiently in order to allow downstream underwriting and servicing decisions to be performed in a timely way.

At the end of the day it is about finding a provider that focuses its skills towards delivering the most efficient, accurate, and flexible freeform document classification and data extraction solution available. The time is now for lenders to reduces manual labor costs and increases accuracy levels associated with classifying and capturing data from loan documents.

About The Author

Mark Tinkham

Mark Tinkham is Director of Business Alliances at Paradatec, Inc. Over the past twenty-five plus years, Mark has worked for technology companies that deliver innovative solutions to the financial services industry. For the past ten years, his primary focus has been bringing efficiencies to the mortgage market through industry leading Optical Character Recognition (OCR).

TRID 2.0: Now What?

Over a year in the making, TRID 2.0 was finally released on July 7, 2017. With an effective date 60 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register, and a mandatory compliance deadline of October 1, 2018, the industry is sure to have a lot to say about these new regulations.

TRID 2.0 is meant to provide additional clarity to the original TRID rule that went into effect on October 3, 2015. Changes include:

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Cooperative Housing. Loans on cooperative housing are now covered by TRID, having previously been left to state law definitions of real and personal property.

Tolerances. New tolerances have been added and others have been clarified, including total of payments, the “no tolerance” category and good faith, and property taxes.

Rate Locks. A new Loan Estimate, or Closing Disclosure, must be provided upon rate lock, even if nothing has otherwise changed.

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Escrow. The Closing Disclosure Escrow Account Disclosures have been clarified, allowing for 12 months in “Year 1” calculations.

Additional Guidance. The amendment provides additional guidance around disclosure of construction to permanent loans, simultaneous second loans, disclosure of principle reductions, and a reiteration that re-disclosure of the Loan Estimate (LE) or Closing Disclosure (CD) is permitted at any time.

What’s Missing?

The CFPB has not yet finalized proposed changes to resolve the infamous “black hole” issue; instead, they published a new proposal. In case you’re unfamiliar, complications arise due to potential timing conflicts between the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure. If a borrower experiences a change in circumstance after they have received the Closing Disclosure and needs to delay the date of closing, there are concerns that a lender will be unable to comply with both the requirements to provide a revised disclosure to the consumer within 3 business days of the change and simultaneously within 4 business days of consummation in order to reset the tolerance thresholds for the good faith determination. There is even uncertainty of the ability of a re-disclosed Closing Disclosure to reset tolerances at all. Can we expect a final TRID 3.0 to resolve the issue? Only time will tell.

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Similarly, the issue of disclosure of simultaneous title quotes for owner’s and lender’s title premiums remains unchanged and unaddressed. The current, and very complicated, method of calculating lender’s title in the case of a simultaneous quote still stands and is not currently included in the “black hole” proposal.

What Happens Next?

Our main concern after dissecting TRID 2.0 is the phased implementation. On the surface this sounds like a great thing for lenders, but what happens when a consumer compares disclosures between lenders? This gets tricky when it comes to the application date. Additionally, you don’t want to change to the new calculations in the Calculating Cash to Close table mid-loan cycle with your consumers. This would result in re-disclosed Loan Estimates, or the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure on a single loan may utilizing different logic. This could confuse consumers as well as investors on loan purchase, and examiners down the line.

Regardless of the outcomes our industry will adjust. One thing is for sure, policies, procedures, and technology will continue to play an essential role in mortgage compliance.

About The Author

Amanda Phillips

Amanda Phillips is EVP Legal and Regulatory Compliance for Mortgage Cadence, an Accenture Company. She works closely with Mortgage Cadence Product and Development teams to help interpret compliance requirements and assist in developing risk mitigation strategies and implementing the requisite controls within the Mortgage Cadence platforms. She also communicates with clients regarding Mortgage Cadence compliance interpretations and controls. Phillips joined Mortgage Cadence in January 2014 as its Legal and Compliance Lead, guiding development of the organization’s technologies, including the Enterprise Lending Center, the Loan Fulfillment Center and the Document Center.

The Evolution Of Mortgage Banking Compliance

The mortgage document preparation was a simple process thirty-plus years ago. Within 48 hours, you prepared a set of documents on an IBM Selectric typewriter, sent them to a title company with a note to close, and then shook the hands of a happy new homeowner.

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In the same span of time that witnessed the typewriter’s evolution into a handheld supercomputer built for efficiency, the regulatory system in equal opposition swelled in complexity. For lenders, maintaining a profitable origination business is often hindered by the ever-changing and ever-growing regulatory landscape. Unable to keep up, lender’s tend to respond with knee-jerk reactive solutions that risk heavy fines for minor oversights.

The emerging financial tech (FinTech) and regulatory tech (RegTech) sector has produced a number of Software as a Solution (SaaS) products and tools to help compliance teams. But they too come with their share of challenges. For one, tools require people to learn, implement, oversee, and manage them, and human error is a natural result. Second, many legacy tools are maintained by companies whose primary expertise is in software, not compliance, which exposes users to potential compliance risks. On the flipside, outdated software exposes lenders to potential security risks. Both can result in millions of dollars of recovery costs.

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Unfortunately, the DIY solution to maintaining compliance would take thousands of hours of research and manpower to implement policies that adhere to federal and state regulations. The need for compliance, data, technology, and management to exist within the same ecosystem is greater than ever. The best-in-class solutions are cross-bred Compliance Management Systems (CMS) built by software engineers and maintained by a team of experts steeped in financial law and regulatory compliance knowledge.

Effective compliance management ecosystems can and have served the financial services industry for the better. They are also supported – and even encouraged – by the federal government. The more comprehensive a CMS, the more the CFPB says it will believe in a bank.

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With an all-inclusive approach, institutions can access a number of compliance solutions including dynamic document preparation, data validation and testing with legal backing and HMDA, CRA, REMA, geocoding, and Fair Lending. The right solution will improve the agility and speed of these diverse compliance solutions across an enterprise in a controlled, transparent, and organic way.

And while the industry thinks of CMS as being proactive and offensive, it is also a good defense. Think of it like a well-protected house: the more prepared you are for a break in, the less likely it is to happen.

For an industry that has been slow to innovate, the emergence of a sustainable, smart, and reliable compliance ecosystem fosters a pioneering environment in which to manage regulatory changes.

These expertise-fueled compliance ecosystems can empower financial institutions to respond agilely to the ever-growing regulatory landscape. And by alleviating the burden of regulation, banks can focus on profitability knowing it is no longer a weight they need to carry alone.

About The Author

Kathleen Mantych

Kathleen Mantych is the senior marketing director for MRG Document Technologies, a provider of legal compliance and dynamic compliant document preparation software technology to lenders nationwide. With more than 26 years experience in the mortgage industry, Mantych has held executive sales, product and alliance management positions with key mortgage technology providers. Dallas-based MRG is a document preparation practice group within the law firm of Middleberg Riddle Group putting the company in the unique position of its dynamic document content being created and tested by an in-house team of compliance attorneys. MRG owns its own legal content as well as its own calculation engine and compliance tests, ensuring accuracy for its lender customers.