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.
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.
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.
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 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.