The Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System and Registry (NMLS) held its fifth annual NMLS User Conference and Training in San Antonio, Texas from February 26 through March 1, 2013. The Conference brought together state and federal mortgage regulators, industry professionals, compliance companies, top law firms, and education providers to learn about the latest developments in mortgage supervision and to discuss pressing issues confronting the industry.

The first day of the Conference included the bi-annual NMLS Ombudsman Meeting, which provided an opportunity for NMLS users to raise issues concerning the NMLS, state and/or federal regulation. NMLS Ombudsman Timothy Siwy, Deputy Secretary of Non-Depository Institutions with the Pennsylvania Department of Banking, presided over the meeting, in which specific questions submitted by industry representatives were addressed. Several of the submitted questions focused on the new Uniform State Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) Exam or Uniform State Test (the UST) of which 24 agencies have already adopted. Concerns were raised by the regulators as some state statutes require that a state’s specific laws be tested as a pre-requisite of MLO licensure. Others, such as regulators from California and Utah, had concerns that MLOs would not adequately learn state specific laws and regulations prior to licensure.  In light of these concerns, industry representatives indicated that the UST is only the first step in licensure, and continuing education requirements, monitoring, and examinations would also serve as opportunities to ensure MLOs are well-versed in applicable state specific licensing laws and regulations.

Other areas of focus included NMLS’s expansion to include non-mortgage licenses, such as payday lender and pawn broker licenses. Some industry representatives voiced concern that approval of a license via the NMLS now carries with it an image of legitimacy with the public and expanding licensure to non-mortgage, less regulated industries could undermine that image. Regulators responded that the NMLS is a tracking mechanism—a way for regulators to track licensees state-to-state and industry-to-industry—not an independent licensing credential.

Full details regarding the specific issues submitted for comment, as well as accompanying exhibits, will be available on the NMLS Website, Ombudsman Page.  A recording of the Ombudsman Meeting should be posted to the NMLS Resource Center in the near future.

The remaining days of the Conference covered various federal and state regulatory rule implementation, updates for industry, and a look ahead at new initiatives and changes to the NMLS (please refer to the NMLS Conference Agenda, which also includes copies of presentations). Specifically, various sessions covered the following topics, among others:

  • The collaboration of the CFPB and state regulators to level the playing field between banks and non-banks with respect to enforcing regulations and conducting examinations. David Liken, the Deputy Director of Supervision and Enforcement with the CFPB, explained that Dodd Frank contemplated a partnership between state regulators and the CFPB, which includes information sharing and joint examinations. The CFPB plans to provide state regulators with training conducted by CFPB personnel at no cost to state regulators.
  • The future of the NMLS which includes a goal to initiate three system releases/ enhancements per year. 2013-2014 will include launching an advance change notice function, electronic surety bond management, and a requirement for annual volume reports for non-mortgage entities.
  • The state of financial supervision, in particular, concerns about industry diversity and cooperation between state and federal agencies to leverage their resources to address emerging issues and trends in the financial market.
  • Regulation of debt collectors as the “larger participant” rule giving the CFPB supervisory authority over debt collectors was issued in October 2012 and took effect on January 2, 2013. The CFPB has started looking at collection practices of creditors when the creditor collects in its own name and through third party collectors.

In addition, the Conference covered major changes to the NMLS and also included a presentation from the CFPB summarizing the CFPB’s final rules:

  • Advance Change Notification—The NMLS will launch its Advance Change Notice functionality that will allow licensees to provide notice electronically to NMLS participating states of proposed changes to the company and its branches, including, but not limited to: name changes, address changes, and change of control. The initial roll out of this functionality is slated for June 2013.
  • Money Services Regulator Panel—A Money Services Regulator Panel, which included Stephanie Newberg, Deputy Commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking, and Deb Bortner of the Washington Department of Financial Institutions, discussed the benefits and challenges associated with the addition of money services licenses to the NMLS. The NMLS has provided money services business with a streamlined system to apply for licenses and keep regulators updated on license changes; however, licensees continue to struggle with certain aspects of the system (e.g., transmission of materials via the NMLS and confusion with completing certain control person and direct and indirect owner forms, given varying state interpretations).
  • The New System of Dual Regulatory Supervision—A panel, which included Charlie Fields, Director, Non-Depository Entities Division, North Carolina Office of the Commissioner of Banks, Calvin Hagins, Program Manager, Supervision, Fair Lending & Enforcement with the CFPB, and various industry representatives, discussed the coordinated efforts of state regulators and the CFPB to conduct licensee examinations.  The panel focused on (1) examination selection criteria—i.e., how the Multi-State Examination Committee or CFPB may decide to examine an entity, (2) factors weighed by the Multi-State Examination Committee when deciding whether to join CFPB in an examination, (3) CFPB examination process—i.e., CFPB’s preference to collect date on-site while processing and analyzing data off-site, and (4) encouraging entities to engage in “self-regulation” and “self-review.”
  • 2013 Mortgage Final Rules Overview—Kelly Thompson Chochran, Assistant Director for Regulations of the CFPB summarized several recently issued CFPB rules, which are expected to be implemented in the next year, including: the Ability-to-Repay / Qualified Mortgages Final Rule, the Mortgage Servicing Final Rule, and the Loan Originator Compensation, HOEPA, Escrows, and Appraisal Final Rule.

    BuckleySandler recently issued detailed summaries of the CFPB rules.

For more information about NMLS, visit the NMLS Resource Center, About NMLS.