Center Stage with Compliance Made Simple, LLC

by 05 Feb 2009
Compliance ? What you don?t know will hurt you. This month, I would like to introduce you to George Marentis, President of Compliance Made Simple, LLC. Compliance Made Simple, LLC (CMS) is a privately owned company that specializes in assisting the mortgage professionals with compliance related services. Can you tell our readers what is Compliance Made Simple (CMS)? First, I?d like to thank The Niche Report for the opportunity to introduce CMS. As you said, Compliance Made Simple is a privately held company that was formed to provide compliance related services to the mortgage industry. In today?s market place, the mortgage broker and banker are struggling to stay in business. Smaller mortgage brokers and bankers in many cases have been forced to reduce staff levels to only themselves and maybe a few originators to stay in business. That is were CMS comes in. For a relatively low expense, CMS can be as involved with the broker?s business as much as the broker or banker desires. In some cases, our complementary services are helpful. Our goal is to keep the mortgage broker and banker informed of industry changes because whether they like it or not, those changes will impact how they conduct their business as well as their continued success. For example, a new state regulation may require a new disclosure and if the broker is not aware of the regulation change or effective date, the broker is out of compliance. It can take only one complaint to the states lending authority for problems to arise. As everyone knows, the industry has undergone increased scrutiny at both the state and federal levels and will likely continue this year and beyond. The days where a broker used to get away with ?ignorance? are gone and those brokers will be forced out of the industry through enforcement. As I said, this is where CMS comes in. It is our goal to make our services economical and easy enough that the small resource-strapped broker can be informed and compliant. Tell our readers about your background and how that will help them. My background in lending and compliance goes back well over 15 years. I started out as an underwriter where I underwrote all types of loans and conducted loan due diligence reviews for more then 10 years. These loans ranged from your standard FNMA/FHLMC to the infamous non-prime (subprime) mortgage. In addition to my underwriting background, I originated loans for many years as a broker. In addition to my lending background, I have a law degree. Since earning my JD, I took my lending knowledge and moved into compliance where I did regulatory and legislative compliance. In this capacity, I reviewed state and federal legislation & regulatory amendments impacting the lending industry and analyzed those changes to determine impact to various lending operations. Prior to forming CMS I handled compliance related issues as a compliance officer for a medium size financial institution. Describe some of the key services offered by CMS. The services CMS provides the mortgage professional are diverse. Our level of involvement depends on the needs of the mortgage professional. Some brokers and bankers outsource their entire compliance department, while others use our monthly service to be updated on relevant state-by- state and federal legislative and regulatory changes. Others use our nationwide licensing services where we assist the broker or banker with various licensing needs. CMS also performs forensic loan file reviews for those lenders having investor buybacks or other loan file issues. Why should a mortgage professional use CMS? Whether a mortgage professional uses CMS or their own staff, they must understand that being compliant is critical. As I mentioned earlier, the level of increased scrutiny at the state and federal levels has increased dramatically and will not decrease. The mortgage broker is the target and the regulatory bodies will no longer tolerate mortgage brokers failing to comply. What?s scary is that a broker recently said to me ?COMPLIANCE IS A WASTE OF TIME.? With this type of mentality, it?s no wonder the industry is in the position it?s in and why brokers are the targets. Not many mortgage brokers and bankers can afford their own in-house counsel or paralegal to handle all the required compliance functions. Those brokers who try to keep up with changes themselves soon realize that the regulations and laws are complex, convoluted and downright confusing. That?s where CMS comes in, we can help the broker navigate those complex regulations and other compliance related issues. Here are some recent changes facing the industry today: ? Until recently, Colorado did not have any loan officer licensing, education or testing requirements. Now they are all required. ? Are you familiar with HVCC? What steps are you putting in place to be compliant? Hopefully the broker knows what HVCC stands for? ? What does the SAFE Act mean to you? ? Are you compliant with the new Identity Theft ?Red Flags? program? ? How will the amended TILA and HOEPA changes affect your business? ? When does the new RESPA rule begin? Will brokers still get YSP? What about after 1/16/2009? ? Amendments to REG Z and HMDA ? National mortgage licensing legislation What is the biggest obstacle facing the mortgage broker and banker today? That compliance is going to be an integral part of the mortgage business whether you are an individual broker or larger shop. No broker can claim an exception based on the size of their company. Thus, the mortgage broker and banker need to realize that they need to actively monitor compliance and failure to be compliant will only create a bigger issue as the financial crisis continues to evolve and more and more homeowners face foreclosure.