I saw something this week I hope to never to see again. An entire auditorium being lectured for misbehaving.
When I was in the third grade, our elementary school principal made us spend our recess period for a week sitting in silence while he harangued us for bad behavior. He was angry that we had failed to march in quiet single file out of the lunchroom on our way to the playground. Never mind that it was only a couple of rowdy kids who acted out. Kids who these days would probably be diagnosed as ADHD. We were all at fault.
I felt the same sense of injustice this week when Steve Antonakes, the CFPB’s Deputy Director, gave the attendees at the MBA’s National Mortgage Servicing Conference a stern talking to. After dispensing with the niceties of thanking the MBA for the invitation to speak, Antonakes quickly got to what was on his mind:
Nearly eight years have passed (since the mortgage crisis began in 2006) and I remain deeply disappointed by the lack of progress the mortgage servicing industry has made.
Lack of progress? The MBA’s most recent report of mortgage delinquency tells another story. Overall delinquency is now lower than it has been since 2008, with 30 to 90 day delinquencies back to historical norms and slow but steady gains being made against the backlog of seriously delinquent loans.
Perhaps Antonakes was more concerned about whether or not the industry is committed to abiding by the more than 1500 pages of new rules his agency has created in the past year. If he had stuck around for the rest of the conference he would have learned that not only is the industry ready to comply, but that it is anxious to continue working with the CFPB on resolving conflicts between their rules and other regulatory regimes under which the servicers operate. These include the FDCPA, state laws and the servicing guidelines of the government sponsored enterprises who charge penalty fees if their marching orders are not followed, even when to do so would violate the CFPB’s rules.
The servicing leaders I spoke to at the conference are concerned about compliance but they’re also concerned about how to operate a profitable business as they comply. Since many of the specific issues Antonakes says the CFPB is focused on involve better communication with borrowers, meeting these requirements as efficiently and effectively as possible will go a long way toward getting us out of the dog house with the regulators and back in the good graces of shareholders.