Mortgage bankers seek permanent licensing changes for remote work
The Mortgage Bankers Association is exploring whether state regulators would be willing to give licensed origination professionals such as underwriters, processors and closers the long-term flexibility to work out of home offices.
"We'd like to see work from home allowed on a permanent basis," said Jeff Taylor, who is the chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association's 50,000-member grassroots lobbying organization, the Mortgage Action Alliance. "That’s one of the bigger issues people are trying to think about right now when it comes to their workforce."
Many mortgage companies have invested heavily in remote operations to address risks posed by the coronavirus and they would like to be able to continue using the strategy, said Taylor, who also is the co-founder and managing director at fulfillment service provider Digital Risk.
The MBA formed a working group on the issue, and President and CEO Robert Broeksmit wrote a letter to the Conference of State Bank Supervisors with this recommendation:
"Given the industry's record in recent months in providing remote delivery of consumer service, it is appropriate to move to a regulatory structure that embraces that dynamic on a permanent basis once appropriate safeguards are established and implemented," Broeksmit said in the letter.
The MBA's recommended safeguards include specific standards for oversight, data security, consumer privacy, records retention and storage, and regulatory access to records.
All states that had licensing restrictions impeding remote work temporarily lifted them due to the pandemic, but whether they would be willing to do so long-term remains to be seen, said Taylor.
The CSBS did not respond to specific queries about lifting the restrictions permanently but a representative said the organization is "actively communicating with the states about remote work and how best to address it right now and for the long term."
Many states currently have work-from-home guidance that extends through at least Dec. 31, but some have fall expiration dates, Taylor said. For example, at deadline Arkansas had a Sept. 1 expiration date and Kansas had a Sept. 15 expiration date.
The MBA in its letter has asked for an aligned state policy on remote work through at least year-end.
The uncertainty surrounding return-to-office plans is a broad concern for mortgage companies as well as other financial and professional services businesses, according to a recent Arizent survey.
Some mortgage-related companies have not only been able to work remotely with existing staff, but also expand.