Leveraging Technology for Compliance and Quality Control in a Down Market Webinar with Melissa Grinel and Amanda Phillips

Join us for a lively discussion on current market conditions, enforcement cases, and how leveraging technology to create efficiencies can help. Join Melissa Grindel, EVP and Head of Compliance at ActiveComply and Amanda Phillips, EVP of Compliance at ACES Quality Management for a timely webinar.  

Topics include:

  • Current market conditions
  • Using technology to improve ROI
  • Creating a strategy that works
  • Potential things to avoid on social media 
HubSpot Video


Well, welcome. Welcome, everybody, to our Fun Wednesday Webinar. I know that there are some people still filtering in, because we're just right on time.
It's a short webinar, we've only got a half hour, and it's going to be jam packed full of fun, exciting compliance and QC tidbits.
So thanks, everybody for joining in for our Leveraging technology for compliance and quality control in a down market that'll be the theme of today.
I am Melissa Grindle EVP and Head of Compliance, you're an active comply, and I am joined today by the lovely Amanda Phillips, EBP of Compliance at aces. Amanda, thanks for joining in.
Thanks for having me.
Yeah, Absolutely. So, today, we wanted to take a moment to talk maybe a little bit about our partnership between active comply and aces. So, we're really excited to announce this newly minted partnership between our teams. We're coming together to bring an efficient, affordable, higher level of QC and compliance to our lender partners. And the industry at large, and we're really excited to launch that with this webinar today.
Slowly, we're super excited as well, I mean, we'll get more into it, But technology is going to be key for all of us in this market, I think. And, you know, it's the wave of the future, So here we are. That's right, context clues for today. So we'll just go ahead and get started.
I wanted to take a moment for us to start off by maybe level setting with the elephant in the room, which is the current market conditions, right? So we know that thinner margins and rising rates and low volume contribute to how compliance and QC teams operate specifically, maybe an impact on reduced staffing considerations. Isn't that right, Amanda?
It is. I mean, it's no secret, Right? We've all been in it now, for, Oh, gosh, it's been over a year, since things really started to get tough.
I think, for all of us, like you said, razor thin margins, rising rates, volume is down, I mean, refight basically don't happen anymore. I, there are exceptions. Right? Cash and equity loans and things like that.
Um, but, a lot of folks have had to cut staff and as as much as the compliance, people can raise our hands and say we're essential, which we are.
Um, inevitably, yeah, inevitably, right, we're we're a cost center generally and with lower volumes, staffs, and compliance in the QC department are likely being cut just like on the operation side of the house in the origin story.
That's so true, I think we've seen the displacement of a lot of compliance folks which means that the remaining team members on compliance teams are experiencing, I think higher work levels maybe running a little bit on fumes, doing the jobs that multiple people can be taxing. And so, what we've also seen as a spike of interest for the same teams in leveraging technology. If I don't have the manpower to do the same things I used to do in a certain way, how can I make use of technology to bring those efficiencies and get more out of the current team members that I have today? So that's definitely going to be a focus. And other part of the considerations is going to be getting technology contracts across the finish line is probably really difficult today. As well, trying to get those purse strings going for technology can also be a struggle with your CEOs or whoever's holding those for strings.
And, so, I think that, typically, were an agreement that, historically, compliance has been, a cost center, were a lot of our vendor partners out there today. But, having a conversation with some of the C. Suite executives.
And reframing compliance, specifically, marketing compliance tools around a Sales Enablement Tool, I think, is also going to be key, being able to show how revenue could be unlocked and how compliance doesn't have to be a, No, it can be a yes, but if we do X, Y, and Z types of things, lilley, and, you know, you leverage technology in my trying to rewrite multiple hats, right? Or the compliance folks are probably doing one of these all day long.
But if you can leverage technology to find efficiencies, takeaway manual processes, you can also potentially do more than you used to be doing.
So if you leverage a technology program, like Active Comply or aces, you can do more with less staff, But you can also arguably do it better, and therefore reduce risk, and prevent additional hiring in the future When volumes come back, know, you may have to still hire more folks. But if you're really leveraging technology and the right way, you should get a good good enough return on your investment. You can also keep headcount down while doing a better job.
So, I mean, that's what, we're, that's what we're all here for, right? And I think a big component of these conversations also has to be, especially with the C suite executives, if you'd like to make money. Since you're in business, probably, and you probably want to keep that money in your pocket, you know, who wants to pick it is probably your regulator. Regulators aren't stopping anytime soon. We've seen recent enforcement actions that are top of mind around marketing compliance. I know that The freedom mortgage case with NSA compliance is certainly top of mind, and that was a whopping $2 million citation, and that that money matters definitely to the C suite executive team.
It does, and, you know, it goes all the way down to the state regulators. So, despite volumes being low, regulators aren't going away. and, arguably, it means that they can get around to see more people, right?
And the state regulators, I mean, if you, if you're a lender that does business in multiple states, it's not just the federal regulators irrational, or but your individual state regulators, that can add up real quick, Um, know, you get dinged in one state here and then another state for this amount here, and next thing, you know, those dollars are just, like piling up.
Right, I think it was Maryland, most recently, who made some sort of announcement that said to the effect, you know, Hey, we're reducing our licensing fees, because we've just made so much money on enforcement actions. Thanks, everybody! And that was a really great notification.
Great, for transparency just gonna throw it out there. So, I know that regulators aren't stopping anytime soon. So the burden is even more insurmountable for a lot of compliance teams. And marketing compliance, I think, is a unique risk factor, because it is one of those things that your regulator can take a peek at before they ever come to open an exam with you. So taking a look at social media, looking on your websites can be a really big factor of how you perform on these exams.
Oh, maybe make no mistake about it before your doors knocked on.
Your Social media, your website, your loan originators social media has been perused and Facebook stopped.
And it includes, I mean, they're not just looking at Facebook anymore, they're not just looking at LinkedIn.
I mean, loan officers are on tiktok, and an Instagram, and I think folks forget that a social media post is just an advertisement.
Even though we haven't amended our laws to account for the evolving technology and the ways that people are marketing, they fall under the same advertising rules, and admittedly those advertising rules were not written with a video in mind. Or, you know, a character limit in mind or any of those things that these guys are facing right now.
Right, so having a well developed policy that addresses some of the different nuances that come with the social media platforms and the unique medium that is social media or some of the constraints that you might have on our website. And the one click away rule and from the FTC, is definitely to be top of mind. And I think that it's worth mentioning that social media is part of exam handbooks today. It's coming up on a lot of audits. It can come with those costly citations. And we have seen given the market some changes in how loan officers are advertising. They are really eager to maybe get some business moving. And sometimes that comes with cutting quarters or maybe some less savory activities on social media. Right.
Well, I mean, look, volume is down. What does that mean? It means everybody is fighting tooth and nail for every single deal. Everybody's fighting for business.
And folks that used to be generally rifai heavy, because for years, they could just, you know, take and repeat business for, for refinances and lowering rates for folks are getting back out there and getting scrappy and the purchase market, trying to, you know, network with realtors and, and out on social media.
And, yes, when we're fighting tooth and nail for every deal, risks are going to be taken.
Um, no, back.
I won't take myself back in the day. We used to try to say, no, no Facebook, no social media, and that was good, we only really had Facebook.
We didn't have to worry about tiktok and Twitter or X is fresh, No, right? And we said, nope, we're not going to do it, we're not comfortable with it.
No, social media, well, we learned really quickly, they're gonna be, they're gonna do it anyway.
Folks are gonna do it anyway, and, frankly, we have to embrace it.
This is, this is the current world we live in, and it's only going to get more technologically advanced and just saying no to loan officers like, I've never liked to be the no girl compliance person, but you are social media, I just don't know how you can say no anymore.
That's the way people are doing business and that's how young consumers get their information.
That's how they find there, plumber, and they're, you know, they posted in their neighborhood group. Hey, does anybody have anybody they could recommend?
That's where they get their news. That's where they look for, you know, referrals for all kinds of services.
So, I don't think saying no is an option anymore.
Think that's absolutely right. And, and, you know, in the context of this conversation, we say Facebook, you know, it at the time when Facebook was new and we were uneasy and we didn't really have a really good grip on it. The answer was no, And you know, fast forward to today, We're seeing a lot of that same narrative for newly emerging social media platforms. So we see a lot of uncomfortableness around, for example, tick tock, or some of the other social media platforms out there that we're not used to today but we're OK with Facebook and so that's a unique circumstance to be on when we look back historically, what we've said and how that worked out. So I think that a big part of the Sales enablement conversation, we're compliant today needs to be trying to support the Salesforce in a way that you can, for them to use a lot of these really cool, free tools, like Tick tock and other video based social media platforms with really clear parameters in place.
Like We want you to go out there and get business going and move the needle. But we also want you to keep your license. There's just not a feasible way for a lot of these teams to manually look at 300 loan officers. You know, on a weekly, on a quarterly, even on a yearly basis, that's a really insurmountable task for sure, without some level of automation.
I mean, I was telling you to start earlier about my path, but I literally used to friend out my loan officers to try to follow that, they're up to, it doesn't make sense of all. That's like doing a QC on it on Excel spreadsheets right there are people still doing it that way.
I wouldn't advocate for it.
I would say that there's a much better way to do things, whether it be social media monitoring, or you know, quality control reviews, post flows, those manual processes are ripe for error.
They are ripe for missing things.
They are super, super labor intensive and not efficient.
Um, but also like the sales enablement piece, You know, I We have to have compliance professionals, help our loan officers, do what they do, while also protecting them and the company, right. It's, we don't want them to lose their license. We don't want the company to get in trouble. We don't want reputation risk for the loan originators or for the company, but how do we do that?
And you know, harp on the old compliance, training, training, training, tons of training fundamental piece. It's like the first thing that the examiner looks for when they're looking at your CMS.
Do you have a training program like do you um but teach teach she's long originators about what are trigger terms under the Truth in Lending Act?
And what a trigger terms mean if you just say triggered firms take They're like, yeah, whatever, I'm gonna go make my video But tell them, you know, if you mentioned rape you've got to say all these other things. So, make sure you have your script together.
Um, train them on, you know, you are a loan originator in the state of Colorado, and so you have to make these specific disclosures in every advertisement.
Whether that's, you know, a pop up screen at the end of your video, whether you put it in the captions, you know, companies have come up with all kinds of creative ways to do it.
I personally love, especially if you're doing videos, Tillich, ended with a screen, all of your disclosures, clear and conspicuous right there.
But there are lots of ways to accomplish it depending on risk appetite and other things.
The only thing is, is like, after we've trained them, there's other kinds of training. There's compliance training, but there's also like, we could do great social media training.
For our marketing department, work with the compliance team together, work with the sales team. Let's get them Social media training, because social media is not just about, Hi! My name is Mimi and I'm a loan officer and I work at ABC Bank and these are my rates.
Know, and they develop too a brand, right? Like a I'm an influencer How do I do that? You know, what am I into?
Am I in their rescuing puppies?
I mean, I am. But I think companies are like we can rescue the puppies, right? I know everyone listening compliant content. Content is always compliant. Just remember that if you're taking one key takeaway from this webinar today, Pat, like you're good.
Um, but, but being out there on social media, about things that aren't necessarily mortgage, mortgage mortgage mortgage, but developing that personality and being that person, that next thing, you know, your neighbor, who you're friends with on Facebook, is looking for a mortgage. They're like, Oh, I remember that funny video that Mandy did about, you know, working or volunteering at this event, whatever.
But, I think she was the most revered figure out where she works.
Because that's, I mean, that's how Social media works, too.
We just, I scroll past anybody that's just like advertising their product anymore.
But if you can post something witty and funny, I'd probably watch it.
Yeah, absolutely, Absolutely.
I think it's important to note that compliance, specifically, marketing compliance, has a couple of segments in this life cycle where we play a really pivotal role, right? So the first part of this life cycle is going to be setting up your Sales Team for success, by giving them, potentially, a content library. Marketing content that you feel is relevant and recent and compliant and adheres to, you know, the product and true offerings that you have on the table that day.
And making that readily available offering video training is going to be a great way to enable them in a compliant way, to get on social media and make use of it, and that's definitely step one, is to set them up for success in that way, so they have content that's available to them.
The next step, I think, is to have monitoring programs in place, and that's expected of financial institutions by the FFIEC by a number of regulators out there and being able to say, OK, what I'm seeing consistently is this type of compliance issue. We haven't strictly addressed that with our policy. Your regulator is gonna wanna see potentially involvement over time where you, you see and identify risks, and you've taken proactive due diligence steps to correct it.
So, for example, what we've seen: a spike in here at Active Comply, is very often loan officers are doing, essentially scenario advertising, where they present to consumers on their social media account.
Here's a particular loan amounts, here's the house cost with the down payment. Here's the potential rate for you. Look at this monthly payment and how it's gonna be much more affordable for you, then your rent today.
And some of the considerations for that, certainly is TILA, Right. Talking about specific terms, dummy top of mind, but also, we can't forget about our friend, yuda, Right. So is this a deceptive practice? Those specific terms, do they actually apply to like 90% of your borrower base, or is this some sort of unicorn product that almost no one would ever get less, than 5% of your consumers are able to apply for. It says, These are some of the lenses, you're gonna have to view that content through. And then you're gonna wanna address that in your policy, if scenarios, or something that you allow. Or if you're going to build a scenario that meet your actual loan products and services for the loan officer to utilize.
I think that's a really good point.
And that actually, it's funny that traces all the way back to what I feel like was the spotlight coming back onto marketing actually started way back before the pandemic when the Bureau Senate sent down a bunch of consent orders around direct mail. I mean, talk about old school, that's right.
With direct mail to VA borrowers, advertising VA loans, and it was multiple lenders, and they actually even cited the maps act.
Because they said designers weren't, um, giving actually available terms or they were deceptive, right? They were disclosing only principle and interest and not disclosing the taxes and insurance we're going to be on there.
So, was the parent really going to save them money, implying, escrow refunds on direct mailers, not knowing if somebody would actually get an escort. I mean, all kinds of stuff. And so, the mass acts as the big one for the deceptive thing, too, and then you'd up.
And then also, like you said, with policies and procedures, if it's not something that was previously addressed, you're going to have to go back.
It's the old life cycle of compliance, right? And your compliance management system.
Update your policies and procedures.
Retrain your people, and then test it again.
And see if your policies and procedures are working. And if not, you've got to do or we do a remediation plan, and you can do targeted auditing. And technology tools really help with that kind of thing. Like, aces has really great sampling even their targeted auditing of individual marketing content and then develop action plans or defects that are found through your reporting.
So super, super important to keep testing and keep always improving. I call it that it's just a circle. You just keep going. It never ends.
You just keep trying to make it better, Right? That, that's so true, and we have spoken about regulatory compliance, and that is our background good for us. But I also think that it's important to note that if there are marketing team members, and the color, if you, as a compliance team member, partner very closely with your marketing team member, there is certainly an interest from a brand reputation standpoint as to what is happening on social media. And as part of your social media marketing policy, you might have a segment talking about like inappropriate topics, and it might be quite vague and why expanding, You know, We don't allow anything that could be bad. Thanks. Don't do it.
That's a good place to start, but you should be having conversations with your marketing team, with your HR teams, with your C suite executives. What is the line do we allow, mention of social justice movements, were getting a little bit more political right now, given the nature of the government those are going to come up where Where is the line?
Yeah, and I think every institution is going to have their own, you know, risk tolerance for how tightly they control what can be done.
I mean I know some folks say, Here's our library script.
This is all you're allowed to do.
You know and others are more lenient and say just don't embarrass yourself.
That's pretty broad and vague.
There's middle ground, right?
We can say, look, you know, you can talk about your charity five K that you go run in and your puppy rescue that you do, a steer clear of divisive, controversial, potentially disruptive content.
Look, and that's that protects the loan officer, too, because if you really think about it, pick any controversial topic that divides the whole country.
Do you want to potentially lose half of your potential customers because you're on the opposite side of that issue, right. You can originate a loan. You don't have to be somebody's best friend originally loan for them, and provide them a good service.
And ... be concerning to the consumer. So don't alienate half of your potential customers, either it's not good for the originator.
Potential reputational risk for the company. I mean, I think sort of everybody can get aligned on that.
If the marketing, compliance, executive, and sales teams all agree, like this is, this is how we're gonna move forward, but you really gotta have that communication to work together, or people start to feel like you're being the no person, right? Red or blue? Money is green, definitely top of mind for a lot of financial institutions out there. I know that there's also the sentiment among loan officers that people do business with people, and I think that, that's true. And, that's such a unique truth for social media To have that type of communication and relationship potentially with your book of business is definitely top of mind, and they might want to lean into some of those personality traits that they might share, and I think that that might garner more business. But, you know, is that reflective of you as a company, as a whole? Is that something that you want to support?
And I think that, when you find something like that, especially through an automated tool, or frequency manual searching, you're gonna have to have an uncomfortable conversation with the people, maybe above you like your C suite executives, and say, hey, do you actually want me to do something about this? Where do we draw the line? Better to have that conversation, now, than when the social media posts is up there? Something like that.
I, also, I also think that, uh, things to keep in mind, that we've seen a rise in on social media, certainly respect concerns.
And so, kind of going as a hallmark back to the concept of being a revenue generator, or sales enablement tool. Compliance and QC. We have seen some instances where there have been some respire concerns, brought to the table, especially on the state regulator level. Where, if something was found on social media that didn't quite pass the smell test.
We have seen state regulators say, Hey, this is a really clear Respire a problem.
We're not gonna approve your licenses anymore for these branches in the state until we get this resolved. So that can be another really big pause for your C suite executive team to say, wow, I didn't think that social media was going to be that risky until I couldn't get these branch licenses approved. And so that's something I think that people should also be bringing to the table, and having automation conversations with their executive team.
Absolutely. I mean, rat wrathful back, it's alive and why.
I felt like it was sort of put on the back burner for a really long time. People don't know whatever. We're just going to move on, but yeah, in addition to all the marketing roles right? Wrestlers breastfed alive. And, well, even the Bureau has taken a hard look.
Yeah, definitely.
And speaking of some other things that are kind of trending right now, I think as we start to get a little bit more settled into this market, we're seeing different types of advertising. We have seen an increase in marketing from loan officers in other languages other than English. So that might be a hallmark of a limited English proficient elysee borrower initiative or fair lending initiative. What are your immediate thoughts on other language efforts?
Man, times have changed. I remember back when we note we do business in English, this is all we do. It's too risky because in all our all the complaints, people go, oh, gosh, how are we going to support? this is going to be really hard.
The knee jerk reaction is going to be hard. You know, it's it's a tough market. We're being scrappy, we're looking for every deal.
But in addition to that, we there's a lot of pressure from regulators from GSEs.
Mean, we've seen the language preference question come back, serving our limited English proficiency borrowers.
It has to happen, and there's, there's a really strong push around fair lending, and just equitable, um, mortgage and homeownership in general.
So, we're gonna like social media, right? We have to embrace it. It's coming, and, frankly, it's good for business.
But, there are risks, right?
If only one loan officer in the branch speak Spanish, or speak Mandarin, how are we going to handle it? What do you do?
And, like everything else, training, training, training, policies, procedures, testing.
But, just from a practical perspective, if you're going to do it, I would say, and consistent with guidance that's come out from the Bureau, be transparent, disclose your consumer to what level you can support them, in their preferred language, in the language that you're advertising in, provide translators.
It's another one. There's a lot of translation services out there used to be. You had to like go find a local translator.
Some of them are outrageously expensive, arrestin, great, yeah, Sure, everybody that speaks to me, he's like, I mean, it's, it was hard.
But now there's, what, do you wonder, what dialect?
Oh, I don't know, You know, Like, yeah, There's great services out there, but, also, if you, if you don't have access or don't want to use a service, you may not need to.
In all cases, you may staff up with multiple people that speak a particular language that is permanent in your community.
I've seen lots of lenders do that, where they're going to say, I'm going to hire a processor and a closer that, speak this language. I already have my loan officer.
I would still say, be transparent.
Our documents are provided in English, bring a translator to closing so that somebody can translate for the settlement agent, and made sure that translator is a disinterested party.
Don't have the real Herbie or translator.
There's a scenario we've We've seen in the past, oh, yeah, I would definitely use an independent translation service. A family member of the consumer is probably OK, as long as it's not a minor. I would never use a, you know, eight year old to be a translator for a complex transaction. That probably isn't fair, and I'm sure a lot of regulators and lawyers would just freak out, what's the word, amortization. Can you tell us?
Right, probably not gonna work.
Um, then have the translator that you have a closing sign, a document saying, I speak both of these languages, lonely I, because, you know, fair and honest, my translation, et cetera, et cetera. Make them sign it, put it on the closing file.
There's lots of other things you can do but look, we're going to have to start reaching out to our consumers that prefer a different language. I mean, that's abundantly clear.
I think what you had touched on is, hey, it's good for business and I think that, for many executives, fair lending falls within that Cost Center compliance bubble. And it doesn't have to be that way.
Fair lending initiatives, LLP initiatives, can be a great way to get into a market that you have not set foot in before and that maybe some other lenders haven't taken the plunge And yet, it's a great brownie point when I think with your regulators.
And on those exams, I know that lot of the concerns with advertising in other languages comes primarily from the concept of, of in-depth bait and switch. I advertize in one language within my documents, or are in English. What if there is some liability that comes there? and the CFPB did take time to address some of those concerns, not only with the concept of bait and switch, but also some of the technology, drawbacks or limitations that exist today, You know, sometimes languages based on inflection. How do you possibly get that into a written word document? And I think it's also important to note that we as compliance, people aren't necessarily going to be linguists, right? We're not meant to be experts in that particular field, but there are mortgage specific providers out there like documents.
It goes so far as to provide written documents, video, translations as well, that can be leveraged on, on the mortgage level.
And, and to go so far as to say, you know, we're transparent on social media.
I want to allow my loan officer to advertize in Korea, and he's got a great book of business in Korean but we're going to help them, craft disclosures and those social media posts that outline how far we go in the process with Breanna when English might come up, and even the GSEs has put out their library of documents. It's not every document, but it's a lot.
And you can utilize those and help leverage them, you know, as with everything new, right? Proceed with caution, but also, embrace new opportunity.
And just make sure you call, phone a friend, call someone for help at all. You're no outside counsel, Call your technology provider. Hey, do.
Do you guys support character languages?
If I wanted to provide you a bunch of cuts of documents, they may not, and that's OK, but do that due diligence. I will say character languages from a technology standpoint are extremely difficult.
Full disclosure. So ... I'm not saying I don't know what any of them can do just.
But yeah, definitely utilize the breweries. Touch her outside counsel, touch your vendors, find out what kinds of like the video translation thing. can you put those on your website? Do all of our diligence Proceed with caution, but embrace the opportunity as long as you're going in eyes wide open, and trying to do things well.
Don't just rush in, either.
That's right. Proceed a little bit with caution, but that doesn't mean don't proceed at all. And I know we're at time a little bit over time.
I know it flew by. We knew we wouldn't be able to cover all the topics we wanted to today. We wanted to take a moment to thank everybody for tuning in. If you had some follow-up questions, and you didn't feel like you, you got an answer today, or you wanted to ask some additional for additional insights, you can reach out to us directly.
And after today's webinar, it's also recorded, so it'll be available to be shared with friends and family if need be.
And that's probably going to conclude our webinar today. Thanks again, so much for joining us. And if you're interested in learning more about how you could bring efficiencies to your institution through technology, feel free to reach out to our teams about setting up a demo.
Slowly, we'd love to set those up course. All right, everybody, have a great rest of your, Wednesday, and we'll talk again real soon, I'm sure.
Thanks, Melissa.
Thanks, Amanda.