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Last week was busy for the financial technology industry (Fintechs) and non-bank regulators.

New York joined the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) in filing a lawsuit against the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), and announced plans to adopt a uniform licensing system for Fintechs. CSBS issued its support of the lawsuit, announced Vision 2020 for Fintechs, and invited industry to participate in developing the uniform licensing system (the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System, or NMLS) chosen by most state regulatory agencies as the universal platform for licensing and supervising the Fintech business sector.

Learn more about Vision 2020 and NMLS 2.0 in Mayer Brown’s Legal Update.

The NMLS Money Services Businesses (MSB) Call Report, described by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS) as “a new tool within the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) that will streamline MSB reporting, improve compliance by the industry, and create the only comprehensive database of nationwide MSB transaction activity,” is now live in the NMLS, and the initial report is due May 15, 2017.

Since state regulators decided to transition the licensing of money services businesses on to the NMLS, they have been developing a more uniform report, which standardizes a number of definitions and the categorization of transactions, by which MSBs could report on their money service-related activities through the NMLS. Further, with the development and use of a more standardized MSB report, the need for MSBs to have additional tracking and reporting systems that can slice and dice transactions into each state’s unique buckets is reduced or eliminated.

Consequently, the new MSB Call Report was adopted by CSBS and released in NMLS on April 1, 2017. As a former Assistant Commissioner with the State of Maryland, I served on both the MSB Call Report Working Group and the NMLS Policy Committee (NMLSPC). The NMLSPC was responsible for recommending the approval of the Report, which was envisioned to operate along the lines of the Mortgage Call Report required of mortgage finance licenses, to CSBS. Continue Reading Money Services Businesses Call Report Q1 Submission Deadline Quickly Approaching

The 2017 Maryland legislative session ended at midnight last Monday, April 10. Here is a look at legislation affecting financial services businesses that the Governor is expected to sign into law.

HB0182 – Commissioner of Financial Regulation and State Collection Agency Licensing Board – Licensees – Revisions

HB0182, or as we prefer, the “2017 NMLS Transition Bill,” is intended to transition Maryland’s Check Casher, Collection Agency, Consumer Lender, Credit Service Business, Debt Management Company, Installment Lender, and Sales Finance licenses to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (the “NMLS”) effective July 1, 2017.

NMLS was established originally to provide a platform for mortgage licensing. More recently, however, NMLS has been expanded to accommodate other categories of licenses. Pursuant to prior state legislation, the Commissioner transitioned all mortgage lender (which includes mortgage brokers and mortgage servicers) and mortgage loan originator licenses to NMLS in 2009-2010 and money transmitter licenses in 2012. Similar to prior transition legislation, the 2017 NMLS Transition Bill is massive and includes: (i) new and amended definitions (including “branch location” and “control person”), (ii) revisions to the term of the license, (iii) with respect to any information and disclosures provided to NMLS, provisions that continue to apply any privilege arising under federal or state law to that information, (iv) authority to share  information with certain officials without the loss of privilege or confidentiality protections provided by federal or certain State laws, and (v) authority to adopt regulations to facilitate the transition to NMLS and more.

No Fee Increase

NMLS was created by Conference of State Bank Supervisors (“CSBS”) and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators and began operations in January 2008. It is owned and operated by the State Regulatory Registry L.L.C., a wholly-owned subsidiary of CSBS. Significantly, the cost to register with NMLS annually is $100 and $20 for each additional branch license/registration. The Commissioner advised that NMLS has agreed to waive the annual fees for Maryland licensees transitioning to the system this fiscal year (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018). Although NMLS will resume charging its annual fee for use of the system during the next fiscal year, in an effort to reduce the cost of regulation, the Commissioner proposed and the final bill includes the NMLS processing fee as part of the licensing fee without increasing the current license fee.

No State Criminal Background Check 

Applicants for Maryland mortgage lender, check casher, debt management service, and money transmitter licenses and certain other persons are required to submit fingerprints for a national and State criminal history records check (the “CHRC”) as part of the licensing process. Presently, if an individual required to submit fingerprints for a CHRC is within the Maryland borders, the individual can electronically submit fingerprints for the CHRC, but the process is particularly burdensome for those individuals or control persons who are out-of-state. Individuals who are out-of state cannot use the state’s electronic fingerprint submission process without physically entering the state and must submit fingerprints for processing on paper cards through the mail.

According to the bill’s fiscal and policy notes, the Commissioner advised that the state criminal history records check requirement is time-consuming and does not provide a significant benefit. Therefore, HB0182 not only effectively eliminates the state background check requirement at this time, but allows for the use of the NMLS process for the submission of the CHRC.

The bill would have an effective date of July 1, 2017, but stay tuned for notices from the Commissioner to confirm the precise submission dates for new applications, the transition period for current licensees, and transition instructions – specifically as it relates to licenses that are approaching renewal periods. Continue Reading Maryland Legislative Session Adjourned

With all eyes on Washington, DC, and the press abuzz with each movement and action of the newly sworn-in President Trump, Maryland quietly published in the January 20, 2017 issue of the Maryland Register a highly-anticipated request for comment and proposed revisions to its regulations governing a wide range of mortgage finance licensing and practice requirements. Specifically, Maryland seeks to amend the Mortgage Lender, Mortgage Loan Originator (“MLO”), Recordation of Security Instruments for Residential Real Property and Foreclosure Procedures for Residential Real Property regulations. Despite the quiet publication of the proposed regulations, this proposal is actually many months in the making. Over the past two years, Maryland has been communicating both internally and with industry stakeholders to bring much-needed revisions to the regulations. As such, the published proposal addresses the following changes:

  • Addition and clarification of certain definitions, including “initial application,” “mortgage servicing right,” and “transfer of servicing rights”
  • Addition of requirements related to mortgage servicing transfers, which directly affects certain persons who hold mortgage servicing rights
  • Addition of provisions related to electronic records, provision of records to the Commissioner, and loss of records
  • Establishment of data protection standards
  • Allowances to substitute compliance with certain federal laws and regulations for compliance with certain Maryland laws and regulations
  • Specification of the process for obtaining approval of a trade name
  • Alignment of the record-keeping requirements with the statutorily-mandated examination cycle
  • Clarification of the Commissioner’s requirements related to the delivery and receipt of mortgage disclosures
  • Clarification of the Commissioner’s requirements related to the supervision of MLOs
  • Clarification of  the requirement to make certain reports to the Commissioner
  • Clarification of the MLO license application approval and denial process
  • Clarification of the MLO prelicening and continuing education requirements
  • Permission for MLOs to conduct mortgage lending business at certain limited locations that are different from the location appearing on the employer’s license(s)
  • Permission to conduct loan origination activities under an expired license in a certain limited situation
  • Permission for secured party to include the NMLS unique identifier on a security instrument and a notice of intent to foreclose

The Commissioner has not scheduled a public hearing on the proposed regulations, but will accept comments through March 6, 2017.  Interested persons may send comments to Jedd Bellman, Assistant Commissioner, Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation, 500 N Calvert Street, Room 402, Baltimore, Maryland 21202; or call 410-230-6390, email jedd.bellman@maryland.gov, or fax 410-333-0475.

We will be reviewing these proposals in greater detail, so should you need assistance submitting comments or have any questions about the Maryland proposals or licensing questions generally, please let us know, as we can help.

It’s fall, Halloween is over, and the scary clowns (other than those vying for political office) will recede into the forests next to small communities.  Now it’s time to look forward.  Many, we hear tell, cannot do so with joy as they plan for Thanksgiving and the year-end holidays.  Rather, there is a sense of dread and foreboding as mortgage companies, money transmitters, and collection agencies, among others, begin the annual license renewal process through the NMLS.  Before too many deficiencies start haunting your NMLS Account Records, the Consumer Financial Services practice group at Mayer Brown wishes to offer you some cheer to keep your spirits up and 12 terrific tips (indeed, huuuuuge ideas) to help you slog through renewals and minimize deficiencies. Continue Reading A Dozen Tips for Less Stress During the License Renewal Season*

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has offered its new mortgage servicing rule for public inspection today, meaning it is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on October 19, 2016.  The CFPB informally released the rule on its website in August.

The effective date of the rule is tied to its publication date, so the bulk of its requirements (with some exceptions) will take effect in 12 months, on October 19, 2017.

To learn more about the rule, read our Mayer Brown white paper.

If you think the shadow of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) is hiding behind a tree, you may well be right. On July 7th, the CFPB posted a Request for Information (“RFI”) on the federal government contracts website, called FedBizOpps.gov, in which it “pre-solicited” vendor capabilities to develop an automated technology solution for nonbank financial institutions to register with the CFPB.  It noted that such a potential registration system “might also be used to collect financial and operational data as well as organizational structure data.”  In other words, in the name of supervision, the CFPB might condition your future ability to offer goods and services on your advance registration and satisfaction of ongoing reporting requirements. Continue Reading Papers Please: CFPB Advances Plans to Register Nonbank Financial Services Providers

Tomorrow, September 13, 2016, Mayer Brown partner Jeff Taft will be speaking at the inaugural Marketplace Lending Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.  Jeff will be on a panel covering “Hot Legal Topics in Marketplace Lending.”

David BeamKeisha Whitehall-Wolfe, and Eric Mitzenmacher also will be attending the conference.

 

On September 12, 2016, the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (“NMLS” or “the System”) will begin receiving and tracking Electronic Surety Bonds (“ESB”). In an unprecedented departure from the traditional uploading of a copy of a surety bond document to the applicant’s or licensee’s record followed by the delivery of the paper bond to the state, regulators in Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, Texas, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin have publicly announced the adoption of ESB in 2016 for several license types.  This is the first group of states to “bond on line,” but all states are expected to have a common bond process through the NMLS.

Many states require licensed financial services businesses to get a surety bond so that state regulators or consumers may file claims against the bond to cover fines or penalties assessed, or provide restitution to consumers if the licensee fails to comply with licensing or regulatory requirements.  The NMLS reports that 177 license authorities currently managed on the system require a licensed company to maintain a surety bond as a condition of licensure.  States have even imposed bond requirements on individual mortgage loan originators (“MLOs”), in accordance with the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act of 2008 (the “SAFE Act”), but allow for MLOs to be covered under a company bond.

NMLS was created to serve as a comprehensive system of record for licensing information. However, as it relates to surety bonds, the System’s current functionality is antiquated, limited, and does not allow for the tracking of bond requirements, or the maintenance of bond information validated by authorized surety companies and/or bond producers. State regulators have also cited the tracking of surety bond compliance as a reason for processing delays in license applications, amendment filings, and renewal approvals. For those reasons, the State Regulatory Registry LLC, which administers the NMLS, believed a fully electronic surety bond process would provide efficiencies for both industry and regulators.

The first phase of this ESB process entailed the creation of an account by each participating surety company and association with those accounts by surety bond producers. The second phase, which will begin September 2016, entails implementation of bond issuance, tracking, and maintenance.

If you have not already done so, and especially if you are licensed or intend to become licensed in one of the eight states listed above that will be implementing this new functionality in September, you should ensure that your surety bond company has created an account in the system and be aware of the new application and conversion deadlines that are listed on the NMLS ESB Adoption Map and Table.

NMLS is offering a complimentary training webinar on the upcoming ESB enhancements. The training is expected to provide an overview of the ESB enhancements, including the bond creation and management process, a demonstration of the new functionality, the resources available on the NMLS Resource Center, and a live question-and-answer opportunity.  Mayer Brown’s Regulatory Compliance Analysts have completed the training, and are available to assist our clients in this transition.

Friday, August 26, 2016

1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET.

Click here to log in to the NMLS Learning Management System (“LMS”) and enroll in the webinar. NMLS intends to make a recording available within five business days of the webinar.

If you do not have an LMS account, click here for instructions on how to register.

*Mr. Prost is not admitted to practice law in the District of Columbia.

Last week the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) hosted its 27th annual regulatory conference in Tampa, Florida. Over 300 attendees gathered to exchange information relating to the licensing, supervision, and regulation of the residential mortgage industry.  Here are some of the highlights from the conference:

NMLS 2.0 — What’s on Your Wish List?

By far the hottest topic was “NMLS 2.0,” an effort to modernize the existing Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) introduced in 2008.  The NMLS, which was built for mortgage lending licenses, also applies to other types of consumer lenders.  Modernization entails rebuilding the system, not just selected upgrades, to meet anticipated future needs for usability, enhanced functionality, and expansion for use by collection agencies, money transmitters, and installment lenders licensed through NMLS. Initial modernization discussions addressed account management, entity affiliation and application submission, and maintenance. While the overhaul is expected to be complete in 2018, that may be overly optimistic.

Meanwhile, the State Regulatory Registry LLC (SRR), which formally administers the NMLS, has expressed its commitment to consider input from both regulator and industry users of the system as the modernization development continues. If you have been thinking that a single sign-on to assist in the management of multiple accounts, a customizable user role template to assist in the management of your organization users, a more streamlined sponsorship process, or an employment history that is linked to sponsorship for an automated update of your record is on your list of must haves, let us know – we are active participants in the NMLS industry development working group (IDWG), and we frequently submit comments to SRR regarding proposed functional changes to the NMLS.

Examination Findings

Both the state and the federal regulators at the AARMR conference discussed frequent findings in their examinations. Across the country, regulators saw (i) failures in timely filing of advance change notices, (ii) unapproved records storage locations, (iii) property owners who were locked out of their homes even when actively working with the servicer, and (iv) deficiencies in compliance systems. In addition, regulators are starting to look not only at the licensee’s compliance with the individual rules and regulations, but at its ability to test and audit technology-based processes, quickly identify issues, and implement a resolution process.

Vendor Management

Regulators also expressed concerns about licensees’ assessment of risks presented by reliance on vendors.  Many state regulators are requiring more oversight (including auditing) of certain vendors by the licensee.  Regulators warned that a licensee could be penalized for the inappropriate actions of certain vendors, even if the vendor is regulated and examined by another agency.

States Regulators Consider CFPB Rules

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Deputy Assistant Director Brown discussed the final mortgage servicing rules under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (Regulations X) and Truth in Lending Act (Regulation Z).  That rule addresses loss mitigation, early intervention, and periodic statements.  It also addresses successors in interest, debtors in bankruptcy, and borrowers who send a cease communication request under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Simultaneously, the CFPB issued an interpretive rule to clarify the interaction of the FDCPA and certain mortgage servicing rules in Regulations X and Z.  The interpretive rule provides safe harbors from liability for servicers : (1) communicating about the loan with confirmed successors in interest; (2) providing the written early intervention notice required by Regulation X to a borrower who has invoked the cease communication right; and (3) responding to a borrow-initiated communication concerning loss mitigation after the borrower has invoked a cease communication right.

Given what we hear from state regulators, do not be surprised if many of the CFPB’s rules find their way into state law.

(Mayer Brown’s Consumer Financial Services Review addressed the CFPB’s final mortgage servicing rules and its FDCPA interpretation here.)

Account Executive Licensing?

The NMLS Ombudsman session included a lively discussion of whether individual account executives of wholesale mortgage lenders must be licensed as mortgage loan originators. After a detailed description of the activities performed by these account executives, a few state regulators recommended licensing, but affirmed that it was not required. Several state regulators declined to respond categorically, but warned that an individual could “step over the line” and be considered a mortgage loan originator if he or she discusses loan terms with the consumer.

Generally, states have adopted the SAFE Act definition of a “mortgage loan originator,” and unless exempt, an individual is required to be licensed if he or she takes a residential mortgage loan application and offers and negotiates the terms of a residential mortgage loan for compensation or gain. As account executives or similar persons perform their duties, they should be aware of whether they are performing those mortgage loan originator activities, regardless of their current professional title.

Keisha Whitehall Wolf served as the Acting Deputy Commissioner for the Maryland Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation before joining Mayer Brown.