Prepared Remarks of MBA President and CEO Bob Broeksmit, CMB, at the Spring Conference & Expo 2021: Independent Mortgage Banks, Secondary Markets, Servicing and Technology

CONTACT
Rob Van Raaphorst
rvanraaphorst@mba.org
(202) 557-2799

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 20, 2021) - Bob Broeksmit, CMB, MBA President and CEO, delivered the following remarks here today at MBA's Spring Conference & Expo 2021: Independent Mortgage Banks, Secondary Markets, Servicing and Technology.

On behalf of the MBA team, welcome to our Spring Conference and Expo.  

This event is new for us, but in many ways, it's tried-and-true. We've combined four of our conferences under one roof - technology, servicing, secondary, and IMBs. No matter which part of the industry you're in, I'm confident you'll find this virtual conference convenient and informative.  

Now, if you're like me, you're probably tired of virtual events. There's no hobnobbing, no happy hours, no deal-making in the hallways. While the content is still world-class, it's just not the same as an in-person conference.  

Well, don't worry. I have some good news.  

I'm pleased to announce that we are planning to hold MBA's Annual Convention in October... in-person. We'll meet in San Diego, California, from October 17th to the 20th. You can register online as soon as you'd like. I look forward to seeing you in sunny San Diego six months from now.  

By the time October arrives, we hope the coronavirus pandemic will be in the rearview mirror. But the achievements of the past year-plus will still be top of mind.  

Over the past 12 months, your companies have gone to great lengths to serve your customers and protect your communities. Last year alone, you produced more than $3.8 trillion in new originations, the highest total ever. Home purchases hit a 14-year high, as well. Low interest rates led to a more than 100% surge in refis, and families tapped into some of the record $6 trillion in home equity they've built up. On top of it all, you've gone above and beyond to help struggling families keep their homes and maintain stability.  

Let me be clear: Your round-the-clock work has helped millions of Americans when they needed it most. The MBA has never been more proud to represent you, nor have we ever delivered more for you in such short order. Thank you for all you've done and all you're doing still.  

This year promises to be just as busy, if not more so. Once again, economic conditions will be a major factor. But the industry is also facing a very different landscape in Washington, D.C.  

I'll be blunt. This year has the potential to be difficult. We're likely looking at a "snap-back" to the policy goals and regulatory style of 2009 to 2016. On the one hand, the narrow majorities in Congress mean that most new legislation is likely to be middle-of-the-road. On the other hand, the White House and federal agencies are likely to take a more aggressive approach. We are likely looking at less guidance and more enforcement.  

I've spoken with many of you about this new reality. I know you're concerned and uncertain. But my message to you and the entire industry is one of reassurance: We've got your back.  

The Mortgage Bankers Association was made for this moment. We are uniquely positioned to protect your companies and ensure your continued ability to serve the American people. We proved it in the wake of the Great Recession just over a decade ago. We're proving it again right now.   The key to our success is our bipartisan approach. We've spent years building strong relationships with leaders on both sides of the aisle. We are always part of the conversation, whenever and wherever it happens.  

Right now, our message to policymakers is three-fold.  

First, we're telling them how much you matter and the difference you make in people's lives.  

Second, we tell them you need policies that enable you to empower families and improve communities. We show policymakers what's working, what's not, what policies are needed, and what proposals would do more harm than good. We always urge regulation and legislation that is clear, easy to implement, and beneficial to your companies and the millions of Americans you serve.  

Our third message is perhaps the most important right now. We're telling policymakers this isn't 2009.  

The industry is in a much better place, and so are your customers. The reforms put in place in the wake of the last crisis have been well implemented. While improvements can always be made, there's no need for dramatic change. The good news is that, so far, policymakers tend to agree. They know our industry isn't the problem, but rather, part of the solution.  

Leaders on both the left and right have been receptive to these messages. As a result, we've already steered policy in a sensible direction.  

Consider what we accomplished in the wake of the election.  

In the waning days of the last administration, there was little clarity on what would happen to the GSEs. The situation changed rapidly after November 3rd.  

There was a very real threat the GSEs would see a rushed release from conservatorship. That would have been damaging, causing disruption in the markets and hurting consumers, so MBA pushed back, successfully.  

But we didn't only prevent bad outcomes. We also secured good progress. In January, FHFA and Treasury updated Fannie and Freddie's PSPA agreement. Thanks to our efforts, the new agreement strengthened the level playing field for lenders of all charter types and volumes. We have never been closer to making that guarantee a permanent reform reality.  

That said, we still have work to do. The recent move to limit purchases for second homes and investment properties is concerning. But rest assured, MBA is making your voice heard. In the last 6 weeks, I have spoken to key officials at both GSEs, FHFA, and Treasury. My message to them is clear: There's a better way to do this.  

They don't have to disrupt your business and limit consumer choice. I believe this message has been received. And I'm hopeful we will soon have positive news.  

The good news is that we already have a positive working relationship with the Biden administration. 

We laid the groundwork well before the inauguration. We worked with the transition teams for Treasury, HUD, the VA, FHFA, the CFPB, and other key agencies.

MBA has doubled down on outreach since January. I have personally had high-level meetings with key White House officials and departments, including the Domestic Policy Council and the National Economic Council, the CFPB, and Treasury. More face-to-face meetings are in the works.  

We also continue to strengthen our relationships in Congress. We've worked with current Democratic and Republican leaders going back years. This puts us in a strong position to shape key legislation, which we're already doing.  

The American Rescue Plan is the proof. Last month, we worked with Congress and the White House to include $10 billion for mortgage assistance in the final bill. It's the first time Congress has included mortgage assistance in pandemic relief. It wouldn't have happened without MBA's hard work.  

In the wake of that victory, we're now working to make sure that money helps the people who need it most. Specifically, we're working with members and state agencies to establish dedicated funds that offer additional solutions as customers exit forbearance. MBA already helped secure a maximum forbearance window of 18 months. As that window closes, we want families to have the support and flexibility they need to stay in their homes and succeed long-term.  

Our work on forbearance is ongoing and deep. Last year, we launched a nationwide ad campaign to help Americans understand their options. It has made 26 million impressions and counting. Additionally, the MBA partnered with the CFPB to make the campaign such a great success. Such collaboration with a key agency is a positive sign.  

That said, the CFPB is perhaps the biggest question mark over the next few years. The bureau will closely monitor how our members handle forbearance exits. We also expect it to increase emphasis on fair lending. The MBA has made clear to the new leadership at the Bureau that our members are just as focused on these important issues.

The CFPB may reverse some recent policies that we supported. It has already proposed to delay the implementation of the QM Patch. Frankly, I'm disappointed. I know you are, too. The final regulation reflected MBA's input, and would have benefitted your companies and customers. I said as much to the Acting Director when I spoke with him in February.

 

Given this about-face, we are re-activating the coalition that backed reform. Industry, consumer, and civil rights groups supported the final rule, and they want to see it put in place. We have not come this far on the QM Patch only to fall short.  

We're also gearing up to influence the coming debate on infrastructure and taxes.  

As you know, the White House and Congress have indicated that tax changes are in the works. While the details aren't yet clear, MBA is moving fast to provide practical guidance.  

I've personally held multiple meetings with congressional leaders, including senior Democrats on the tax-writing committees and key Democratic moderates in both the House and Senate. At every stage, I've underscored your needs and discussed the tax provisions of most concern to you.  

MBA has also set up a blue-ribbon task force representing every part of the mortgage industry. It's modeled after a similar task force we established in 2017. Then, we helped shape the previous administration's tax cuts for the better. We're confident we will positively affect future legislation, too.  

On the technology front, we're pushing to pass bipartisan federal RON legislation before the year is out. We believe success is achievable. And outside of advocacy, we're transforming MISMO, the "language of lending."  

In December, we hired Seth Appleton as MISMO's new president. He is an industry expert with years of experience at the highest levels of government. MISMO has also rolled out standards for remote online notarizations and fostered the widespread deployment of taxpayer consent language for the sharing of tax data.  

To support these and other efforts, we have established a new funding source for MISMO. The Innovation Investment Fee is a 75-cent charge for every new loan origination. This gives MISMO the capacity to make progress on many issues simultaneously, benefitting every part of the industry. The digital future is getting closer by the day.  

I've covered a lot of ground. But one thread connects everything I've mentioned, and that's you. Everything we're doing is designed to strengthen your companies and super-charge the good you do for consumers, communities, and the country.  

Whatever the issue, your engagement makes the difference. One of the brightest parts of the past 12 months was how often you connected with the MBA team. Your communication helps us focus on your biggest priorities and make the biggest difference.  

A prime example is the recent unanimous decision by the Supreme Court to narrow the definition of an "autodialer" under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. This huge win for the servicing industry is the culmination of more than six years of MBA advocacy, including multiple amicus briefs, petitions to the FCC, and congressional lobbying. We successfully advocated your position because you made your position clear, early and often. You gave us our marching orders, and we marched to victory.

I hope you continue to talk to us, especially in this time of change and uncertainty. Tell us what's on your mind. It'll be front of mind for us, too. Tell us what barriers you face. We'll do everything to break them down. The more we hear from you, the better we fight for you.

The past year proves it. And the year ahead will prove it again. The MBA was made for this moment, and as we look to the future, I promise you this: The Mortgage Bankers Association will deliver for you, like we always do.  

Thank you for joining us. I hope to hear from you soon. And I hope to see you in person this October, in San Diego.