NRMLA Sees Success Through Increased Awareness
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NRMLA Sees Success Through Increased Awareness

August 21, 2002

With Small Town Flair, NAMB Caps A Record YearMichael SimonNAMB, Convention, Showcase, Cleveland
Maybe it was the popcorn and ice cream between sessions. Or
maybe it was comedian Richard Jeni--the entertainment for Tuesday
night's Gala Dinner and Showcase, who kept the audience in stitches
for 45 minutes straight. Perhaps it had something to do with the
Elvis Presley impersonators walking around the exhibit hall, or the
National Association of Mortgage Brokers Board of Directors'
rendition of YMCA, with the revised lyrics, "We'll be together in
O-H-I-O." Perchance, it was close proximity to the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame, or the Cleveland Browns Stadium in the distance, or
the history and culture that permeated the halls of the convention
center. Or maybe it was just NAMB Secretary Jim Nabors riding a
scooter and sporting an afro.
Whichever the case, the NAMB 2002 Annual Convention and Showcase
in Cleveland, following suit with such scintillating cities as New
Orleans and Honolulu, was more than a mere sleeper of a success--it
raised the bar for both past and future conventions and provided
the host state of next year's event, the Maryland Association of
Mortgage Brokers, with a very tough act to follow.
The convention began in traditional fashion, with the NAMB
Political Action Committee Golf Tournament. While a usual favorite
among rookie and veteran conference-goers alike, the Cleveland
skies did little to add to the illustrious tree-lined fairways and
water traps of the Bob-O-Link Golf Course in North Canton. However,
the heavy rain and winds couldn't keep the golfing mortgage
industry down, as nearly 100 golfers came out in their warmest,
most waterproof attire to brave the elements and sink a few putts.
Back at the Cleveland Convention Center, exhibitors were beginning
to transform their corrugated cardboard boxes of raw materials into
fully-functional exhibits, some more than 25 feet above the floor
of the convention center. Finally, after a three-hour NAMB Delegate
Council meeting, all attendees sauntered over to the Rock and Roll
Hall of Fame, where the NAMB Convention Committee, under the
watchful eye of Chair Jim Nabors, properly introduced their 2002
event, holding true to its slogan--NAMB Rocks! With four devoted
floors of food, fun and entertainment, including the live sound of
Horizon, a Detroit-based Motown group, visitors were left wondering
how, with three full days ahead, the association was going to top
such a raucous Opening Reception.
The next morning, all questions were immediately answered, and
any concerns about living up to expectations were consequently
squashed. The first of two General Sessions, typically a
speaker-laden humdrum of coffee and croissants, brought a
multimedia extravaganza to the Cleveland Convention Center's Music
Hall, complete with decade-specific music, impersonators and
sentiment, and a sing-along of "Rock Around the Clock," instigated
by Freddie Mac Chair and CEO Leland C. Brendsel, showing just how
much he valued the broker's role. However, while his speech may
have begun on a light note, it ended with a serious pledge of
allegiance to the broker community--Freddie Mac is committed to
helping families purchase homes that they can afford to
keep.
Following Mr. Brendsel's speech, William A. Newman, president of
NAMB Double Platinum Industry Partner InterFirst Wholesale Mortgage
Lending, stepped to the podium and outlined his company's own
formula for success--Process, Partnership, Profitability and
Passion. Following Leland's cue, Mr. Newman reinforced his
dedication to the broker community with the statement, "Our ability
to succeed is predicated upon your ability to succeed," drawing one
of the session's many rounds of applause.
Thirdly, Joseph Falk delivered his final address as NAMB
2001-2002 President. After some cracks, side comments and a short
skit about his own tendency toward lengthy dissertations, he got
down to business, namely with the NAMB Model State Statute
Initiative, a proposal to establish mandatory licensing and
pre-licensing education requirements and background checks for all
mortgage originators. In his emotionally-charged speech, Mr. Falk
celebrated the members who have made NAMB so successful over the
past year--from Broker of the Year Award nominees Leo Davenport,
J.J. Sims and Melissa Walker, to the many volunteers who keep the
association running so smoothly, particularly Treasurer Bob
Armbruster, 2002-2003 President Armand Cosenza Jr., Membership
Committee Chair Dorothy Desmond, Convention Committee Co-Chairs Jim
Nabors and J.T. Marcell, and Legislative Committee Chair J.J. Sims,
who each contributed a memorable facet to NAMB's shining
accomplishments. As he closed his speech to a well-deserved
standing ovation, he said, "Now I become the most important part of
NAMB: A member," perfectly summing up the attitude and spirit of
the room.
The morning's final speaker, former New York Sen. Alfonse
D'Amato, pushed the session's vivacity one step further by
declaring, as Chair of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and
Urban Affairs, "Anything I can do, I am willing to undertake on
your behalf." For the most part, his speech stayed on the
regulatory side of the industry, as he cited buzz-phrases like,
"white collar criminals should be sent to jail," and, "honest
Mortgage Brokers should be able to do their jobs without being
lumped in with the crumbs," thus reinforcing his commitment to the
industry.
Ending at noon, the General Session led smoothly into lunch,
when NAMB offered their Industry Partners an opportunity to promote
their business over a casual meal and conversation, as five
companies--Double Platinum Partner InterFirst, Platinum Partners
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Gold Partners United Guaranty and
Vanguard National Mortgage & Title Inc.--displayed their wares
in a battle over the best food and most interesting speakers.
Meanwhile, down the hall, Myers Internet Inc. held their own,
intimate luncheon gathering, as CEO Warren Myer and Business
Development Manager Dennis DeQuit outlined the advantages of their
company's unique Internet applications.
At 2:00 p.m., attendees settled in for an afternoon of
legislative updates, as NAMB General Counsel Robert Lotstein
brought his briefcase and his wits to the Cleveland Convention
Center. For the first part of his marathon back-to-back federal and
state issues roundup, Mr. Lotstein spoke about several of the
industry's hottest topics, including the U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development's Proposed Rule and several of the country's
predatory lending initiatives. Mr. Lotstein mixed humor and legal
jargon, while fielding questions from around the room, turning an
otherwise blasé topic into a fast-moving, enlightening
discussion.
J.J. Sims provided a logical transition into the state segment
of the afternoon, as he outlined the meeting that Armand Cosenza
Jr., Joseph Falk, NAMB Past President Neill Fendly, A.W. Pickel and
he had with AARP. Each brought statistics to the table, as NAMB
tried to inform them that, "If you don't understand our industry,
you're going to listen to the oddball cases." More meetings are
planned with AARP, but as consumer groups continue to pile up
individual state victories, like the legislation passed in Georgia
and North Carolina, the fight becomes increasingly intense.
Thus, in what was one of the most informative courses offered at
the convention, eight representatives from NAMB's state affiliates
each grabbed 10 minutes of the 90-minute time slot to illustrate
their particular legislative successes and failures. Each had a
story to tell, as the room listened intently to what had or hadn't
worked for their particular legislators:
++Russ Chase, President of the Texas
Association of Mortgage Brokers, discussed the Texas Deceptive
Trade Practices Act in regards to a lawsuit that he is currently
engaged in regarding an alleged yield spread premium violation.
++Bob Armbruster, Industry Partners Committee
Chair of the Georgia Association of Mortgage Brokers, spoke about
the Georgia Fair Lending Act, and the affect it is sure to have on
the entire Georgia mortgage industry.
++Allan Daniels, Past President Licensing Task
Force Chair of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association, spoke
positively about Senate Bill 777, a Michigan ordinance which has
been aptly dubbed "The Bad Actors Bill."
++Robert Shepherd, Immediate Past President of
the Ohio Association of Mortgage Brokers, spoke about Senate Bill
76, Ohio's unprecedented licensing bill, which served as the basis
for NAMB's Model State Statute Initiative.
++Tina McKay and John
Councilman, President and Technology Committee Chair of
the Maryland Association of Mortgage Brokers, respectively,
expressed concerns about some of their state's proposed
legislation, advising that without a PAC, they will soon be sitting
alongside Georgia.
++Gary Broaddus, President of the Colorado
Association of Mortgage Brokers, explained the unfortunate death of
SB 226, the CAMB licensing bill, and the passing of HB 1259, a bill
which, while amended by CAMB, has many anti-broker provisions,
including giving courts the ability to void "unconscionable
loans."
++Van Johnson, Secretary of the Florida
Association of Mortgage Brokers, discussed Florida's
recently-implemented continuing education bill and the Fair Lending
Act, a bill which mirrors the Home Ownership Equity Protection
Act.
++A.W. Pickel, Past President and Founding
Member of the Kansas Association of Mortgage Brokers, talked about
his state's licensing and continuing education requirements, and
declared Kansas a "success story."
At 5:00 p.m., the Cleveland Convention Center closed its doors
to brokers for the remainder of the day, and the three main hotels
in the area--the Marriott, Sheraton and Renaissance--opened theirs,
as hospitality suites sprang up around Cleveland, offering weary
industry representatives an opportunity to relax with some good
friends and music. Of course, there was shop-talk abound, as
exhibitors and attendees bounced from sponsor to sponsor, absorbing
the best hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and sounds that the industry had
to offer, while eagerly awaiting the 10:00 p.m. start of the Annual
NAMB PAC Auction in the Ambassador Ballroom of the Renaissance
Hotel. Brokers could be seen wandering the streets of Cleveland's
business district under the cool night air, discussing dinner
plans, reminiscing about the day's events and discussing which
items they were hoping to win.
Finally, after some technical difficulties, which went unnoticed
due to the extravagant dessert cart, the PAC auction got underway.
Once again, J.J. Sims served as auctioneer, encouraging attendees
to support the legislative grassroots efforts of NAMB. Many of the
items sold for well above their initial asking price, making the
event one of the most successful in NAMB's history, and ensuring
another promising year of legislative sweat and toil. Members bid
and boogied long into the night, both at the auction and in
Cleveland's world-renowned Flats, as only the promise of a bigger
and better General Session the following morning could finally lead
brokers back to their hotel rooms.
On Sunday, as the late-night lenders swaggered toward the
convention center for another full day of events and activities,
NAMB prepared the Music Hall for the second installment of their
two-hour, jam-packed meetings, while Barry Habib injected his
particular brand of caffeine-like motivation into an early
seminar.
Like the previous morning, General Session II had a pleasant mix
of business and burlesque, as Todd Dal Porto, managing director of
Countrywide's Wholesale Lending Division took the stage and kicked
off the event properly, discussing the importance of partnership
and unity, and declaring that NAMB is as strong as it can be. As he
left the podium, he had one piece of light advice for those in the
audience who may have stayed out a bit too late: I don't know
you, you don't know me, we were never here!
Greeting Mr. Dal Porto on his way off the stage was Joseph Falk,
who, sticking to his motto of, "I never met a microphone I didn't
like," introduced the first guest speaker of the morning, Ohio Rep.
Bob Ney, with a lengthy, glowing list of accolades. Rep. Ney lived
up to his billing by outlining his soon-to-be-introduced piece of
pro-consumer, pro-broker legislation, with the ultimate goal of,
"protecting the consumer without taking away their options." As
penned, his legislation includes education, licensing and a level
playing field, along with comprehensive RESPA reform, enhanced
disclosure, and an overall simplification of the mortgage
application process. He vowed to work closely with NAMB, who, in
turn, pledged to return the favor by honoring Rep. Ney with the
Leadership in Government: Our First Line of Defense Award.
After recognizing the Double Platinum Industry Partners, a short
speech by NAMB Executive Vice President Mike Nizankiewicz, a
financial status report by Bob Armbruster and a quick vote,
2002-2003 NAMB President Armand Cosenza Jr. took the podium. After
receiving and accepting the Presidential Oath from Todd Dal Porto,
Mr. Cosenza delivered his inaugural address. In his speech, in
which he painted a bright present and future for NAMB, he set forth
several realistic goals for the coming year, inspiring louder
rounds of applause and longer standing ovations with each statement
uttered:
++We don't need new laws, we need someone to enforce the ones
currently on the books;
++As of today, NAMB stops being reactive and starts being
proactive; and
++I guarantee a bigger, stronger, healthier association [come
next year's convention] in Baltimore.
Then, as if the audience needed an injection of vitality and
mirth, Dr. Harry Friedman approached the podium, after an extensive
introduction by Joseph Falk. Upon hearing his credentials--MBA,
Ph.D., political consultant and author, the crowd began to settle
in for a jargon-heavy dissertation on the economy. However, what
they got was anything but, as Dr. Friedman had the audience rolling
in the aisles and demanding more. He shirked the economic outlook
entirely, and instead focused on the NAMB Board of Directors and
their quirks, the industry and its inconsistencies, and consumer
groups' and their overall lack of knowledge.
As the session closed, NAMB Past President Patricia McGill and
her associates introduced the site of the 2003 NAMB
Convention--Baltimore. Dressed in red and black, they showed a
short montage of the city's highlights and history, and urged all
attendees to register as NAMB shifts from "rock" to water as NAMB
Sails! in 2003.
At 1:30 p.m., after another round of Industry Partner
presentations, the Breakout Sessions began with a flurry of
choices. Broken down into three concurrent tracks and three
afternoon sets, no one could feel left out as broker/owners,
originators and loan officers, and account executives each found
classes catering to their particular niche.
From a class on compliance, taught by Stephanie Shaw of Lotstein
Buckman LLP, to "How to Earn a Broker's Business," featuring NAMB
Board Member George Tribble of Jetstream Mortgage, Sandy Fischer of
Mortgage Discounters and A.W. Pickel of Leader Mortgage Company,
and topics ranging from warehouse lines to call-capture technology,
the gamut seemed to have been spent, as each 45-minute segment
neared its end. However, NAMB was relentlessly bound to keep their
membership informed, and continued to roll out pertinent, valuable
classes, such as "Shedding Light on Credit Scoring," "Contracts and
Agreements for Your Loan Officers," or "Transform Yourself from
Just Another Vendor to a Valuable Resource and Trusted Advisor,"
each taught by veteran instructors. Perhaps James DeGeronimo Jr.
said it best, when he quoted a Native American proverb during his
"Increased Productivity Through Organization" class, "Plant a
thought, harvest an act; plant an act, harvest a habit; plant a
habit, harvest a character; plant a character, harvest a
destiny."
After nearly three hours of straight education, the NAMB 2002
Exhibit Hall finally opened its doors to a wave of anticipation.
With a four-hour time block dubbed the "Exhibitor Extravaganza,"
the association provided food, drink and entertainment, while
offering attendees the opportunity to browse through more than 200
of the industry's top vendors. With maps in hand, visitors perused
the record-setting number of exhibitors in an elaborately laid-out
exhibit hall, complete with food and beverage stations, mobile
ice-cream carts, a full dining area and a bevy of company and
industry-related handouts and raffles, including three brand new
cars--a PT Cruiser, Volkswagen Beetle and Jeep Wrangler, sponsored
by Saxon Mortgage, InterFirst and Countrywide, respectively.
After four hours, many attendees ambled back to their hotels for
another round of hospitality suites, as brokers somehow found the
energy to return to the Flats or take in one of the many shows and
events happening around the town.
As the convention's closing day rolled around, the schedule,
which consisted of a four-hour exhibit hall, three hours of classes
and the much-anticipated Gala Dinner and Showcase, seemed light in
comparison to the previous three days. From 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.,
registered attendees took advantage of a final opportunity to meet
and greet their colleagues, as the exhibit hall wound down, and the
association raffled off its remaining vehicular offerings in a
typical frenzied fashion. Elvis and John Lennon could be seen
walking around and visiting exhibits at a much slower pace than the
prior evening, as signs of fatigue began to set in, also
demonstrated by the lackluster attendance at the afternoon's
breakout sessions. Following the same design, classes were once
again broken into three segments, and offered a variety of
applicable tips for better business and profit margins. Beginning
with Elie Mellul's intense course on branch opportunities, and
ending with a class titled, "Increase Income and Decrease Working
Hours Using Technology," attendees who fought through their
lethargy and stayed at the convention center for an extra few hours
were rewarded with techniques and tips to take back home to their
offices.
Finally, after several hours of rest, relaxation and exhibitor
breakdown, the doors of the Grand Ballroom at the Renaissance Hotel
opened and the Gala Dinner and Showcase began. With a relatively
small time-frame to fit a rather lengthy schedule, Joseph Falk and
Armand Cosenza Jr., the co-masters of ceremonies, didn't waste any
time. The first order of business was the distribution of awards,
in which several of NAMB's most-dedicated members received the
recognition they deserved. Congratulations to the following award
winners and respective nominees in each category:
++President's Award, State--A'kos Kovach,
Oklahoma Association of Mortgage Brokers President
++President's Award, National--Dorothy Desmond,
NAMB Membership Committee Chair
++Eagle Award--Countrywide Home Loans
++Affiliate of the Year--InterFirst
++Volunteer of the Year--Bob Armbruster, NAMB
Treasurer
++Distinguished Industry Service Award--J.C. "Tuck"
Marshall, 1998-1999 NAMB Past President
++State Affiliate of the Year, Small--Oregon Association
of Mortgage Brokers
++State Affiliate of the Year, Large--Florida
Association of Mortgage Brokers
++Broker of the Year--Melissa Walker, Kansas
Association of Mortgage Brokers Immediate Past President
As the recipients accepted their accolades, the true spirit of
NAMB was demonstrated, as each thanked their state association for
their support and passed credit to the membership, without whom
there would not be an honor to bestow.
The major news of the evening, however, was the announcement of
NAMB's 46th state affiliate, Rhode Island, leaving only North and
South Dakota, Maine and Vermont as the remaining obstacles to the
association's coast-to-coast union. The NAMB membership felt
stronger than ever under the new leadership of Armand Cosenza Jr.,
who, in keeping with the playful spirit of the evening, quipped,
"Hey Joe [referring to Joseph Falk], didn't it take you seven
months to land your first state? It took me [looks at his watch] 36
hours!"
After a full three-course meal and an emotional commendation
issued to Jim Nabors for his impeccable convention planning,
comedian Richard Jeni began the evening's festivities with a
45-minute set that kept the aisles and the crowd rolling. From the
moment he stepped onto the stage with, "I have an awful lot of
credentials to be playing the mortgage gig in Cleveland," he
continued to drop hysterical puns both related and unrelated to the
mortgage industry.
Functioning as many of the convention-goers' final hurrah, Jim
Nabors planned one heck of a finale, as Mr. Jeni's impeccable
timing matched that of NAMB's, which may have assembled the most
punctual convention in its history, not to mention the most
memorable. With 15,000 members strongly supporting them, NAMB
seemed poised to take the country by storm, whether by land, "rock"
or sea.

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