Mama Mia! Millie Freel-Mackin Retires from the New York State Banking DepartmentMichael Simonbanking, regulatory, MFM Consultants Inc. On Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2001, Director of Mortgage Banking Examinations Millie Freel-Mackin resigned from her post at the New York State Banking Department to venture into the world of regulatory consulting. She leaves the Department, after more than 25 years of service and commitment, with some very large shoes to fill, both behind and in front of her. Ms. Freel-Mackin first began employment with Department in April of 1977, after working as an assistant to the treasurer of an S&L bank, where she was responsible for handling the financial reviews and preparing the statements. Millie was so organized, precise and knowledgeable with the books, that when the Banking Department came in to conduct their exam, the examiners suggested that she join them. She took the test, passed, and made the leap from the private sector to the polical realm for a healthy $4,000 raise. Ms. Freel-Mackin initially signed on as, in her own words, "a perennial office temp," bouncing from position to position, and helping out wherever the Department requested. However, in 1980, the Department decided to rewrite Article 12-D, and sought out some internal help--this particular rewrite was to bring the Mortgage Broker and the Mortgage Banker communities under the Banking Department's authority. The first deputy superintendent of banks came through looking for volunteers willing to supervise the new broker/banker division, and Millie stepped up. "I felt that I knew all about mortgages, since I had experience at an S&L bank. Not being a man, I was never told to not volunteer for anything, so I took the position. [The Deputy] felt that the industry was small enough, so he gave me the job. Needless to say, I was in for a surprise. I may have known how to write a mortgage, but I had no idea about mortgage banking." Thankfully, Millie was humble enough to apply her desire for knowledge and advancement, and took the steps necessary to learn the inner-workings of the industry. She called every Mortgage Broker and Banker under her control (at the time there were only 16 brokers and bankers around the state, now there are more than 2,250), and asked them to teach her about their business. "In order to be a good regulator, you have to know what you are regulating. It is fine to know the laws, it is fine to know the regulations, but you need to know who your regulating entities are, and how they operate in order to be really successful. And that was what I wanted to do." She recalls her first engagement with much fondness: "I remember coming home and telling my husband how high I was on mortgage banking. I loved the industry and I felt that [bankers and brokers] were going to help people. I believed they were competent, honest professionals who knew their market, and I wanted to be a part of it. It was in my blood." Consequently, Millie continued to work closely with Mortgage Brokers and Bankers over the next five years: She was influential in writing the first Mortgage Banking report; she worked in the field and administered exams; she assisted with educational classes and training programs; and, for a while, she even filled in as a temporary bank examiner. In 1986, when the Department decided to rewrite the regulation, Part 38, they called Ms. Freel-Mackin away from her hands-on industry position, due to her overwhelming knowledge and experience. She was the obvious choice for the job, but she begrudgingly gave up her assignment. "I came back kicking and screaming. I loved the industry and wanted to augment my career in the Banking Department--there was no chance for advancement on the regulatory/compliance side." Until Dec. 19, Ms. Freel-Mackin had stayed on the regulations side of the Department, and was subsequently awarded the unique distinction of director of Mortgage Banking Examinations for her many years of service and dedication, since the then-established promotion system did not allow for any further advancement. Hence, her position will be retired along with her. Now Millie plans to take her years of regulatory knowledge and experience with her to MFM Consultants Inc., her new consulting firm. "I have great knowledge of the industry and its regulation. I have a good rapport, and I know that there are many firms out there that can benefit from my many years of experience. It is just the very next thing for me to do. I will be doing what I have done for years, except I will be doing it on the other side." She plans to build her new company on the integrity of the regulation and education that she loves and respects. She plans to incorporate every tool available to her, and hopes to eventually branch MFM Consultants Inc. into a quality control department. "I have never been one to sit in the background. I want to work with both lenders and regulators to make sure the industry is dealt with fairly." But first and foremost, she wants to stay connected with the Mortgage Brokers and Bankers. "I think it is because of my fairness within the industry that I have made so many industry friends. Now that I am stepping from the regulator's side into the industry, I feel that both sides are with me in this move. I believe that the people who I am leaving behind in the Department will be able to carry that fairness with them over the years, and I am certain that the industry will benefit from my expertise." When Ms. Freel-Mackin leaves the Department, her official role as a regulator will terminate, though she plans to continue dedicating her time to its development. While working under the Department, she had helped to implement the Department's training program and served as Training Committee Chair of the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR). She intends to stay in the foreground, and is applying to AARMR as an auxiliary member, and plans to apply for a position on AARMR's Advisory Committee. "If a regulator needs to constantly update themselves on their laws, and is in constant training to keep apprised of regulations, I think that the industry also needs to be constantly updating. I am in favor of both education and continuing education requirements, because what was true yesterday may not necessarily be true tomorrow. An educated Mortgage Broker will be less apt to be a regulatory problem. If I did not believe that, I would have just retired and rode into the sunset." From her new post, Ms. Freel-Mackin wants to explore every nook and cranny of her new profession, from legislative affairs to state associations. "I plan to be involved in the industry, its groups and the causes that are affecting it. I want to help the industry's voice be heard. The industry is constantly growing, and I plan on joining every organization that I am able to." Her goals for MFM Consultants Inc. are similar to those of her regulatory years. "I feel the New York State Banking Department is a forerunner for regulators and Mortgage Brokers and Bankers across the county, and I want people to be able to look to New York on both the industry side and the regulatory side as a leader. I hope to be instrumental in that." Ms. Freel-Mackin has grown with the industry around her, and looks to the future with much anticipation. "The industry has grown and is still growing. Mama [a Department nickname she acquired because of her motherly nature] has moved past the sixteen brokers and bankers I began with." I hope that the people I will be servicing as I go on to my new life will benefit from what I have to give them. I do not want to limit my firm--I want to be there for [Mortgage Brokers and Bankers] the way they have always been there for me." I often think of the deputy that hired me to my first industry post. I wonder what he would think of Mama today."