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NAMB puts brokers at the head of the packDonald Fader, CRMSLending Integrity Seal of Approval, national standard, member benefit NAMB launches Lending Integrity Seal of Approval initiative It was over two years in the making, and during that time, we have heard updates about it, seen the videos and discussed its implementation. It is the National Association of Mortgage Brokers Lending Integrity Seal of Approval ... has a nice ring to it doesn't it? But more than a ring, it conveys a message of trust and integrity to the borrowing public who wonder, "Where do we go for one of the largest financial transactions in our life? Who do we trust to provide us with the service, price and choices that we expect and deserve?" The answer has always been an NAMB Mortgage Broker, but we have been slow to demonstrate why NAMB brokers do it better. In a world where it is difficult to tell the good guys from the bad, the Seal becomes our white hat. It allows us to earn the right to wear a Seal that sets us apart as a true mortgage professional. Was the Seal in response to the sub-prime issue? No! Was it in response to Miller, Watt and Frank's HR 3915? No! We have worked long and hard within the system and decided it was time to take matters into our own hands with the Seal. Its genesis originated more than two years ago, before these issues came to light and when it became apparent to NAMB that we couldn't count on our legislators, regulators or consumer advocates to establish national standards for loan originators. For years, they have been content to allow the borrowing public to fend for themselves in a complicated and increasingly diverse marketplace, which predictably resulted in the meltdown we see today. For NAMB, the Seal was the right thing to do at the right time. Through a collaborative effort of NAMB's Communications, Ethics, Education, Membership, Certification and Bylaws Committees, and the volunteers and staff that comprise these groups, the Seal made its way through the vetting process to NAMB/WEST. People like Vice President of Communications Jodi Greenblatt, Ginny Ferguson and Patti McGill guided the Seal through each step, and their hard work should not go unnoticed or unheralded. I was thrilled when asked by Jim Pair, NAMB vice president and chair of the Communications Committee, to speak to the Delegate Council about the implementation of the Seal. I reminded those assembled that the time had come for NAMB to rise up and fulfill its purpose: "To promote the highest degree of professionalism for members and to provide ethical and professional standards against which Mortgage Brokers can be measured." This Seal is the symbol of the first national standard for loan originators. For years, NAMB has been sounding the drum— on legislators to create a national standard for all originators, uniform licensing, education and a national registry to track all bad actors. We have opposed all forms of predatory lending, believing that what harms a borrower, damages the reputation of all professionals who care, and NAMB Mortgage Brokers care. Unfortunately, it has taken a crisis to spur the bureaucrats to action. Every day you help save a house from foreclosure, refinance a customer to a better position and say "no" to the customer who is borrowing trouble, you are creating value for the Seal. While the public learns the value of the Seal, we look for NAMB Director Denise Leonard; Joe Falk, NAMB's tireless legislative advocate; Roy DeLoach, our executive vice president; and Nikki Pastor, NAMB's senior counsel, to keep the legislative initiatives focused on all channels of distribution. This Seal will be a seed of substance and value in our industry, and if it is nurtured and made a part of whom we are and what we do, its significance will take on a life of its own. As a small town Mortgage Broker, I would like to see a $2 million to $3 million rollout in the form of a huge public relations push. The truth of the matter is that we don't have the money. So, what good is a Seal if the public doesn't know what it means? Well, you and I know what it means, and, once earned, I intend to let my customers and rate shoppers know what it means as well. As the Seal is earned, information will be made available for the originator to give to their borrowers. I can assure you that no one will come through my office without knowing that I am one of the good guys, and this Seal is indeed my white hat. It should come as no surprise to those of you who know me that I wear a coat and tie to the office, and I require my employees to do the same. However, I must admit, my secretary does look a little silly. But more importantly, I am reminded everyday when I place the NAMB pin on my jacket that I am part of a group of professionals, people that I am proud to know and associate with at our conferences and meetings. These are men and women who place service over self and work hard every day to do the best by their customers and who, in their own way, are building better communities, one loan at a time. I believe that this Seal is part of a watershed event in the history of our association, and that our success is inexorably linked to the standards it represents. The success of our association is both personal and profound for me. You see, my oldest son, Corey, followed me into this business seven years ago. He and Megan are the proud parents of our only grandchild, Lucy Abbott. Angela, my wife, and I want Corey to be able to provide for his family, and for you to be able to do the same by doing the good work of a Mortgage Broker. I can think of no better way to earn a living than this industry, which has done so much good by helping people make the dream of homeownership come true. You see, we're not in the mortgage business. Our job is not to make money or even to make a loan. Our job is to make a difference, and when you do that, you don't have to worry about the money, the loans will come. Now it is time to implement the Seal. There is work to be done by our state affiliates, and the NAMB staff has assembled a great workbook which covers the implementation process. They have tried to make it as simple as possible, but for the Seal to have value, it must have benchmarks. In addition, staff is committed to helping each state, large and small, in meeting the requirements of the Seal— give them a call. When you earn the Seal, wear it with pride. I am told, on good authority, that you won't be required to wear a jacket; it will look just fine on a shirt or a blouse. Will you be more of a professional the morning you wake up after earning the Lending Integrity Seal of Approval? No, and frankly, I find it difficult to imagine you being anymore professional than you already are. But we need to send a message to the borrowing public, legislators, regulators and media. That message is this: Professionalism, integrity, honesty and ethics are more than words, and it is how an NAMB broker does business. Donald Fader, CRMS is executive vice president of Kinston, N.C.-based SMC Home Finance and a 2007-2008 NAMB Director. He may be reached at (888) 921-5800 or e-mail [email protected]