It seems fitting that I begin writing this last president's message on the way home from the West Coast, climbing to 37,000 feet, after an exhilarating week--first in Philadelphia at the Wharton School of Business, followed by a visit to the Delta Epsilon Chi (DECA) national convention in Anaheim, Calif., watching a group of 17,500 high school students from across the land participate in their final competition for their national awards. The National Association of Mortgage Brokers participated in both.
In Philadelphia, I spent a few hours with 30 high-ranking officials from industry, government, private segments and academia, discussing the status of our industry and where we might be headed. Some famous names from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Reserve, Federal Trade Commission, Government Accountability Office, Mortgage Bankers Association, government-sponsored enterprises, banking and international communities, private foundations and universities, plus trade and business press were present. While I was on a panel discussing RESPA and disclosure of broker fees, to have interface with the resources in that room was another unforgettable experience. The topics ranged from RESPA, to predatory lending, to potential models within the industry in the times ahead.
At our convention last year, I described the presidency of the NAMB as a very demanding, awesome euphoria. As I leave this position, I can report that there will not be another opportunity of its kind in my lifetime, and I am very honored to have represented each of you and the industry this past year.
At our convention in Minneapolis, we will outline the accomplishments of each committee along with some visions that have become realities. All of this activity was the result of not only a docile legislative year, but also the work of many volunteers who have become involved and will hopefully stay involved.
Our legislative agenda moved from our utopia of March 22, 2004, when we celebrated the withdrawal of the HUD proposal at the legislative conference, to an even more ongoing proactive one, thanks to the efforts of our seven lobbyists coupled with the infusion of a great legislative chair and two very competent NAMB staff attorneys. The recent enhancement of our grassroots effort will ensure our being able to deliver our messages not only in Washington, D.C., but also in towns across the country with our own membership in action.
A review of the wish list outlined in Salt Lake City last June indicates we are on track in all of those areas. We have built a series of relationships with both industry and consumer groups, and our agenda for creating national standards has been introduced through federal legislation. Our call for a uniform consumer disclosure is on the table at HUD, as is the yield spread premium issue and our drive for a level playing field with all lending groups. Our idea of mortgage brokers originating FHA loans through an approved bonding process is presently under consideration. Our call for increased funding for enforcement of current laws has gained support, and we have been directly responsible for raising the bar for awareness of mortgage fraud. The rejuvenation of our Ethics Committee has resulted in providing links for reporting fraud to authorities, plus has reinforced our commitment to good business and strong ethical practices.
Our other committees have delivered enhancements in several areas. The membership numbers continue to increase, and we have established outreach programs for those affiliates needing organizational assistance. We have partnered with a public relations firm, which has promoted the NAMB name and activities throughout new media sources, including major news services and personal appearances on CNN and The Today Show. We also started a very important NAMB resource, a library of "the good stuff" brokers have done for individuals and their communities around the country. It will also be used to present beneficiaries of good broker deeds to the public and to have on-hand information that can support legislative and public relations efforts.
NAMB received favorable press attention in reports and studies from J.D. Power and Associates on customer satisfaction in dealing with mortgage brokers, from the FTC in clarifying consumer confusion with both the RESPA and TILA disclosures that are a part of the application process, and recently, a Georgetown University study concluded that mortgage brokers provide and pass on lower costs to consumers closing sub-prime mortgages.
We have moved our education program to a higher plateau with a partnership with the MBA in co-branding e-NAMB University with their CampusMBA and our partnership with Freddie Mac in being the only trade association to be approved to carry their CreditSmart and CreditSmart Espanol programs to the street. Our pilot programs in Florida, Texas and California have been a huge success and will shortly enable us to expand these financial literacy programs to a truly national status. Programs are also underway with DECA for broker involvement in providing scholarships to both high school and college students, and for credit education by brokers to both groups in meetings around the country. Finally, negotiations are underway for brokers to become involved in meeting the needs of Native Americans and to again pilot a program through selected tribes aimed at both financial literacy and clearing the road to homeownership. We thank Rep. Hinojosa of Texas for mentioning mortgage broker efforts in these programs on the floor of the House of Representatives when introducing a financial literacy resolution for the month of April.
We end the year with expanded membership involvement, increased financial stability and political strength, venues for carrying the NAMB story to the streets, and a commitment to self-management of our association. We will always remember all of the NAMB staff who worked diligently to carry out some of our visions and help build a bridge of reality between each member's world in Anywhere, America, and the national NAMB efforts in Washington, D.C. That bridge has been built.
In closing, I have just traveled from the Pacific across mountains, deserts, plains, river valleys and back to Atlanta, listening to both jazz and classical music on the headset while writing this feature ... my last as NAMB president. Visiting more than 60 meetings has enabled me to gain valuable insights and meet many of you. Your faces and thoughts will remain with me as visions of reality of America's greatest channel of distribution. I am damn proud to be a mortgage broker and to have served y'all.
Jim Nabors II, CRMS, it is all yours. Good luck! You have a great constituency.
Bob Armbruster, President
National Association of Mortgage Brokers