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David Talbert is managing partner of U.S. Capital Group in Baton Rouge, La., and president of the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA). National Mortgage Professional Magazine spoke with him about his work in this trade group and his views on the industry.
How and why did you get involved with the Louisiana Mortgage Lenders Association (LMLA)? Can you share the track within LMLA that led to your current leadership role?
My motivation to accept an invitation to join the LMLA Board came after watching the changes to our industry during the post-foreclosure crisis. I was in awe of how some of our members devoted large amounts of personal time fighting on our behalf in Washington, D.C. and here at home, while still managing their daily business responsibilities. Once I was sworn in, I volunteered myself for anything needed and served as treasurer, then vice president, and this year, as president of LMLA.
Why do you feel members of the mortgage profession should join LMLA?
As a rule of thumb, every mortgage professional should join our national association and their prospective state organizations. It’s very apparent that we do not have a collective voice as evidenced by the low participation in the organizations that are meant to protect our livelihoods.
While I don’t believe that each mortgage professional is obligated to dedicate time, I do believe that we need to show that we are fiercely protective of our own livelihoods, rather than depending on everyone else to show it on our behalf. It boils down to the fact that politicians aren’t going to listen to the shouts of the dedicated few if those shouts are not reinforced by the collective cry of the many.
While I agree with many of the regulatory changes since Dodd-Frank, I feel most were devised and implemented without the appropriate input and approval of professionals in our industry whose knowledge on how to balance consumer protection and freedom of choice is insurmountable to the government’s cause. Keep in mind, this is my keyhole view of what happened and is currently happening. What I am certain of is that my colleagues here in Louisiana that are still prospering are some of the most ethical and community-oriented professionals I’ve come across in any industry.
What role does LMLA play in the state legislative and regulatory environment, and is there any item on the current agenda you would like to highlight?
Currently, there aren’t any agenda items of concern for us in our state legislature. Louisiana’s Office of Financial Institutions does reach out to our organization for opinions and feedback but, from what I understand, this has decreased since the creation of the NMLS.
As a state affiliate for NAMB, what do you feel that adds to your association and towards the overall agenda for the mortgage profession nationwide?
I feel our annual mortgage conference is, by far, what we contribute the most towards overall agenda for mortgage professionals. This year will mark our fifth conference since Hurricane Katrina. We host it in August of each year in New Orleans, and our state participation is huge. We get our continuing education from a legend in the mortgage community, Dave Luna, and it’s a ton of fun to recap with our co-workers and competitors on the previous year, while learning how we can do better.
In your opinion, what can be done to bring more young people into mortgage careers?
Our state’s housing market is booming and never faced the decline that many other states had faced. I don’t find we have an issue drafting new blood to our industry. I think knowledge is the key to everything, whether it is RESPA, state regulations, long-term financial planning, and being able to track fixed-income assets to accurately gauge what is going to be the opportune time to lock in for the client.
Long story short … as seasoned professionals in this business, it’s important for us to teach the new blood the “why” of this business, and also “why” they are doing it in the first place so they can confidently carry that torch. The consolidation of banks and of larger companies creates master marketers, not mortgage professionals. I’d like to see more shops controlled by local individuals who live and work within the community that they lend in. This is what we have here in Baton Rouge, La. and a huge reason why I love my job.
Phil Hall is managing editor of National Mortgage Professional Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at PhilH@NMPMediaCorp.com.