2023 Remote Work Mortgage Licensing Outlook
Over the course of 2022, many states have added provisions into their regulations that will allow remote work from home or an alternate unlicensed location. However, some have either remained silent on this issue or rescinded their no-action-taken guidance. For instance, South Carolina of Consumer Affairs has indicated that as of Jan. 1, 2023, it will rescind its guidance allowing mortgage originators to work remotely to now requiring them to work from a licensed location. However, we expect most state regulators to make their previous COVID-19 guidance permanent.
My question to you would be, are you ready for the requirements in many remote-work regulations? Let’s take some time to understand what will be required to allow our employees, specifically originators, to continue to work from home.
Of note: It’s important that you check your state regulations and guidance and consult with your legal department. For the purposes of this article, depending on where mortgage loan originators are licensed, we are assuming that most of them work from their residences if not at a licensed location.
Remote Work Policies and Procedures
As with any business practice, you must have clear and concise policies and procedures (P&P). These P&Ps not only need to be available to the regulators during examinations but also uploaded to the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS). Your remote work P&P should include the following:
- A residence cannot be held out as a branch office. This includes printing a residential address on marketing materials, loan documents, or social media
- Employees should not meet consumers at their residences but rather a licensed location
- Physical records should be kept at a licensed location
- Loan documents should only be submitted through a secure delivery method
- Electronic records should be encrypted and maintained by the corporate office
- Workspaces need to be kept private from other home occupants and visitors. Remember your clean desk policies apply to working from home as well!
- Employees must be aware of the company’s safeguards for data privacy and security
- Employees business activities must be monitored; for instance, you will need to track who is doing licensable activities and where those are happening
Remote Work Training Program
One of the most elusive yet important components of these requirements that are now part of many state regulations is a need for an annual remote work training program and policy agreement.
The training program will need to include information regarding security and data systems, how to submit loan documents, your company’s clean desk policy, what constitutes as licensable activity, monitoring business activities and more.
Unfortunately, compliance training companies have yet to put anything out that would fully cover this requirement. To meet this requirement, you may have to develop your own in-house training video or webinar.