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The Twelve Days of Renewals

The 2021 Renewal season brought no holiday joy to either regulator or industry users

Bob Niemi
Bob Niemi
Toolbox on keyboard for fixing technology frustrations

On the first day of renewals the NMLS brought to me, system issues and lock outs. Yes, the 2021 Renewal season brought no holiday joy to either regulator or industry users. The first twelve days did present challenges with system lockouts, duplicate billings, error messages and frustration. In fact, this being the thirteenth NMLS renewal period, it fell right in line as the unluckiest one of all.

Most industry users prepared and heeded regulator recommendations for day one renewal requests. Kelly O’Sullivan, chair of the NMLS Policy Committee and Montana Deputy Commissioner stated in an October 28th press release, “Renewing early will be especially important this year with the increase in licensees eligible for renewal.” A good warning foreshadowing that NMLS renewal season could present new challenges.

System Error

However, November 1st brought more challenges than expected as the number of users increased mid-day and delayed system functionality more than anticipated. Payment issues, credit validation issues and more impacted users, exponentially growing hold times at the NMLS help desk. The second day of renewals did bring this communication: “NMLS is experiencing intermittent issues. We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve this issue. We will post an update when the issue is resolved.”

Similar communications were shared until the fifth day of renewals, which brought more detail, “Less than 1% of users are experiencing an error on the NMLS today” and advice of, “For the best experience, log in during lower volume hours – prior to 10:00 am and after 3:00 pm.” This message might have downplayed the issue but also caused some companies to question their internal processes and systems.

NMLS awareness of the seriousness of the issue brought a Saturday maintenance downtime to deploy system updates to improve latency issues. While users identify this as slow screen response or transition between screens, latency time is when the NMLS captures data both internally and externally, processing it and then transmitting it back as needed. These enhancements brought some improvement, but challenges still existed and brought more bad tidings.

Days Of Delay

The twelfth day of renewals brought a humbling message, “Thank you for your patience as we continue to make improvements to the overall system performance.” The notice also highlighted issues still impacting users like identity verification process and renewal status issues causing some duplicate payments. “We are currently conducting additional troubleshooting that will allow us to provide you with more detailed guidance on how to manage these issues. Our goal is to communicate that guidance to you early next week.”

Certainly, there are no winners this renewal season, but no one should be put on the naughty list. As progress is made to redevelop the NMLS, improvements provide user benefits but can also inject new system challenges. Again, volume from an almost 40% increase in number of renewable licenses has been the main source.

In the end, confidence is high that all users will be renewed in time. But any residual issues should be addressed to the NMLS Ombudsman at [email protected] for assistance.

This article was originally published in the Mortgage Banker Magazine December 2021 issue.
Bob Niemi
Bob Niemi

Bob Niemi is a senior advisor at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.

Published on
Dec 07, 2021
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