Plenty of people around the industry believe that the three popular rating agencies (Standard & Poor's, Fitch, and Moody's) have escaped their potential culpability in the financial crisis. Judgement aside, aside from inroads being made by some innovative firms like Kroll, the SEC tells us that Standard & Poor's, Moody's Investors Service and Fitch Ratings claimed almost 95% of the revenue generated by US credit-rating firms in 2014. The 2011 Dodd-Frank Act included measures intended to open up the market to smaller ratings firms, encouraging competition and greater transparency. CFPB, how's that workin' out?

In Northern California CAMP has a Loan Officer training boot camp just for you on January 28th at Arch Mortgage Insurance in Walnut Creek. The "Drill Instructor" will be Guy Schwartz, a 30 year industry veteran. In order to attend, you must pre-register with Guy at GSchwartz@cmgfi. com

National Mortgage Professional is working with the nation's wholesalers in providing a better experience of brokers. To that end NMP is asking brokers to complete a survey giving them a chance to win one of four $500 VISA gift cards. Click here to take the survey.

Looking for direction or clarification on new laws effective as of January 1 including TCPA, new CCP, Tender Rule, and SPOC Claims? California MBA is providing a free webinar from its Legal Services Committee on January 12th. Registration is required to join the event.

On January 20, ATS Secured is hosting a FREE webinar, "Post-TRID Challenges and Innovative Solutions," presented by Richard Horn, Member at Richard Horn Legal PLLC. Horn will discuss the challenges lenders have been facing since TRID implementation. This webinar will also feature a panel of industry experts including Horn, Brent Laliberte and Wes Miller who will take questions from attendees, and provide innovative solutions. Don't miss out, have your top concerns addressed by leading industry experts! Click here to register.  

Have you registered for TMBA's Southern Secondary Market Conference in Houston? Join hundreds of real estate finance leaders and decision makers at TMBA's February 1st and 2nd secondary conference.

The Georgia Real Estate Fraud Prevention & Awareness Coalition (GREFPAC) is excited to announce its 2016 Fraud Prevention Conference at the Cobb Galleria on Wednesday, March 2nd. GREFPAC is a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and resources to combat real estate and mortgage fraud in Georgia and is an organization that serves both its members and Georgia communities by identifying best practices to prevent and detect fraud and by providing a safe space to identify and analyze fraud trends. The conference is open to real estate agents, mortgage professionals, appraisers, regulators, law enforcement, and community leaders. Come hear the latest from HUD, Fannie Mae, the FBI, regulators, and more! Attendance is only $50 per person, and if you register by February 15th you can bring a colleague for free. 

The CFPB caught the industry's attention last week by seeking feedback on its mortgage information guidelines - generally lumped under HMDA. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently finalized its rules updating the reporting requirements of the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act regulation and it is now seeking public feedback on the resubmission of mortgage lending data reported under the new regulation. Director Cordray noted that, "The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act is a valuable asset in helping detect trends and problem areas in the nation's mortgage market and the recent improvements to the rule will foster better understanding of that market."

In the CFPB's consumer complaint database, Ocwen is listed as one of the top companies with the most complaints. The latest report, however, indicates that Ocwen was the only company in the top ten most-complained about companies that saw its complaints drop from the same time period last year (July-September 2014 to July-September 2015). Companies like Equifax had complaints rise 26 percent and Transunion saw a 53 percent increase but complaints against Ocwen dropped 19 percent. The CFPB reported that there has been a 12 percent drop in complaint volume from October 2015 to November 2015 and mortgage complaints fell by 10 percent in this same time period. Debt collections, mortgage, and credit reporting complaints did collectively make up 68 percent of complaints submitted in November 2015.

While we're on Ocwen, Kroll Bond Rating Agency recently gave the company a B+ rating noting that, "The assigned B+ issuer rating reflects the company's market leading position in the sub-prime mortgage servicing space, improved governance and risk management standards, adequate access to equity and debt markets and appropriate leverage metrics. These positive elements are balanced, in part, by constrained financial performance stemming from a decline in UPB, increased regulatory framework, and weak interest rate coverage."

"Ocwen's growth and ability to acquire new MSRs has been stalled by heightened scrutiny into the servicing space by regulators such as New York Department of Financial Services and the California Department of Business Oversight. DFS accused Ocwen of backdating loan modification denial letters to borrowers facing foreclosure, while California regulators threatened to suspend Ocwen's license to do business in the state due to a lapse in information disclosure. Both of these regulatory lapses were caused by a failure in internal management systems and controls that Ocwen has since addressed with substantial changes to both operational and risk management, and also corporate governance procedures.

Ocwen, an abbreviation for New Company spelled backwards, reached a settlement in late 2014 with New York State Department of Financial Services related to its investigation. The company paid a penalty of $100 million to DFS plus $50 million to current and former New York borrowers in the form of $10,000 to each borrower whose home was foreclosed upon by Ocwen between January 2009 and December 2014. Ocwen also agreed to the appointment of an Independent Monitor to oversee its compliance on servicing practices.

Kroll's solid report noted that, "The Company is currently in the process of building its lending business, whereby they plan to originate and purchase conventional and government-insured mortgage loans through the direct, wholesale and corresponding lending channels of its Homeward operations. OCN also originates and purchases reverse mortgage loans insured by Federal Housing Administration ("FHA"). After origination, OCN packages and sells the loans in the secondary mortgage market and retains the associated MSRs, providing the servicing business with a source of new MSRs. In 2014, OCN originated or purchased forward and reverse mortgage loans with a UPB of $4.3 billion and $675.5 million, respectively. The company aims to originate $6-8 billion in new loans annually. KBRA views the development of OCN's lending business favorably. This lending platform will replenish OCN's servicing pool and will partially offset the impact of sales, amortization and prepayments."

The secondary markets (as opposed to the primary markets which are the connection between borrowers and lenders) continue to evolve. On the commercial side of things, CrediFi is introducing CMBS data into its platform (including a mapping feature allowing users to assess CMBS investment worthiness).

Last month the New York Fed updated the primary dealers list. SG Americas Securities, LLC has been removed and Societe Generale, New York Branch has been added to the primary dealers list. Click here to view the complete list.

Upcoming regulatory reforms of government-sponsored enterprises have led to an industry push for more private label securities, but the challenge is determining how to grow that portion of the market. "Right now, PLS can't compete with Federal Housing Administration loans or the GSEs," says SIFMA's Christopher Killian.

The Wunderlich Residential Mortgage trading team spread the word that it has moved to Rincon Mortgage Trading. "We will continue to trade and invest in residential mortgage whole loans for own account and for others. Rincon Mortgage Trading will offer a full range of mortgage loan products including: Agency & Non Agency Jumbos, CRA, Non QM, Scratch and Dent, Re-Performers, GNMA EBO and Non-Performing."

Sticking with the capital markets, remember back to Friday? It was the day of strong employment statistics, which didn't have the impact that strong employment statistics normally have. Since we're not alone in the global economy, economists noted that German & French industrial production figures were weaker than expected and that Switzerland's consumer price index fell more than expected in December. This news from overseas, which suggests lower rates, counteracted the U.S. employment data, which would push rates higher.

MBS end Friday higher and mixed - which some thought was due to market participants focusing on the unchanged average hourly earnings (vs. expectations of +0.2%). Also, traders sought safety ahead of the weekend, wondering what Monday would bring for Chinese equities as US equities rolled over ahead of the close. In mortgage-specific news recent prepayment data showed that prepayments came in faster than expected (with TRID partially to blame), though the pickup is expected to be short-lived with speeds dropping again in January on day count and slower turnover rates.

We have plenty of news this week although not much scheduled for today or tomorrow. Nor does Wednesday the 13th except for the MBA telling us what lock desks saw last week and the Fed's Beige Book reporting on economic conditions around the nation. Things pick up Thursday with Import Prices and Jobless Claims. Friday we'll have Retail Sales, the Producer Price Index numbers, Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization, Empire Manufacturing, and a series of numbers from the University of Michigan that are probably useful in keeping graduate students occupied putting them together.

Anyone trying to figure out rate sheets should note that as a proxy we closed the 10-year at a yield of 2.13% and this morning it is at 2.16% with agency MBS prices, which actually directly impact rate sheets, worse .125.

Jobs and Announcements

In job news, as companies continue to increase market share, hiring the right people becomes increasingly critical. "Are you hiring rookies? Candidates can talk a good game in an interview, but it doesn't mean that they will deliver. The investment in training, mentoring and managing rookies is huge. Is there a tool that can help you determine whether an individual can originate? Pat Sherlock's pre-hire assessment (QFS) has helped lenders for 15 years hire rookies and experienced originators. QFS's pre-hire is the secret weapon of best-in-class mortgage banking firms. While there are many assessments that claim to help companies hire better, QFS is the only one validated and predictive for all mortgage origination positions. Contact Pat Sherlock (800.875.0222) to learn how a pre hire assessment will make the difference in your hiring results and receive a free white paper on '9 Personality Traits that Predict Mortgage Success.'"

Freedom Mortgage is expanding its Retail presence in the Central United States under the leadership of Marty Garrity. Garrity has been a staple of leadership in large mortgage depositories across the Midwest and Central states over the past 25 years. His team is seeking both state Regional Managers and Branch Managers in OH, IL, MI, IN, WI, IA, MN, WV, NE, ND and SD. Founded in 1990, Freedom Mortgage is a privately held, full service residential mortgage lender. We are one of the largest and fastest-growing privately held mortgage companies in the country. This is a great time to join Freedom!  Contact Marty Garrity regarding this opportunity (216.396.3214).

In ops jobs news, First California Mortgage Company is continuing its nationwide expansion and is growing the mortgage operations team. The Company is a FNMA & FHLMC Seller/Servicer, GNMA I&II Issuer, and jumbo and non-QM lender operating across multiple platforms: Retail, Wholesale, Consumer Direct and Affinity.  First California Mortgage Company has been voted as one of Mortgage Executive best places to work, Inc 5000 fastest growing, and Mortgage Executive Top 100. First Cal is currently recruiting for Operations Managers with three to five years of management experience, underwriting background (Conventional, FHA, and VA) and Loan Closing, and Processors with three to five years mortgage experience with exposure to underwriting guidelines and rate sheets. FHA experience required, VA experience preferred. All geographic locations will be considered, based upon individual candidates. Please send inquires & resumes to Shannon Thomson.

Capping off a year of impressive growth, the Mortgage Collaborative added 16 new lender members in November and December, bringing the aggregate annual origination volume of the national cooperative network's members to over $80 billion. The Collaborative's Winter Lender Member Conference is also quickly approaching, and will take place at the Ritz Carlton, Dove Mountain Resort in Tucson, AZ from February 21-23.  For more details on The Mortgage Collaborative or their winter conference, contact Rich Swerbinsky.