Steven Antonakes, deputy director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, walked away from a silent, shocked audience after his speech Wednesday morning at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Mortgage Servicing Conference & Expo in Orlando.
The problem was — as the saying goes — he was preaching to the choir.
The conference attracted more than 1,200 attendees this year, according to the MBA. “But this audience is the people who are doing the work. These are not CEOs of large companies; these are heads of servicing operations. They are compliance and quality control individuals coming here to make sure they are staying compliant,” David Stevens, MBA President and CEO, said.
The news is not that there are problems in the servicing industry, or that there will likely be some more going forward, he explained.
“But the concern I had with the comments made by Antonakes is his calling it Groundhog Day, as if the industry has not improved,” Stevens said.
Stevens argued that there has been massive improvement within the industry, and while servicers still have a ways to go, most are genuinely committed to safe and sound consumer protections and support a strong national servicing standard — which would be for the good of the country.
Yes, servicing is a big industry, and there are faulty servicers out there, Stevens said. However, the market does not allow the bad players to participate in the market long.
“I don’t think Steve is wrong in the message,” Stevens said. “I think it is a new world. Servicers need to be ready. But I think his broad-based accusations went just a bit too far.”
Antonakes failed to create a balance in his message that a lot of other CFPB officials have maintained in their speeches. And while regulations and clear consumer protections are necessary, Stevens said just simply beating on this group is not going to create the partnership that protects consumers in the long run.
After all, as Antonakes admitted yesterday, he would himself receive no standing ovation for his words on the state of mortgage servicing.