One of my favorite movies, The Graduate, has a famous scene in which this pompous older gentleman takes a young Dustin Hoffman aside and says: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word… Plastics.”

I couldn’t get that line out of my head as I arrived at the Mortgage Bankers Association National Technology in Mortgage Banking Conference & Expo, which started today. Because there was one word that was on most attendees’ minds: Not plastics, but “compliance!”

How can originators, investors and servicers be sure that they are complying with the plethora of new mortgage-specific rules to say nothing of the daunting challenges of protecting customer privacy and securing data? Compliance—or more accurately the potential that technology can help automate compliance—was undoubtedly the reason why attendance for this conference is up more than 50% this year, according to the MBA.

And in our industry, when conference attendance goes up in a year when originations are expected to be down, it almost qualifies as a Black Swan event.  So why are so many lenders and vendors lining up as if the Apple iPhone 6 was going on sale?

Probably the sheer complexity of all the regulations. Today, depending on where it is originated, a loan could be subject to approximately 350 different federal, state and local rules. And that was before the latest spate of new rules.

Since the beginning of this year, our industry has been the unhappy recipient of new rules.

Of course, there’s still more to come. Between now and the end of the year, we’ll get the details of what is a qualified residential mortgage, and the CFPB is expected to publish its comprehensive TILA-RESPA Integrated Mortgage Disclosure final rule.

The MBA certainly knows its audience. And Rick Hill, the head of technology at the MBA, and his team have put together an agenda that certainly speaks to our industry’s concerns. On Day One, for example, the two opening general sessions will focus on the changing regulatory environments and privacy and cyber-security, respectively. They will be followed by breakout sessions on the regulations and responsibilities for information security and on how technology can help lenders prepare for regulatory exams.

On Day Two, the conference will look at the industry’s second biggest short- and long-term challenge: the prospect of a smaller, more purchase-oriented mortgage market in 2013, and what it means for mortgage professionals. (In an upcoming blog, I intend to focus on the challenges of a smaller, more purchase-oriented mortgage market and how technology can create economic and strategic advantages, if this comes to pass.)

On Tuesday, there will also be a sequel to last year’s very popular Battle of the LOS’s called “The Great Debate Part Two: LOS Vendors Continue the Discussion”. Spoiler alert: I’m one of the panelists, along with my peers from FIS, MortgageFlex Systems and Wipro Gallagher Solutions, and, like many other conference panels, we will be talking about that one word—compliance.

Jonathan Corr is the Chief Operating Officer for Ellie Mae. The opinions expressed above are his alone.