COMMENTARY: by JONATHAN FOXX
Jonathan Foxx, former Chief Compliance Officer of two publicly traded financial institutions, is the President and Managing Director of Lenders Compliance Group, the first full-service, mortgage risk management firm in the country.
In the last few years, the US has been undergoing significant economic and political changes - some of which have their roots in many past decades. We find the momentum of these changes, now forcefully underway, to be altering many of our financial, political, and professional plans.
Change is not easy to experience. Nor is crisis, fraught with uncertainty.
The Chinese character for crisis conveys our current circumstances: a perilous situation, an incipient moment when something begins or changes, and when one should be especially wary.
We are a unique generation of Americans, blessed with the benefits of advanced technologies, more affluent than our forebears, more aware of the world around us, able to explore our galaxy and see into the far reaches of the universe, indeed able to look deeply into the infinitesimally small, physical world within our own human being.
But no matter how much we learn about ourselves and our world, we will never open a brain and find the traces of a compassionate thought, or open a heart and find the feeling of love. Yet we do know what we think and how we feel. As both surveyors and inhabitants of our world, as its caretakers and caregivers, there are many ways and means to improve the quality of life for all living beings. Living not only for ourselves, we want to pass on a better world to the next generation. Yet it is through the application of knowledge, howsoever derived, that risks emerge and shape the future.
Goals and Destiny
In these last few days of this year, reflecting on the crises facing the mortgage industry, it is clear that change has been blunt, quick, and irreversible. Many industry members have lost their jobs and their savings and, in some instances, their companies. A plethora of new regulations, new proposed regulations, new consumer protection laws, financial reform legislation, new federal and state disclosure requirements, and new rules regarding mortgage originator compensation, seem to be promulgated without end. Some market actors have been caught up in a dragnet of disputes, such as in foreclosuregate, loan modification delays, loss mitigation failures, mortgage loan fraud, appraisal fraud, identity theft scams, strategic defaults and high mortgage default ratios. FHA, Fannie, and Freddie are barely hanging on to their missions and corporate charters, even with potential or actual "bailouts" from taxpayers. Litigation and lobbying abound!
And yet, there are those on Wall Street who believe that subprime securitization will return soon. There are those who want to delay financial reform. There are those who want to deactivate plans for a consumer financial protection agency. There are those who believe that regulators should serve the banks, rather than to assertively monitor them on behalf of taxpayers and to preserve the public trust.
We have clients that have fought valiantly to stay in business at a time when their peers have had to shut down - and, to the former's credit, they have made it through the struggle. And we have clients that proactively come to us now and seek guidance in implementing the many new regulatory compliance requirements. Because I have witnessed our clients' commitment, fortitude, and drive, I know the mortgage industry will survive and continue to foster innovative leadership.
In general, actors in a market have conflicting goals. The mortgage and financial markets are no exception. Conflicts are necessarily delineated between certain market participants.
At the crossroads of politics and economics, our democracy will find its way forward. But out of the differing expectations, all of us need to forge bold goals and transgenerational resolutions. And we need to identify the risks associated with our goals.
Perhaps 2011 will bring decisive options and opportunities, heretofore unrecognized, to bring closure to some of the mortgage industry's most pressing concerns.
As we meet the future, let's be mindful that we will be judged not on what we thought or felt, but on what we actually did at a time of crisis!
Singular destiny where the goal keeps shifting …
Please consider Beaudelaire's penetrating verse,
as we boldly, compassionately, and humbly
seek our own precious goals in 2011:
Singulière fortune où le but se déplace,
Et, n'étant nulle part, peut être n'importe où!
Où l'Homme, dont jamais l'espérance n'est lasse,
Pour trouver le repos court toujours comme un fou!
Singular destiny where the goal keeps shifting,
And, being nowhere, can perhaps be anywhere!
Where Man, whose hope never grows weary,
Is always seeking a short respite like a fool!
"Le Voyage" (The Voyage)
from Les Fleurs du Mal - Charles Beaudelaire. (My translation)
Best wishes from all of us to all of you -
for a safe, joyous, and fulfilling New Year!
I would welcome your comments.
Please feel free to email me at any time.