A Look Back at 2020
The start of a new year often brings excitement and anticipation for what lies ahead. It is also a time for reflection on the year ending. The year 2020 brought many challenges, with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on daily life. The Department, like most of you, adjusted and adapted to the shifting situation in order to continue operations and fulfill its mission. Here are some highlights from 2020.
This past year brought some unique challenges for the Consumer Services Licensing Unit. The closure of the Department’s headquarters due to the pandemic meant all licensing staff, previously working in the building, had to move to remote work. This included all licensing activities as well as answering calls into the unit’s call center. At the same time, application volume rapidly increased, especially Mortgage Loan Originator applications. By November, the renewal period kicked off with an extremely high number of licensees renewing for this year.
By the end of the year, the number of licensees in virtually all industries grew. The biggest increase was in Mortgage Loan Originator (MLO) licensees, up more than 3,000. That number does not include individuals working under Temporary Authority. The licensing team issued more than 160 company licenses, including more than 20 Money Transmitters. They also reviewed nearly 13,000 criminal and credit background checks, completed more than 3,100 employment changes for MLOs and fielded more than 3,500 call center calls. Below are licensee counts as of the end of the year compared to 2019.
|Mortgage Loan Originator||22,098||18,944||+3,154|
The Consumer Services Examinations Unit adjusted to the COVID-19 pandemic by conducting all examinations offsite and shifting all employees to a telecommuting work model. After a short adjustment phase by Examination staff and licensees, the team became accustomed to the new work model and continue to perform the number of examinations required by Examination Unit planning.
The Examinations Unit’s planning is based on standards set by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors regarding the frequency and content of regulatory examinations required for effective regulation of supervised entities. The standards require the unit to examine each licensee at least once every five years, and more often for licensees exhibiting less than satisfactory compliance. Additionally, the standards require an initial examination within 18 months of company licensure to ensure companies are aware of the regulations that pertain to their business. Combined, the various examination standards mentioned above result in the Examinations Unit need to examine between 25 and 35 percent of our licensees per year. During 2020, the unit examined just under 27.2% of licensees. The table below details examinations conducted by license type during 2020. Quarterly variations are normal due to when companies are licensed, and some quarters including batches of desk review examinations of low production companies.
|License Type||Q1 2020||Q2 2020||Q3 2020||Q4 2020||Total|
The goal of the Consumer Services Enforcement Unit is to investigate and resolve consumer complaints and referrals from the Licensing and Examinations Units, and, where necessary, to compel compliance with the applicable statutes and rules. In 2020, the Enforcement Unit received more than 1,200 complaints; most of which were able to be resolved without formal action. In 38 other cases, however, the Enforcement Unit was compelled to take formal action.
In general, most formal actions are resolved through negotiation and agreement. In 2020, the Enforcement Unit resolved about 59 cases in this manner. These included cases from 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. The Enforcement Unit also issued 23 Final Orders; mostly due to default by the person(s) against whom a formal action had been issued. The 2020 efforts of the Enforcement Unit resulted in almost $90,000 in restitution and/or refunds actually paid to consumers.