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MBAM re-branding to better serve members, real estate lenders

The Mortgage Bankers Association of Mississippi (MBAM) is blending history with updated services to give members the best of both worlds. The organization for lenders was founded in 1954 for anyone who provides loans or services for real estate finance. Membership is made up of bankers and brokers.

The new executive director, Quentin Whitwell, says the association is enhancing its image, complete with new logo, letterhead, brochures and Web site along with expanded services. The MBAM is also updating its bylaws, policies and code of ethics.

“We’re re-branding ourselves from a marketing standpoint. That was our first goal and we expect big things,” he said. “We will expand the membership and the impact they have on the industry. We plan to target members of the industry to give us a stronger voice and keep the professional voice of lending where it should be.”

MBAM encourages and welcomes the participation and membership of all backgrounds and cultures. It promotes compliance with Fair Lending Laws throughout the industry. In addition to the state association, there are three local chapters — Jackson, Gulf Coast and Tenn Tom.

The state association intends to be more involved in government affairs, increase membership and is planning to have an outstanding convention in early May at the Grand Casino in Tunica. That meeting is being organized now. For the first time, MBAM is offering continuing education courses online.

“We are re-evaluating our services and the depth they provide,” Whitwell said. “This has brought exciting changes.”

It has appointed a political action committee, something it has never had before. The committee will raise funds to enable the organization to endorse candidates in this year’s election.

With the 2007 legislative session underway, MBAM is promoting several issues. Working with the Mississippi Department of Banking and Consumer Finance, the mortgage association is pushing for the extension of the license law that regulates bankers and brokers. The existing law is set to expire this year.

“We are working with the Legislature to retool that law and change it to tighten up the way someone can get in the lending business,” Whitwell said. “We want to make sure they are quality and are on the up and up.”

Additionally, it will introduce mortgage fraud legislation, hoping to put some teeth and consequences into the measure.

“We’re professional and certainly want high standards upheld,” he said. “Last year, we helped pass a law that allows mortgage bankers to collect a lock-in fee. It helps the public secure better mortgage rates, and it’s working well.”

Whitwell, who calls himself a recovering lawyer, serves in the organization’s management position part time. His consulting business, the Talon Group, has lobbied for the Mortgage Bankers Association for several years. His prior experience includes a stint as government affairs and legal counsel for the Mississippi Association of Realtors where he earned valuable experience working with the legislative process at the State Capital. In 2004, he partnered with Chip Reno to form the Talon Group.

“The challenge ultimately is to grow the association to where it can have a full-time director,” he said. “It’s a wonderful organization that’s rich in tradition. It’s involved with a tremendous depth of issues that affect everyone — rates, the ability to secure money, things that make the economy go. We encourage sound ethical business practices and servicing of real estate mortgage loans.”

The association is made up of 300 members representing about 35 companies. It is funded through dues. Whitwell said he hopes the group will make more money through the upcoming conference and its continuing education courses.

The Mortgage Bankers Association held a leadership summit last fall that featured different political perspectives through a Democrat, Rep. Tyrone Ellis, and a Republican, Sen. Charlie Ross, as special guest speakers. Also addressing the group were lobbyists for the National Chapter for Mortgage Bankers.

MBAM works to ensure the continued strength of the state’s residential real estate markets by making sure mortgage banking interests are represented at every level of government. It promotes the welfare of the mortgage lending industry and related service providers in Mississippi and to improve its service to the community.

“We provide a forum for new ideas related to the industry and provide a platform from which the members can express their views on practices and legislation affecting the industry,” Whitwell said. “We also push to expand homeownership prospects through increased affordability and extending access to affordable housing to all Mississippians.”

Existing and new members are urged to help shape the future of MBAM through participation in one of the committees: legislative, convention/conference, housing, education and membership.

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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