The mortgage industry today is facing a variety of new challenges, including new regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other agencies as well as growing cyber threats and the potential for high profile security breaches that can cause permanent damage to a company’s reputation.
In recent decades, more firms have begun to embrace e-learning technology and advanced learning management systems as a means of providing compliance training. According to a 2014 survey of U.S. corporations by Training Magazine, about 72% of organizations do at least some of their mandatory or compliance training online, and 29% of companies completely outsource their LMS operations/hosting. This modern training technology can be particularly valuable to the mortgage and financial services industries, where regulations are constantly changing and employees must keep up-to-date with the latest licensure and certification requirements.
A learning management system is a cloud-based application used in the planning, administration, delivery, reporting and documentation of e-learning courses or training programs. A robust LMS allows companies to set up comprehensive training programs composed of required courses in a self-paced learning environment, versus the expenses of coordinating time, schedules, classroom training and potential travel.
Financial institutions and mortgage companies see many advantages to using an LMS for their compliance training. Jodi Johnson, vice president/compliance officer for WaterStone Bank based in Wauwatosa, Wis., said the bank has more than 100 employees and operates more than 11 branches scattered throughout the Milwaukee area, which makes it logistically challenging to manually train all of their employees. Using an LMS system that is continually being updated by a third-party partner and specializes in providing relevant and timely content allows the bank to train a large number of employees, without having to spend countless hours of in-person classroom training or significant travel expenses.
“If you have a large volume of employees, it obviously takes the burden of training off of you,” Johnson said. “With all the changes in regulations that are happening now, there’s no way we could keep up with that training content. I think the system makes the management of training much easier. ”
The use of LMS technology to train employees provides efficiencies over manually training all employees, according to Andrew Hall, assistant vice president of licensing for the compliance division of Royal United Mortgage, based in Indianapolis. He said the mortgage company has approximately 350 employees, a number of which are scattered throughout the country. “With live training alone, it’s kind of hard to accomplish training objectives,” he said. “We’re not going to fly them in for one hour of training.”
LMS technology also is more convenient for employees, who can take training sessions on their own computers when they have free time in their work schedules, Hall said. The system sends out automatic reminders or emails to employees about the specific type of training that’s required and when they need to complete it. The system tracks employee progress and reports results.
“The technology piece allows us to make sure they get it done,” Hall said. “It leaves our controls where they need to be.”
Employees in the financial services and mortgages sectors are in particular need of ongoing training because these industries have come under increased scrutiny from federal regulators since the financial crisis of 2008.
“There have been more (regulatory) changes in the last seven years in our industry than there were in the previous 50,” Hall said. “There’s been a massive amount of change that has happened since 2008.”
A robust LMS with relevant and updated content gives companies the ability to keep their employees up-to-date on the latest regulations, such as the new TRID rule, a 1,888-page document by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that covers new regulations governing the mortgage and banking industries. An LMS also offers testing features to ensure employees comprehend the regulations.
“It provides valuable reports that we can provide to regulators for proof of compliance with the training rules,” Johnson said. “It also helps us identify who is understanding the content and who is not. That way we can focus on particular groups of employees who need more help.”
A robust compliance training program that uses an LMS also can make sure that employees are knowledgeable about anti-money laundering laws and the Bank Secrecy Act, and how to identify and report potential suspicious or illegal activity.
Many companies use hybrid or blended learning methods that incorporate e-learning technology with more traditional classroom training methods. With the new TRID mortgage rules, for example, Johnson said their bank held several in-person introductory training sessions for their employees. It then followed up those live sessions with more detailed and ongoing training sessions about TRID through the LMS.
Course authoring tools
Robust LMS vehicles include user-friendly course authoring tools. The best systems give companies the ability to incorporate PowerPoint presentations, Microsoft Word documents, Adobe PDFs, employee handbooks, handouts, policies and procedure manuals and links to web pages, all while combining them with other course content in a visually engaging way to keep employees engaged in learning. A high-quality LMS also enables a company to include interactive videos and eye-pleasing colors, fonts and templates to transform mundane corporate training to an engaging educational experience for employees. Using course authoring tools with these features appeals to younger workers, who have grown up with technology, gaming and the Internet as part of their learning.
The best learning technology platforms are easy to use and applicable across multiple industries. They give companies the tools needed to create engaging, timely and applicable course content, deploy training, measure learning outcomes, transfer knowledge and meet regulatory challenges.
This column was originally published in the November 2015 issue of the National Mortgage Professional Magazine.