Now more than ever it’s critical for mortgage lenders to have a social media presence in order to connect with prospective borrowers. A decade ago it was assumed that social media was predominantly used by younger generations, but in 2019, 90% of Millennials, 78% of Generation X, and 48% of Baby Boomers were active social media users. For most people, social media is used daily to seek entertainment, connect with others, and form decisions about a company’s brand and make critical purchasing decisions. Between this wide range of ages and increased information consumption online prior to purchasing, the percentage of purchasing power across these platforms has increased exponentially over the past few years. All of this requires loan officers to have a strong social media strategy, but with increased outreach comes a heightened number of possible compliance and brand issues.
Social media compliance monitoring of your loan officers doesn’t have to be a difficult and daunting task. In order to help shape your organization’s social media compliance program to ensure regulatory compliance of your loan officers across multiple platforms you need to focus on four areas: documentation and process of mortgage-specific social media regulations, company brand and content guidelines, training and requirements for individual loan officers, and continuous monitoring.
Federal and State Mortgage Social Media Regulations
The first step of building out a social media compliance plan for your mortgage lenders is to have clear documentation of both federal and state mortgage-specific social media regulations. This includes, but is not limited to, an understanding of TILA, UDAAP, and RESPA. Resources on these regulations can be sought through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for reference. In addition to federal regulations, each state has their own state requirements that need to be met. All states have various requirements as it pertains to advising or requiring mortgage licensees to maintain copies of their social media advertisements. Ensure all federal and your state regulations are known and well-documented for your loan officers.
Company Brand and Content Guidelines
The next step in your social media compliance process should be centered around your company’s brand and content guidelines. Your brand should have specific guidelines that dictate the content of marketing materials. These should be clearly documented and used in a loan officer’s social media marketing strategy.
In addition to adhering to the company’s general brand guidelines, there should be a content approval process put in place to ensure the post is compliant before sharing. This process can loop in your compliance department, legal team and anyone else who might need to review.
Training and Requirements for Mortgage Lenders
Each mortgage lender has their own set of specific regulations when it comes to marketing and what must be included. Make sure that your loan officers are aware of each of these and include them where necessary.
- NMLS # – The NMLS number (both personal and company) is required for loan officers in order for consumers to check up on their lenders. Lending officers must have this number available and easy to find on their profiles.
- NMLS Consumer Access link – Consumers need to know where they can find information about their lenders, which is through the Consumer Access link. Require this to be included somewhere on your loan officer’s social profiles.
- Loan Officer’s Name on Personal Sites – Loan officers must disclose their name on their social media profiles as it is listed on the consumer access site, this validates their identity to consumers and provides complete transparency.
- Equal Housing Lender Statement – Institutions backed by the FDIC requires mortgage lenders to disclose themselves as an Equal Housing Lender or Equal Opportunity Lender. Be sure that loan officers have this somewhere on their profiles.
- Name of Parent Corporation – Loan officers should disclose their association with your company and point back to your company’s website.
Along with what is required in their postings, also include a list of what should not be included.
- Inaccurate or Outdated Mortgage Rate Information – All information about mortgage rates must be accurate and up-to-date and not be deceptive or misleading for consumers. The best practice here is to encourage your lenders to not list any rates on their social profiles, but link to a webpage with the most up-to-date information.
- Inappropriate Superlatives – The use of inappropriate superlatives, like claiming that rates are the “best” or “superior” for example, are prohibited.
- Urgency Abuse – Loan officers cannot use a false sense of urgency when communicating with consumers. This includes telling them that their rates will expire at a certain date, forcing or trying to influence them to make a quicker decision than necessary.
- Unknown Offerings – Loan officers should not make offerings to consumers that are not validated and approved by their organization.
Once these regulations are clearly documented, regular internal compliance trainings should be held to ensure all loan officers remain compliant across their social media channels and to keep them up-to-date on evolving social media regulations.
Continuous Monitoring and Non-Compliant Content Action Procedure
Even with all of the leg work upfront for your social media compliance monitoring, you can’t always control what officers post about your company, this is why it’s critical to continuously monitor and review their content to ensure compliance. This way, you’ll be able to quickly catch any potential violations and remediate them before they cause any problems.
While monitoring will alert you to posts that are not compliant, you’ll also want a process you can quickly set in motion for these instances. This should include which loan officer posted the content, how it was not compliant and a process to ensure it’s removed and does not happen again. Keeping documentation of all content published to social media for at least the past 3 years, and all compliance violations and remediations will be handy if they’re ever needed for future audits or investigations.
Want a quick checklist to help with your social media compliance monitoring for mortgage lenders? We’ve got you covered, checkout our 2021 Mortgage Industry Metrics Infographic.
Need some help with ongoing social media compliance monitoring? PerformLine automates the monitoring of social accounts by loan officers, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin and Twitter. Our technology discovers and monitors content and pages owned by your loan officers and identifies and scores potential regulatory compliance violations or brand marketing abuses for remediation, as well as discovers unapproved social accounts marketing on behalf of their organization. Speak to one of our experts today to learn more about mitigating your risk and ensuring brand safety.