Last week, PerformLine participated in Lead Generation Week on the session "Compliance Full Circle: The Lessons Lead Buyers and Generators Need to Know."
We had an enlightening discussion with Even Financial, loanDepot, and Venable LLP on the importance of compliance for both lead buyers and generators and what they need to do to protect their organizations and their brand. John Zanzarella, VP of Sales at PerformLine moderated the discussion. Here’s a recap of some of the most timely discussion points.
Managing Third Party Partners for Compliance
Our first question went to Jordan Smith, Head of Compliance at Even Financial.
Q: Even provides the infrastructure and channel partnerships to connect consumers with personalized products, and I know that you have over 200 channel partners-how do you tackle compliance when you have such a large ecosystem of partners?
A: We need to have a real process in place. We put together a four-pronged "attack plan:"
- Programmatic Technology - PerformLine helps us put all the regulatory and brand rules into one place and monitor our partners to ensure that they are doing the right things and adhering to those rules.
- People - Ensuring our internal teams are educated on the rules, what the pages need to look like, what needs to be on there, etc.
- Process - We have a solid vetting process in place before choosing a partner to help us understand what they're doing, what they've done in the past, who else they've partnered with, look at their existing pages, and so on.
- Partnership - It's important to have a partnership not only with our financial servicers, but with your supply publisher partners as well. They should understand that an escalation policy is part of the process - things happen and we understand that nobody is 100% perfect - but they should expect to hear from us if we find something, and be ready to remediate it immediately.
We followed up with the question, what are some things that you can do to get internal stakeholders to understand that you need to lead with compliance and have a process that's both man and machine?
A: In order to get this process started in your own organization, you should first understand the ins and outs of the product. Work with the product and engineering team to get a solid understanding of what you're selling, and THEN develop a process off of that. Remind your team that you are here to help them, not hold them back, and leading with compliance leads to better revenue, data, and transparency.
Recent Happenings with TCPA
Next, we turned to Puja Amin, Corporate Counsel at loanDepot.
Q: You in particular have an extensive background in TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) compliance. What are your thoughts on some of the recent happenings with TCPA, specifically the Supreme Court hearing?
A: One thing that is near and dear to our hearts in this industry right now that the Supreme Court didn't take up is what the definition of an ATDS [automatic telephone dialing system] really is. We know that the definition is written to include random or sequential number generation, however, the courts are completely split on this issue. If the ATDS gets struck down, I'm sure there are going to be some state laws that come out very similar to TCPA.
So then we asked, what are your recommendations on what companies should be following and looking at to ensure that their company is protected and adhering to guidelines?
A: Following Jordan's point, make sure you really understand the processes for how you are contacting consumers so you can get in there and provide guidance based on the statue. On top of that, it helps to have a great outside counsel to have that protection in place.
Lead Generators and Deceptive Marketing
We then moved to Jonathan Pompan, Partner at Venable LLP.
Q: We recently read some content from you around the case where an education company was held liable for the deceptive marketing tactics of their lead generators. From your perspective, how has this case impacted the way companies work with lead generators?
A: You have to understand the stream of leads from start to finish and what's happening around the generation of that lead. You have to follow the leads and identify if at any point there's an instance of noncompliance. While it may be possible to correct, it's very difficult - that's why due diligence is important.
How COVID-19 Affects the Regulatory Environment
We then jumped into a conversation about how COVID-19 is affecting the regulatory environment.
Jonathan shared that there are a few things that are happening right now:
- The FTC, CFPB, and State AGs are extremely active in protection efforts around COVID, especially in financial services. It's a hot area for enforcement and scrutiny right now, so it's very important to ensure compliance.
- A boomerang effect is bound to happen similar to 2008-2010, where consumers are still feeling the financial effects of the pandemic, and where regulators really clamp down on products and services offered and the sales channels that could be used-it's extremely important to stay compliant, self-regulate, and heighten the standards of the industry.
- Regulators are cracking down on companies that claim to cure or improve conditions related to COVID.
Puja added that regulators and the FTC are applying strict scrutiny to anything COVID-related, including PPP and CARES Act advertising, so platforms like PerformLine are crucial with things moving so quickly - especially on social media.
Jordan added that at Even, they always ensure that their lead generators are not using scare tactics, which is especially important now in light of the current pandemic. It's important to have automation, like PerformLine, and to review manually to ensure that they are not doing anything they shouldn't be.
Compliance Monitoring to Score Partners
With that, we went back to Jordan to touch on a topic he mentioned earlier.
Q: You have some interesting thoughts on how the supply side can benefit from being compliant and how monitoring compliance scores can provide higher payouts. Can you tell us some more about how you're using that?
A: One of the big things that I have always instilled in my compliance teams is that it's really about establishing a compliance partnership. Once we onboard a new partner, we'll hop on a friendly call just to say "hey, we're here to help, this is a relationship, we're here to make sure that you do the right things to be successful."
That's where revenue and scoring come in. We have found that when you look at compliant pages and compliant partners, we attribute higher revenue to that. That is because things are more transparent, the consumer understands what's happening, and they're going to actively engage.
More compliant partners mean greater and longer relationships. It's a working relationship, and there's less stress without dealing with remediations constantly.
Compliance on Social Media
The conversation then steered to Puja for some insights on social media compliance.
Q: What are some of the challenges that you think are important for companies who use social media to attract leads?
A: We don't want to take loan officers’ independence away, but rather provide guidance and education on what's appropriate and compliant, and how to better their social media content to protect themselves, loanDepot and consumers. An automated monitoring platform like PerformLine helps us to see what's going on and keep an eye on our officers in a speedy way. If I'm trying to go on individually checking each person's social media account, I'm going to sleep less than I already do!
Loan officer's social media posts are a reflection of you and your company, so it's important to monitor for regulatory and legal issues. You can't expect them to know every detail, so it's our job to help them.
For our last question, we went back to Jonathan.
Q: What exactly should buyers ask for with audit rights in their contracts with generators?
A: The audit rights will vary depending on the nature of the counterparts and the activities that everyone's involved in, but the buyer of the lead will need access to a variety of information, including what happened with the lead to satisfy regulatory requirements. Audit rights are a very big component of being able to ensure compliance. At any point in time, especially for financial services, there's a high likelihood that you could be reviewed, and you want to be able to demonstrate compliance and good-faith efforts and practices.
For even more information and insights, check out the entire session recording here.