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On Tuesday, August 18th, The Oakleaf Group proudly served as a corporate sponsor for Women in Housing and Finance’s Annual Symposium. It was the 41st year that the event was hosted by WHF, the Washington D.C. area’s lead organization empowering women to learn from one another and other leaders in their industry, network and give back to the community. It is a mission that The Oakleaf Group is proud to support, and in addition to serving as lead sponsor, Managing Director Mary Pat Denney, also serves as Vice President on the WHF Board of Directors.

Mary Pat has found this organization to more than live up to its stated purpose. Year after year, the leadership and membership of WHF brings compelling speakers, many of whom are the authors and decision-makers on key housing and finance topics, in a very accessible format allowing for exceptional discussions.

Also in attendance were Oakleaf Group Staff and WHF members Amy Morton, Sally Pak and Amanda Bateman.

In accordance with social distancing measures still being observed through much of the D.C., Virginia and Maryland region, this year the symposium went digital. Not only did the shift to an online format go off without a hitch—with attendees still enjoying opportunities to network in chat-like forums and pitch questions to high-profile leaders on the topic of “What You Need to Know in Compliance Policy and Regulation Today,” the theme of this year’s symposium—as one of the higher profile events of its kind taking place during a volatile, ever-changing time in markets, the regulatory landscape and the housing and finance industries, there was no shortage of knowledge and insight shared amongst speakers and attendees.

Given the theme of this year’s events, major topics covered included consumer finance, particularly around COVID compliance from regulators; student debt, with concepts regarding the pandemic and effect on consumer lending woven into the discussion; and forbearance, with an emphasis on its impacts on borrowers as well as the financial system.

Keynote speakers included U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger and Precious Williams, Founder and CEO of Perfect Pitches by Precious. The latter provided attendees with a lively and engaging “elevator pitch master class” on how people can effectively communicate their value and brand. Oakleaf Group particularly applauds the many efforts by the CFPB during the COVID pandemic to post clear information on their website to help inform borrowers so that they are not taken advantage of as so many new and unique financial products and rules have been rapidly promulgated. In addition, Director Kraninger delivered a welcome surprise announcement, utilizing this event to publicly announce breaking news to attendees regarding the CFPB’s new “seasoned loan” proposal.

The notice of proposed rulemaking—issued that same day and accessible on the CFPB’s website here—would effectively create a new performance-based, “seasoned loan” category of “qualified mortgage (QM).” The proposal is one of the efforts by the administration to address the expiration of the QM patch in 2021, which many are concerned could have detrimental effects to the affordability and availability of housing loans for those Americans with the greatest need. You can find the full statement from WHF on Director Kraninger’s announcement here.

Additionally, Oakleaf Group would like to highlight the exceptional value attendees derived from the panel: “Growing Consumer Debt and How It Is Impacting Homeowners.” Speakers on this panel included:

  • Allyson Baker – Venable LLP
  • Dr. Ling Ling Ang – National Economic Research Associates
  • Aurora Bristor – Fannie Mae
  • Sarah DucichNavient
  • Laurie Schaffer – Federal Reserve Bank
  • Eric Froman – U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • Anna Kovner – Federal Reserve Bank of New York

This discussion entailed a fantastic review of the state of student loan forbearance, including increasing complexity in modeling the expected performance of student debt impacted by COVID events, vs. using historical performance metrics drawn from prior economic events. As a firm rooted in the data modeling practice, Oakleaf Group attendees, and doubtlessly our industry colleagues at large, greatly appreciated the thoughtfulness and value contributed by this discussion.