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Legal Risks Associated with Mortgage Loan Officer Compensation

How a bank compensates mortgage loan officers can present legal risk for the bank.  Banks need to make sure their compensation practices comply with the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and related state laws, as well as Regulation Z.

Threshold Question: Are Loan Officers Exempt or Non-Exempt?

The exempt / non-exempt status of mortgage loan officers has been heavily-litigated in recent years and has been the subject of several Department of Labor opinion letters.  The inquiry remains very fact-specific and depends on what the loan officers actually do not just on their job descriptions. Relevant questions include:

  • How the mortgage loan officers are compensated (salary basis, hourly basis, commissions, etc.)
  • How much time (hours/week) the loan officers spend in the office (including a home office)
  • What the loan officers do while in the office.
  • What they do while working outside of the office.
  • How involved the loan officers are in generating sales. (e.g., meeting with prospective borrowers at their homes or other locations, meeting with referral sources such as real estate agents, developers, etc.)
  • How much time (hours/week) the loan officers spend generating sales.
  • Others duties and responsibilities of the loan officers.
  • How much time (hours/week) loan officers spend on those other duties and responsibilities (e.g., completing loan applications, gathering credit information and other documentation for the loan application process, etc.)
  • How much judgment and discretion the mortgage loan officers exercise.
  • How much flexibility the mortgage loan officers have in setting work hours and schedules.
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Prepaid Cards That Access Lines of Credit Are "Credit Cards"

On March 18, 2011, the Federal Reserve Board of Governors issued a Supplementary Information and Final Regulation and Commentary (“Supplementary Information”) which, among other things, clarified the definition of credit card. The following Client Alert focuses on how the new Supplementary Information impacts debit and prepaid cards that access a separate line of credit.

Since publication of the February 2010 and June 2010 Final Rules, the Board has become aware that clarification is needed to resolve confusion regarding how institutions must comply with particular aspects of those rules. In order to provide guidance and facilitate compliance with the final rules, the Board published proposed amendments to portions of the regulation and the accompanying staff commentary on November 2, 2010. See 75 FR 67458 (November 2010 Proposed Rule).

With respect to prepaid cards, the Supplementary Information discusses what happens when a customer opens a line of credit in connection with a prepaid card account.  Depending on how the line of credit works, the prepaid card or prepaid card account number, or both, may be deemed a “credit card” under Reg Z. If the prepaid card or its account number is a credit card, then all Reg Z requirements applicable to a “credit card account under an open-end (not home-secured) plan” would apply.

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