Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Q&A with USFN's Hultman: Mortgage Banking Interviewed Alberta Hultman, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of USFN, about the Tough Challenges Facing Law Firms Specializing in Default Servicing

Magazine article Mortgage Banking

Q&A with USFN's Hultman: Mortgage Banking Interviewed Alberta Hultman, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of USFN, about the Tough Challenges Facing Law Firms Specializing in Default Servicing

Article excerpt

If there is any group that's been on the front lines of the whole foreclosure crisis, it's probably the trade association for foreclosure attorneys. USFN is the official name of that organization and its members have been watching the whole thing unfold--in courtrooms, city halls and statehouses across the country. [paragraph] USFN is a national not-for-profit association of law firms, trustee companies and others who specialize in foreclosure, bankruptcy, loss mitigation, real estate-owned (REO) and other servicing issues. This year, USFN celebrates its 25th anniversary, and in recent years, it has been at the center of a host of changes and new restrictions on the legal process behind foreclosures and default servicing. [paragraph] We interviewed the group's chief executive officer and executive director--Alberta ("Bert") Hultman--to get her bird's-eye view of some of the default servicing industry's most challenging developments in recent times. [paragraph] The group provides educational programs and is an active supporter of MORPAC (the political action committee of the Mortgage Bankers Association [MBA]). USFN's Executive Committee works with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to assist in developing policies and rules that affect the servicing business.

Q: How long have you been with USFN and what did you do before joining the organization?

A: I joined USFN in 2002. I served the organization on an interim basis for my first few months as they conducted a national search for a new executive director. I was fortunate enough to get the job and I have been serving in the role now for almost 12 years.

I have been providing support and strategic direction in various organizational management positions with professional societies and trade associations since 1976. Although I had never worked with attorneys before and had no banking or real estate industry experience, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by many industry experts--our members. I have leveraged my organizational management skills and they have brought their real estate, banking and legal expertise. We have made a great team.

Q: Is there anything in your prior experience that prepared you for the challenging times that the default servicing industry has faced in recent years?

A: I was working in the high-tech industry during the dotcom bust, so I have seen my fair share of challenges. I was also working in the health-care industry during a major battle seeking greater rights for psychologists in hospitals. That was a very political battle, not unlike what we have seen in our own industry over the last several years.

I came to USFN with an understanding of how organizations--even competitors--can, and should, work together to achieve a common goal. I'm not a lobbyist, nor do I want to be one, but I do know how things operate and how to get things done.

Q: What have been some of the most important achievements USFN has accomplished in recent years that have really benefited the overall default servicing industry?

A: We are not lobbyists, so unlike MBA, we cannot point to a piece of legislation and say, "We did that." But we have really stepped up our involvement with the MBA and other organizations in establishing relationships and making sure that the concerns of servicers and their law firms are heard by organizations like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB] and the agencies of the federal government that deal with housing issues.

We have become very good at connecting with political representatives as well as members of housing communities and citizen groups to raise and share our concerns. We have met with the CFPB several times as they have become more dominant in the servicing regulation arena.

We worked very closely with the Treasury Department, in a consultative role, as the Home Affordable Modification Program [HAMP] regulations were first being developed. …

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