Remote Office Inspection Helps Financial Companies Comply With Laws And Agency Guidelines


Leaders at ActiveComply say their new digital service helps companies in highly regulated industries stay compliant while employing remote workers.

Banks, mortgage lenders, credit unions, and investment banking firms have to follow strict agency guidelines, as well as state and federal laws. Remote Office Inspection allows compliance teams at those institutions to document their efforts when employees are working outside of the office.

Rob Nunziata, co-founder and CEO of ActiveComply, uses the example of FHA home loan files, which must be protected under rules established by officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Nunziata said the most important thing to regulators is that consumer data is protected.

“We had a conversation with HUD early on and essentially, whether that worker is in the office or that worker is at home, they expect the same level of compliance whether it is at home or in the office. Whether it’s security, whether it’s keeping a laptop screen not open so that other people can’t see, whether it’s a lock on the door, or secure internet, all of those rules that if somebody were in the office, those same rules apply if somebody is working from home, ” Nunziata said in a recent interview with The Mortgage Note.

Nunziata said compliance is non-negotiable.

“You’ve got to make sure you’re following these rules and regulations,” Nunziata said.

Remote Office Inspection has a GPS location tracking tool to verify where employees are. On-site images and video allow for a virtual assessment of working conditions, according to a press release.

The way the software works is that a link is sent out to remote employees with a list of questions. There is a QR code employees scan with their phone and they are then asked to take a video of their office. Wi-fi speed is also verified.

It can be costly if companies don’t follow the rules.

In December of 2021, officials at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission announced that leaders at J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, a broker-dealer subsidiary of JPMorgan Chase & Co, had agreed to pay a $125 million penalty after the company was charged with failing to maintain and preserve written communications.

Officials claimed that from at least January 2018 through November 2020, J.P. Morgan employees communicated about securities business matters on their personal devices, using text messages, WhatsApp, and personal email accounts.

“None of these records were preserved by the firm as required by the federal securities laws. JPMS further admitted that these failures were firm-wide and that practices were not hidden within the firm. Indeed, supervisors, including managing directors and other senior supervisors – the very people responsible for implementing and ensuring compliance with JPMS’s policies and procedures – used their personal devices to communicate about the firm’s securities business,” the press release states.

Nunziata said remote and hybrid work options are attractive for employees, so he expects to see continued demand for the product.

“We have gotten a ton of interest in the product. I think the week before Christmas we did over 50 demos. A lot of the rules and regulations are in their infancy with remote work. A lot of these states have just enacted remote worker policies. We think those guidelines and those state laws and regulations are going to be refined as remote work continues to grow,” Nunziata said.

Research shows that although some employers have made headlines by demanding employees return to the office, 58% of Americans have the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week, 35% can work from home full-time, and 23% can work remotely part-time.

When employees have the option to work flexibly, 87% of them take it, according to McKinsey’s American Opportunity Survey.

In an article for LendingTree, writer Maggie Davis said analysts there used the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey data to determine that 29.1% of Americans worked from home within the past seven days during the month of October.

The rate of 25- to 39-year-olds working from home was up 4.4% YOY.

It is not yet clear how financial companies will structure their workforce in 2023, especially with layoffs underway, but a 2021 blog from Mark Palim, vice president and deputy chief economist at Fannie Mae, indicates that “a workplace model might emerge among mortgage lenders that features managerial roles and consumer-facing personnel working in central offices while more operational roles work remotely in geographically diverse locations.”

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