Melissa Kozicki: Collaborating on Future Mortgage Technology


PERSON OF THE WEEK: Since October 2020, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been engaging the mortgage industry through a number of “tech sprints.” Designed to connect CFPB staff and industry technologists with consumer, financial, and regulatory stakeholders for short, intense problem-solving sessions. These events culminate in a Demonstration Day where each sprint team shares their innovation with a panel of evaluating experts.

MortgageOrb recently caught up with Melissa Kozicki, director of compliance for Mortgage Cadence, who participated in the CFPB’s second tech sprint in March.

Q: The first tech sprint, last October, focused on electronic disclosures. What did the March event focus on?

Kozicki: The most recent CFPB tech sprint, the one I participated in, took place March 22-26 and focused on the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and the data lenders must gather from consumers for their reports, much of which is made public. As you know, thousands of financial institutions submit annual HMDA data for millions of transactions.

The CFPB has stated that the goal of the sprints was to show how advanced technology can strengthen compliance, encourage innovation, drive down cost and burden, and promote transparency.

For the March event, sprint participants were separated into 17 teams to develop solutions on either the HMDA Data Submissions Track or the HMDA Data Publications Track. At the end, each team had the opportunity to show what they had developed.

Q: As a compliance expert, what was your role?

Kozicki: I was assigned to one of the 17 teams and supported my group as we worked our way through our solution. But I had the opportunity to work with several teams as they researched regulatory and operational questions. 

For instance, I was able to help technologists who have never had to file HMDA data better understand which data points lenders are most likely to struggle with, which are the hardest to get right for their reporting, and also which data points might be optional for some lenders.

I always enjoy sharing regulatory insight, but I think my help really consisted of explaining the process from the lenders’ point of view and how lenders collect the various data at different stages of the origination process. 

The process was collaborative, not competitive, and that’s what made this event really enjoyable for me. The CFPB staff is committed to fostering innovation across the industry, so they made themselves available for the entire week – their technology, their developers, and they even brought in their colleagues from the Census Bureau to help answer questions.

So, we had all of these experts on hand every day for a week, for anyone who wanted to participate in this. It was a really good experience.

Q: So, what was your team working on?

Kozicki: The team I was officially assigned to was working through the challenges of implementing blockchain for the reporting of HMDA data. Another group whose work I really enjoyed chose an interesting path in illustrating for the CFPB where the Bureau could do better with the documentation for some of their own technology.

Other sprint teams were working on some exciting ways to make the HMDA data more accessible to consumers, academics and researchers. The work we were doing would ultimately benefit the consumer, so it was fascinating and educational watching those ideas develop. The CFPB did a great job of working to foster innovation along whatever lines the participants wanted to pursue.

Q: What kind of companies were invited to take part in the tech sprint?

Kozicki: That’s the best part. CFPB opened this up to anyone in the industry who wanted to send experts to participate. There was a great mix of industry vendors, consumer groups, researchers, statisticians and government experts. Anyone who was interested in innovating was welcome, and you didn’t have to be an expert in technology to participate. I found it very inclusive. 

Q: Would you recommend participating in an upcoming CFPB Tech Sprint?

Kozicki: Wholeheartedly. I thought it was a great experience. I think the most interesting thing to me was that the Bureau wasn’t just fostering innovation, but they were also soliciting feedback on their role in the HMDA process. The staff in attendance was sincere in their desire to hear what they could do to improve. I was very impressed.

The Bureau has shared the results from its first two tech sprints on its website.

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