Preamble and Applicability
The NRMLA Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility (Code of Ethics) describes
Values shared and Rules applicable to all NRMLA Members. Under the Code of Ethics,
NRMLA Members generally are responsible and will be held responsible for the actions or
failures to act of their officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives.
NRMLA Members unable or unwilling to commit and to adhere to the Values and comply with
the Rules, or that are determined by the NRMLA Ethics and Standards Committee not to
have so complied, may not be NRMLA Members.
This Codes of Ethics does not describe, nor does it attempt to describe, the full
range of conduct and behavior to which NRMLA Members may subscribe or adhere as they
participate in the reverse mortgage marketplace and interact with consumers in an
ethical, professionally responsible, and lawful manner. What the Code of Ethics does
describe are the Values and Rules applicable to NRMLA Members if they are to be and
remain NRMLA Members. Accordingly, the Code of Ethics does not define the standards and
behavior of a NRMLA Member for the purpose of determining its civil or criminal
This Code of Ethics also does not impose on NRMLA Members the duty of learning or
disclosing technical facts pertaining to taxation, real estate law, retirement planning
or financial advice involving the real estate or financial markets.
This Codes of Ethics also does not confer any rights upon any NRMLA Member or any
complainant or third party.
Composition and Scope
The Code of Ethics is divided into two parts: Part 1 – Values and Part II
– Rules. The Values convey the ethical and professional principles that NRMLA
Members are expected to portray in all business and professional interactions. The
Rules address the guidelines and standards of ethical and professional behavior
applicable to NRMLA Members.
Member organizations are required to adhere to the Values and comply with the Rules
of the Code of Ethics if they are to be and remain NMRLA Members. The Ethics and
Standards Committee will investigate, review and take appropriate action with respect
to 1) alleged violations of the Code of Ethics by NRMLA Members, under the policies and
procedures set forth in Appendix A.
Part 1 – Values
NRMLA Members are mindful that the soundness, usefulness, prosperity and future of
our industry depend upon their honor and integrity, and on the manner in which they
interact with each other and with the seniors whose interests they serve. Accordingly,
each NRMLA Member agrees to observe and maintain and adhere to the following
Value 1: Fairness
NRMLA Members shall treat consumers with respect and dignity, and in a manner that
is fair, reasonable and as they would want to be treated.
Value 2: Confidentiality
NRMLA Members shall appropriately respect, protect, preserve and safeguard the
privacy of and confidentiality of information obtained from and about consumers.
Value 3: Integrity
NRMLA Members shall act with integrity, adhering both to the letter and the spirit
of this Code of Ethics, and appropriately and timely disclosing to consumers potential
conflicts of interest.
Value 4: Competence
NMRLA Members shall provide services to consumers in a competent manner, acquiring
and maintaining necessary and appropriate knowledge, skills and experience to do so,
and referring consumers to others with such knowledge, skills and experience when they
are unable to do so.
Value 5: Diligence
NRMLA Members shall provide services to consumers with diligence and due care,
promptly, thoughtfully, in a manner considerate of the interests of consumers and fully
in compliance with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements.
Value 6: Professionalism
NRMLA Members’ conduct shall reflect positively on NRMLA, the profession and
the industry. 2
Part II – Rules
Consistent with the Values described in Part I, NRMLA Members agree to comply with
the following Rules (as applicable). Rules Related to the Value of Fairness
NRMLA Members shall timely and accurately describe to consumers:
- Material information relevant to the relationship, including, the Member’s
business affiliation, contact information, and the scope of and limitations on the
Member’s authority to act; and
- The information required by all laws applicable to the relationship in a manner
complying with such laws, including counseling agency contact information, estimates
of fees and charges, and relationships with others who may be assisting or providing
NRMLA Members compensation shall be reasonable in amount and clearly and timely
described to consumers. Estimates shall be clearly identified as such and be based on
NRMLA Members directly or indirectly offering or providing goods or services to
consumers (including, for example, insurance or investment products) in conjunction
with or that are related to their reverse mortgage lending activities for such
consumers, shall do so only in a manner consistent with applicable law and under terms
and conditions that are clearly and timely described to such consume rs.
NRMLA Members shall not, directly or indirectly, solicit or communicate with
consumers through false or misleading or deceptive or unfair communications or
advertisements or in any manner inconsistent with applicable law. In such
communications and advertisements, NRMLA Members shall not refer to third parties
(including, for example, HUD or the FHA or the federal government or the AARP) unless
such third parties have agreed to be so referred to therein. A communication or
advertisement on behalf of NRMLA Member clearly shall identify that NRMLA Member.
NRMLA Members shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or
misrepresentation, or knowingly make a material false or misleading statement to
consumers or others. 3
NRMLA Members shall offer and provide their products and services to all consumers
who may be eligible or qualified for them, and in compliance with all applicable fair
housing and fair lending laws.
NRMLA Members shall describe to consumers the range of programs and products offered
by the Member that may provide a bona fide advantage to such consumers.
In appropriate cases, NRMLA Members shall encourage consumers to review contemplated
transactions with their family members or trusted advisors, and shall reasonably
cooperate in such reviews.
NRMLA Members shall make a good-faith effort to resolve concerns received from
consumers about the products and services they offer or provide to them.
Rules Related to the Value of Confidentiality
NRMLA Members shall take reasonable steps (including implementing appropriate
training and compliance procedures) to help assure that the privacy of and
confidentiality of information obtained from and about consumers is respected,
protected, honored and safeguarded, and shall do so in a manner consistent with
Rules Related to the Value of Integrity
NRMLA Members shall accurately describe both the costs and benefits of the products
and services presented to consumers.
NMRLA Members shall not require directly or indirectly that products or services
other than the reverse mortgage loans they offer or provide, also must be purchased by
consumers in order to obtain reverse mortgage loans from or through them.
Other than as appropriate under the circumstances (including for example to pay
third party costs, make prior loan payoffs or fund set-asides directly related to
reverse mortgage transactions), and unless otherwise directed by consumers, NRMLA
Members shall arrange for the disbursements of reverse mortgage loan proceeds directly
to such consumers. 4
Material potential conflicts of interests involving NRMLA Members and consumers
shall timely and accurately be described to consumers prior to the rendering of
material services by such Member so that they, assisted as appropriate by family
members, trusted advisors and counselors, reasonably may assess whether and the
circumstances under which they may choose to do business with such NRMLA Members.
Rules Related to the Value of Competence
NRMLA Members shall acquire and maintain the necessary and appropriate knowledge,
skills and experience required to competently offer and provide their products and
services in a manner consistent with this Code of Ethics and applicable law, including,
as applicable, in the origination, processing, underwriting, closing and servicing of
reverse mortgage loans.
NRMLA Members shall advise consumers to seek legal, tax, and investment counsel and
advice, if it may reasonable appears to be in the interests of such consumers that they
do so, prior to making decisions involving reverse mortgages. NRMLA Members not
qualified and appropriately licensed to provide such counsel and advice to consumers
shall not do so, and shall, instead, refer such consumers to those who are.
Rules Related to the Value of Diligence
NRMLA Members shall exercise reasonable efforts to secure sufficient information to
determine the consumer’s needs and objectives.
NRMLA Members shall provide their products and services to consumers with diligence
and due care and in a manner considerate of the interests of such consumers.
Rules Related to the Value of Professionalism
NRMLA Members shall take reasonable steps to help assure that their employees
understand and act in a manner consistent with the requirements of this Code of
NRMLA Members shall neither accept no condone actions or failures to act of other
NRMLA Members that are inconsistent with this Code of Conduct. NRMLA Members
knowledgeable about potential material violations of this Code of Ethics by others
subject to its provisions strongly are encouraged to bring such potential violations to
the attention of NRMLA in the manner described in this Code of Ethics. 5
NRMLA Members shall not bring or threaten to bring complaints under this Code of
Ethics, or make or threaten to make use of this Code of Ethics, for no substantial
purpose other than to harass, maliciously injure, embarrass and/or unfairly burden
another NRMLA Member.
NRMLA Members timely shall pay to NRMLA amounts due and owing to it related to their
membership in NRMLA.
NRMLA Members shall comply (with the advice of qualified counsel as appropriate)
with all applicable regulatory requirements include provisions of the federal Real
Estate Settlement Procedures Act barring among things referral fees and kickbacks,
state mortgage regulatory provisions requiring licensing, and, with respect to
FHA-insured HECM reverse mortgage loans, FHA requirements regarding licensing and
employees and restricting arrangements with third parties.
NRMLA Members reasonably shall cooperate with NRMLA and its Standards and Ethics
Committee in their consideration of complaints under this Code of Ethics made against
or involving them. NRMLA Members shall honor the confidentiality requirements described
in Appendix A of the Code of Ethics that are applicable to them.
NRMLA Members shall employ individuals who have passed a background check and are
determined by them to be of good moral character. 6
NRMLA’s Policies and Procedures: Code of Ethics Complaints Against
(As Revised June 16, 2009) The President of NRMLA will receive and review complaints
that NRMLA Members have violated the NRMLA Code of Ethics and take action, including
referring complaints to the Co-Chairs of the NRMLA Ethics and Standards Committee for
consideration by the Committee, pursuant to the following policies and procedures. The
President of NRMLA, in consultation with the General Counsel of NRMLA as appropriate,
shall have the discretion to vary these procedures when it is determined that to do so
would be in the best interests of NRMLA and its Members. These policies and procedures
do not confer any rights upon any NRMLA Member or any complainant or third party.
Source of Complaints
A. Complaints May Originate From:
- Members (including but not limited to the President of NRMLA and the Co-Chairs
and Members of the Ethics and Standards Committee), or
- Non-Members (including consumers)
B. Complaints May Be Against:
- Members, or
Receipt and Review of Complaints
A. Complaints initially will be referred to and reviewed by the President of
B. NRMLA shall not review or act upon anonymous complaints. (However, in limited
circumstances, as described below, NRMLA may respond to complaints without further
identifying the complainant.)
C. Complaints against Non-Members
NRMLA will respond to complaints against Non-Members by informing the complainant that
NRMLA is unable to take action in response to such complaints, and, where appropriate,
refer the complaining party to an 7 appropriate agency or authority if it appears that
they may be able to be of assistance. In addition, or as an alternative, NRMLA itself
may bring such complaints to the attention of such agencies or authorities with a
request that they make such further inquiries and take such further steps, in response
to such complaints, as they deem appropriate.
D. Complaints against Members
- Complaints against Members should contain sufficient facts to permit an
“initial determination” to be made by the President of NRMLA.
- If, in the judgment of the President, the complaint contains sufficient facts
upon which the President may make an “initial determination,” the
President shall take one of two actions:
- If the complainant does not state a complaint against a Member of the
type or scope that warrants further action, the President shall inform the
complainant of that determination by the President and the decision of the
President shall be final. The President concurrently shall report all such
determinations to the Co-Chairs of the Ethics and Standards Committee,
including a brief statement of the reasons for the determination.
- If the complainant states a complaint against a Member of the type and
scope that warrants further action, the President shall seek and secure from
the complainant the complainant’s agreement that the written complaint
or any statements contained or information included therein (including but
not limited to the identity of the complainant) may be shared with the Member
that is the subject of the complaint or any other party deemed necessary and
appropriate to assist in better understanding or resolving the complaint,
including members of the Ethics and Standards Committee, the Board of
Directors, and General Counsel.
- If, in the judgment of the President, the complainant does not recite and
include sufficient facts or allegations upon which the President may make an
”initial determination,” NRMLA will notify the complaining party that
additional facts are required and provide an additional ten (10) business days
from the date of such letter for the complainant to supplement the complaint. In
any event, before forwarding a complaint to the Ethics and Standards Committee or
any other person or entity, the President shall secure the agreement of the
complainant that the written complaint and any statements contained or
information included therein (including but 8 not limited to the identity of the
complainant) may be shared with the Member that is the subject of the complaint
or any other party deemed necessary and appropriate to assist in better
understanding or resolving the complaint, including members of the Ethics and
Standards Committee, the Board of Directors, and General Counsel. Absent special
circumstances, a refusal by a complainant to agree to such sharing of the
complaint (with the identify of the complainant redacted as requested and
appropriate) will result in an initial determination by the President that NRMLA
will take no further action in response to the complaint, and the notification to
the complainant (and the Ethics and Standards Committee Co-Chairs) of that final
determination by the President
- Upon receipt of the complainant’s affirmative response to a NRMLA
acknowledgement and letter of agreement, the President generally shall provide the
Member about which the complaint has been made with an opportunity to respond to the
- Ordinarily, the President will provide the respondent Member ten (10) business
days to respond in writing. Absent special circumstances, the failure of a respondent
to deny or explain any material fact alleged in the complaint within the established
response period will be deemed an admission of such fact.
- The President, based on the complaint and/or the response thereto, and other
investigation and consideration of the matter as the President deems necessary and
appropriate, shall decide either:
- to take no further action in regards to the complaint, having concluded that
it is not of the type or scope to warrant further NMRLA action (in which event
the President shall so notify the complainant and the respondent Member, and the
Ethics and Standards Committee Co-Chairs (accompanied by a brief explanation of
the basis for the President’s determination); or
- to refer the complaint and response and related materials to the Co-Chairs of
the Ethics and Standards Committee, accompanied by a brief explanation of the
President’s reasons for so referring the complaint.
Review and Action by the Ethics and Standards Committee
A. Unless either Ethics and Standards Committee Co-Chair disagrees with President
(in which case the Ethics and Standards Committee Co-Chair shall so notify the
President and Chair of the Board of Directors), the Ethics and Standards Committee
shall review the complaint, response and related information referred for action by the
B. On the basis thereof, and other investigation and consideration of the matter as
the Ethics and Standards Committee deems necessary and appropriate, the NRMLA Ethics
and Standards Committee shall determine whether the NRMLA Code of Ethics has been
violated by the Member that is the subject of the complaint, and, if so, the Ethics and
Standards Committee shall determine the action of NRMLA in response thereto. In
general, and subject to the provisions of Section C immediately below, actions by the
Ethics and Standards Committee against a Member shall be limited to probation (for a
specified period, during which another Code of Ethics violation will lead to suspension
or withdrawal of NRMLA Member membership), suspension of NRMLA Member membership (for a
specified period of time), or withdrawal of NRMLA Member membership for at least three
years. A copy of the opinion shall be provided to the complainant, the Member
respondent (with redaction of the complainant’s name, as appropriate), the
President, and the Co-Chairs of the NRMLA Board of Directors. Opinions of the NRMLA
Ethics and Standards Committee are final decisions of NRMLA, subject to the provisions
of Section C immediately below.
C. In addition, in circumstances in which the Ethics and Standards Committee
determines it to be appropriate, the Committee may decide publicly to:
- describe the actions taken by the Committee;
- describe the Committee’s reasoning;
- describe the facts and circumstances that prompted the Committee to act;
- subject to additional safeguards described immediately below (the
“Additional Safeguards”), identify the NRMLA Member subject its action,
by name (with (iv) referred to in these Policies and Procedures as “Naming the
Respondent”). Among the circumstances in which the Ethics and Standards
Committee may determine it appropriate to Name the Respondent are when it concludes
that doing so may serve the Values for which the NRMLA Code of Ethics has been
published. Those Values include an express recognition by NRMLA’s Members that
“the soundness, usefulness, prosperity and future of our industry depend on the
manner in which they interact with each other and with the seniors whose interests
As Additional Safeguards, when the Committee determines it to be appropriate to Name
the Respondent, it shall notify the NRMLA Member of that determination, and of the
intention of NRMLA to do so unless the affected NRMLA Member timely appeals that
determination (and describes the basis for its appeal), to NRMLA , in writing, within
ten (10) days of that notification. A timely appeal shall be decided by a special
three-person Appeals Committee comprised of three (3) Directors appointed by the
Co-Chairs of NRMLA, none of whom shall have been members of the Standards and Ethics
Committee that made the determination to Name the Respondent. There is no requirement
that the Appeals Committee be a “standing” committee of NRMLA. Neither the
NRMLA Member nor its lawyer or representative may appear before, argue before, or
contact the Appeals 10 11 Committee; the appeal shall be in writing, only. The Appeals
Committee, in its discretion, may uphold or reverse the decision of the Standards and
Ethics Committee to Name the Respondent. Decisions of the Appeals Committee are final
decisions of NRMLA.
D. The Ethics Committee shall confer with the President and the General Counsel, as
appropriate, and no adverse action shall be taken against a Member without the prior
concurrence of the General Counsel that it is action that NRMLA may take against such
Member under applicable law and NRMLA’s policies and procedures and this Code of
E. The President of NRMLA and the Co-Chairs of the Ethics and Standards Committee
shall submit written quarterly reports to the Board of Directors as to the actions
taken or not taken with respect to complaints received by the President, and as to
recommendations with respect to appropriate amendments to these Policies and
Procedures, and the Code of Ethics, as appropriate.
All Members and NRMLA staff, including but not limited to the President; the
Co-Chairs and members of the Ethics and Standards Committee; and members of the Board
of Directors, shall maintain the strict confidentiality of all complaints, responses,
recommendations and opinions related to any complaints subject to these Policies and
Procedures and the Code of Ethics, except as otherwise expressly provide in this NRMLA
Code of Ethics. A violation by any Member of this requirement for maintaining strict
confidentiality shall be considered by NRMLA to be a violation by such Member of the
Code of Ethics