Certification Discounts: It’s Not Just For NAMFS

We had our follow up interview with Michelle Hirsch, Vice President of Brunswick Companies, Thursday.  Many of you recall that we were following up on a tip that the National Association of Mortgage Field Services (NAMFS) is attempting to have its Certification be used for the basis of discounts upon General Liability (GL) and Errors and Omissions (E&O).  This was the response to our inquiry to NAMFS:

Mr. Williams,

I have spoken with the Officers and here is NAMFS response to the allegation:

NAMFS is not engaged in forcing certification through member Insurance Companies.  NAMFS has spoken with member insurance companies about the industry in general and the large number of claims they are experiencing.  The Association also discussed with these companies the possibility of some benefit for those that are certified.  That said, none of the companies have agreed to any such benefit.  Please feel free to contact any of the aforementioned member insurance companies for confirmation.

Thank you.

Eric

While we cannot confirm whom the “Officers” were, we presume they were the Board of Directors (BoD).  Eric is Eric Miller, Executive Director of NAMFS.  The Statement they rendered is somewhat misleading.  Let me tell you why.

During my phone interview I was informed by Ms. Hirsch that, “…we sent their Certification to the Underwriters for consideration.”  I pursued this line of questioning in several directions and came away with the impression and ultimately the confirmation that the NAMFS Certification model is being considered for the basis to award discounts on Policies.

This, ladies and gentlemen, this is the most ground breaking revelation I have reported on since the wanted felons at PPMS were hired by CooperCitiWest (CCW)!  In case you didn’t know much about CCW, they have a history that in many opinions should have barred them from ever being in the running for Contracts under the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Marketing and Management (M&M) Program.

 I cannot understand how HUD would allow a former FSM (City West Remi Geahel) team up with his former GTR from HUD (Jannis Cooper) and form a new small business Cooper-CitiWest.

Really, though, not that dissimilar to what is going on under the HUD 3.5 wherein we see from a Source speaking on condition of anonymity stated,

Key Solutions is even more interesting.  It is owned by the daughter of PEMCO Ltd, a current and longtime HUD contractor.  PEMCO saw 3.5 coming, knew they wouldn’t qualify as small enough, and thus, in my opinion, spun off a company in the name of the daughter, who by the way runs PEMCO.  Conflict?  Hmmn, you think?

I digress.  With NAMFS we are talking about a model of Certification being sold for hundreds of dollars by a non profit organization; a business association with 501(c)(6) status with the knowledge that it will target NON NAMFS Members.  Not really illegal; however, interesting to note.  More on point, when I spoke with Ms. Hirsch I was advised it is the only Certification Model currently in front of the Underwriters.  This took me back for a moment.  To clarify, though, I have no qualms with NAMFS hustling their Certification Model to the Underwriters.   The language being used and the lack of choice thereof; the ability to have more than ONLY the NAMFS Certification Model, are the bigger issues.  To understand what I am saying, we need to clearly define some definitions.  Who better to define the language than the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

Certification – the provision by an independent body of written assurance (a certificate) that the product, service or system in question meets specific requirements.

Registration – certification is very often referred to as registration.

Accreditation – the formal recognition by an independent body, generally known as an accreditation body, that a certification body is capable of carrying out certification. Accreditation is not obligatory but it adds another level of confidence, as ‘accredited’ means the certification body has been independently checked to make sure it operates according to international standards.

In retrospect, something I have yet to understand is why the National Property Preservation Guild (NPPG) hasn’t tossed its proverbial hat into the ring.  I have it on good Sourcing that the NPPG employs a system of Initial Testing of its prospective members to determine their Level of Proficiency.  Several reports have surfaced that the NPPG has actually turned down memberships based upon the test results.  While leaving some jaded, it strikes me as a benchmark being set which the Industry has not seen before.  Pro active, as opposed to pro forma seems to be the mantra within the Guild.  If I were they I would contemplate placement of a Certification Model in front of the Underwriters as well.  I believe this may, in fact, be a defining moment for the Guild; Baptism Under Fire as we used to call it in the military.  It would be a public relations coup if they could, in fact, do such.

Back to our interview.  Ms. Hirsch stated that she was unaware of anyone else whom had a Certification Model.  I informed her that two good friends of mine, Robert Preston whom currently has several Certification Models in place utilizing the SCORM Platform which have been used by Regional Vendors and Terry Platt of the Cubic Yard fame!  She sounded truly surprised.  On that note I want to point out something about Ms. Hirsch that is rare in ANY business setting.  Ms. Hirsch is both articulate and honest.  I have always appreciated her candor and I truly believe that she is a woman of both integrity and vision.

After both of us concurring, with respect to the need for some type of metrics based educational model, Ms. Hirsch agreed to have the Certification Models I present to her submitted to the Underwriters for consideration.  I am hopeful that this will be accomplished no later than 28 MAY 2013.  I trust her statements to the aforementioned and we will make arrangements for Messrs. Preston and Platt’s Certification Models to be transmitted accordingly.  Obviously, we will follow this extremely closely as while almost all other aspects of the Property Preservation Industry (PPI) seem to be heading down a monopolistic path, State’s Insurance Commissioners become extremely pragmatic when it comes to consumer protection and even the slightest hint or perception of monopoly.

I want to make quite clear that NAMFS may very well have a Certification Model which is based upon PPI Standards.  At FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS + PER MODULE  (See at Frame 20:04) I am not sure how ANY Non NAMFS Member would ever benefit.  Moreover, with Companies such as VRM Mortgage Services and AIM Field Solutions now both requiring the Pay To Play scenarios with respect to Certification Models, it would only seem fair to allow All Hands On Deck with respect to Certification.

I would opine that NAMFS, quite obviously, has unbridled access to those whom dictate Policy both within the Financial and Governmental corridors of Power.  To date, though, there has been no willingness on behalf of Eric Miller nor NAMFS to publicly discuss their Certification Model.  I have reached out several times in an attempt to have a limited scope Interview with either he or a NAMFS Proxy to discuss general questions.  Truth be known, the NAMFS Certification Model could be a great thing.  While I may have reservations about NAMFS at other levels, I remain open minded and honestly believe that transparency could deliver a tremendous amount of mileage with respect to perception in the PPI.  I am hopeful that one day NAMFS would have the same candor and fortitude displayed by Michelle Hirsch at Brunswick Companies.  Ms. Hirsch, quite obviously, has been a breath of fresh air by way of comparison to what I have experienced with NAMFS.  For this reason one needs only look through the LinkedIn Group Discussions to realize how their actions have translated into new and diverse clientele.

In closing, I call upon Eric Miller to allow a Limited Scope Interview (LSI) to allow members of the General Public to learn about their Certification Model.  Quite honestly, as it would seem apparent, this Certification Model is going to be put into play by Underwriters eventually so if the desire is to truly benefit Client, Contractor and Taxpayer, why not allow such?  At the end of the day NAMFS is a non profit organization.  I believe Eric Miller to be an honest man and I give my word that I will unbiasedly report upon that which we discuss.

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