Mortgages are serious business, and in today’s economy, consumer and financial institutions alike are looking at the loan process with heightened perspective. Rich Cortés, a principal financial examiner for the state Department of Banking helps make sure that consumers are protected from unscrupulous loan originators and lenders, and that the process of obtaining a loan is fair and transparent.
Cortés had served in the Department of Banking’s Financial Institutions Division for 20 years when he transferred into the Department’s Consumer Credit Division, which licenses and regulates mortgage lenders, brokers and originators, as well as debt negotiators, collection agencies and check cashing services. Since joining the Consumer Credit Division, Cortés has collaborated with other regulators nationwide through the Conference of State Bank Supervisors to create a training program for new examiners, and assist in developing parts of the National Mortgage Licensing System.
“All of this allows us to more efficiently identify, measure, monitor and control risk in the mortgage origination system, and protect Connecticut residents,” says Cortés
Cortés is among just a few Spanish speakers with the department – a talent that was in high demand at several day-long, state-sponsored forums held this year to help distressed homeowners explore loan modification and foreclosure prevention options with their lenders.
“It can be difficult for people to understand mortgage paperwork. Many people don’t even read it before signing. Not all forms are available in Spanish, so it’s important for individuals with a language barrier to protect themselves and make sure they clearly understand the terms of their agreements or have someone present to interpret for them,” says Cortés.
The youngest of six children, Cortés was born in Connecticut, but was raised moving frequently between the family’s homes in Wallingford and Spain, where his parents and older siblings lived before coming to the U.S. “It was confusing being raised in two cultures. It was two completely different sets of communication styles. I was highly disadvantaged when I would enter a grade in Spain, as their grades move at a faster pace than in the U.S. I would always be behind. I would have to make up the material I’d never been taught, and keep up with my current studies in order to pass to the next grade,” he says.
When he’s not working, you can find him in his regular seat at Yankee Stadium, trying to fit in some time on his motorcycle, or searching for postage stamps for his Spanish and U.S. collections. Cortés is cultivating his cooking skills as well, and recently prepared a vegetable paella over a wood fire in his backyard.
Cortés has been a frequent speaker at events for the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry (NMLS), a nationwide platform that provides for improved coordination and information sharing among regulators, increased efficiencies for industry, and enhanced consumer protection.
Cortés holds a B.S. in finance from Central Connecticut State University and is certified as a Fiduciary and Investment Risk Manager by the Canon School of Financial Management. He serves on the Simsbury Public Building Committee and was recently elected to the town’s Planning Commission. He resides in Simsbury with his wife and three children.