CONCISE WRITING CREATES BETTER BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
Business executives and CEOs are openly expressing their preference for manageable bits of media as opposed to lengthy reports. Many people associate bullet points or lists with informality and casual communication. However, more and more professionals are accepting the science of the last decade, which shows that our attention spans are shrinking, and therefore, in many circumstances we respond better to piece-meal communications.
In this era of twitter and other length-regulated social media platforms, businesses would be savvy to revamp communications strategies, namely by aiming for shorter, less complex sentences that reflect clear thinking. Recognizing that there will always be exceptions to this “less is more” concept of corporate communications, it would certainly be worthwhile for communications staffers to keep in mind their audience, and keep in mind that almost any audience will respond better to short and clear-cut than lengthy and verbose.
CONSUMER FINANCIAL PROTECTION BUREAU ISSUES RULES AIMED AT PROTECTING HOMEOWNERS FACING FORECLOSURE
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently issued rules it believes will help prevent borrowers from losing their homes in unnecessary situations. The Bureau acted partially because of its contention that many mortgage servicers were unable to keep up with the numerous delinquent loans resulting from the housing crisis, which led them to institute unnecessary foreclosures.
The new requirements, which take effect in January 2014, contain the following provisions:
- Servicers may currently engage in a practice known as dual-tracking –beginning foreclosure proceedings on borrowers who are still actively seeking a loan modification or other alternative to the foreclosure. The new restriction requires servers to wait until the borrower falls at least 120 days behind on payments before filing the first foreclosure notice.
- What’s being coined as the 37-day rule provides that servicers must consider and respond to any borrower requests for loan modifications that come in at least 37 days before the scheduled foreclosure action.
- Borrowers must be notified of examples of alternatives to foreclosure after missing two consecutive payments. Furthermore, the servicers cannot only put forth foreclosure alternative that are favorable to the servicer and must also inform the borrower of options such as deferred payments or loan modifications.
- Borrowers will be able to have easier access to knowledgeable employees who can help them through any pre-foreclosure decisions and processes.
- Mortgage statements will have to be itemized by principal, interest, fees and escrow and will also need to contain the amount and due date of the next payment, in addition to alerts about fees. Borrowers will gain the right to a clearer mortgage statement.
- Where borrowers have an adjustable-rate mortgage, servicers will be required to notify them of upcoming interest rate changes that will affect their payments and will also be required to supply information about alternatives if the borrower expresses that the new payment will not be affordable.
- Servicers will be required to give advance notice to borrowers before buying “force-placed” insurance for them, since such insurance is often very expensive and the borrower owes all premiums.
- Consumers’ accounts must be credited on the same day a payment arrives. In addition, servicers will have only seven business days to respond to written requests by borrowers to pay off mortgage balances.
- Lastly, these regulations will force servicers to keep accurate and accessible documents about borrowers’ information. Servicers must have procedures in place to guarantee borrowers, investors or the courts timely and accurate information.
HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO VOTE ON EXTENDING DEBT CEILING
Both House Speaker John Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor have taken harsh stances on the April 15 budget deadline for the Senate and House. In a recently released statement, House Majority Leader Cantor went so far as to say that if the Senate or House is unable to pass a budget in three months, Congressmen “will not be paid by the American people for failing to do their job.”
Many cite the Senate’s previous failures to pass a budget on time as the crux of the national debt crisis. This focus on raising the debt ceiling is the subsequent result of the fiscal cliff dilemma that had Congress practically immobilized as Republicans and Democrats failed to reach consensus on how to avoid tax increases while cutting spending.