Since March of this year, the media has highlighted the language industry with increased frequency. Much of the focus is on interpreters because they are on the front lines of the medical fight against COVID-19. Interpreters possess the valuable skillsets that have positively affected the health of limited English proficient (LEP) patients.
But the global pandemic has had other far-reaching consequences that have also negatively affected many American households — the financial impact and loss of income because of lockdown restrictions.
Minority populations hit hardest by economic impact of COVID-19
The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies recently found that minority homeowners were more likely to have trouble paying their mortgage during the pandemic. In fact, noting this trend, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) recently expanded their language resources in response to the health crisis and the increasing demand for mortgage assistance programs. Visitors can now search for “English, Spanish, traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, or Tagalog when accessing scripts that servicers use when discussing COVID-19 forbearance with borrowers.”
This is a great resource if you are an interpreter for any of these languages!
Boost your interpreting skills for the financial services industry
Because situations involving mortgage assistance programs are becoming increasingly common, it’s important to be prepared with the proper language skills and confidence to assist financial consumers as they try to navigate a system with evolving regulations and programs.
Here are three simple tips to help you navigate mortgage calls with ease in order to provide the best information for LEPs experiencing financial hardship.
Get more exposure to the financial industry
This happens before you ever service the call. Exposing yourself to the terminology used in financial settings is one of the easiest ways to become familiar with mortgage calls in your working language.
Understand the concepts
Various programs are available for homeowners seeking relief due to a COVID-19 hardship. When a mortgage call comes your way, it’s likely that the LEP borrower is seeking a mortgage assistance program to help them keep their home. Each homeowner’s situation is different, but generally speaking, they will be seeking a forbearance (a temporary pause or reduction in mortgage payments).
As an interpreter, if you understand this process, it can help you to identify other related terminology discussed within the same call. For example, a consumer who is discussing forbearance options may also want to know if they qualify based on the type of mortgage they have (expect acronyms such as FHA, VA, and USDA, and proper names such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae). The LEP consumer may also want to know when and how to start paying their mortgage, so be ready to take detailed notes.
Making glossaries is a great practice for all industries that you service as a language professional. It’s reasonable that you won’t always know the word for everything discussed within an interaction, especially if it’s uncommon terminology. (You’re not a dictionary!)
To improve your terminology, create word banks with terminology that you struggled with during a particular call. Chances are that once you look up and study a term that gave you trouble in one call, it’ll be easier to recall in a future interaction.
A quick note about disclosures
Lenders are legally required to provide specific information to borrowers (i.e., a disclosure). Disclosures must be communicated word for word. Some of the most common disclosures are short and simple, such as the “call recording disclosure” and the “mini – Miranda.” Others can be lengthy and require detailed note-taking and call flow management. If you come across a disclosure, be prepared to use protocols to request shorter segments as needed and take detailed notes.
One step at a time
The impact of the pandemic is widespread and has reached many facets of life. Improving your financial literacy will allow you to help the LEP community in their time of greatest need.
Let us know if you implemented any of these tips and how they helped you navigate calls. We’d love to hear about your experience servicing mortgage calls!
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