Features

Richard Armstrong – PRMI 

Strategic initiatives for long-term success in the lending industry 

Richard Armstrong, the executive vice president and general counsel at Primary Residential Mortgage Inc. (PRMI), brings a wealth of experience to his role at this independent mortgage bank. Armstrong thrives as a jack of all trades, overseeing litigation, employee issues, compliance, regulatory matters, and advising the board. He sits on various committees, including risk oversight, anti-money laundering, and information security. 

Richard Armstrong | Executive vice president & general counsel | PRMI 

Richard Armstrong | Executive vice president & general counsel | PRMI

What Armstrong values most about his role is the dynamic nature of his responsibilities. Every day brings new challenges, particularly with the frequent changes in regulatory and compliance-related matters, compounded by the diverse legal landscapes across the states where PRMI operates. 

At the heart of PRMI’s mission is the belief that everybody deserves a home, driving Armstrong’s dedication to serving customers and ensuring their access to home financing. Despite being a team of one, Armstrong tackles legal, regulatory, and compliance issues head-on, steering the company’s strategy amidst a rapidly changing landscape. 

“I bring extensive experience to the table. I oversee litigation, advise on regulatory and compliance matters, oversee the company’s commercial leasing and more. Navigating changing regulations nationwide, I ensure compliance and steer strategy in our dynamic industry,” Armstrong says. 

Growth strategies 

One of Armstrong’s key initiatives revolves around hiring and growth strategies. In response to regulation changes, particularly regarding dual compensation rules for real estate professionals and mortgage lenders, Armstrong leads efforts to adapt PRMI’s hiring practices. He conducts in-depth reviews of policy changes, such as the loosening of dual compensation restrictions by HUD, and incorporates them into initiatives designed to bolster company volume and expansion. By working closely with his team, Armstrong ensures that PRMI remains agile in responding to regulatory shifts while capitalizing on growth opportunities. 

Armstrong focuses on revising policies and procedures related to document retention, recognizing the critical importance of data security and compliance in the mortgage lending world. Leveraging his expertise in e-discovery, Armstrong leads the development of comprehensive document retention policies, addressing gaps and ensuring alignment with industry best practices. By implementing robust document retention protocols, PRMI strengthens its risk management practices and safeguards sensitive information, enhancing its overall compliance posture. 

Additionally, Armstrong leads in bolstering company growth by advising on proper wage and hour classification of employees.  

“By leveraging my legal acumen and understanding of employment law, I help optimize PRMI’s workforce structure while ensuring compliance with wage and hour regulations,” Armstrong explains. 

Armstrong’s strategic vision and proactive approach are vital in positioning PRMI for long-term success in each project. By addressing regulatory challenges, enhancing compliance practices, and optimizing operational efficiency, Armstrong contributes to PRMI’s reputation as a leader in the mortgage lending industry. Armstrong continues to drive innovation and growth through his leadership and expertise, cementing PRMI’s position as a trusted partner for homebuyers nationwide. 

Ensuring compliance and security 

Under Armstrong’s guidance, PRMI utilizes outside counsel and sophisticated systems to monitor legislative updates and implement necessary disclosures. Under his supervision, the compliance department stays abreast of evolving laws, particularly in data privacy, to mitigate risks effectively. By employing digital systems with stringent access controls and ensuring compliance with state-specific regulations, PRMI safeguards customer information across its operations. 

During the pandemic, Armstrong adapted remote work protocols, prioritizing data security and compliance with licensing authorities’ requirements in each state. Through virtual desktop usage, remote work agreements, and stringent access policies, PRMI maintained data integrity even in remote settings. 

Despite facing challenges like layoffs and restructuring due to economic downturns, Armstrong’s leadership steered PRMI through difficult times, ensuring the organization’s resilience and adherence to regulatory standards. 

Armstrong recognizes the potential of AI in streamlining processes and enhancing customer experience.  However, Armstrong remains vigilant about the ethical implications of AI adoption, emphasizing the importance of maintaining quality assurance and safeguarding customer data. 

“Incorporating cutting-edge technology while upholding stringent data privacy standards is crucial to our continued success and competitiveness in the mortgage lending industry,” he says.  

Journey to the law 

Armstrong’s journey is rooted in his early fascination with international relations and the German language. His interest in law was ignited during a Mormon mission to Germany, where he immersed himself in the language and developed a profound curiosity about the government structures of Germany and Austria. This experience laid the foundation for his future endeavors in the legal field. 

Despite initially considering a career in the State Department, Armstrong was drawn to litigation after catching the litigation bug at the public defender’s office. His work on felony appeals and exposure to courtroom proceedings solidified his passion for advocating for clients. 

Armstrong excelled in various roles throughout his nearly 23 years in private practice, eventually rising to partner status in two firms. His tenure as chair of the litigation department provided him with a comprehensive understanding of litigation strategies and firm-wide operations. 

In August 2018, Armstrong transitioned to PRMI, where he served in a legal capacity before assuming his current role in May 2020. His wealth of experience and dedication to the field have positioned him as a trusted leader within the organization. 

Outside of his professional endeavors, Armstrong’s personal life is characterized by his familial connections, with his wife serving as a professor at the University of Utah. This balance between personal and professional commitments underscores his approach to success and fulfillment. 

“Through decades of legal practice, I’ve realized that the true measure of success lies in professional achievements, nurturing family bonds and cherishing the moments shared with loved ones. Balancing the scales of work and family life is the ultimate testament to a fulfilling existence,” Armstrong says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring III 2024 Edition here.

Published on: May 7, 2024

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