As mortgage bankers gather in New York today, a hot topic will be newly released risk-based capital standards for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and their potential effect on the lending business.

At the Mortgage Bankers Association's annual secondary market conference, the table is set for a broad examination of this and a few other key topics.

The acting director of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, Fannie's and Freddie's financial regulator, and a representative of the Department of Housing and Urban Development-the secondary-market giants' mission regulator-are scheduled to lead a discussion that will be "a very early public forum" on the capital rule, said Phyllis Slesinger, senior director at the MBA.

This year the relationship between the primary and secondary markets has been affected by two key developments: Fannie's and Freddie's reduction of mortgage insurance requirements and a growing fear that their automated underwriting technology would preclude the use of other systems developed by some larger lenders. Fannie and Freddie have come under fire as large lenders and mortgage insurers accuse them of poaching on turf considered part of the primary market.

Mark Oman, chairman and chief executive of Norwest Mortgage, said "noise" in the industry has grown as "traditional roles and relationships are being blurred and abandoned."

Norwest Mortgage broke new ground just a few weeks ago in an alliance with Freddie Mac, which lets the banking company unit use its own automated underwriting system in exchange for selling virtually all its loans to Freddie.

Other major discussion topics are expected to be the future of Ginnie Mae and the market for securitizing community reinvestment loans.

Another session is to focus on "what it takes to be a profitable and successful mortgage company," Ms. Slesinger said. The session will explore how to cope with consolidation, branding issues, and new channels of business.

People attend the conference "not only to meet players and contacts but to get a sense of where the industry is going," said Jon E. Korpela, senior vice president for the secondary market at Banknorth Mortgage Co. in Brattleboro, Vt.

"Y2K is the issue this year," he said.

Almost 2,000 people are expected at the conference. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae typically use the occasion to lay out their plans for the year.

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