Ron McCord speaks with a distinctive Oklahoma twang, and people in Washington probably will become very familiar with it during the next year.

Mr. McCord, the president of Oklahoma City-based American Mortgage and Investment Co., will be installed as president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of America today as it begins its annual conference.

He is especially interested in the political issues facing the trade group, having served on its legislative committee. He has been active in the association for a dozen years.

The outcome of next week's national elections will have a major impact on the group.

Mr. McCord said that if both houses of Congress remain in Republican control, as seems likely, the trade group will have to "spend more time testifying in Congress than in the last two or three years."

A Republican-controlled Congress, he said, would continue to debate the necessity of some HUD and FHA programs as well as discussing the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored housing enterprises.

Regulatory issues also will take up a large portion of Mr. McCord's time.

He said the association will continue its attempts to clarify the guidelines under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The primary purpose of the act is to end kickbacks, but lenders say it also includes extensive, often confusing rules.

"Respa continues to be a thorn in the side. There is no enforceable regulation," Mr. McCord said. "This industry needs a clear, enforceable Respa law."

He expressed doubt about whether an ultimate decision on Respa would come in 1997.

There are plenty of legislative and regulatory concerns Mr. McCord plans to tackle head-on, but he recognizes that two nonpolitical issues are the most troubling.

The number of larger and midsize members is declining, due in part to the flurry of mergers in the industry. And the drive to consolidate can be directly attributed to shrinking profit margins.

Mr. McCord said that as costs continue to increase, profit margins are declining, forcing lenders to seek more efficiencies from their businesses. Mergers are one way to achieve these efficiencies.

Mr. McCord said that despite the mergers, membership numbers have stabilized overall because of outreach programs to smaller lenders. Still, he added, the association needs to add value in order retain larger members.

One way Mr. McCord would like to differentiate himself from previous presidents is by setting up a young-leaders program. Members' chief executives would nominate young employees for the program, and these individuals would learn the importance of taking part in the MBA.

As consolidation continues, Mr. McCord said, he is "concerned that the industry is not cultivating a farm team" of active young participants in the trade group.

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