CFPB permits contributions to qualified plans: Justification for cautious optimism?

Often when Congress creates a new agency, those subject to such agency’s jurisdiction anxiously await the implications. Bankers are no exception with respect to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). While we hope for the best, the skeptic in us naturally expects draconian consequences and inflexible policies designed to benefit consumers without consideration of the safety and soundness of the financial institution. However, a recent CFPB bulletin provides reason to be cautiously optimistic that the CFPB may be responsive to the business needs of the banking industry under the proper circumstances.

Observations on the CFPB Supervision and Examination Manual

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has issued its initial CFPB Supervision and Examination Manual (Version 1.0). According to the Bureau, the Manual is a guide to how the CFPB will supervise and examine consumer financial service providers that fall within the CFPB’s supervisory authority – depository institutions with more than $10 billion in assets and their affiliates, and nondepository entities. At first blush, the Manual seems familiar and comparable to the examination manuals and procedures currently followed by the Federal banking agencies. Indeed, the introduction pages to the Manual expressly incorporate examination procedures developed under the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (“FFIEC”), and the CFPB Manual states that the Bureau will use the FFIEC’s Uniform Consumer Compliance Rating System. However, upon further review, there are significant differences.

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