Bankers can take comfort; the majority of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s objectives for the next year touch non-banks more than banks, according to CFPB Director Richard Cordray’s comments at the Bureau’s Consumer Advisory Board meeting on Feb. 20.
While Cordray said the agency will continue to focus on issues that affect banks, such as discrimination and deceptive marketing, the agency will direct its efforts more toward non-bank products and new consumer tools. In particular, the Bureau will look at products that trap consumers in a cycle of debt, such as payday loans, and services such as debt collection, loan servicing, and credit reporting. Cordray also said the Bureau will develop “Ask CFPB,” which will be a question-and-answers database to help consumers sift through “the convoluted rhetoric around many financial products.”
The Bureau also would like to become more accessible during the rulemaking process and increase its collaboration with the banking industry, Cordray said. “We have embarked on unprecedented efforts to assist industry in implementing our new rules,” he said. “Our goal is to reduce the compliance burdens of implementation and help us better understand how to write practical rules that deliver value for consumers.”
Unfortunately, while the Bureau’s overall agenda appears conciliatory for banks, the CFPB has not changed its controversial stance on discrimination. The CFPB will continue to look for disparate impact as evidence of illegal discimination.
“For some people, the greatest challenges they face do not come from deceptive materials, debt traps, or market structures, but rather are rooted in something much more basic – unequal, invidious treatment based on characteristics such as race or gender or other bases prohibited by law,” Cordray said. “We made it clear last year that – like the other banking regulators and the Justice Department – we will pursue discrimination in consumer financial markets based on disparate impact as well as on intentional violations. From the perspective of a consumer disadvantaged by policies that have a discriminatory effect, it makes no practical difference whether a lender consciously intended to discriminate.”