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FSR panel discusses performance of CFPB

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Modern Money

While its creation was lamented by some and championed by others, industry experts say the performance thus far of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has been a mixed-bag. The Financial Services Roundtable assembled thought leaders as part of its “How is the CFPB Doing? The Advocates’ Perspective” panel discussion in Washington, D.C. A few of the key highlights included:

  • Georgetown University Law Professor Adam Levitin was the most outspoken member of the panel, saying the CFPB may yet be finding its sea legs as experienced staff complete their “regulatory tourist stints” and depart the Bureau, leaving behind an undetermined culture. Levitin said the CFPB has enjoyed the benefits of a “we had to do this” kind of approach while it has tackled rule-makings many viewed as “mandatory.” However, going forward the Bureau will be dealing with discretionary issues that may find it “swimming in deeper waters.” One unique outcome Levitin noted is the money is the “disgorgement” of funds for misdeeds, also known as money going back to consumers. Such funds aren’t sitting in some CFPB account somewhere, “We didn’t see that before the CFPB,” Levitin explained. When asked whether the CFPB was needed, Levitin noted the effect the creation of the CFPB has had on other regulators, saying the new-found regulatory zeal of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is not unrelated to having the CFPB around.
  • Mike Calhoun, president of the Center for Responsible Lending, characterized many CFPB moves to date as more classic enforcement actions, but cautioned judgements should be made on a case-by-case basis. Calhoun noted some issues call for regulatory rulemakings from the CFPB, while others call for stricter enforcement of existing regulations.
  • Politico reporter Kate Davidson said the CFPB has had the biggest most impact on the mortgages, where its stance on the qualified mortgage issue has affected market participants. When asked about the manner with which the CFPB has handled complaints from consumers, Davidson said the CFPB itself has commented about how financial services firms are improving the responsiveness and treating complaints as a tool to change their operations where appropriate.