6 FOCUSREPORT/2021 Regulatory OutlookRedouble. Refresh. Rampup. Those are the di- rections that ActingCFPB Director Dave Uejio hasbeen giving agency employeesas Biden Administration officialstake over a consumer bureau thatthey believe has been asleep at thewheel for the past four years.
In a series of emails to staff andpolicy statements, Uejio had madeit clear that even before a permanent CFPB director – presumably,Rohit Chopra – takes office, he intends to overhaul the agency.
“I will be assessing regulatoryactions taken by the previousleadership and adjusting as necessary and appropriate those notin line with our consumer protection mission and mandate,”he said in an email to agencyemployees.
He added that “a change in stra-
tegic direction is not a reflection
on the quality of the work per-
formed by Bureau staff over the
past several years.”
President Biden’s selection of
Chopra to head the agency is sub-
ject to Senate confirmation and
Senate Banking Chairman Sher-
rod Brown (D-Ohio) has said he is
pleased with the choice.
Uejio and Chopra are veterans
of the CFPB under former Direc-
tor Richard Cordray, an Obama
Administration appointee. When
President Trump took office, he ini-
tially appointed Mick Mulvaney as
acting director until Director Kath-
leen Kraninger was confirmed.
Mulvaney and Kraninger dismantled much of the strict regulatory regime that Cordray hadadopted. And credit union tradegroups expressed their support formuch of that effort.
But now that the Biden Administration has taken over the agency,Uejio has said he intends to reinvigorate the agency – particularlyas consumers deal with the economic fallout from the pandemic.
“The Consumer Financial Pro-
tection Bureau (CFPB) was cre-
ated for moments like this,” Uejio
wrote in saying that the agency is
hiring attorneys to join the bureau
staff. “Born out of the Great Reces-
sion, the CFPB was forged in crisis
to vigorously protect America’s
Kraninger had signaled that
the agency would be flexible with
financial services companies, as
they struggled with the impact of
“The Bureau specifically states
that it does not intend to cite in an
examination or bring an enforce-
ment action against firms who
exceed the deadlines to investi-
gate such disputes as long as they
make good faith efforts during the
pandemic to do so as quickly as
possible,” she said in April 2020,
explaining how the agency would
handle disputes over credit record
Those days are over, accordingto Uejio.
“Given the urgency of engaging consumers about their rightsamidst the ongoing pandemic,the Bureau must move swiftly toreach those whose financial livesare most precarious in this moment,” he told agency employees.
In the closing days of the TrumpAdministration, Kraninger andthen-NCUA Chairman RodneyHood signed a Memorandum ofUnderstanding promising a closerworking relationship between theagencies as they supervise thelargest financial institutions, including the largest credit unions.
The MOU remains in effect evenafter the new administration takesoffice, but Harper and a new CFPBdirector could amend, rescind orignore it.
Uejio said he has two policy priorities at the bureau – first, helping consumers who are facingfinancial hardship due to the pandemic, and second, racial equity.
“Protecting economically vulnerable consumers is core to themission of the CFPB and one ofthe reasons the agency was created,” Uejio said after meeting withthe staff from the agency’s Division of Consumer Education andExternal Affairs. He said that partof that effort includes effectivelyresponding to consumer complaints filed by the agency.
He said he understands thatsome companies have been lax inmeeting their obligation to respondto consumer complaints. He alsosaid that consumer advocates havesaid there are disparities in howcompanies respond to complaintsmade by people in Black, Brownand Indigenous communities.
He said that he has askedthe consumer response division to prepare a report on thoseallegations.
“We will be publishing thisanalysis and the senior leadershipof these companies can expect tobe hearing from me,” he said.
He also said that the bureau
must redouble its efforts to help
homeowners through the pan-
• Reaching struggling homeown-
ers who are delinquent or at risk
of foreclosure to make sure they
understand their rights.
• Coordinating with other agencies to provide help and information to those homeowners.
• Working with coalitions ofstakeholders, including consumer and civil rights advocates to make sure that homeowners receive informationin languages and terminologythey understand.
Uejio said he has asked the research office to prepare an analysis of housing insecurity, as wellas the most pressing consumerfinancial barriers to racial equity.He added that all policy proposalsshould include the racial equityimpact of the policy.
And he ordered the agency to
resume data collections that were
paused at the beginning of the
pandemic, including Home Mort-
gage Disclosure Act reporting.
Consumer advocates have saidthey like the direction the BidenCFPB is heading, starting withthe selection of Chopra, currentlya member of the Federal TradeCommission, to head the agency.
“Commissioner Chopra has
long fought for financial markets
that are fair for consumers, includ-
ing student loan borrowers,” Ash-
ley Harrington, federal advocacy
director and senior counsel at the
Center for Responsible Lending,
said. “We are encouraged that the
CFPB will now return to its mis-
sion of protecting people’s financ-
es, which has heightened signifi-
cance in this economic downturn,
and which includes a strong fair
However, John Berlau, senior
fellow at the Competitive Enter-
prise Institute, disagreed.
“During the tenure of CFPBdirector Richard Cordray, underwhom Chopra served, lawmakersof both parties expressed concernabout CFPB mandates on community banks and credit unions,”Berlau said.
During his previous tenure atthe CFPB, Chopra had a run-inwith the credit union community.
In 2011, he was appointed toserve as the CFPB’s student loanombudsman, a new position established in the Dodd-Frank Act.
In that position, Chopra became embroiled in a controversyinvolving two Indiana creditunions. In 2014, he wrote a blogpost that listed four credit unionsand 10 banks that he said did notdisclose the terms of the contractsunder which they would marketand sell financial products to theiraffiliated university’s partners.
Among those listed were Pur-due Federal Credit Union ($1.5billion in assets, West Lafayette,Ind.) and Indiana UniversityCredit Union ($1.3 billion in assets, Bloomington, Ind.) – neitherof which had marketing agreements with the universities.
As a result, the CFPB correctedthe blog post, deleting the creditunions. n
Big Changes Expected at the CFPB
Y A new administration ushers in a reversecourse to the CFPB from the past four years.
Y New leaders at the CFPB are reviewingprevious regulatory actions that could impactCUs.
Y The agency is resuming Home MortgageDisclosure Act reporting after pausing itduring the pandemic.