CFPB: No More Regulation by Enforcement? An Analysis

According to Mortgage Professional America, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, recently told industry leaders that the CFPB will no longer practice “regulation by enforcement.”

“The regulation by enforcement answer is really simple – we aren’t doing it anymore,” Mulvaney said. “It’s a fairness issue. If you’ve done something for so long and the government wants to change the rules, shouldn’t’ the government have to tell you they are changing the rules before they fine you?”

Mulvaney said further, “We are not out to make you look like a bad guy if you are not. We are out to enforce the law, not become the law.”

On its face some might see this as a reprieve from Dodd-Franks post-2008 regulatory expansions.  However this is not what Director Mulvaney is saying.  He is not indicating to lenders that existing regulations and laws will not be enforced.  He is implying that his agency (and only his agency) will no longer aggressively seek to enforce ambiguous or unwritten regulations in an effort to “find a crime” where none exists on its face.

In the absence of specific Congressional action, Dodd-Frank is alive and well and unless the CFPB issues writings specifically retracting its published bulletins and directives lenders still must be certain to meet every single compliance rule that they have been struggling to address over the past several years.

In addition, as I have written about previously, where the federal government leaves a vacuum the states often rush in to fill up.  Thus several states including New Jersey, Pennsylvania and others have recently announced the creation of state-level consumer financial protection agencies whose mission is no doubt designed to compensate for any actual or perceived erosion of the prior policies of the Cordray-led CFPB.  Because mortgage lenders are creatures of state licensing, unlike federally chartered banks and depository institutions, it does not seem very much will be changing any time soon for these businesses.

CFPB loosening its regulatory grip?  Don’t lay-off those compliance managers nor reallocate their budgets just yet.

 

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