The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has an agenda, and they aren’t shy about sharing it. With two years of operating experience under their belt, CFPB is proving to be a results oriented and galvanizing organization. Empowering consumers to know and demand their rights is on their docket, and they are eagerly serving as a financial watchdog for institutions that don’t “play nice” with consumer rights and treatment.
Opening its doors in 2011, the CFPB came to market at a time when consumers were hungry for an advocate. The CFPB goals, objectives, and strategic plan were outlined, but the mission really came down to a simple declaration- the CFPB would be THE single point of accountability in the federal government for consumer financial protection. The CFPB promised the public it would defend and do so in a new and transparent way.
Two years is an incredibly short time to begin producing results in politics. Within these two years, has the CFPB lived up to their promised results and expectations?
According to consumers, you’d better believe it.
A recent survey from the Americans for Financial Reform and the Center for Responsible Lending sheds some light on the amorous consumer feelings: 80% of respondents said they support the CFPB. The patronage stretches across party lines, too. Within the same poll, 91% of democrats supported the CFPB, along with 79% of independents, and 71% of Republicans (See Summary of AFR/CRL survey).
Within the course of the last two years, the CFPB has received over 175,000 consumer complaints about breaches of rights, and worked to return $430 million back into the pockets of wronged customers. The CFPB compiled the first ever financial literacy report for Congress which highlights their numerous education initiatives, including: “Ask CFPB”, an interactive online tool that gives consumers answers to 1000s of financial questions; “Paying for College”, an online tool that lets families evaluate higher education costs and financing; “MSOA”, a financial curriculum for older adults; and multiple efforts for educating members of our armed forced. The CFPB website contains calculators to gauge the real cost associated with borrowing, and contact and roadmap information for consumers who are unable to afford their current mortgages.
Along with those accomplishments, the CFPB also publishes consumer- submitted stories from real experiences. They offer a link on their web-site to submit claims and complaints about disparate treatment and deviance of an institution from consumer rights.
Lastly, one of the most impressive features the CFPB offers is compliance to the “Plain Writing Act”. Navigating a government web-site can sometimes require a secret decoder ring and a trilingual translator, but that is not the case with CFPB. All of their reports and posts are made in plain language that is easy enough to comprehend. Along with the plain language reports, the CFPB provides breakdowns of what the disclosures and regulation requirements actually mean for consumers, so that they fully understand their rights and can make informed decisions.
The CFPB is proving to be a force to be reckoned with on the consumer safeguarding front, but they don’t work to serve just the consumer. For banks that are compliant and treating customers with fairness and respect the CFPB can be a great resource for the pulse of consumer expectations in the market and easy-to-read resources for financial literacy and education.
In the Metropolis of banking and financial institutions, has the CFPB emerged as a modern day Superman? All signs point to yes.
For more information on banking and regulatory compliance, please contact Ragan Blanchard, Experienced Banking Consultant in the Seattle Practice, at firstname.lastname@example.org.