Earlier this week, the CFPB announced that it has created a new office intended to “enhance collaboration and communication” between the CFPB and bank and nonbank trade associations, financial institutions, and businesses. Named the “Office of Financial Institutions and Business Liaison,” the new office will be run by Dan Smith who will serve as the office’s Assistant Director.  Mr. Smith previously served as the Director for Industry and State Relations at Freddie Mac.

According to an article in the American Banker, the new office is “is meant to ward off long-standing criticism that the agency is biased against banks and its actions are opaque to the industry it helps to oversee” and industry’s initial reaction has been positive.  We agree that creating new offices can be a meaningful way to reach out to the industry that is feeling besieged by the CFPB.  The Office of the Ombudsman was created for a similar purpose.  However, unless and until these offices have a meaningful role in setting the Bureau’s policy, there will be a high degree of skepticism about the impact they will have. 

The CFPB also announced the following additional staff changes:

  • Catherine Galicia will serve as the new Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs. Ms. Galicia served as Senior Counsel for the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs under Chairman Tim Johnson. She helped draft the consumer protection provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law as a counsel to then-Senate Banking Chairman Chris Dodd. Previously, Ms. Galicia served as a Vice President and Director of Government Affairs at Banco Popular in Washington, D.C.
  • Lisa Konwinski,  previously the CFPB’s Assistant Director for Legislative Affairs, will now serve as its Deputy Associate Director for External Affairs.  Ms. Konwinski joined the CFPB in 2011 after serving as President Obama’s Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs.
  • Hubert “Skip” Humphrey, who has been serving as the CFPB’s Assistant Director in the Office of Older Americans, will now serve as a Senior Liaison Officer.  In that role, he will focus on expanding the CFPB’s efforts to build relationships with state, local, public and private organizations while also having some involvement in the work of the CFPB’s Older Americans office.