In remarks today at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger outlined how she plans to use the various “tools” available to the CFPB.  While consistent with her recent testimony to House and Senate committees, her BPC remarks provide a more detailed view of the approach she plans to take in wielding the CFPB’s authority.

Director Kraninger began her remarks by indicating once again that the CFPB’s focus under her leadership will be on the prevention of harm to consumers. She then provided the following outline of how the CFPB would use its four “tools” (education, rulemaking, supervision and enforcement) to prevent consumer harm:

  • Education.  The CFPB will pursue education initiatives intended to empower consumers to make financial decisions that best suit their individual needs.  She noted as an example the CFPB’s savings initiative that is intended to help consumers increase their savings, particularly savings for emergency needs.
  • Rulemaking. The CFPB will no longer engage in rulemaking through enforcement and will pursue rulemaking “deliberately and transparently” using the APA rulemaking process.  She indicated that rulemaking would be used to provide “clear rules of the road” to regulated entities and that the Bureau “must acknowledge” that compliance costs impact consumer access to and the availability of credit.
  • Supervision.  CFPB examiners will look for a “culture of compliance” at supervised entities and seek to use examinations to “head off trouble.”  Director Kraninger suggested that the CFPB would take a favorable view of companies that self-report and take corrective action to remedy consumer harm.  She indicated that in her role as FFIEC Chairman, she would seek to strengthen coordination between federal and state regulators.
  • Enforcement.  The CFPB will engage in “careful and purposeful enforcement” where “bad actors” have violated clear rules or where the CFPB believes a public enforcement action is needed “to send a clear message” to deter wrongful behavior.  Director Kraninger indicated that the CFPB will move expeditiously in deciding whether or not to pursue an enforcement action.

With regard to the CFPB’s highly anticipated debt collection proposed rule, Director Kraninger indicated that the proposal will be issued “in the coming weeks” and include limits on the number of calls collectors can make on a weekly basis, address communications by email and text, and require new disclosures at the beginning of the collection process.

She also announced that the CFPB will be launching a series of symposiums on topics related to the CFPB’s mission, with the first symposium to look at clarifying the meaning of “abusive acts or practices” in the Dodd-Frank Act.  In its Fall 2018 rulemaking agenda, the CFPB announced that it was considering whether it should engage in rulemaking to clarify the meaning of “abusive.”  Director Kraninger indicated that the symposium, which would include experts and stakeholders, would help to inform the CFPB’s decision on such rulemaking.

In response to questions from audience members, Director Kraninger indicated that:

  • She agreed with former Acting Director Mulvaney’s philosophy that the CFPB should go no further than what its statutory authority expressly provides.
  • While “there’s a place” for CFPB guidance, she would need to look carefully at what the Bureau could address through guidance and that rulemaking, rather than guidance, would be appropriate for something that the CFPB wanted “to hold institutions to.”
  • She is looking at staffing levels but has no goal of increasing or decreasing the number of CFPB staff members.