Mulvaney outlines ‘humble, prudent’ vision for CFPB

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has clarified his vision for the consumer watchdog, completely reversing his predecessor’s approach, according to a report by The New York Times.

In a letter to bureau staff, Mulvaney outlined his vision for the agency, which involves enforcement of financial regulation and consumer protections with “humility and prudence.” Mulvaney also told staff that the bureau will no longer “push the envelope” with regard to its jurisdiction and scope.

In Mulvaney’s vision, the CFPB will be reluctant to crack down on abuses and employ a quantitative and complaint-driven approach in enforcement. Under his leadership, any decision to act against potential consumer abuses should consider the effect on a business. He also said that the bureau should hesitate to target companies unless there is overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing.

“If a company closes its doors under the weight of a multiyear Civil Investigative Demand, you and I will still have jobs at CFPB,” Mulvaney wrote. “But what about the workers who are laid off as a result?”

Additionally, Mulvaney said the bureau’s enforcement approach would involve more quantitative rigor. In choosing which companies to target, Mulvaney said the CFPB should focus on areas with the most consumer complaints. He said a complaint-driven approach would highlight areas like debt collection and remove focus from areas like payday lending.

“In 2016, almost a third of the complaints into this office related to debt collection. Only 0.9% related to prepaid cards and 2% to payday lending. Data like that should, and will, guide our actions,” Mulvaney wrote.

The CFPB’s enforcement approach has previously been the subject of complaints from banks and financial trade groups, according to the report.

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