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CFPB's Cordray on Senate Confirmation, QM and Future Challenges

WASHINGTON Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray has spent the past year and a half deflecting questions about the impact his controversial recess appointment is having on the agency, saying he and others were just focused on their work.

But in a sit-down interview with American Banker on Monday, Cordray acknowledged that his Senate confirmation, which cleared with a bipartisan majority, has boosted morale at the agency and provided personnel with additional confidence.

While bankers might fear that means a more aggressive CFPB, Cordray is quick to suggest otherwise, arguing he's balancing safety and soundness concerns with additional consumer protection. He also talked about what he sees as the agency's top accomplishments during its first two years of operation as well as the biggest challenges ahead.

Following is an edited transcript of the interview.

Since you've been at the CFPB, what would you say are the greatest accomplishments to date?
: There are a number of accomplishments, actually. First are the changes that we are effecting in the mortgage market, which is the largest consumer finance market and was the one that was most responsible for the credit freeze and the financial meltdown. For the agency to put new protections in place around that and yet, to be sensitive and responsive to access to credit issues, I think was quite a good piece of work by us. And it's obviously drawn a lot of positive commentary.

I think that our consumer complaint function has been influential with the industry. There were a lot of concerns the industry had about that to start with. But we've been working on it, it's been a very efficient and sensible process, and it is resolving a lot of issues. And we just actually received our 200,000th consumer complaint, which for us represents a continued growing trajectory of people now knowing that they can come to the CFPB to get help and to complain about a bigger array of products over time. That's meaningful.

The enforcement actions we've taken to make it clear that when we see deceptive marketing and other practices at these large institutions we won't hesitate to act, I think, is important. And so is our work on a growing range of issues, such as financial education, financial literacy, and financial empowerment -- both for consumers generally and with respect to our specialty populations such as service members, students, older Americans, and those of low-to-moderate income. It's really a great set of work that we're doing. There are many challenges, there's much to do, but I'm pleased at our progress thus far.

And I think that partly was what was reflected in what was a strongly bipartisan vote on confirmation a few weeks ago. And I told everybody here I think this reflects their work. It's good to know that I'm going to be here beyond the end of this year and have some time ahead for us to follow through on a lot of things we had under way.

I know you've said the battle in the Senate didn't impact how the agency was before or where it will go in the future but does your confirmation have some influence on your way of thinking?
I think two things. First, I do think that the key for us was before that occurred, everybody here was dedicated to keeping their eye on the ball and recognizing that we all came here because of the mission: to protect and empower consumers in a financial marketplace. It's a marketplace that is much more complex now than it was a generation ago and people need this agency to do its work well. But I do think going forward, it creates a further sense of certainty. It's been a morale boost here. And again, the fact the vote was so strongly bipartisan was a great reflection on everybody here. I think they recognize that as such, so it redoubles their enthusiasm to continue doing good work.


(5) Comments



Comments (5)
Massachusetts Senator-elect Warren, President Obama's previous pick to head up the CFPB (CFPB), has been reported by sources close to the nomination process to be a pick to join the U.S. Senate Banking Committee. Warren would join the committee when she assumes office in Massachusetts in January 2013. Source for this article: come discover us all currently with all of our website online.
Posted by headturner | Friday, October 25 2013 at 12:32AM ET
"The CFPB's mission is clear: to protect consumers." Now THERE's an objective question for ya! In case anyone reading this piece had any questions about where the AB stands, wonder no more. Mark it down - the CFPB will be one of the 2-3 worst pieces of overzealous governing churned out by this administration. It is nothing short of a "business Gestapo".
Posted by Johnny Tremaine | Monday, August 26 2013 at 3:15PM ET
I agree with Dwihas3. The failure of the Administration and Congress to hold the Federal Financial Regulators accountable for being asleep at the wheel during the growing subprime mortgage frenzy, allowing that mortgage frenzy to grow into the 2d worst economic disaster in US history, and then failing to hold a single institution or individual accountable for anything is a continuing national disgrace. No amount of regulatory reform legislation can make up for regulators who lack the will to enforce regulations.
Posted by jim_wells | Sunday, August 25 2013 at 12:47PM ET
I have been following Mr. Richard Cordray's stewardship over the CPFB from the start and am favorably impressed by all that he has accomplished. Not only is he admired for his integrity and leadership, he has a stellar reputation with his employees.

I hasten to think how many of the nation's ills stemming from the banking/mortgage crisis would have been abated had Mr. Cordray had broad powers from the start. If any legislators do not look favorably upon Mr. Cordray, it is based on politics and not his performance.

We also would not have the following spectacle. It is the height of hypocrisy for the FDIC to decide to go after directors of banks that failed when FDIC examiners provided the best ratings to these same entities shortly before they failed. If examination ratings were publicly available, the FDIC would not bother to sue these directors because the public could see that for the the bankers to be grossly negligent in running the bank would have shown up in the examination ratings if true. I ought to know since I headed up the FDIC's large bank (LIDI) program for a number of years up to the banking crisis. I blew the whistle on the gross negligence of senior officials at the FDIC for ignoring rising risk conditions and then burying the evidence.

Check out govwhistleblower.wordpress.com and you will see my personal blog with this evidence.

It is a shame that I am unable to get the Office of Special Counsel or Merit System Protection Board to consider my evidence and provide me due process. I have been denied a hearing to present my account because it would be too politically damaging to various top officials.
Posted by Dwihas3 | Sunday, August 25 2013 at 10:06AM ET
Where's the obvious question about the lack of progress on required rule-making? Seems like missing roughly 2/3rds of rule-making deadlines is worthy of mention.
Posted by jim_wells | Tuesday, August 20 2013 at 2:18PM ET
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