New Consumer Protection Agency Readies Exams

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WASHINGTON – The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s chief of supervision said he will be ready on July 21 to start examining the nation’s 110 largest banks and three biggest credit unions.

Steven Antonakes, assistant director for large bank supervision for the fledgling agency and former commissioner of banks in Massachusetts, said he only has 15 examiners so far and is actively recruiting for more. “We expect to be fully functional in the examiner space with regard to banks, thrifts and credit unions come July 21,” Antonakes said last week during a meeting of Women in Housing and Finance.

The new agency will have jurisdiction over all banks and credit unions but will only conduct examinations for compliance with consumer regulations on those institutions with more than $10 billion in assets, with the institutions’ functional regulator continuing to conduct exams. There are only three credit unions over the $10 billion threshold: Navy FCU, Pentagon FCU and North Carolina State Employees’ CU.

Last year’s Wall Street reform bill requires that the new consumer agency spring to life on July 21. The Treasury Department already has pulled together a team of 170 workers to serve as the core staff of the new agency, which still is waiting for a permanent director.

Antonakes said plans to do point-in-time examinations of institutions with up to $100 billion of assets and some form of continuous supervision for larger institutions. “CFPB won’t be adopting a resident examiner program,” he said.

He noted that technical compliance with consumer regulations is important, “but the focus of our energy will be on protecting consumers. We want to approach this in a fair and reasonable fashion,” he said.


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