Advisory boards are back at CFPB, but with fewer members

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After firing the members of a consumer advisory panel earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has reconstituted the panel in a way that excludes national advocacy organizations.

The bureau’s new Consumer Advisory Board is much smaller than its previous incarnation — nine members were announced on Friday, down from 25 during Richard Cordray’s tenure as the agency’s director.

The new roster does include one member from the consumer advocacy world, in addition to executives from fintech startups, the nonprofit sector and academia. The National Consumer Law Center and other national advocacy groups are not represented.

Back in June, when the bureau fired all of the panel’s members, acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney drew sharp criticism from consumer advocates, who saw the move as a purge of dissenting viewpoints. At least 11 of the 25 people who were removed from the advisory board took issue publicly with the bureau’s action.

The board’s new members include Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch, which describes itself as the state’s leading consumer advocacy group.

Other members of the reconfigured CFPB board include: Manning Field, chief operating officer of savings app maker Acorns; Brent Neiser, an official at the National Endowment for Financial Education; Luz Urrutia, chief executive of the nonprofit small business lender Opportunity Fund; and Ronald Johnson, president of Clark Atlanta University.

“I am disappointed to see much less diversity in this new consumer advisory board, compared to past boards,” Ann Baddour, the panel’s former chair who was among those fired in June, said in an email Friday.

She added that she hopes the new panel builds on the work of the previous boards, and ensures that the CFPB stays on track in meeting its consumer protection mission.

“I am happy to be a resource to them in their important work,” said Baddour, director of the Fair Financial Services Project at Texas Appleseed, a consumer advocacy organization based in Austin.

Also on Friday, the CFPB announced new members of two other boards whose members were fired in June, though with less controversy.

The bureau’s Community Bank Advisory Council has seven new members, down from 19 previously. They include: Erik Beguin, president and CEO of Austin Capital Bank; Michael Head, president and CEO of First Federal Savings Bank in Evansville, Ind.; and Jeanni Stahl, chief risk and compliance officer at MetaBank in Sioux Falls, S.D.

The agency’s Credit Union Advisory Council also has seven new members, versus 17 prior to the terminations.

New members of the credit union group include: Teresa Campbell, president and CEO of San Diego County Credit Union; Bryan Price, president and CEO of Indiana University Credit Union; and Sean Cahill, president and CEO of Southwest 66 Credit Union in Odessa, Texas.

Mulvaney said in a press release Friday that the new members of the three panels are “experts … who will bring a fresh perspective to our important work.”

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