Fall 2011 Statement of Regulatory Priorities

CFPB purposes and functions

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) was established as an independent bureau of the Federal Reserve System by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Pub. L. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376) (Dodd-Frank Act). Pursuant to the Act, the CFPB has rulemaking, supervisory, enforcement, and other authorities relating to consumer financial products and services. Among these are the consumer financial protection authorities that transferred to the CPFB from seven Federal agencies on the designated transfer date, July 21, 2011. These authorities include the ability to issue regulations under more than a dozen Federal consumer financial laws.

As provided in section 1021 of the Dodd-Frank Act, the purpose of the CFPB is to implement and enforce Federal consumer financial laws consistently for the purpose of ensuring that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services and that such markets are fair, transparent, and competitive. The CFPB is authorized to exercise its authorities for the purpose of ensuring that:

(1) Consumers are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about transactions involving consumer financial products and services;

(2) Consumers are protected from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices and from discrimination;

(3) Outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome regulations concerning consumer financial products and services are regularly identified and addressed in order to reduce unwarranted regulatory burdens;

(4) Federal consumer financial law is enforced consistently, without regard to status as a depository institution, in order to promote fair competition; and

(5) Markets for consumer financial products and services operate transparently and efficiently to facilitate access and innovation.

Immediate regulatory priorities

The CFPB is working on a wide range of initiatives to address issues in markets for consumer financial products and services that are not reflected in this notice because the Unified Agenda is limited to rulemaking activities. With regard to the exercise of its rulemaking authorities, as reflected in the CFPB’s semiannual regulatory agenda, the CFPB’s immediate focus is on completing various rulemakings that are mandated by the Dodd-Frank Act and resolving a handful of proposals that had been issued by the transferor agencies prior to July 21, 2011. In addition, the CFPB must issue a number of procedural rules relating to the stand-up of the CFPB as an independent regulatory agency.

The semiannual regulatory agenda provides more detailed descriptions of individual rulemaking projects. The CFPB is particularly focused on meeting the rulemaking deadlines set forth in the Dodd-Frank Act, in order to provide certainty to consumers, financial services providers, and the broader economy. These rules include:

  • Regulations governing international money transfers (remittances) under the Electronic Fund Transfer Act. These regulations concern disclosures, error resolution procedures, and other topics. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning these rules in May 2011, and the CFPB now has responsibility for finalizing this rulemaking, as appropriate. Final rules on certain topics are required by January 21, 2012.
  • An initial rule determining which nondepository covered persons are subject to the CFPB’s supervision authority as “larger participant[s]” of “other markets” for consumer financial products and services. The Dodd-Frank Act vests the CFPB with authority to examine all sizes of nondepository financial services providers engaged in mortgage lending and certain related services, payday lending, and private student lending. It also authorizes examinations of a “larger participant of a market for other consumer financial products or services,” as defined by the rule. An initial rule defining who is a larger participant in these other markets is required by July 21, 2012.
  • Consolidated mortgage loan disclosures and related rules under the Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The Dodd-Frank Act requires the CFPB to develop consolidated mortgage loan disclosures to satisfy the requirements of both the Truth in Lending Act and Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. The Dodd-Frank Act also imposes certain new disclosure requirements, and the CFPB inherits proposals to amend Truth in Lending Act regulations relating to mortgage loan disclosures that were issued by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in August 2009 and September 2010. The consolidated disclosures proposal is required by July 21, 2012.
  • Regulations defining lenders’ obligations to assess borrowers’ ability to repay mortgage loans, including certain protections from liability for “qualified mortgages.” The Dodd-Frank Act requires lenders to make a reasonable, good faith determination of applicants’ ability to repay closed-end mortgage loans. “Qualified mortgages” as defined under the Act and by regulation receive certain protections from liability. The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning these rules in May 2011, and the CFPB now has responsibility for finalizing this rulemaking, as appropriate. Although the statutory deadline for final rules is January 2013, this rulemaking is a particular priority for the CFPB because it impacts basic underwriting practices and serves as a building block for other Dodd-Frank Act rulemakings.
  • Regulations to implement other requirements concerning mortgage origination and servicing under title XIV of the Dodd-Frank Act. As described in more detail in the individual agenda entries, these regulations will address a variety of origination and servicing practices, including loan originator compensation and anti-steering rules, restrictions on high-cost loans, maintenance of escrow accounts and other servicing practices, and (on an interagency basis) various regulations concerning appraisals. Final rules are required by January 21, 2013.

In carrying out these mandates, the CFPB is focused on developing clear, simple disclosures that will give consumers the information they need to determine which consumer financial products and services best meet their needs while avoiding unwarranted regulatory burdens on industry. The CFPB has made the consolidation of mortgage disclosure forms a priority because streamlining the existing, overlapping forms could significantly benefit both consumers and industry members alike.

Because the CFPB is at an early stage of its operations, it is still in the process of assessing the need and resources available for additional substantive rulemakings beyond those listed in its fall 2011 agenda. The CFPB expects to include any such projects that it realistically anticipates considering before October 2012 in its spring 2012 agenda.

This Statement of Regulatory Priorities (Statement) supplements the semiannual regulatory agenda that is being published contemporaneously. The CFPB is submitting this Statement on a voluntary basis. It is also available from RegInfo.gov .