Seventeen trade associations on Monday — including those representing banks, credit unions, housing groups and more — came together to sign a letter pledging their support to a bill that would establish a statutory framework over CFPB guidance.
The letter was addressed to two members of the U.S. House of Representatives: Sean Duffy, R-Wis., and Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo. Duffy is listed on Congress.gov as the sponsor of H.R. 5534, the Give Useful Information to Define Effective Compliance Act or “GUIDE” Compliance Act. The legislation proposes to require the CFPB to issue regular, written interpretative rules and guidance to facilitate industry compliance.
The signatories say such legislation would “better protect consumers.”
The groups signing the letter include:
- The American Land Title Association
- Appraisal Institute
- Community Home Lenders Association
- Community Mortgage Lenders of America
- Consumer Bankers Association
- Consumer Mortgage Coalition
- Financial Services Roundtable
- Independent Community Bankers of America
- Manufactured Housing Institute
- Mortgage Bankers Association
- National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions
- National Association of Home Builders
- National Association of Mortgage Brokers
- National Association of REALTORS
- National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association
- The Realty Alliance
Notably absent among the signatories were the American Bankers Association and the Credit Union National Association.
Market participants “continue to be frustrated” by CFPB guidance that contains caveats which “serve to diminish the reliability of said regulation for future reference,” the letter states. The various trade groups argue the bureau has been “historically slow” to issue guidance, which has created an “environment of uncertainty” among all stakeholders.
An example of this alleged “lack of clarity” was the bureau’s “Know Before You Owe” rule, which comprehensively revised consumer mortgage disclosures. After issuing this rule, the bureau “failed to adequately answer the numerous technical and substantive questions raised by the complex proposal, resulting in confusion for consumers and industry participants alike,” the letter states.
The trade groups say H.R.5534 addresses these concerns by requiring the CFPB to issue guidance that can be relied upon in good faith by industry. They say the legislation sets clear timelines for the CFPB to solicit industry questions and provide answers during and after the implementation process. The bill requires public notice before the bureau amends or revokes guidance. It also eliminates liability for acts that were consistent with guidance when they occurred, regardless of whether that guidance has since changed. Finally, the bill requires the CFPB to develop published guidelines for determining the size of any civil money penalties.
“By creating a more transparent regulatory environment, we believe this legislation, once enacted, will serve to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the CFPB,” the trade groups wrote in the letter. “We strongly support H.R. 5534 and look forward to working with you and your colleagues on the House Financial Services Committee to create a groundswell for its rapid consideration. We thank you for your leadership on this important issue.”
In a statement supporting H.R. 5534 released Monday, NAFCU noted it has “repeatedly” asked the CFPB to adopt a guidance process similar to other regulators, in which regulated entities can seek answers on unresolved or unclear issues.
“More guidance is needed from the Bureau that articulates clear supervisory expectations so credit unions have the information they need to operate in a safe, sound and compliant manner,” NAFCU said.