Richard's Rapid Fire - September 20, 2019

September 20, 2019

 

Remembering Steven I. Zeisel, 1954-2019
 
I knew “of” Steve before I first met him in May of 2009. He was described to me as knowledgeable about banking and somewhat shy, someone who would rather blend in than shine. Steve told me at our first meeting he just wanted to be a banking lawyer and enjoyed sitting in his office reading regulations and discussing topics with our membership. To him, that would be a perfect day.
 
Unfortunately, times were challenging and Steve was forced into a visible leadership role. Eventually, he hired a full regulatory team to assist our membership in the new world of banking. He led us through tumultuous times that required long hours and a different way of operating, all in a very tough environment.
 
He also did something that he was not “required” to do – teach me everything he knew about retail banking so I could best serve our membership. And Steve and I had some conversations that tested his patience and everything he believed! I would like to say we brought out the best in each other mainly because we had the interest of CBA’s membership as our top priority. On many occasions, one of us would say to the other: “You are getting me in trouble with that comment” or “You are killing me today with your thoughts!” Most of the time, I would go into Steve’s office to say I need a reminder on why agencies have certain jurisdiction.
 
Regulators valued his counsel and counted on him to provide an unvarnished view. Countless times, lawmakers and other trade associations waited on Steve’s input before settling an issue.
 
Steve concluded our regulatory system only makes sense to those who have been around since the Reagan Administration. And, that if a magic wand appeared, he would certainly restructure all prudential regulatory agencies and even eliminate a few.
 
Many people lose their voice if they stay too long at any one organization, especially in Washington, D.C. Steve never did. In fact, with all the chaos in Washington, he only became more relevant to our membership.
 
While Steve did not leave behind a Warren Buffet size portfolio, multiple homes and fancy cars (that I know of!), he left something much more valuable: an indelible impression on every person he met, especially those at CBA.
 
Every person who has ever worked at CBA will always carry a part of Steve with them – whether it was his long-winded anti-trust reminders, his oratorical wizardry that includes debating both sides of an issue, or his inspiring desire to serve membership. I see a part of Steve’s influence in every person here at CBA.
  
Yes, I will miss his wisdom, his knowledge, his counsel, and I will miss the chaos he sometimes caused – from “misplaced” documents to left behind coffee cups.
 
Most of all, I will miss hearing his unmistakable laugh down the hallway. For Steve, to laugh meant all was right in the world and a new day would come.
 
I look forward to hearing that laugh again.
 
*In lieu of flowers, Steve’s family has suggested donations in Steve's name to
one of several nonprofits, listed here.*
 
American Banker ran a story yesterday honoring Steve and detailing his profound impact on the industry. Check out the full article available here.

 

CBA DEFAULT MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE
 
On Thursday, members of CBA’s Default Management Committee, led by Heather Bentley of Citizens Financial and Chris Rathsack of Citigroup, met at CBA World HQ for their annual in-person meeting. The Committee discussed CBA’s response to the CFPB’s Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was sent in the day prior, before meeting with CFPB debt-collection rulemaking staff: John McNamara, Assistant Director, Consumer Lending, Reporting & Collection Markets; Gandhi Eswaramoorthy, Program Manager, Debt Collections; Kristin McPartland, Senior Counsel.
 
After a robust CBA LIVE 2020 planning session, the Committee met with FCC Attorney Advisor for Consumer & Governmental Affairs Karen Schroeder to discuss TCPA and potential changes coming from the Hill.
D.C. DOWNLOAD
 
CBA Submits Comments to CFPB on Debt Collection Rule: On Wednesday, CBA submitted comments to the CFPB on their May, 2018 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPR) on the Federal Debt Collection Practices act (FDCPA). CBA’s comments emphasize the proposed rule should apply explicitly to third-party debt-collectors, as many of the rule’s provisions are not applicable, and are in fact harmful, to creditors seeking to collect their own debts.
 
CBA further advocated the Bureau should not impose “one size fits all” contact frequency limits, respect consumer preferences and not set distinctions between work and non-work email addresses and telephone numbers, require more specificity when consumers request not to be contacted at a certain time, ensure model validation notices do not come with loopholes deteriorating their “model” status and coordinate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on potential TCPA issues with the Bureau’s proposed changes.
 
CBA has advocated on these principles and more since before the Bureau’s release of their NPR in May. CBA’s Default Management Committee, led by Heather Bentley of Citizens Financial and Chris Rathsack of Citigroup, have been instrumental in providing the Bureau with feedback and response throughout the process, meeting with the Bureau on three different occasions this year alone on the rulemaking. With over 10,000 comments submitted on the rulemaking so far, we expect the Bureau to release a final rule in late 2020.
 
CFPB Reverses Constitutionality Defense: CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger on Tuesday informed Congressional leaders the Bureau will no longer defend the constitutionality of its leadership structure.
 
CBA has long advocated for the creation of a bipartisan Commission at the CFPB to give certainty and stability to financial regulations.
 
Constitutional or not, Congress can end this circus once and for all by enacting a bipartisan, Senate-confirmed commission at the CFPB. The Bureau has been a political hot potato since day one and its mission is far too important for this chaos to continue.
 
CFPB Complaint Database Changes: On Wednesday, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger publicly announced changes are coming to the CFPB’s consumer complaint database. After meetings with consumer groups and industry advocates, including CBA, the Bureau has outlined a plan for improvements to the complaint database to make it more usable by both consumers and the industry.
 
Immediate changes will include the complaint database landing page as well as changes to the “Submit a Complaint” page that encourage consumers to work with their financial institution to address concerns prior to filing a complaint.
 
Prior to submitting a complaint, consumers will be provided with information to help assist in contacting their financial institution prior to submittal and will better integrate financial resources to address questions before the arise to a complaint. The pages will also include simplified disclosures that should be more easily understood by consumers than the disclosures currently live on the site.
 
The Director also outlined a plan to receive industry feedback on other methods to improve the consumer complaint database, including a commitment to:
 
  • Build and launch dynamic visualization tools including geospatial and trend views based on recent complaint data to help users of the database understand current and recent marketplace conditions;
  • Emphasize features for aggregation and analysis while continuing to make all the underlying data available for analysis; 
  • Explore expansion of a company’s ability to respond publicly to individual complaints listed in the database; and 
  • Continue to explore ways to put the complaint data in context of other data, such as by incorporating product or service market share and company size.
 
Finally, the Director has made a commitment to normalize data while finding a solution that works for all parties and indicated improvements to the database will come over the next year.
 
For too long, the Bureau’s unverified compliant database has functioned to paint a picture of guilt through government press releases and statements – despite the CFPB reporting the overwhelming majority of complaints being self-corrected by banks. These changes are an important first step in helping financial institutions better serve their customers and consumers’ needs are still heard.
 
More information on why changes to the database will make the system fairer is available here.
 
CFPB Releases Supervisory Highlights: The CFPB late last week released its Summer 2019 Supervisory Highlights focused on issues in automobile loan originations, credit card account management, debt collection, furnishing and mortgage originations.
 
  • For automobile loan originations, the CFPB highlighted a 2018 case where a lender sold a guaranteed asset protection (GAP) product to consumers whose low loan-to-volume (LTV) meant the consumer would not benefit from the product.
  • Multiple issues were raised in regard to credit card account management: triggered disclosures for online credit card advertisements, methods to offset credit card debt, deceptive threats of repossession in collections, and deceptive marketing regarding secured credit card accounts.
  • In one or more examinations, examiners found entities failed to clearly and conspicuously provide disclosures required by triggering terms in online advertisements. Consumers were required to click through insufficiently clear hyperlinks and navigate through online applications before receiving any disclosures. These entities have since corrected these links.
  • In a separate case, examiners found credit card issuers violated Regulation Z by offsetting consumers’ credit card debts against funds the consumer had on deposit with the issuers without sufficient indication of the consumer’s awareness of a security interest in those funds.
  • In some instances, the issuers enforced a security interest against the funds on deposit where there was no affirmative confirmation of this interest by the consumer.
  • Next, examiners found one or more credit card issuer misled or were likely to mislead consumer credit card holders by sending collection letters that suggested the issuers could repossess consumers’ automobiles or foreclose on homes, securing loans or mortgages owned by the issuers.
 
Finally, for credit cards, examiners found credit card issuers misled or were likely to mislead consumers by representing in prescreened offers of credit that secured credit card accounts subject to an annual fee would be periodically reviewed for upgrade.
 
Debt collection is once again highlighted in the supervisory highlights, with examiners finding one or more debt collectors claimed and collected forms from consumers, interest not authorized by the underlying contracts between the debt collectors and creditors.
 
For furnishing, the CFPB highlighted issues with a duty to timely complete dispute investigations, duty to provide results of dispute investigations to CRCs, duty to promptly correct and update previously furnished information, and duty to provide notice of dispute. These issues arose from entities failing to provide various information required under FCRA to CRC and consumers.
 
Finally, for mortgage originations, the Bureau found creditors disclosing inaccurate APRs for closed-end reverse mortgages, with creditors using a unit-period of one month instead of six to calculate APRs, leading to inaccurate calculations outside of Regulation Z’s permissible tolerances.
 
The CFPB also underlined recent supervision program developments, citing their updated small entity compliance guide, memorandum of understanding with the FTC, and the amendment of the annual privacy notice under the GLBA.

 

INDUSTRY NEWS
 
KeyCorp Chairman & CEO Beth Mooney to Retire: After 40 years in the banking industry, the first female to lead a top-20 U.S. bank Beth Mooney of KeyCorp is set to retire next year and be succeeded by Key's President of Banking Chris Gorman. Gorman will serve as President & Chief Operating Officer until he officially takes over for Mooney on May 1, 2020.
 
Comerica CFO Muneera Carr to Depart: Comerica has named treasurer James Herzog as its interim Chief Financial Officer after the resignation last week of Muneera Carr, who will depart the bank next month. Chief Executive Curtis C. Farmer said Carr "made many valuable contributions to the bank, both as Chief Financial Officer and while she served as Chief Accounting Officer.”
 
Discover Appoints John Greene New CFO: Discover recently announced John T. Greene as the new Chief Financial Officer and a member of the bank’s executive committee effective Wednesday. Greene comes to Discover with more than 30 years of experience as a financial executive in multiple industries, most recently serving as CFO at global biopharmaceutical company Bioverativ.
 
Equifax to Add Phone, Utility Bills in Credit Files: This week, CBA Premier Sponsor Equifax announced they will give customers an option of adding their phone and utility bills to their credit reports to boost changes of getting a loan. The change at the credit reporting agency could mean more consumers with little credit or a low credit score could be approved by lenders. 

 

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