On April 17, 2019, CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger outlined her approach in executing the Bureau’s statutory mission in a speech to the Bipartisan Policy Center. This was Director Kraninger’s first major speech since taking the helm at the Bureau. Kraninger’s remarks were organized around the tools that the Bureau will utilize to advance its core mission of preventing consumer harm. The speech was consistent with the Director’s recent testimony to House and Senate Committees but also provided a number of clues as to the priorities of the Bureau in the near future.

Director Kraninger began by stating the Bureau’s focus, under her leadership, will be the prevention of harm to consumers. She went on to say the Bureau would deploy four tools—education, rulemaking, supervision and enforcement—to realize this overarching mission.

    • Education. Director Kraninger stated that the Bureau will provide education programming intended to empower consumers to make optimal financial decisions. The programming will outline approaches to consumer savings, especially as they pertain to emergency needs.
    • Rulemakings. The Bureau will pursue rulemaking “deliberately and transparently.” Director Kraninger indicated that rulemaking would provide “clear rules of the road” to regulated or supervised entities. The Director noted the Bureau must recognize imposing additional compliance costs on financial service providers can impact consumer access to credit. She indicated that a proposed rule pertaining to debt collection practices are forthcoming and, among other things, would limit the number of calls collectors can make on a weekly basis, address the use of email and text communications in debt collection, and require certain disclosures at the beginning of the collection process.
    • Supervision. Director Kraninger stated an intent to review the Bureau’s approach to examinations, while emphasizing that CFPB examinations will assess whether supervised entities are meeting their obligations by promoting “a culture of compliance” that prevents harm in the first instance. The Director also set forth a commitment to enhance the Bureau’s coordination and collaboration with other federal regulators.
    • Enforcement. The Director stated that enforcement is an essential tool for the Bureau because education, rulemaking and supervision will not address every consumer protection issue. Following an evaluation of the Bureau’s approach to investigations, the Director intends to implement an enforcement regime that will “foster compliance, help prevent consumer harm, and right wrongs.” The Bureau is also committed to partnerships with state attorneys general and bank supervisors.

Finally Director Kraninger announced the Bureau will launch a “symposia series” on topics related to the CFPB’s mission. The first symposium will focus on clarifying the meaning of “abusive acts or practices” in the Dodd-Frank Act.

The Director’s speech was closely watched by stakeholders. Members of the financial services industry viewed the speech favorably, with the CEO of the Consumer Bankers Association issuing a statement applauding the director for a “common-sense, principled approach.” Consumer advocates, on the other hand, expressed concerns about the Director’s promised modernization of debt collection rules.