On July 30, the CFPB issued its second Semi-Annual Report highlighting the Bureau’s activities and accomplishments during the first half of 2012. The Dodd-Frank Act created the CFPB to protect consumers of financial products and to encourage the fair and competitive operation of consumer financial markets. The Bureau’s mission is to make consumer financial markets work for consumers, businesses, and the economy. The Semi-Annual Report provides an update on the CFPB’s activities, highlighting the Bureau’s most significant achievements over the past several months and providing additional information required by the Dodd-Frank Act.

The CFPB has solicited input about the challenges faced by consumers in obtaining financial products and services. The CFPB has heard from consumers about their experiences, both positive and negative, with financial products and services through the “Tell Your Story” tool on the CFPB’s website, roundtables, town halls, and field hearings. Additionally, the Bureau launched an infrastructure to receive, process, and facilitate responses to consumer complaints. The CFPB is also gathering data about consumers’ behavior and choices when they shop for financial products and the ways that market structure and sales practices may shape such conduct.

The CFPB has also taken steps toward making consumer financial markets work better for consumers and companies. To that end, the Bureau has launched different offices to provide resources for consumers. For example, the Consumer Response team receives complaints and inquiries directly from consumers. The Division of Consumer Education and Engagement develops and implements initiatives to educate and empower consumers to make better-informed financial decisions. Its initiatives include programs directed toward particular populations which have traditionally been underserved by the financial markets.

Only a year old, the CFPB has also made great efforts in its start-up activities. As of June 30, 2012, the CFPB team consists of 889 staff members working to carry out the Bureau’s mission. The Bureau has worked to build a human and physical infrastructure that promotes transparency, accountability, fairness, and service to the public. This includes demonstrating a commitment to openness and using the CFPB’s website to share information on the Bureau’s operations, recruiting highly qualified personnel, providing training and opportunities for CFPB staff to improve skills and knowledge and maintain excellence, and promoting diversity in the CFPB’s workforce and among its contractors by launching the Bureau’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion.

The Bureau has also engaged in extensive outreach to consumers and industry, initiated and developed partnerships with federal and state agencies, has begun to establish advisory groups comprised of both consumer and industry groups, implemented statutory protections and begun the process of streamlining regulations inherited from other agencies, launched programs for supervising large banks and other companies that provide consumer financial products and services, investigated potential violations of laws under its purview, and used extensive outreach in its efforts to ensure nondiscriminatory access to fair credit.

On July 31, the CFPB issued its inaugural Annual Report in fulfillment of its statutory responsibilities pursuant to section 1017(e)(4) of the Dodd-Frank Act. Section 1017(e)(4) requires the CFPB Director to prepare and submit a report to the Committees on Appropriations of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The Annual Report covers the period from when the CFPB opened its doors, July 21, 2011, to June 30, 2012.

The Annual Report restates much of the content of the Semi-Annual Report. It reiterates the Bureau’s accomplishments and its start-up activities, including recruiting staff and building its internal infrastructure. The CFPB also discusses how it has employed several different avenues to gather consumers’ input about their experiences with financial products and services to understand the different challenges faced by consumers. The Bureau has also launched different offices to provide resources to consumers. Some of the duties of these offices include receiving, processing, and managing complaints and inquiries directly from consumers; and launching initiatives to educate and empower consumers to make better-informed financial decisions.

The CFPB will update its website, ConsumerFinance.gov, with information on the Bureau’s work in the coming months.