This afternoon, the CFPB released its summer 2013 Supervisory Highlights report, which covers supervisory activity from November 2012-June 2013.  This is the second such report the CFPB has released; the first report came out in October 2012 and covered activity from July 2011 through September 2012.

The report provides a brief review of the CFPB’s public enforcement actions and non-public supervisory actions and developments in the supervision program, including the issuance of bulletins, the issuance of new fair lending examination procedures, and the reorganization of supervision staff. The report also reviews the CFPB’s risk-based approach to examinations, including the “Institution Product Lines” approach, and outlines the factors that influence examination priorities.  The report does not identify any planned supervisory activities.

The bulk of the report, however, summarizes the CFPB’s examination findings. Key findings are discussed below.

Compliance Management Systems (CMS)

  • CMS Elements
    • Although the report states no specific CMS structure is required, it also states that, based on the CFPB’s supervisory experience, an effective CMS commonly has the following components:  (i) board and management oversight; (ii) compliance program; (iii) consumer complaint management program; and (iv) independent compliance audit.  The report provides additional discussion on each component.
  • Nonbanks
    • The report states that nonbanks are more likely than banks to lack a robust CMS. The CFPB found one or more instances of nonbanks that lack formal policies and procedures, have not developed a consumer compliance program, or do not conduct independent consumer compliance audits. According to the CFPB, the lack of an effective CMS has, in a number of instances, resulted in violations of Federal consumer financial laws. In these instances, the CFPB has required appropriate corrective action.
    • The report notes that CMS deficiencies in nonbanks are generally related to the supervised entity’s lacking a CMS structure altogether. CFPB examinations have found instances where nonbanks do not have a separate compliance function; rather, compliance is embedded in the business line, which can lead to deficiencies.
  • Banks
    • The CFPB found that banks generally had an adequate CMS structure; however, several institutions lacked one or more of the components of an effective CMS.
    • The most common weakness the CFPB identified in banks is a deficient system of periodic monitoring and independent compliance audits. An entity that lacks periodic monitoring and instead relies on an annual independent compliance audit to identify regulatory violations and CMS deficiencies increases its risk that violations and weaknesses will go undetected for long periods of time, potentially leading to multiple regulatory violations and increased consumer harm.

Mortgage Servicing

  • Servicing Transfers
    • Examiners found noncompliance with RESPA’s requirement to provide disclosures to consumers about transfers of the servicing of their loans.
    • Examiners also noted lack of controls relating to the review and handling of key documents – such as loan modification applications, trial modification agreements, and other loss mitigation agreements – necessary to ensure the proper transfer of servicing responsibilities for a loan.
    • Examiners noted that one servicer did not review any individual documents that the prior servicer had transferred, such as trial loan modification agreements.
    • At another servicer, examiners determined that documentation the servicer received in the transfer was not organized or labeled, and as a result, the servicer did not utilize loss mitigation information provided to the prior servicer in its loss mitigation efforts.
  • Payment Processing
    • A servicer provided inadequate notice to borrowers of a change in the address to which they should send payments, which constituted a potentially unfair practice impacting thousands of borrowers. The entity acted promptly to ensure that it did not impose late fees or other delinquency fees, or any other negative consequences.
    • A servicer decided – without notice to borrowers – to delay property tax payments from December of one year to January of the next, resulting in the borrowers’ inability to claim a tax deduction for the prior year, which the CFPB cited as an unfair practice.
    • A servicer paid certain property taxes late, in violation of RESPA. The CFPB directed the servicer to pay any fees associated with the late payment and to investigate whether consumers experienced any additional harm as a result of the late payments. Further, at the CFPB’s direction, the servicer will notify consumers of the late payment and solicit information about any additional harm. If any such harm is identified, the servicer will remediate it.
    • Examiners have found violations of the Homeowners Protection Act (HPA) at several servicers. In one examination, examiners found excessive delays in processing borrower requests for private mortgage insurance (PMI) cancellation. Additionally, in cases where PMI was canceled, the servicer improperly handled unearned PMI premiums in violation of the HPA. The CFPB required the servicer to amend its policies and procedures relating to PMI cancellation. The servicer also must conduct a review to determine whether borrowers were subject to additional harm caused by delays in processing PMI cancellations.
    • Examiners identified a servicer that charged consumers default-related fees without adequately documenting the reasons for and amounts of the fees. Examiners also identified situations where servicers mistakenly charged borrowers default-related fees that investors were supposed to pay under investor agreements. Servicers have refunded these fees to borrowers.
  • Loss Mitigation
    • Examiners have found issues related to: (i) inconsistent borrower solicitation and communication; (ii) inconsistent loss mitigation underwriting; (iii) inconsistent waivers of certain fees or interest charges; (iii) long application review periods; (iv) missing denial notices; (v) incomplete and disorganized servicing files; (vi) incomplete written policies and procedures; and (v) lack of quality assurance on underwriting decisions.
    • The CFPB states that weak compliance management surrounding loss mitigation processes creates fair lending risk and that it expects that entities servicing mortgage loans will implement fair lending policies, procedures, and controls to ensure that they are ECOA compliant. The CFPB states that servicers should conduct fair lending training for loss mitigation staff and engage in effective and timely fair lending risk assessments, compliance monitoring, and testing.

Fair Lending

  • ECOA
    • The report states that some lenders are not complying with various aspects of the adverse action notification requirements under ECOA and Regulation B. The CFPB has found instances where supervised entities violated ECOA and Regulation B by failing to comply with either the provision, content, or timing requirements for adverse action notices and has directed the entities to develop and implement plans to ensure that the appropriate monitoring and internal controls are in place to detect and prevent future violations.
    • The report specifically notes that loan servicers should have systems in place to determine whether borrowers who apply for a change in the terms of credit are entitled to adverse action notices. The CFPB notes that some institutions may find it helpful to arrange for independent, internal reviews of loan files to ensure that the documentation supports the action taken and that all timing requirements are met. In addition, the report states that institutions should provide comprehensive periodic training to management and staff regarding compliance with ECOA and Regulation B, including compliance with provisions on adverse action notices.