On May 10, the CFPB announced the issuance of a Request for Information on various aspects of the market for small business loans as the Bureau prepares to implement Section 1071 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which amends the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) to require financial institutions to compile, maintain, and report information concerning credit applications made by women-owned, minority-owned, and small businesses. The Request includes questions grouped in five categories: (i) defining what constitutes a small business; (ii) data points the Bureau will require to be submitted and collected; (iii) types of lenders involved in small business lending and the appropriate institutional coverage for the data collection requirements; (iv) types of financial products offered to small businesses generally, and those owned by women and minorities in particular; and (v) privacy concerns related to the data collection.
The CFPB also released Director Cordray’s prepared remarks in advance of a field hearing on small business lending where he introduced the Request for Information and issued a related press release. Comments are due 60 days after the Request for Information is published in the Federal Register. The Bureau also released a report, entitled “Key Dimensions of the Small Business Lending Landscape,” which presents the CFPB's perspective on the market for lending to small, minority-owned and woman-owned firms and gaps in its understanding.
A couple of industry groups have already weighed in regarding expected difficulties with the application of Section 1071. In a letter sent Tuesday in advance of the field hearing, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) urged the CFPB to exempt its members from any rulemaking that compels disclosure of business loan information. NAFCU Regulatory Affairs Counsel Andrew Morris cites the unique characteristics of credit unions, and that such data collection “may yield confusing information about credit unions and further restrict lending activity as a result of increased compliance costs.” The letter notes that “[c]redit unions serve distinct fields of membership, and as a result, institution-level data related to women-owned, minority-owned and small business lending substantially differs in relation to other lenders.”
And, in a white paper provided to the Treasury Department, the American Bankers Association criticizes what amounts to Section 1071’s conflation of consumer and commercial lending, “recommend[ing] the elimination of any vestige of Bureau regulatory, supervisory, or enforcement authority over commercial credit or other commercial account and financial services.”