At the end of last year, the CFPB issued its Fair Lending Priorities for 2017. According to its December blog post, the CFPB plans to increase its focus on the following three areas, which it describes as “presenting a substantial risk of credit discrimination for consumers.”
Redlining: The CFPB “will continue to evaluate whether lenders have intentionally avoided lending in minority neighborhoods.” The CFPB will likely seek to build off its recent redlining enforcement actions and this redlining focus is consistent with the CFPB’s Fall 2016 Supervisory Highlights, which identified “redlining as a priority area in the Bureau’s supervisory work.”
Mortgage and Student Loan Servicing: The CFPB “will determine whether some borrowers who are behind on their mortgage or student loan payments may have more difficulty working out a new solution with the servicer because of their race or ethnicity.”
Small Business Lending: “Congress expressed concern that women-owned and minority-owned businesses may experience discrimination when they apply for credit, and has required the CFPB to take steps to ensure their fair access to credit.” This is likely a reference to Dodd-Frank Section 1071, which required financial institutions to collect and maintain certain data on credit applications made by women- or minority-owned businesses and small businesses. In 2016, the CFPB began building a small business lending team that has focused on outreach and research to develop its understanding of the players, products, and practices in business lending markets and of the potential ways to implement section 1071.
“Because [it] is responsible for overseeing so many products and so many lenders,” the CFPB noted that it “re-prioritize[s] [its] work from time to time, to make sure that [it is] focused on the areas of greatest risk to consumers.” This list identifies the “key areas where the CFPB’s fair lending team will focus in 2017.”
Clients should remain cognizant of these issues and be sure that there is appropriate attention paid to them in 2017. However, given the ongoing PHH litigation, continued speculation that President-elect Trump may seek to terminate Director Cordray for cause, and Republicans’ general focus on reigning in the CFPB and rolling back Dodd Frank in the new Congress, it must be noted that these priorities could shift in the coming months. If they do, we will be sure to highlight that in future Subject to Inquiry blog posts.