The CFPB has released its 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, a document that sets out the Bureau's mission, goals, and objectives for the next five years. The new Strategic Plan reflects the policy positions of the administration and new acting director of the Bureau—a core principle of which is to "go no further" than the CFPB's statutory responsibilities.

What Are the Practical Impacts of the Strategic Plan?

The goals and objectives stated in the Strategic Plan highlight an unparalleled ability for industry participants to help shape the Bureau's policies, procedures, and rules, by responding to Requests for Information (RFIs), and engaging in the notice and comment rulemaking process.

Regarding enforcement and supervision, the Strategic Plan highlights a "back to the basics" focus on core compliance issues that greatly affect consumers. In particular, the Strategic Plan specifically calls out preventing "elder financial exploitation" as an imperative.

What Does the Strategic Plan Cover?

The Strategic Plans sets out four guiding principles for the CFPB moving forward:

  • Seeking the counsel of others and making decisions after carefully considering the evidence.
  • Equally protecting the legal rights of all.
  • Confidently doing what is right.
  • Acting with humility and moderation.

Using these principles, the Bureau intends to pursue three strategic goals over the next five years:

Goal 1: Ensure that all consumers have access to markets for consumer financial products and services.

To meet this goal, the Bureau intends to focus on consumer education, a streamlined regulatory environment, and a transparent and efficient financial marketplace. A core element of this goal appears to be a focus on the cost-benefit balance of regulations, as well as efforts to ensure that industry participants are adequately armed with resources to implement and comply with applicable laws and regulations. The Stragic Plan also states that the CFPB will engage in rulemaking where appropriate to address unwarranted regulatory burdens.

Goal 2: Implement and enforce the law consistently to ensure that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.

Important objectives in meeting this goal include protecting consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts and practices (UDAAPs) and from discrimination. Importantly, the Strategic Plan indicates that the Bureau will pay special attention to leveling the playing field between depository institutions and other financial institutions to promote fair competition, while focusing its enforcement and supervisory efforts on "institutions and their product lines that pose the greatest risk to consumers based on the nature of the product, field and market intelligence, and the size of the institution and product line."

Goal 3: Foster operational excellence through efficient and effective processes, governance, and security of resources and information.

The Strategic Plan's third stated goal focuses on the CFPB's own house, and stresses enhancing safeguards for the Bureau's information and systems; maintaining a talented, diverse, inclusive, and engaged workforce; and managing risk and promoting accountability within the Bureau. In meeting this goal, the Strategic Plan emphasizes mission and budget "discipline"—a sentiment in line with Director Mulvaney's statement that the Bureau will stop "pushing the envelope".

How Can Industry Address the Strategic Plan?

As a consequence of the new strategic direction of the Bureau, there will be many opportunities for industry participants to provide input on the CFPB's new direction, including revisions to the civil investigative demand (CID) process, administrative adjudications, and enforcement procedures—the subject of three recent RFIs issued by the Bureau—as well as engaging in the rulemaking process as the CFPB proposes regulatory amendments and rules consistent with its new focus.