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On July 20, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs (Committee) held a hearing entitled, “Housing Finance Reform: Maintaining Access for Small Lenders.” Frequent topics of discussion in the hearing included, among other things, housing finance reform, secondary market access, affordable housing, access to credit in rural areas, mortgage insurance, and mortgage backed securities issued by government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), operating under conservatorship since 2008.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Chairman of the Committee, remarked in his opening statement that “small lenders play a critical role in the mortgage market,” and that a need exists to preserve access to the secondary market. However, Sen. Crapo asserted that although GSEs are currently earning profits, a risk exists for taxpayers if there is a market downturn. “A mortgage market dominated by two huge government-sponsored companies in conservatorship is not a long-term solution, and is not in the best interest of consumers, taxpayers, lenders, investors, or the broader economy,” Sen. Crapo stated.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), ranking member of the Committee, released an opening statement in which he stated, “[S]mall lenders are often the only lenders willing to go the extra mile to underwrite mortgages . . . in cities’ urban core and in rural communities. . . . As we continue to debate the role of the GSEs, private capital, and large financial institutions in providing access to affordable mortgages, we cannot create a system that allows the GSEs or new players to use a business model that serves only the largest lenders, the highest income borrowers, or the well-off pockets of our country.”
The coalition of consumer groups and small lenders present at the hearing supported GSE reform, sought additional support for small lenders, and called for prompt government action relative to housing finance reform.
The July 20 hearing—a video of which can be accessed here—included testimony from the following witnesses:
- Ms. Brenda Hughes, Senior Vice President and Director of Mortgage and Retail Lending, First Federal Savings Bank of Twin Falls, on behalf of the American Bankers Association (testimony)
- Mr. Tim Mislansky, Senior Vice President and Chief Lending Officer, Wright-Patt Credit Union and President and CEO, myCUmortgage, LLC on behalf of the Credit Union National Association (testimony)
- Mr. Jack E. Hopkins, President and CEO, CorTrust Bank, N.A., on behalf of the Independent Community Bankers of America (testimony)
- Mr. Charles M. Pruvis, President and CEO, Coastal Federal Credit Union, on behalf of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (testimony)
- Mr. Wes Hunt, President, Homestar Financial Corporation, on behalf of the Community Mortgage Lenders of America (testimony)
- Mr. Bill Giambrone, President and CEO, Platinum Home Mortgage and President, Community Home Lenders Association (testimony)
CFPB Issues Request for Information on Small Business Lending; Prepares to Implement Section 1071 of Dodd Frank Act
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.”
On April 18, three industry organizations representing community banks and credit unions—the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), and the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU)—sent a letter urging the Federal Reserve System (Fed) to provide central bank settlement services in support of private sector development of future payment systems, rules, and standards. The letter also urges the Fed to take on three operational roles in addition to settlement capabilities: (i) to serve as an “on-ramp” to real-time payments; (ii) to serve as a real-time payments operator, much as it currently is an operator for checks, automated clearinghouse payments, and wire transfers; and (iii) to maintain a “payments directory” that would link together financial institutions and private-sector payments directories. The organizations argue, among other things, that the Fed’s commitment to these operational roles is critically important to achieving the “much-needed goals of safety, equitable access, and ubiquity” in developing an improved payments system. The letter emphasizes that the organizations are not requesting that the Fed develop rules or standards for real-time payments, but rather take the position that such efforts “should be left for private sector rules and standards organizations.”
As previously covered by InfoBytes, the Fed created the Faster Payments Task Force and the Secure Payments Task Force in June 2015 to lead industry efforts toward a speedier and better payments system. The CFPB also issued a set of guiding principles aimed to help private industry better protect consumers as new, faster electronic payment systems continue to emerge. (See InfoBytes coverage) The April 18 letter “applaud[s] the formation of both [Task Forces]” and “strongly encourage[s] the ongoing commitment of the [Fed] to lead and catalyze payments industry activities until the desired outcomes stated in the 2015 Strategies for Improving the U.S. Payments System paper are achieved.”
On February 28, the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urging him to use his position as chairman of the Financial Stability Oversight Counsel to alleviate the CFPB's “burdensome” regulatory impact on credit unions. The letter, among other things, urges the Secretary and FSOC to use the Counsel’s authority to set aside CFPB regulations as leverage to “spur renewed dialogue between the Bureau and the federal banking agencies regarding rules that may actually pose systemic risk to the financial sector.” The NAFCU attached an appendix to the letter listing 10 CFPB rules that the group finds “ripe for further review.” The letter was sent a day before FSOC’s March 2 executive session—its first under Secretary Mnuchin. Separately, the CUNA is holding its annual governmental affairs conference in Washington this week, bringing in 5,000 credit union advocates from around the country.
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “How the new administration sets the tone for 2021” at the American Conference Institute Legal, Regulatory and Compliance Forum on Fintech & Emerging Payment Systems
- Sherry-Maria Safchuk to discuss UDAAP at an American Bar Association webinar
- Jeffrey P. Naimon to discuss "What to expect: The new administration and regulatory changes" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Jonice Gray Tucker to discuss “The future of fair lending” at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Steven R. vonBerg to discuss "LO comp challenges" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss "Major litigation" at the Mortgage Bankers Association Legal Issues and Regulatory Compliance Conference
- Michelle L. Rogers to discuss “The False Claims Act today” at the Federal Bar Association Qui Tam Section Roundtable