January 11, 2019

Kraninger's CFPB – A First Look

An email from newly appointed CFPB director Kathy Kraninger (reported on by American Banker) provides a glimpse at the goals and directions of the Bureau under her leadership. This first look may provide valuable insights into the new director's plan for the agency, which was not widely explored during her confirmation process. A question as Kraninger takes the reins of the Bureau is whether her leadership will be a continuation of the policies begun by Acting Director Mulvaney, or a distinct third iteration of the Bureau.

Kraninger directs CFPB staff to approach the agency's work "with an open mind and without presumptions of guilt." Kraninger's other stated goals for the Bureau include to "carefully weigh the costs and benefits to consumers of our enforcement activities and regulatory rulemakings," "vigorously enforce the law," and "respect the rights of all we serve and interact with, to safeguard their personal information, and to be transparent in its operations." Interestingly, Kraninger's email to Bureau staff appears to address criticisms of both prior Bureau directors—particularly that, on both rulemaking and enforcement activities, the Bureau was too aggressive (under Director Cordray) and not aggressive enough (under Acting Director Mulvaney).

Kraninger's email, as reported by American Banker, also states that the agency will seek to ensure that industry participants "are competing on a level playing field" and will emphasize the importance of innovation "[t]hat enhance[s] both choice and the needs of the consumer." A focus on innovation highlights the Bureau's current effort to revamp its No-Action Letter Policy and develop a regulatory "sandbox" for disclosures.

While the reporting of Kraninger's memo to staff is a helpful look at the goals she has for the Bureau, more concrete directions will be set by the agency's activities in the new year. Kraninger has signed one consent order already this year and reportedly reversed course on the agency's proposed name change; we will be watching for trends and patterns as the Bureau enters a new year.