Each year, approximately twelve million Americans resort to payday loans for quick money to pay off bills and cover emergency expenses. The small, short-term unsecured loans give borrowers a quick way to get money with little consideration of their creditworthiness. Borrowers are plagued with extremely high annual percentage rates to offset the seemingly substantial risk to the lender. However, many studies have shown that payday loans carry no more long-term risk to the lender than other forms of credit. Lenders are able to gain from the high interest rates that burden borrowers while simultaneously benefitting from the relatively low-stakes gamble of the nature of the loan. This illuminates a harrowing truth: the real victims of exploitative and predatory “cash advances” are the borrowers themselves who continue taking on more and more of these high-interest loans in a vicious cycle to repay small debts.
Following the 2016 Wells Fargo scandal in which the bank opened millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts to collect fees, federal regulators have worked to address and respond to the corporation’s illegal conduct. On February 2nd, 2018, the U.S. Federal Reserve imposed unprecedented restrictions against Wells Fargo & Co. when it capped the bank’s growth for 2018 such that it could not exceed the total assets owned at the end of 2017. This restriction marks a substantial departure from previous penalties issued for improper compliance. Changes in policies and procedures and this novel punishment reflect a notable shift in the national bank’s expectations of corporate directors.
The Trump administration is delivering on its promise to deregulate America. Since taking office, numerous regulations spanning everything from energy to health care have been repealed or weakened. The financial services industry is not immune to the deregulation movement. The Trump administration is acting through appointments, executive agencies, and legislation to deregulate the financial services industry. Proponents of deregulation claim the movement is needed after Dodd-Frank and strict post-financial crisis regulation. However, in deregulating financial services, the Trump Administration—and compliance professionals—should proceed cautiously.
Financial institutions often rely on outside vendors to provide information technology services. While doing so often provides economic efficiency and quicker technological innovation, the risks associated with outsourcing information technology services are significant. Institutions must develop strong vendor management programs to ensure the safety of their customer’s personal information. Several large financial institutions have come together to create a new consortium to perform vendor and partner due diligence.
In July of 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) Director, Richard Cordray, implemented a rule regulating the ability of banks to prohibit class-action lawsuits from being placed within the fine print of their consumer contracts. By the end of July, the House of Representatives voted to repeal the rule under the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn any recently issued regulation by an executive agency. The Senate subsequently voted to repeal the rule after a 50-51 vote, where Mike Pence cast his vote to break the 50-50 tie. On November 1st, 2017, President Trump signed the bill repealing the regulation.
Since its inception in 2010, The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has garnered its fair share of criticism and controversy. The regulator was created by the Dodd-Frank legislation to curb the practices and risks, which brought about the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The CFPB is often criticized by the banks and firms it regulates, but now a fellow federal regulator is casting doubt on the CFPB’s new rule concerning mandatory arbitration clauses found in contracts for commonly used banking products, such as checking accounts and credit cards. The rule is also opposed by Congress, which is working on measures to repeal the rule, and several financial industry and lobbying groups who are suing the CFPB.