ICYMI on the ACA Huddle: CFPB Alum Reflects on Regulations and Bureau Leadership


Brian Johnson joined ACA International’s head of federal advocacy Leah Dempsey for a discussion on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s 10th anniversary and his insights on the bureau’s future priorities. Editor’s note: This article is available for members only.

7/13/2021 9:00

ACA International members got an inside perspective on the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau leading up to its 10-year anniversary this month and where its leadership and regulatory priorities may lie in the years ahead on the ACA Huddle July 7.

Guest Brian Johnson, former deputy director of the bureau and now an attorney at Alston & Bird in Washington, D.C., talked with ACA’s Vice President and Senior Counsel of Federal Advocacy Leah Dempsey in the exclusive ACA Huddle for members.

“I think the agency has had some successes and real challenges over the last decade,” Johnson said.

Dempsey added there have been a lot of changes for the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act and creation of the CFPB even though the industry did not play a role in the financial crisis of 2008/09.

As deputy director of the CFPB, Johnson was responsible for policy development, strategic planning and execution of the CFPB’s statutory supervision, examination, enforcement, rulemaking and research activities. He conceived and led the creation of high-profile agency initiatives, including the Office of Innovation, Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law, call for evidence RFI series, policy symposia series and the Start Small, Save Up emergency savings program.

Dempsey and Johnson also discussed the pending decision from the CFPB to extend the compliance date for the Reg F debt collection rule from Nov. 30, 2021, to Jan. 29, 2022.

The CFPB proposed the extension in response to the ongoing “societal disruption” caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic and to allow stakeholders additional time to review and implement the rule, ACA previously reported.

“The extension of the effective date is a bit of a headscratcher, because the stated purpose of the extension was to provide flexibility for implementing the requirements in light of COVID, which at the time it was proposed, stood somewhat contrary to the rest of the messaging coming out of the agency,” Johnson said.

That included rescinding the guidance measure from former CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger, which provided flexibility for institutions in various respects to accommodate operational challenges resulting from the pandemic.

Other highlights from the discussion between Johnson and Dempsey include:

  • ACA and the ARM industry await a decision from the CFPB on whether it will extend the compliance date for Reg F. Johnson said it is not likely the bureau could review the rule and propose changes before the current or proposed extended compliance date, but there does seem to be an appetite within the agency under leadership appointed by the Biden administration to evaluate Reg F.
  • David Uejio is currently the acting director of the bureau and Rohit Chopra’s nomination is awaiting approval from the U.S. Senate. Chopra currently serves on the Federal Trade Commission.
  • Dempsey said Chopra’s nomination may not be confirmed until there is another nominee to fill his vacancy on the FTC and it may happen after the August congressional recess. If he is confirmed, Chopra will have to resign from the FTC, leaving Biden one more commissioner spot to fill.
  • The FTC is made up of five commissioners including the chair, with no more than three coming from the same political party. Lina Khan’s recent confirmation as chair secures a Democrat majority on the FTC.
  • The FTC did just change some of its procedural rules so there is no longer a majority vote of commissioners required to initiate an investigative subpoena in certain areas, according to Johnson. That could be a sign the Chopra nomination will move forward.
  • The CFPB’s advisory opinion program is on hold until a permanent director is confirmed, but Johnson said the tool should remain available for the ARM industry and other industries. It allows the bureau to provide regulatory clarity that benefits both industries and consumers.
  • Johnson and Dempsey also discussed the CFPB’s consumer complaint database and its approach to enforcement actions.

For more takeaways, the complete recording of the ACA Huddle featuring Johnson is available for members here.

Each ACA Huddle, sponsored by Connect InternationalSolutions by TextPay N Seconds and QBE, also features an update on the current landscape for receivables businesses from a federal and state advocacy perspective, as well as compliance.

Click here to complete a one-time registration for the ACA Huddle and stay tuned for more speaker announcements. Members may access recordings of the ACA Huddle presentations here.

For more on the CFPB’s 10th Anniversary, read Dempsey’s article, Five Defining Moments of the CFPB, in the June issue of Collector magazine.

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