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Cordray: Accountability improves consumer experience
WASHINGTON (5/13/14)--Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray spoke to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Friday, saying the CFPB seeks accountability from financial institutions when it comes to the costs and risks of their products in order to create a better marketplace for consumers.
 
The CFPB's authority extends to all consumer finance markets, and they have regulatory oversight over all financial institutions with assets over $10 billion and their affiliates, institutions which comprise nearly three-quarters of U.S. banking market.
 
"We have been charged by Congress to assure that the markets for all of these consumer financial products are fair, transparent, and competitive. We expect a marketplace where companies are honest and clear so that consumers know the key terms and conditions of financial products up front, including pricing," Cordray said. "When consumers have the ability to compare between two financial products with knowledge of the true costs, actual benefits, and real risks, they will generally be better able to make decisions they can live with over time. And informed decision-making allows American consumers to drive the market toward products and services that meet genuine consumer preferences."
 
This primarily includes using supervisory and enforcement authority to push for compliance with the law in all instances. So far, these efforts have resulted in more than $3.5 billion in relief to consumers.
 
"In each of these instances, the monetary relief provided to past and current consumers was supplemented by prospective injunctive-style relief," Cordray said. "This relief is aimed at protecting future consumers, who should never have to suffer the same treatment because the company is being compelled to change its practices."
 
The CFPB has been publishing periodic documents, called "Supervisory Highlights," which describe problems and actions taken to remediate them, without identifying the specific institutions. In addition, the organization has solicited feedback from consumers themselves, and has received more than 350,000 complaints, which Cordray said have given it the ability to work with companies to address a specific complaint.
 
"The Consumer Bureau has organized itself around a central precept of paying close attention to what consumers themselves tell us," he said. "Ultimately, for every sound business it is the customers who provide the essential information about what to fix, when to fix it, and how to fix it."
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