Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will appear before the House Financial Services Committee today at 2:30 p.m. ET for his semi-annual report to Congress, but here’s a preview of his opening remarks, unedited.

Cordray is speaking to Chairman Hensarling, Ranking Member Waters, and Members of the Committee, in preview to the Bureau’s Semi-Annual Report to Congress. 

Here are the most-important takeaways for HousingWire readers:

Through fair rules, consistent oversight, appropriate law enforcement, and broad-based consumer engagement, we are working to restore people’s trust in consumer financial markets and protect them against illegal conduct.

Of course, much of the early work of the Bureau has centered on the mortgage market, which was the primary cause of the financial crisis and thus was where reform was deemed essential by the Congress and most  policymakers. 

We also undertook considerable analysis to set the stage for a more recent development, which is a proposed rule we released to provide further latitude for residential mortgage lending by small creditors such as community banks and credit unions.  

The Bureau shares the Committee’s respect for these institutions, as well as a commitment to promoting access to credit for consumers in rural and underserved areas.  

And so our proposal would expand the definition of “small creditor” by making certain adjustments to the origination limit to allow for more lending by these small local institutions. 

We also propose to expand the definition of “rural” areas to provide more access to credit in those areas.  

As we have demonstrated again and again, we are committed to an even-handed approach to rulemaking that maintains important protections for consumers while listening to all stakeholders and making changes where appropriate to get things as right as we can. 

We also moved forward with one of the tasks that Congress set for us by proposing a rule to overhaul the reporting requirements for the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act.  It includes a proposed exemption of approximately 25% of banks and credit unions that are currently required to submit HMDA reports from the obligation to do so.

In related activity, we released new and improved tools to allow the public to access and utilize this data more readily and effectively.  And we finalized a rule to promote more effective annual privacy disclosures from financial institutions to their customers. The approach we took considerably eases the burdens of such notices for many companies. 

We estimate that the industry could save about $17 million annually if the new online disclosure method is widely adopted.

To date, we have helped secure orders through enforcement actions for more than $5.3 billion in relief to more than 15 million consumers who fell victim to various violations of federal consumer financial laws.  

During the period of the Semi-Annual Report, we brought enforcement actions that secured $1.6 billion in relief for consumers. 

They included $92 million in debt relief for 17,000 service members and other consumers who were harmed by a predatory lending scheme. 

Since opening our doors, the Bureau’s Office of Consumer Response has accepted more than 540,000 consumer complaints related to a variety of financial products and services, including mortgages, credit cards, student loans, auto loans, credit reporting, debt collection, and a number of other consumer financial products or services.  
That has resulted in relief of various kinds, both monetary and non-monetary, for many consumers.
It also generates a rich trove of information from individual consumers in real-time about the most urgent problems and challenges they are confronting in the financial marketplace, all of which informs our regulatory, supervisory, and enforcement work.

The progress we have made has been possible thanks to the engagement of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have utilized our consumer education tools, submitted complaints, participated in rulemakings, and told us their stories through our website and at numerous public meetings from coast to coast. 

We have also benefited from an ongoing dialogue and constructive engagement with the institutions we supervise, with community banks and credit unions with whom we regularly meet, and with consumer advocates throughout the country.