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CFPB Research Leaves Out One Thing: Talking To The Consumers

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau last week released a report on professional designations earned and represented by those who work with older Americans. The study concluded consumers were confused by the dozens of designations being used in the marketplace. While the CFPB conducted thorough research on the subject including insight from experts and stakeholders, the bureau didn’t actually speak with consumers for the study, RMD has found.

A similar outcome came from a reverse mortgage industry report mandated by Congress under the Dodd-Frank Act and produced by the CFPB last year. While the study presented one of the most thorough industry reports of the reverse mortgage business in the history of reverse mortgages, the lack of consumer input left some questioning the validity of the study.

“We did not conduct a direct to consumer survey,” a CFPB official said at the time last year. “[The report] was a very large undertaking as it was, to add a direct to consumer survey would’ve added months to the process.”

In the most recent report on senior designations, the CFPB had a similar response when asked about the research methodology. While consumers did submit comments to the agency’s request for information and there were a small number included in roundtables hosted by the CFPB, there were not any formal interviews with consumers.

“…The Bureau found that the use of senior designations is extremely confusing for consumers,” the bureau wrote in its report. “There are more than 50 different senior designations currently used in today’s marketplace with senior designees recommending or selling a variety of products, such as securities, investment opportunities, financial products, and insurance products like annuities and long-term care insurance.”

In response to the findings, the agency says it will work to streamline designations by working with state and federal enforcement and accreditation organizations.

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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