Second Annual CFPB Ombudsman Report Recommends Exam Changes

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On December 3, the CFPB Ombudsman’s Office submitted its second annual report to the Director of the CFPB. The report contains an update on the systemic recommendations made last year and new recommendations stemming from the Ombudsman’s review of (i) how the CFPB shares information, (ii) caller experience with the CFPB contact center, and (iii) the supervisory examination process. The Ombudsman’s recommendations relate primarily to further standardizing and clarifying what a financial entity may expect throughout the examination lifecycle and to ensuring industry and consumer access to CFPB information in a consistent and timely manner. According to the Ombudsman, the Bureau was receptive to all suggestions and feedback.

Specifically, the Ombudsman recommended that the CFPB cite to the examination manual in written communications to examinees; describe at the onset what the financial entity can expect to receive at the end of the examination process; provide updates on examination status at regular intervals after the onsite portion of examinations; and better inform financial entities about the methods available for elevating examination concerns. The Ombudsman also recommended that the CFPB add a digest to all updates to consumerfinance.gov, along with more user-friendly subscription “sign up” options; maintain a public events calendar and announce events with consistent minimal lead time; make basic information about the CFPB speaker request process more accessible; and explain to consumers contacting the CFPB contact center that providing an email address will result in consumer complaint notifications solely via email.

In addition, the report summarizes and identifies trends in the individual inquiries submitted to the Ombudsman during the review period. The majority of inquiries related to the consumer-complaint process, and more than half of the consumer complaints received concerned mortgages. The report also addresses growth within the Ombudsman’s Office since last year and the Ombudsman’s external outreach efforts and internal dialogue with CFPB leaders across divisions and offices.