For so many people and companies, 2020 was a year of uncertainty unlike any other in recent memory. It was no different for the financial services industry. The biggest uncertainty was COVID-19. The global pandemic had a profound effect on every segment of the industry - from credit reporting to mortgage lending - and every industry stakeholder - from financial services companies to consumers to regulators. The story for 2021 (hopefully) will be recovery and the aftereffects of the pandemic.
To contain the fallout from the crisis, federal and state policymakers moved swiftly to offer financial relief to consumers and regulatory relief to companies. Consumer finance companies, whose operations were and continue to be severely impacted by the virus, had to navigate these unchartered waters and develop new systems and adjust their business practices to shifting consumer demands and regulatory requirements. These requirements included, most notably, the mortgage forbearance and foreclosure moratorium provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), benefits for federal student loans borrowers, including interest rate reductions and the suspension of collection efforts, and changes to industry-standard credit reporting practices. Much of this relief is scheduled to expire over the coming months. The process of unwinding this relief, either immediately or, as is likely, after further extensions by the incoming Biden administration, will occupy industry and regulator attention for much of 2021 and beyond.
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