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A national trade group of lenders has formed a compliance committee to help auto lenders and other finance companies deal with consumer complaints filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Primarily, the committee is a resource for operations folks,” said Bill Himpler, executive vice president for the American Financial Services Association in Washington.
“They will be taking what’s in regulatory proposals and final rules and explaining, ‘This is what you need to do,’ to be in compliance with those regulations,” he said in a phone interview last week.
The CFPB doesn’t have jurisdiction over most franchised, new-vehicle dealerships, but it can act to make sure lenders address consumer complaints. That could indirectly affect dealerships.
The compliance committee is for all types of consumer loans, not just autos. But auto finance is a big part of the committee’s agenda, Himpler said.
Chairing the committee is John Noone, who retired last year as president of Ford Motor Credit Co. He is now principal of Noone Consulting Group. Noone was chairman of AFSA for 2011-12.
Himpler said the committee’s first order of business is to help lenders compare notes on how to address consumer complaints filed with the CFPB. That’s something lenders were already doing informally, he said.
“At the staff level, we’ve really been impressed just how much folks are willing to share between the small banks and big banks, nonbanks, auto lenders, credit cards. Everybody is bringing something to the table in order to try to flesh out the challenges we face as an industry,” he said.
The CFPB opened its consumer complaint database to auto loan complaints in March 2012. The bureau was already collecting complaints about other forms of consumer credit, such as credit cards.
Himpler said banks, captive finance companies and independent auto lenders want to share with one another how they are handling consumers’ auto-financing complaints.
Alejandra Siles, AFSA’s manager of operations compliance, said AFSA developed a template for lenders to follow when handling complaints.
Consumer complaints, she said, are on AFSA’s roster of “main priority issues.”
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