A few months ago, I posted a blog about the ABA Regulatory Compliance Conference and a new product we had rolled out. Well, I just wrapped up attending the American Banker’s Regulatory Symposium in Arlington, Virginia and NOT surprisingly the same key theme that emerged over and over – as discussed by Richard Cordray and other regulators – was the need for a consumer lens while evaluating compliance with Dodd-Frank and other regulatory issues. For those who were not at the event, this story from Mortgage News Daily sums up Mr. Cordray’s comments nicely.
As he drove home the theme that the consumer is the most important determinant in whether banks are at risk for regulatory violations from agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), it reminded me of when I was at a top-tier financial services firm leading the Consumer Complaints Division and interfaced with the regulators and agencies.
Our customers often found it difficult to understand our documentation, noting it was too complicated and perplexing – which led to misunderstandings, and ultimately, problems. The article notes that, “Sometimes consumers are confused rather than deceived because relevant information is buried in pages of fine print or written in language that requires an advanced degree to decipher.” Mr. Cordray made a great point when he said, “Various providers may describe the same fee very differently, making comparisons numbingly difficult.”
Many banks are using social media monitoring, data analysis and other consumer insights to determine how well their employees (or third parties working with the bank, like call centers) are implementing their guidelines and interpretations of regulations. But one piece that seems to be missing is a comprehensive one-stop-shop for that ever important consumer lens. What do the consumers see and understand when they communicate with their bank? Do their perspectives match with what the bank is trying to say or explain? And, mostly importantly, what actions are required on the frontlines to close the gaps?
Many folks stopped by our booth to better understand how they could see their policies and practices through the consumer’s lens with the help of our CrowsNest solution. Please let me know what you think in the comments section below.