What is interesting about the CFPB's approach to this major overhaul is its forthright attitude. In offering the new form for industry evaluation, its announcement states that:
"at the heart of our work is the idea that the consumer financial product and services market should work for you. We think we should learn from you what you want to see. One of the best ways to do that is also the simplest: we're asking."
For industry participants accustomed to being told what to do, not asked, this is a welcome attitude. Even when regulators have asked industry members for comments, as a requirement of statutory authority and rulemaking, often most comments are not adopted, adapted, or, in some cases, even acknowledged.
But it should be noted that this is only a first step in a process that will last several months. The testing phase of the disclosure prototypes will take place over the next several months and involve one-on-one interviews with consumers, lenders, and brokers.
CFPB expects to conduct five rounds of evaluation and revisions through September 2011. Initial rounds of testing will include both English and Spanish language versions. Interviews will be conducted in six cities: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Baltimore, Mary land; Birmingham, Alabama; Chicago, Illinois; Los Angeles, California; and Springfield, Massachusetts.
Yet, the CFPB lets us know, even though the process will take some time, "there will be more opportunities to weigh in as we move forward."
What this suggests is that the industry would do well to assist, rather than to resist, the type of cooperation that the CFPB wants to encourage. Ultimately, what is good for the consumer is good for the industry - that is a concept that the industry itself has always maintained as central to its mission.