On February 28, Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, delivered remarks at the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (“NAAG”) in which he outlined the CFPB’s strategic vision and enforcement priorities.

More Enforcement Leadership from State Attorneys General

In his comments, Mulvaney stressed that, moving forward, the CFPB will rely much more on state attorneys general for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.  “We’re going to be relying on you folks a lot more,” he said.  “We’re going to be looking to the state regulators and the states’ attorneys general for a lot more leadership when it comes to enforcement.”

More Cooperation and Consultation

Mulvaney also said that, under his leadership, the CFPB would do a better job of seeking constructive input from stakeholders, including state attorneys general, consumer groups, and industry groups.  He acknowledged that the CFPB has been criticized for not listening and for seeking input from stakeholders only after the agency has made a final decision about how to proceed.  Mulvaney promised to change that.

Consumer Education

Mulvaney stressed that the CFPB will focus much more on consumer education.  He noted that the CFPB has a statutory mandate to educate consumers about their financial decisions.  He also said, however, that in reviewing the CFPB’s recent enforcement actions he was “shocked” by the voluntary but harmful behavior that so many consumers engage in.  The prevalence of that behavior, according to Mulvaney, indicates that the CFPB has not done enough to educate consumers about their financial decisions.

No More Pushing the Envelope

Mulvaney reiterated his frequent refrain that the CFPB would no longer be “pushing the envelope” or “regulating via enforcement actions.”  He said that the agency learned a valuable lesson in several of the recent cases it has lost, where it had brought creative claims that were ultimately unsuccessful.  In the future, he said, the CFPB would make sure that firms “know what the rules are before we accuse them of breaking those rules.”

You can hear Mulvaney’s full speech to NAAG here.