AFSA CEO Provides Industry Outlook to Up and Coming Leaders

AFSA President & CEO Bill Himpler this week spoke to the 31 attendees at the American Financial Services Association Education Foundation Leadership Development Program at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The AFSAEF Leadership Development Program, held in conjunction with UNC’s professional development program, is an intensive six-day program that provides an opportunity for members of the consumer credit industry to invest in the professional education of talented employees who may be future leaders in the industry. The program, with challenging case studies and lively discussions, role-playing and team-building exercises, enables standout employees to hone their leadership, strategic thinking and performance skills and "think outside the box."

Himpler used his remarks to provide the group with a window into Washington and policymaking, a view some of the attendees don’t necessarily see in their day to day business interactions. HImpler focused on some of the challenges and opportunities the consumer-credit industry faces in the coming months.

While the media continues to focus on the more salacious stories that live on social media, Himpler noted that it is important to keep a focus on the issues that matter to the consumer credit industry. He noted that House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA) is taking up several issues, including bills on rate caps and credit reporting reform. Himpler highlighted AFSA work on those issues, as well as an effort to reign in debt settlement companies, an area that is supported by both industry and consumer advocates. In the Senate, he noted that AFSA is working to draw attention to issues with the Military Lending Act and how products like Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) are financed.

Himpler laid out some key areas on the regulatory front as well. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger has spoken to AFSA gatherings twice in the past six months. “We’ve seen a change in the environment at the Bureau. They’re no longer regulating by enforcement action and have moved away from the ‘gotcha’ mentality of the past,” Himpler said. AFSA continues to work with the Bureau on the payday rule, which the bureau has delayed in part and the proposed rule on debt collection.

Himpler also spoke about the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and its inability to take a modern view of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). An update in the rule would allow consumer credit companies to more effectively reach their consumers for necessary communications. On the positive side, Congress seems ready to act on robocalls and may include language making it the FCC on rulemaking.

The overall message?  Yes, politics can be a blood sport, but the life blood for the American consumer and the economy is access to credit, and that’s what AFSA and its members are focused on.