A Century of Protecting Access to Consumer Credit and Choice

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) – then the American Association of Small Loan Brokers (AASL) - and the Russell Sage Foundation reaching an agreement on the Uniform Small Loan Law (or USLL), marking an important milestone for the emerging consumer credit industry.

The Russell Sage Foundation was a philanthropic institution formed in 1907 to improve social conditions for working Americans. The AASL worked closely with the Foundation to develop, draft and ultimately pass, the Uniform Small Loan Law – or USLL – which was intended to nurture a symbiotic relationship between lenders and consumers. The law ensured that ordinary Americans would be able to obtain small amounts of credit at reasonable rates, while still permitting lenders to make a profit.

The Association and Foundation first met in April, and after many months of hard work, signed an agreed-upon draft of the USLL on November 29, 1916, which was submitted to the various state legislatures.

The Russell Sage Foundation still operates today, mainly focusing on social science research. The American Association of Small Loan Brokers went through many iterations, name changes, and weathered much economic turbulence over the last century, to emerge as the American Financial Services Association in 1983.

AFSA’s mission today remains the same as it did in 1916 – to protect access to safe, responsible consumer credit and to ensure that legislation and regulation provide the lender and the consumer with a high-quality products.