Every election changes “business-as-usual” inside the Beltway. Last November’s election changed this more than any previous cycle in recent history. AFSA immediately implemented new, more robust strategies to take the lead on relevant issues of the new dynamic in Washington.

President Donald Trump’s election and a Republican Congress provide an opportunity for meaningful financial reforms for the first time since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank). During the final two years of the Obama Administration, Congress (particularly the House of Representatives) tried to pass a number of reforms to the Dodd-Frank Act; most were never taken up by the Senate because of veto threats from the White House.

With a “pro-business” White House, a new Banking Committee chairman in Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), and continued support from House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), AFSA is taking advantage of increased opportunities to seek reform to the Dodd-Frank Act and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). AFSA is committed to rolling back federal overreach and burdensome regulations from the CFPB that have hindered the lending marketplace. 

AFSA has met extensively with representatives and senators in advance of the introduction of the Financial CHOICE Act, which passed the House Financial Services Committee in the last Congress. The legislation places the CFPB under the annual appropriations process so that the Bureau, like other federal agencies, justifies its budget to Congress.

AFSA Transition Tracker

As insights turned to actions and new developments made headlines in Washington in the early days of the new administration, AFSA launched its Transition Tracker and 100-Day Tracker to ensure that members received the most critical news of the day, understood the impact on the industry, and continued to stay informed on what AFSA is doing.

A New Addition to AFSA

In February, AFSA expanded its Federal Government Affairs team and hired Ann Carmichael as the new Vice President of Congressional Affairs. Carmichael will develop and deliver to lawmakers and policymakers AFSA’s message of protecting access to safe, responsible consumer credit.

“It’s exciting to be a part of such a talented organization with a strong tradition and deep commitment to ensure equal access to consumer credit for all Americans.”

She most recently served as the Associate Director of Advocacy and Counsel at the Credit Union National Association, and previously, was Legislative Counsel in Governmental Affairs at the American Bar Association.

Carmichael also worked for President George W. Bush as a Presidential Writer in the White House Office of Presidential Correspondence and was then promoted to Director of Legislative Correspondence for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.

On the Record

As part of its proactive outreach to major media outlets and automotive industry trades, the association’s leadership and member company executives have briefed journalists in Washington, New York, and Detroit on the negative impact an overregulated environment has had on their companies, employees, and customers. Major media outlets like The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Los Angeles Times, American Banker, and Forbes, among others, have attended these AFSA-hosted briefings.

AFSA also went on the road to Detroit to spell out what new leadership in Washington could mean for the auto finance industry with media representation from PBS, Automotive News, Ward’s Dealer Business, Bloomberg, and Reuters.

 

Taking the Message to the Administration

In February, AFSA held the third annual Installment Lenders Summit, led by Independents Section Chairman Billy Fuller, COO of Tidewater Finance Company. AFSA members met with more than 50 congressional offices, as well as key members of President Trump’s Domestic Policy Council to communicate the positive effect that traditional installment loans have on American consumers and the need for rolling back federal overreach limiting access to credit. Following the meeting, the association sent a memo to the administration outlining CFPB reforms that could be implemented quickly to reduce unnecessary burden on financial institutions.

See how #OurLoansWork

AFSA Submits Amicus Briefs on Members’ Behalf

AFSA joined with its sister trades in several cases whose outcome will affect the financial services industry. AFSA and several other trade associations submitted an amicus brief in PHH v. CFPB, a case which will have broad ramifications for the CFPB. AFSA joined other trades in a Fair Debt Collection Practices Act case, Henson v. Santander, in front of the Supreme Court. In addition, AFSA and others submitted an amicus brief in a bankruptcy case, Zair v. HSBC, on appeal in the Second Circuit.

Read AFSA's Submitted Amicus Briefs



Engaging Directly with the CFPB

The association has devoted significant time and resources into developing a comprehensive advocacy strategy and a positive working relationship with the CFPB to develop clear policy on behalf of AFSA members.

  • AFSA’s Law Committee submitted an in-depth letter to the CFPB on the Bureau’s proposed small-dollar rule, explaining why traditional installment lenders should not be covered by the rule. AFSA explained that because the traditional installment lending market is fair, transparent, competitive, and regulated by the states, additional regulation is not needed and may harm the very borrower the CFPB seeks to help.
  • AFSA has met with the CFPB to discuss small-business data collection and future larger participant rules.
  • The association continues to explain why the CFPB’s own study demonstrates that arbitration benefits consumers and so a rule limiting arbitration would be counterproductive.
  • AFSA’s Law Committee has formed a task force to respond to the CFPB’s debt collection rulemaking.



 

AFSA continues to produce high-quality, timely webinars for AFSA members, covering key hot topics in consumer credit. In early 2016, AFSA launched the Business Partner webinar program, which allowed AFSA’s Premier partners to share their product and service expertise directly with AFSA membership. Programs feature educational, evergreen content and focus on takeaways that attendees can immediately implement at their companies.
AFSA University membership continues to grow, serving 82 of AFSA’s member companies and more than 23,000 company employees. AFSAU recently released a module on vendor management to train company employees on the CFPB’s expectation that financial institutions have an effective process for managing the risks of service provider relationships.
Branch Operations Basics (BOB) consists of five web-based learning modules that focus on the common characteristics and business practices shared by most consumer finance companies. The program focuses on traditional installment lenders and has been an integral part of employee onboarding for many AFSA member companies since its inception. As AFSA members seek to provide more consistent training at the branch level, more than 280 additional licenses were purchased for BOB.

Rhonda Ashburn, the new Executive Director of the AFSA Education Foundation (AFSAEF), hit the ground running shortly after she was hired in late 2016 as the successor to Susie Irvine, who retired as the head of the foundation. Ashburn convened a meeting of the AFSAEF board and AFSA staffers in early January for the purpose of mapping out a strategic planning initiative.

As a result of that all-day session, Ashburn in March introduced AFSAEF’s Strategic Plan Draft to the board with an emphasis on programs designed “to improve people’s financial confidence and ability to make informed financial decisions.”

The plan is based on four principles or “pillars” that will guide AFSAEF going forward:

  • User Experience and Accessibility
  • Financial Education Impact
  • Targeted Segment Strategies
  • Marketing and Member Adoption
Read more about the Strategic Plan

 

New York cybersecurity requirements

AFSA submitted two separate comment letters to the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) regarding its proposed cybersecurity requirements and the subsequent revised proposal. NYDFS released its first cybersecurity proposal in September 2016, which would have placed a heavy burden on companies complying with the proposed requirements, and AFSA filed comment in November. AFSA’s first comment identified the numerous problems with the proposed requirements and requested that any cybersecurity requirements allow companies to take a more risk-based approach. After industry backlash, NYDFS released a revised proposal in December that would allow companies to establish cybersecurity programs based on internal risk assessments. The revised proposal still contained several problems, and AFSA’s second letter requested additional revisions to the requirements and requested that NYDFS broaden the exemptions for certain covered entities. When the final version of the rules was released, the exemptions for covered entities had been broadened.

 

South Dakota “all-in” rate cap

Initiated Measure 21 (IM 21), which imposed an all-in 36 percent APR cap on loans in the state, was approved by South Dakota voters during the November 2016 election, and the rate cap went into effect one week later. Before the measure took effect, AFSA sent a letter to the Division of Banking requesting clarification on the measure’s application to retail installment sales contracts and what charges were to be included in the all-in rate. The Division interpreted the measure’s rate cap in the broadest terms imaginable, applying it to retail installment sales contracts and providing a list of fees and charges included in the rate cap, most of which are also available in cash transactions and widely understood not to be incident to the extension of credit. AFSA assembled a working group and met with representatives of the Division in January 2017 to address industry concerns. AFSA engaged with lobbyists in the state to pass legislation that would exempt retail installment sales contracts from the all-in rate cap and clarify what fees must be included in the rate cap. The legislation passed both legislative chambers unanimously and was signed by the governor in March.

Vermont Automobile Repossession Act

AFSA was alerted about draft legislation in the Vermont Senate that would have significantly altered the repossession process in the state and imposed costly new requirements and waiting periods. When a source in the state indicated that the legislation was likely to move within a day, AFSA immediately put together a comment letter in opposition with assistance and feedback from members. The repossession provisions were part of a larger draft consumer protection bill being considered in committee, and AFSA filed comment urging the committee to strip the repossession language from the bill. Following that day’s working sessions, the committee removed the repossession section of the draft bill.

The 100th AFSA Annual Meeting
A Century of Protecting Consumer Credit

AFSA’s 100th anniversary celebration took place at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. October 25-27. The conference paid tribute to AFSA’s formation as the American Association of Small Loan Lenders, with 41 members in 1916. Today, the association advocates for more than 400 member companies, including 33 new member companies this year. The conference focused on commemorating a century of progress, as well as laying plans for the next one hundred years, including emphasizing important best practices in compliance, technology and navigating federal and state laws. Attendees also heard from keynote speaker, author and presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

Also part of the programming was “Compliance Day,” featuring industry experts who discussed recent trends in credit reporting and reviewed developments in fintech. Other sessions during Compliance Day covered the dangers of improper data security practices and “SpeedSmarts,” where members asked their most pressing questions to compliance experts in a fast-paced, roundtable setting. A conference entirely dedicated to compliance will take place in January of 2018. More information will be available soon.

Visit the Annual Conference Website

The 21st Vehicle Finance Conference & Expo
The Premier Conference for the Vehicle Finance Industry

The 21st Vehicle Finance Conference & Exposition was held in January at the Sheraton New Orleans in front of over 600 attendees. The conference kicked off with the three major credit bureaus presenting their research, which found that the vehicle finance market was healthy. Keynoter Josh Linkner wowed attendees with a discussion of creativity and innovation. Two standout sessions included AFSA’s popular CEO Panel, moderated by Charlie Vogelheim, and a conversation between AFSA Vehicle Finance Chair David Paul and National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Chair Mark Scarpelli discussing key issues for both dealers and finance sources.

An Advisory Board of leading executives ensures that the division stays focused on issues of critical importance to members. Following the 2017 Vehicle Finance Conference & Exposition in January, Vince Rice, Executive Vice President, Consumer Finance Division Head, Bank of the West, was elected Chairman of the Division succeeding David Paul, Senior Vice President, American Honda Finance Corp. Larry Hund, President, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, was elected Vice Chairman of the Division.

Visit the Vehicle Finance Conference & Expo Website