CFPB Name Change Estimated to Cost CFPB Up To $19 Million and Industry Firms Over $300 Million

Inside Subprime: Dec 19, 2018

By Aubrey Sitler

According to an analysis conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and obtained by nonpartisan news site The Hill, the full implementation of the CFPB’s proposed name change could cost up to $19 million of taxpayer money in addition to requiring the companies it regulates to spend over $300 million. But before delving into why and how that cost could be incurred for a federal bureau’s name change, let’s back up: Why is the CFPB considering a rebranding at all?

Back in March 2018, then-acting director of the CFPB, Mick Mulvaney, began a crusade to change the agency’s name to the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (BCFP). As a reminder, the CFPB was formed under the Dodd-Frank Act as the federal watchdog agency charged with protecting consumers against predatory and unfair practices by banks, lending agencies (including predatory payday loan and title loan firms), credit card companies, debt collectors, and other companies selling financial products and services.

As if Mulvaney didn’t have better ways to spend his time, he started these rebranding efforts in March with the release of a new logo — one that recolored and reformatted the original green, modern CFPB logo to a more traditional navy blue seal-style logo featuring an eagle and symbolic crest. This was followed in April by a formal request to the Associated Press (AP) to change the AP Stylebook, which dictates standards for spelling and language that are widely accepted across the journalism industry, to officially change the agency’s name and acronym. Mulvaney also rearranged letters on the Bureau’s lobby signage to read “BCFP” in June.

The symbolism of this move is readily apparent. By rearranging the sequence of words in the CFPB’s title, Mulvaney endeavored to deemphasize the focus on protecting consumers — the entire purpose and intention behind the CFPB’s inception — and shift focus instead to the “bureaucratic” component of the Bureau. This is in line with Mulvaney’s record of enforcement slowdown during his tenure at the CFPB, which he once infamously referred to as a “sick, sad joke” before taking the helm of it. As Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, noted in response to the CFPB rebranding efforts: “I think [Mulvaney] means to be very explicit that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is subordinating consumers — consumers no longer come first at the CFPB…I’m sure what he’d rather do is just take out the C altogether.”

That energy and time went into rebranding a new logo was enough to warrant eye-rolls (of which were were plenty on Twitter as images of the new logo circulated). Now, however, such a name change has reached a sobering level of absurdity as the actual costs associated with its operationalization come into vision. As noted in The Hill’s breaking analysis, it would cost the CFPB between $9 million and $19 million internally to change its name, including updating all paper and online materials. These changes would also be incredibly costly to firms offering financial products under CFPB’s purview. Firms’ requirement to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act, the Electronic Fund Transfer Act and certain mortgage regulations would cost them a projected $100 million for each rule, spread out among the several hundred firms in those relevant fields, adding up to over $300 million across all firms and regulations.

It remains to be seen whether the newly-inaugurated CFPB director Kathleen Kraninger will elect to move forward with the full legal rebranding of the Bureau.

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