CFPB Formalizes Policy on Using ‘Compliance Aids’

As part of a broader regulatory effort to clarify the role of guidance, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is issuing a policy statement on how regulated entities may use official bureau “compliance aids.” This kind of resource—similar to the compliance resources the bureau has issued for some time—is not regulation or official interpretation and is thus not binding.

“Where there are multiple methods of compliance that are permitted by the applicable rules and statutes, an entity can make its own business decision regarding which method to use, and this may include a method that is not specifically addressed in a Compliance Aid,” the bureau said. “In sum, regulated entities are not required to comply with the Compliance Aids themselves.”

Instead, compliance aids are designed to be useful for compliance professionals and other observers, including “practical suggestions for how entities might choose to go about complying with those rules and statutes.” Banks also would be able to develop a different way to comply outside of the steps included in a Compliance Aid and still be considered in compliance. As a result, the CFPB said that “when exercising its enforcement and supervisory discretion, the Bureau does not intend to sanction, or ask a court to sanction, entities that reasonably rely on Compliance Aids.”

The policy statement is reflective of input that the American Bankers Association provided to the bureau in 2018, when it urged the bureau to allow institutions to rely on its guidance without being deemed noncompliant.