ABA Supports CFPB’s Proposed Advisory Opinion Pilot Program

The American Bankers Association today expressed support for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s proposed advisory opinion program, which would allow entities seeking to comply with existing regulations to request an advisory opinion from the bureau to address areas of uncertainty. The advisory opinions would be published in the Federal Register and would be considered binding interpretive rules that banks and other institutions may rely on.

Noting that the program would reduce regulatory uncertainty for financial institutions and help prevent “pendulum swings” with changes in administration by codifying the opinions as binding interpretive rules, ABA also supported the proposal to open the process to third parties including trade associations, attorneys and consultants.  

“Permitting third-party requests can be particularly beneficial for smaller institutions that may lack the in-house resources to fully and clearly articulate questions for the Bureau,” ABA noted. “In addition, there may be instances when an institution is concerned about its name being publicized through a request, either for competitive or other reasons.”  

Additionally, ABA supported the bureau’s proposal to begin with a pilot program and offered several recommendations to improve its effectiveness, including limiting advisory opinions to specific facts and circumstances, ensuring advisory opinions clearly identify those material facts and circumstances and including an option for notice-and-comment. ABA also noted that requesting an advisory opinion should not lead to an examination or investigation of the issue.