WASHINGTON (2/23/16 UPDATED 3:55 P.M. ET)--Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray told a crowd of nearly 5,000 Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Governmental Affairs Conference attendees today that credit unions should be applauded for making consumer protection job No. 1, even before the existence of the CFPB.
“Credit unions provide enormous value to millions of people around the country and are consistent stewards of consumer interests,” Cordray said. “The bureau applauds your efforts to advance financial education, a mission we share, through programs such as the Reality Fairs for young people you have held around the country.”
Cordray cited CUNA Mutual Group’s Credit Union Trends report that showed new auto loan balances hit $100 billion for the very first time, up nearly 17% in the past year. He added that the current strength of the system is nothing new.
“Credit unions did not underwrite the bad loans that sank the housing market. On the contrary, you upheld sound underwriting standards to protect consumers, even as it cost you customers and market share went to financial predators that circled those troubled waters,” he said. “Your early warnings should have been heeded.”
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle expressed his appreciation to Cordray for the praise.
"We appreciate the director’s recognition that credit unions exist to serve members and are the most consumer friendly option in the market place," he said. "We also appreciate that he has once again noted that credit unions were not the cause of the financial crisis, and we hope this is reflected in future bureau policymaking."
During his remarks, Cordray pledged to “look at, learn about, and act upon the challenges faced by smaller creditors that are striving to maintain their traditions of flexible yet responsible lending.”