Perhaps one segment of the annual report generated by the ombudsman of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau might be of particular interest to auto finance companies and their compliance departments.

During the last fiscal year, the CFPB ombudsman launched its post-examination survey of supervised entities, which was aimed to serve as “a confidential avenue for supervised entities to share their feedback and recommendations on the CFPB examination process after participation in a supervisory examination.”

Then the ombudsman’s office was supposed to provide survey participants’ unattributed feedback and recommendations to the CFPB.

The survey focused three areas:

—Supervision materials and resources: Includes topics such as information availability, functionality, and content for review by entity representatives who will engage with any part of the examination.

—Interpersonal communications: Includes communications between entity representatives and anyone at the CFPB before, during, or after an examination, using any medium or format.

—End of the examination: Includes topics such as timing, knowledge of outcomes or resolutions, clarity in expectations of closure, and awareness of the appeals process.

In the annual report, the CFPB ombudsman broke down findings in each of those areas, along with what did and did not work well to go with potential changes. Here are those details:

Supervision materials and resources

What worked well?
• Advance notice of the examination
• A clear timeline
• Examination that stayed on schedule
• Information requests that were well-coordinated and detailed
• No surprises from requested materials
• Easy to follow questions
• Explanations when there were examination scope changes
• Ample time to clarify and respond to information requests
• Examination resources publicly available

What did not work well, if anything?
• Significant or broad initial and follow-up information requests
• Tight deadlines to deliver complex information requests
• Even in circumstances where entity was provided additional time, those adjustments were insufficient given CFPB requests
• Expanded examination scope after kickoff
• Lack of coordination/multiple ongoing examinations
• Information requests same for information already provided earlier in examination

What would you change moving forward?
• Consider entity’s resources when scheduling examinations that may be close in time
• Provide entities with earlier notice of the examination schedule
• Provide opportunities during the examination to meet to clarify written answers
• Provide entities with the ability to update or confirm information from prior examination(s) to eliminate identical requests
• Designate more time to provide information that the CFPB has requested

Interpersonal communications

What worked well?
• Overall, excellent interactions with team
• Team was patient and available for meetings, emails, and calls to discuss concerns or clarifications
• Collaborative in all phases of examination
• Team worked to ensure facts were correct
• Team did not form opinion until end of examination
• Prompt responses to specific and general compliance questions
• Used tracking sheet to monitor progress
• Frequent meetings for all to be informed
• Virtual environment worked well
• Virtual meetings seemed more intentional

What did not work well, if anything?
• Insufficient notice before the examination started
• Lack of continuity in awareness across team of documents entity already provided
• Some issues obtaining clarity on entity’s specific questions
• During the examination, lack of transparency in communication resulted in challenges for entity in responding to CFPB requests
• No clear end date of the examination shared with entity
• Lack of communication and certainty about the examination findings
• Some technology issues with communicating via portal to share documents

What would you change moving forward?
• Provide transparency or as much information about the examination in advance as possible, such as regarding the examination schedule, examination scope, updates to the scope, the focus of additional information requests, and what documents/materials the entity should have available for reference and in what format before meeting with the examination team
• Provide more opportunities to meet and resolve the differences between the CFPB data request format and what the entity may be able to provide
• Implement an information request tracker or tracking sheet for all requests made by the CFPB

End of the examination

What worked well?
• Clear timing of when to expect final report
• Received final report in a reasonable time
• No surprises at closure or in final report
• Exit meeting was concise, thorough, and kept everyone informed
• Aware of next steps through formal and informal meetings
• Solidly understood closeout process
• Clear information about nature of issues team identified
• Constructive dialogue and open communication about end of examination
• Meetings gave entity opportunity to have position on issues heard

What did not work well, if anything?
• Unclear when examination ends
• Lack of transparency regarding decision making and timing for closure
• No transparency about findings
• Lack of meaningful communication about timeframe for next steps, such as timing for exit interview or final report
• Examination had no end or completion
• Entity had no exact timeframe as to how it should proceed
• Unclear about purpose of keeping examination open

What would you change moving forward?
• Reduce the time between the exit meeting and receipt of final examination results/report
• Offer more details in update meetings about status of final report and processing of report by headquarters
• Provide more clarity and transparency on what to expect when the onsite portion of the examination ends and when to expect the final examination report, so the entity can plan its examination and other resources accordingly
• Engage in more discussion with the entity around the remediation timeframes and remediation steps taken
• Provide transparency around serious findings sooner rather than later for earlier attention and remediation

To maintain the confidentiality of potential survey participants, supervised entities that have feedback or questions about our survey program can contact the CFPB ombudsman directly at or (855) 830-7880.