According to a new survey focused on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, uncertainty about future enforcement at the agency was the top concern among 50 in-house lawyers, compliance and business professionals who were polled.
The agency, which was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, celebrates its one-year birthday next week. Its enforcement bureau, headed by Kent Markus, has yet to bring an action against a company, but lawyers are waiting nervously for the first shoe to drop.
"Past experience suggests that a new agency with a new mandate will focus on making a high-profile initial impact," according to the survey, which was conducted by Mayer Brown. "The survey indicates that the greatest concern about the CFPB is fear of the unknown."
Respondents were also concerned about the agency's rulemaking authority in areas such as abusive, unfair or deceptive practices.
Then there's the price tag — 78 percent of respondents expect that CFPB supervision, examination and regulation will increase their company's regulatory costs by at least 20 percent.
So far, 12 percent of respondents reported that their companies have been contacted or subpoenaed by the CFPB in relation to an examination or investigation. However, 76 percent said their companies have already created policies and procedures to handle such requests from the CFPB. Also, 32 percent reported that they've requested assistance from outside counsel to prepare for a CFPB examination.
Another worry is confidentiality. Respondents say they are afraid that the CFPB will share investigation results with state attorneys general. They also are concerned "that information shared with AGs could find its way to plaintiffs' lawyers – which may fuel class action litigation," according to the survey. It’s also unclear to respondents how the CFPB and the Federal Trade Commission will coordinate their overlapping jurisdiction.
"Overall, while respondents are greatly concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the CFPB," the survey said, "they view the agency as an additional layer of regulation on top of existing regulatory overseers."