Assembly Bill 1864 didn’t get much media or public attention as it zipped through both houses of the Legislature on the last day of the 2020 session.
Superficially, it appeared merely to reconfigure the state’s financial regulatory agencies into a new entity called the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation.
However, those in California’s vast financial industry were paying lots of attention because the bill creates an entirely new regulatory regime with broad powers, including fines of up to $1 million a day, to police financial players that hitherto have had little oversight.
The official rationale for the legislation is that President Donald Trump’s administration neutered the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010, so the state must step in with an equivalent to guard against predatory financial practices that harm consumers.
The new California Consumer Financial Protection Law gives the reconstituted agency authority to go after “abusive practices” whose definition in the law is fairly vague. Thus, the agency itself will define the term as it also decides which businesses will face its scrutiny.
It appears that the new law will affect firms involved in debt settlement, credit repair, check cashing, rent-to-own contracts, payday lending, student loan servicing and financing for retail sales. However, its primary target seems to be financial services offered by non-banks, particularly what are called “fintech companies” that offer bank-like services via the Internet without maintaining physical offices.
Fintechs, many of them based in the San Francisco Bay Area, have blossomed in recent years as part of the digital economy, competing with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. Their disruptive nature is not unlike the challenge that technology-based ride services such as Uber and Lyft pose to taxicabs and buses.
Late-blooming changes in AB 1864 exempted traditional financial firms that are already regulated, such as banks and credit unions, from the new consumer protection law, leading some analysts to conclude that its unstated aim is to help them stave off competition from new kids on the financial block.
The vagueness of the new law was encapsulated in what Gov. Gavin Newsom said during a signing ceremony. The new law and the new department, he said, will “create conditions for innovation to flourish in a way where we can steward that and we can just work against its excesses. So we support risk-taking, not recklessness.”
Newsom also signed two other financial protection measures, one that requires debt collectors to be licensed beginning in 2022 and the other creating a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights.
Although the new state law is said to mirror the Dodd-Frank law, it contains at least one significant difference. When federal regulators levy fines for what they consider to be bad conduct, the money goes into the federal treasury. When state regulators impose their fines of up to $1 million a day, the money will be retained by the new agency to finance more activity.
Will that give the new agency a financial incentive to skip over minor consumer issues and go after big companies? It’s a question that only time will answer.
Significantly too, the new investigative and regulatory mechanism contained in AB 1964 specifically does not usurp the authority of the attorney general to also target companies under the state’s equally vague “unfair competition” law.
From its inception a decade ago, Dodd-Frank has attracted criticism from business executives for regulatory overkill. Will California’s new version be less controversial? We won’t know until the new agency puts some definitional meat on its bones.
CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary
Lashonda Nesmith Jackson, Bryan Braddock to speak at hip hop rally Saturday | Local News
FLORENCE, S.C. — Two candidates running for Florence City Council will speak at an event scheduled for Saturday afternoon.
Lashonda Nesmith Jackson, one of five candidates running for the Democratic nomination in the District 1 special election, and Bryan Braddock, one of four Republicans running in the District 3 special election, will speak at the Stop the Violence Hip Hop Rally.
The rally is scheduled for 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at Northwest Community Park, located at 801 Clement St in Florence. It will also feature music, a clinic on expungements and pardons, a credit repair service and free food.
California Announces Plans for Reviewing Consumer Complaints
California’s Consumer Financial Protection Law is in effect and the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation (DFPI) announced plans for reviewing consumer complaints in its monthly bulletin for January.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom approved the California Consumer Financial Protection Law (AB 1864), which creates a state consumer protection agency before the end of the state’s 2020 legislative session. The law also expands the state’s power to target unfair, deceptive and abusive acts and practices by financial service providers, ACA International previously reported.
Effective immediately, according to the DFPI bulletin, it will “review and investigate consumer complaints against previously unregulated financial products and services, including debt collectors, credit repair and consumer credit reporting agencies, debt relief companies, rent to own contractors, private school financing, and more.”
Under the consumer financial protection law, the DFPI will also:
- Significantly expand the state’s consumer protection capacity by adding dozens of investigators and attorneys to supervise financial institutions.
- Create a team to monitor markets to proactively identify emerging risks to consumers.
- Create a team dedicated to consumer education and outreach, listening and responding to consumers in specific communities, including veterans, immigrants and older Californians.
- Create a new Office of Financial Technology and Innovation, which will cultivate financial technology to serve consumers.
This spring, the DFPI will launch a statewide campaign to educate California consumers on how the department can support and protect consumers, according to its bulletin.
Licensing Requirements in the Works
Under a law passed last year, California is now one of 35 states to require a license for debt collection. Agencies have one year to apply.
The Debt Collection Licensing Act (SB 908), from California State Sen. Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, was signed into law by Newsom in September 2020.
It was welcome news for the accounts receivable management (ARM) industry and ACA that the governor approved both these measures, allowing for a separate licensing process outside of the DFPI.
With the governor’s signature on the licensing bill, the commissioner of the Department of Business oversight shall take all actions necessary to prepare to be able to fully enforce the licensing and regulatory provisions of this division, including, but not limited to, adoption of all necessary regulations by Jan. 1, 2022.
The California Association of Collectors (CAC) advocated to ensure workable options for consumers and the ARM industry in the licensing bill. And the Collectors Insurance Agency (CIA) licensing team had a seat at the table to negotiate the best licensing legislation possible for the ARM industry.
While a license will not be required until 2022, the state has indicated the application and its checklist should be submitted as soon as they are live in 2021. The law permits the state to use the electronic Nationwide Multistate Licensing System (NMLS) for the licensing process. There will also be a bonding requirement as part of the licensing process.
License applications will be due by Dec. 31, 2021, and the DFPI expects to begin the licensing process in late summer or fall next year. Debt collectors that apply for a license before the deadline next year would be allowed to operate pending the approval or denial of the application.
Under the law, the DFPI will also appoint a seven-member Debt Collection Advisory committee.
Even though the application is not available yet, ACA members and ARM industry professionals can contact the CIA licensing team to be added to the Licensing Service List. When the application and list of requirements is available, the team will provide more information on the service.
For more information on how the ACA licensing staff can assist with your licensing application completion needs in California as well as other states, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (952) 926-6547.
Industry Disruptor Curtis Ray Launches Retirement Planning and Saving Service, MPI™ UNLIMITED
GILBERT, Ariz., Jan. 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Curtis Ray, retirement planning expert and creator of the patent-pending Maximum Premium Indexing (MPI™) Plan, announced today his newest company, MPI™ UNLIMITED. The company’s proprietary technology utilizes the security guarantee of permanent life insurance, the growth potential of the stock market and the power of compound interest to provide enhanced retirement income, tax-free.
“I am thrilled to announce the official launch of MPI™ UNLIMITED,” said Ray. “After years of research in the financial planning space, I realized that traditional strategies, like the 401(k) and IRA, are not providing enough income throughout retirement years. I’m looking forward to teaching hardworking people, from all walks of life, how to utilize secure compound interest to maximize their savings and achieve their dream retirement. Always Be Compounding!”
The MPI™ plan is an advanced cash-value life insurance plan specifically designed as a max-funded, increasing death benefit contract. The plan provides holistic benefits to clients which include mitigation against market risk, enhanced compound interest returns, increased retirement income, tax-free distribution and more.
Ray’s passion for retirement planning goes beyond MPI™ UNLIMITED; a best-selling author, Ray tackled the challenges of consistent underperformance in the current retirement planning industry in his 2018 book Everyone Ends Up Poor. In his most recent book, The Lost Science of Compound Interest, Ray deconstructs the phenomenon of compound interest, teaching readers to harness its power through small and simple actions.
“Learning about MPI™ and compound interest has been one of the most valuable things I’ve learned in my life. I have a master’s degree in engineering, yet I have never seen anything like this before,” said Angie Merget, Financial Engineer and MPI™ UNLIMITED client. “Taking the time to understand MPI™ is without a doubt the best thing you can do for yourself and your family.”
The purpose of MPI™ UNLIMITED is to provide services focused on the phenomenon of compounding. Within the next five years, Ray plans to expand their offerings into mortgage, credit repair, personal tax filing and other financial services to give every American the best path to financial freedom.
To learn more about MPI™ UNLIMITED and its retirement planning options, visit www.mympi.com.
About MPI™ UNLIMITED
Founded in 2020 by Curtis Ray, MPI™ UNLIMITED works to provide simplified financial education that addresses complex money topics, so that the public can understand and implement the full potential of Secure Compound Interest in their life. Ray, best-selling author and MPI™ UNLIMITED’s CEO, invented and developed the patent pending MPI™ (Maximum Premium Indexing) Secure Compound Interest Account, in order to help people maximize their retirement savings.
SOURCE MPI UNLIMITED
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