Lessons from D.C.: Relationships Matter; Highlight Consumer Benefits (June 16, 2015)
Two key takeaways from the NBPCA’s Power of Prepaid event in Washington, D.C., last week are that relationships matter and industry stakeholders must bring consumer benefits to the forefront of any discussion with lawmakers and regulators. Although attendees may have preferred to hear that big changes are coming to problematic regulatory rulemakings, including the CFPB’s NPRM on prepaid accounts or the DOE’s proposed regulations on campus cards, D.C. lawmakers and staffers reiterated the importance of consumer-focused communication and face-to-face interactions.
“Please be engaged; be part of the process,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) told attendees. “Please push back,” he said. “You know best what’s best for the customers you serve.”
Although Rep. Luetkemeyer acknowledged that industry comments may be falling on deaf ears at the moment, he urged stakeholders to continue meeting with lawmakers personally, either in D.C. or in their districts. Phone calls and emails also are encouraged, but face-to-face is always better, he noted. And, perhaps most importantly, he said, “Don’t tell us how much [a proposed rule or bill] is going to affect your bottom line. Tell us how it’s going to affect the consumer.”
Congress isn’t likely to work across the aisle to pass major legislation in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, according to D.C. insiders. Although a number of regulatory relief bills have been proposed, including Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R-Ala.) Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, they’re not expected to make much headway. Some Democrats are in favor of regulatory relief for smaller financial institutions and have introduced their own related bills, but Sen. Shelby’s legislation has been called an attempt to “dismantle Dodd-Frank.” There seems to be little political capital for Democrats to support anything that changes the structure or funding of the CFPB, according to Hill staffers. It may be just as unlikely to find Democratic support for anything that criticizes the agency’s proposed rulemakings.
Rep. Sanford Bishop, Jr., (D-Ga.), who spoke on the final day of the conference, advised attendees to: “Let your voices be heard.”
“You can either be a stumbling block or a stepping stone,” he said.