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CFPB’s Hackett to Depart Bureau

June 20, 2013

WASHINGTON — Richard Hackett, hired by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in May 2011 to oversee installment lending markets, is planning to leave the bureau later this summer, a spokesperson for the agency confirmed on Wednesday. No further details were provided.

Hackett will be the fourth top official to depart the bureau this month. The other three officials, Garry Reeder, the bureau’s chief of staff, Chris Haspel, senior advisor for mortgage servicing and securitization, and Mitchell Hochberg, regulatory senior counsel, will join Raj Date, the CFPB’s former deputy director, at Fenway Summer LLC, a consumer finance advisory and investment firm.

“We appreciate the opportunity to engage with Rick Hackett during his tenure at the CFPB,” the National Automobile Dealers Association said in a statement issued to F&I and Showroom magazine. “And we look forward to continuing to work with the other members of the agency’s staff.”

Bill Himpler, executive vice president of the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), added: “Rick has been one of the more accessible members of CFPB’s staff, and we appreciate his participation at several AFSA events. He was a valuable conduit between the CFPB and the industry.”

The news of Hackett’s departure comes 14 days after he appeared as a keynote speaker at the National Automotive Finance (NAF) Association 17th annual Non-Prime Auto Finance Conference, where he told auto finance execs that there is “an integrated effort across the bureau to apply different talent and tools to auto finance.” He also confirmed that supervisory investigations of auto finance sources are underway, and added that the bureau is most interested in exploring the effect of dealer markups on protected classes.

“We don’t think discretionary pricing is per se illegal,” he told conference attendees. “And we look forward to continuing to work with the other members of the agency’s staff.”

According to the CFPB Monitor, a blog produced by the Consumer Financial Services Group at Ballard Spahr, a regulatory advisory firm, Hackett’s responsibilities overseeing auto finance and student loans will be temporarily assigned to Rohit Chopra, the bureau’s student loan ombudsman, and Corey Stone, the CFPB’s assistant director for deposits, cash, collections and reporting markets. Bureau officials decline to confirm the report.

The blog said Hackett’s departure represents “a significant loss for the CFPB, particularly because he is one of the few CFPB attorneys with a strong industry background.”

Hackett also appeared at the AFSA’s Vehicle Finance Conference in February, where he told attendees that the bureau was interested in credit reporting agencies, buy-here, pay-here operations, sales to military personnel, negative equity advertising and privacy issues. He also announced that the CFPB would release guidance on finance source policies related to dealer participation, which the bureau did 42 days later.

The bureau’s guidance stated that finance sources that allow for dealer markup could be held liable for unlawful discriminatory pricing.

“We recognize that the people in this room are critical to the economy, and that the [asset-backed securities] market for the industry is robust and growing without federal assistance,” Hackett said at the Vehicle Finance Conference. “Our job is to spot trends. We have a congressional mandate to protect consumers and we will continue to do so.”

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