For dealers and lenders, an accurate annual forecast is both more important and more elusive than ever before. From technology to the economy to politics and legislation, the world is moving faster and faster. And while it may not be possible to tell the future with 100% accuracy, we know a few people whose predictions can come pretty darn close.
To help dealers prepare for the next 12 months of workplace compliance trends and updates, Compli reached out to a group of legal and HR experts comprising members of Hudson Cook; Bass Sox Mercer; Killgore, Pearlman, Semanie, Denius & Squires; Innovative Auto HR; and Dealer Risk Services. We asked the panel a simple question—What does 2019 hold in store for the automotive industry?—and received some not-so-simple answers.
Experts’ predictions for 2019 include economic upheaval, dealership consolidations, aggressive actions from regulators and prosecutors alike, and the opening acts in a new chapter for the ever-evolving Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Basically, if you thought 2018 was intense, 2019 would like you to take a seat.
Over the next five weeks, we’ll share a unique perspective on what companies can do to prepare for a successful 2019. And we’d like to kick things off with some thoughts from our friends at Hudson Cook.
We’re going to start off the series by asking Michael Benoit to gaze into his crystal ball. Here’s what he sees:
- Kathleen Kraninger, the new CFPB Director, will be a more aggressive director than industry might like. The funny thing about agency heads is that regardless of their personal convictions or ideology, it is not unusual for them to take the mission of the agency they are leading very seriously. After all, your agency is statutorily required to enforce the law, and whether one is in compliance with the law or not shouldn’t depend on whether the one in charge has an “R” or “D” after their name.
- Mick Mulvaney’s attempts to sideline the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending by pulling it into the director’s office and eliminating its substantive functions will be undone. This doesn’t necessarily mean that disparate impact enforcement in auto finance will come roaring back, but it will make it more likely.
Not to be outdone, Eric Johnson has some premonitions too:
- The CFPB’s acting Chief Operating Officer will develop and disseminate guidance on the use of the CFPB’s name, seal and logo of the Bureau. Kathy Kraninger, the new CFPB Director announced to her staff on Dec. 17th that they are abandoning Acting Director Mulvaney’s efforts to change the name of the Bureau to the “Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection” or “BCFP.” They will still use the BCFP seal and that name in legal filings and statutorily required reports, but she won’t seek to change its name more broadly. The Director asked the CFPB’s COO to develop and disseminate guidance on the use of their name, seal and logo and I expect we’ll something official in 2019. OK, since that was an easy one, I’ll include 3 predictions instead of just two below.
- On the federal front, I agree with Michael that we’ll find that Director Kraninger will be a more aggressive director than industry might like. She was very quick and decisive in striking down the move to change the CFPB’s name which quickly set her apart from Acting Director Mulvaney’s tenure. I think we’ll continue to see a focus by the Bureau in examinations on such issues as add-on products, personal property storage fees by repo. agents, “wrongful” repossessions (repos. after payment promises), fees for phone payments, disclosures about increased interest costs of extension agreements, misleading advertising claims related to certain products like GAP, protection of servicemembers and on practices they find deceptive.
- The Federal Trade Commission will be more aggressive in 2019. In 2018, the FTC conducted a compliance sweep of used car dealers in 20 cities for their Used Car Rule and sued 4 affiliated dealerships, their owners, President and a Manager for allegedly falsifying consumers’ income and down payment amounts. I expect we’ll see continued compliance sweeps (they’ll be back!) and enforcement activity from the FTC on dealer print, TV, radio ads and YouTube ads that use “mouse type” or birdseed type disclosures.