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CFPB Deputy Draws Fire with ‘Ill-Timed’ Criticisms

After Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Deputy Director Steven Antonakes decried mortgage servicers for not doing enough to mend the industry after the recent housing crisis, one industry leader called his comments "inflammatory and without benefit to the audience."

Ed Delgado, president and CEO of the Five Star Institute, believes the deputy director's remarks are not only ill-timed but also counterproductive.

Speaking before an audience of Mortgage Bankers Association members Wednesday, Antonakes said he is "deeply disappointed by the lack of progress the mortgage servicing industry has made" and added that "too many customers continue to receive erratic and unacceptable treatment."

Near the end of his speech, Antonakes said, "My message to you is a tough one. I don't expect a standing ovation when I leave."

However, Delgado suggests Antonakes' message was more than simply unpopular with its direct audience. Since the speaking engagement, Antonakes' remarks have been picked up and reiterated by media outlets across the nation, sending a message to consumers that the industry has not improved and their financial futures are not secure. Not all agree.

Sending this message "at a time when collaboration and cooperation are critical to the industry—not just to servicers but also to homeowners who need to have confidence in those responsible for managing their mortgages—is simply irresponsible—with little merit," Delgado said.

In spite of Antonakes' "deep disappointment," the industry has completed more than 6.8 million loan modifications since 2007, according to HOPE NOW, a private-sector industry alliance. Foreclosures have retreated drastically; REOs are back at pre-crisis levels; and the market is stabilizing.

Furthermore, while Antonakes points to the 4,900 mortgage complaints the CFPB receives each month, this amount is "diminutive when placed in context with the nearly 80 million mortgages currently in service across the U.S. market," Delgado said. In fact, this translates to complaints on 0.006 percent of mortgages.

"To chastise an audience of mortgage servicers without conceding their enormous efforts as well as the impact of federal government programs is both inaccurate and negligent," Delgado said. Referencing Rep. Jeb Hensarling's (R-Texas) popular quote about Dodd-Frank's Volckner Rule, Delgado said "given the remarks of Mr. Antonakes, it appears that the CFPB is a solution in search of a problem."

Disclosure: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of MReport and theMReport.com. The views expressed here do not reflect those of the editorial staff.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.
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