Regulations

Could Antonakes’ resignation be sign of change to come at CFPB?

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Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Deputy Director Steven Antonakes on Thursday announced he will resign from his post, a day after congressional lawmakers grilled the bureau about allegedly overspending and exceeding its authority.

In an internal memo sent to CFPB employees on July 16, Antonakes announced his “bittersweet” decision to step down from his position to spend more time with his family.

Steve Antonakes

Steve Antonakes

“Having commuted from Boston for nearly five years, I have logged hundreds of thousands of miles and missed entirely too many class plays, teacher conference meetings and Little League games,” Antonakes wrote in the email. “Accordingly, I have decided to return home to Massachusetts and pursue opportunities that will ensure that I am home for dinner with my wife and family and can assist my five children with their homework.”

Neither Antonakes nor the CFPB has publicly commented on the resignation or when it will take effect. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in an email of his own to employees that his second-in-command’s “contributions to this agency have been extensive.”

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Antonakes first joined the CFPB in November 2010 as the assistant director for large bank supervision and was named the associate director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending in June 2012. He was named deputy director of the bureau in 2013 and also serves as the bureau’s associate director for supervision, enforcement and fair lending.

He made headlines in March, when he took the stage at the Consumer Bankers Association’s CBA LIVE event to discuss the CFPB’s TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) rule and caused confusion about whether the CFPB would consider delaying the rule’s Aug. 1 effective date to give the affected industries more time to prepare for the sweeping changes to come.

“To the extent there is new information or we’re hearing directly from vendors that folks aren’t going to be ready, we should continue to talk about that,” Antonakes told CBA Live’s attendees. “I can’t promise you, but to the extent we will have a better understanding of the concerns, that is something we will consider.”

His statements immediately prompted speculation and inaccurate media reports about whether the CFPB would postpone TRID’s effective date in response to industry compliance concerns — which the bureau had, until that point, adamantly refused to do.

But the CFPB ultimately ended up pushing the effective date to Oct. 3 anyway, due to what it called an “administrative error.” According to the bureau, it realized in mid-June that it had failed to notify Congress and the Government Accountability Office that TRID would take effect within 60 days, a requirement under the Congressional Review Act.

With many still questioning the CFPB’s sudden about-face on TRID, Antonakes leaves behind a bureau that is embroiled in congressional criticism. At a contentious Senate Banking Committee hearing this week, federal lawmakers asked pointed questions about the CFPB’s recent enforcement actions involving telecommunications and auto finance companies, its large staff of more than 1,450 employees and why estimates of renovations to the bureau’s headquarters building increased from $40 million to $145 million.

Previous calls for CFPB reform have been rejected, but bipartisan support for increasing congressional oversight of the bureau are gaining steam.

Cordray also befuddled many when he testified — after his firm public stance for most of this year that TRID’s effective date would remain Aug. 1 — that the bureau’s decision last month to propose a new Oct. 3 deadline was “due to an error on our part — in part.”

“We did back up the implementation date back further out of the summer sales season, which was important to a number of people,” Cordray told the committee.

He then went on to discuss an informal “hold-harmless” period for the CFPB to assess compliance with TRID. However, much to the dismay of many in the affected industries who have pushed for the bureau to set a specific date for a lax enforcement period, Corday said only that the period “may last many months.”

Characterizing this period as “diagnostic and corrective,” Corday said, “If we see errors, we’ll point out what they are and how they should be corrected. We will not be looking to be punitive toward people. We have said that explicitly, and I will say that again here today to you that this is how it will be.”

Email Amy Swinderman.


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