WASHINGTON — The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a monthly snapshot of its complaint database on Thursday, the first of what will be a series of monthly reports that dig deeper into the trove of data it collects.
Director Richard Cordray said that larger companies with more customers are more likely to show up in the reports based on the raw numbers, but that the CFPB is seeking to "normalize" the data to provide a more accurate picture of companies' customer track record.
"These monthly reports will include information about a new category in the lexicon of consumer finance, which we call the 'most-complained-about companies,'" Cordray said while speaking to an audience at an event here sponsored by consumer advocate groups.
Bank of America, Equifax and Experian topped the list of most complaints filed by consumers in the inaugural July report, but Cordray said that did not necessarily mean they were mistreating customers.
"Keep in mind that these are also some of the largest companies in this arena that deal with many millions of consumers, so the data needs to be viewed in context," Cordray said.
Richard Hunt, president of the Consumer Bankers Association said in a statement that "we are pleased the CFPB agrees with us on the need to normalize the complaint data and is seeking comment on the best approaches."
But he added that the group still objects to a recent move by the agency to publish consumer "narratives" that can accompany a consumer complaint if they opt to do so.
"We are profoundly disappointed the bureau is releasing the public narratives," Hunt said. "Publishing unverified one-sided narratives does not benefit consumers."
Bureau's No. 2 to Resign
In other CFPB news, Steven Antonakes, the No. 2 official at the bureau, is resigning, according to an internal agency memo obtained by American Banker, an affiliate publication of Credit Union Journal.
Antonakes sent an email to staff on Thursday morning announcing his resignation as deputy director, citing his desire to spend time with his family.
"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. 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," Antonakes wrote.
Antonakes did not say what his next move will be but his departure is a significant loss for the agency. Antonakes was among the early officials at the CFPB that helped it get off the ground beginning in 2010, and has served as its No. 2 for the past two years.
Antonakes also has extensive experience as a bank regulator with close ties to Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry since both were previously Massachusetts banking commissioners.
"Despite having arrived with a deep background in this field, I have learned so much from you," said Antonakes in his memo to staff. "My time at the Bureau has been the apex of my 25 years in government and bank regulation. I have been blessed to do worthwhile and interesting work alongside, smart, tenacious, and dedicated public servants."
In his own email to staff, Cordray said that Antonakes is "an enormous asset to the bureau."
"I have great respect for Steve's decision to move closer to his family given my own situation with a weekly interstate commute," Cordray wrote. "It is not easy to juggle work at the Bureau with family far away during the week, and Steve has done so incredibly well."
Cordray said that information about a successor to Antonakes would be released "in the coming weeks."