GNMA executive Christopher Haspel is, more or less, a household name to lenders and servicers that deal with the government agency, and soon will be wearing a new hat—that of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).
Early this week the CFPB will formally name Haspel to a top post at the young agency, according to industry officials who have worked with him over the years.
Late last week his exact job title and duties could not be ascertained, but it’s anticipated that he will deal with similar issues over at the CFPB, namely servicing and securitization. “He’ll be one of the top guys at CFPB,” said one trade group official, requesting anonymity.
Haspel’s chief tie to CFPB is Raj Date, a top lieutenant to Elizabeth Warren. Date worked with Haspel at Capital One. During his career, which started in the early 1990s, he has been employed by such firms as BlackRock Financial, GE Financial Services and Fannie Mae, the latter of which he left in 2005, three years before its implosion.
Meanwhile, Date is on the speaker circuit these days, trying to reassure the industry that the new agency will be thoughtful, but firm, in carrying out its mission of bringing transparency to consumer finance.
Speaking at a recent banking conference in Florida, Date—the bureau's associate director of research, markets and regulations—said financial service executives shouldn't fret too much about the CFPB's broad authority to write new rules.
“We have a lot of tools, not just rules,” he said. And besides, he added, adopting new rules "are not necessarily the most effective or efficient manner" in which to oversee consumer finance. (Date is considered a candidate to head the CFPB, but has declined to discuss the matter.)
"We are going to succeed in our mission," Date said at CBA Live 2011. "It is not my plan to fail. Don't listen to what people say—watch what we do."
After Date's talk, Consumer Bankers Association president Richard Hunt complimented CFPB officials for "being extremely accessible" to industry players. But Hunt also told Date that "there is still some fear among my members" that the new agency will be overzealous in how it regulates lenders.
One banker who isn't terribly concerned about the impact the CFPB will have on his business is Richard Davis, president of U.S. Bancorp, who in an earlier conference session told his fellow bankers to get over it.
Davis, whose institution is the nation’s sixth largest residential funder, advised his colleagues not to worry too much about the CFPB's impact on their businesses. "It is just simply timely and topical because it's new and we haven't had it before," he said. "But I don't think it's going to be harmful."