Consumer financial watchdog abandons name change plan

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has decided to abandon a controversial renaming plan, in one of the first big decisions by its new permanent director.

The CFPB no longer wants to call itself the "Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection," a change that had been sought by Mick Mulvaney, President Trump's acting director of the bureau. The decision was announced in an email by new director Kathy Kraninger on Wednesday, who took over earlier this month.

The CFPB was created by the Dodd-Frank Act, the law that rewrote the rules governing the banking and financial system after the 2008 financial crisis. The bureau was called the "Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection" in the law, but the CFPB has never referred to itself that way. Mulvaney argued the renaming was just following the letter of the law.

Kraninger cited the cost of renaming the bureau as well as years of branding and identification the CFPB had built up over the last decade. The banking industry publishes millions of disclosures and paperwork for consumers and regulators that referred to the CFPB every year, and reprinting those documents could have been a significant cost.

"Many of us have legal names but use nicknames without much confusion. My birth certificate says Kathleen, but I also answer to Kathy. I think we can do the same here. I believe this decision is most efficient and effective for our continued work together," Kraninger said in her email.

The CFPB will still use the "Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection" in some formal situations, like reports to Congress. But the bureau's public image will be the CFPB, Kraninger said.

Kraninger's email was published by Allied Progress, a left-leaning advocacy group that has opposed changes the Trump administration has made at the bureau. Many consumer groups and allies of the bureau in Congress argued the name change was unnecessary and purely political.

"Mick Mulvaney's silly, wasteful, and confusing fight to change the CFPB's name was little more than a petty plow to undermine the bureau's hard-won reputation as a champion for consumers," Allied Progress' director Karl Frisch said in a statement.

In her first press conference with reporters earlier this month, Kraninger said the bureau's name was an urgent issue for her and it was expected to be one of the first things she addressed. But many issues remain outstanding. Mulvaney had begun unwinding many of the bureau's rules and regulations, like over payday lending, and Kraninger's stance on those issues is unclear.