Fed launches 2020 census of finance companies, other lenders; some 26,000 firms contacted

The Federal Reserve has reached out to about 26,000 financial firms from around the country urging them to participate in the Fed’s 2020 Census of Finance Companies and Other Lenders, the central bank announced Tuesday.

The Fed said that this census to collect data on the assets and liabilities of finance companies has been conducted at “roughly” five-year intervals since 1955. It said the data collected provide a benchmark for the Federal Reserve System’s monthly report on the outstanding accounts receivable of finance companies (presented in the Federal Reserve’s Finance Companies statistical release); and a comprehensive update on these companies’ sources of funds. That data is included in the estimates of total consumer credit and the Financial Accounts of the United States, it said.

A letter, dated Oct. 6, from Fed Chair Jerome H. (“Jay”) Powell was sent to each of the firms invited to participate in the 2020 census.

“Your participation is important to help us understand the size and structure of lenders like yours that supply credit or lease financing to U.S. households and businesses,” Powell said in the letter. “The results will contribute to better-informed policy decisions and form the basis of our statistical releases, which have become all the more critical during the pandemic outbreak.”

A Fed set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) on the census notes that for purposes of this survey, a “finance company” is defined as a firm in which 50% percent or more of total assets are held in liens on real estate, business loans and leases, or consumer loans and leases are considered in scope.

The Fed’s FAQs show that the survey scope typically does not include commercial banks, cooperative banks, credit unions, investment banks, savings banks, savings and loan associations, industrial loan corporations, bank holding companies, companies that are part of the Farm Credit System, and government agencies and nonprofits. “However, subsidiaries of a bank holding company, savings and loan holding company, or foreign banking organization may be considered in scope if they satisfy the above criteria,” they note.

Federal Reserve begins 2020 Census of Finance Companies and Other Lenders

Information on the 2020 census of financial firms