Financial institutions are encouraged to better serve consumers with limited English proficiency (LEP) and are being provided principles and guidelines to assist financial institutions seeking to better serve LEP consumers in non-English languages, the federal consumer financial protection agency said Wednesday.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) said its “Statement Regarding the Provision of Financial Products and Services to Consumers with Limited English Proficiency” was also aimed at complying with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Dodd-Frank), the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), and other applicable laws.
The statement presents general principles for financial institutions to consider in serving LEP consumers in languages other than English. It also provides guidelines institutions can use to help advance those principles and develop compliance solutions, including key considerations to inform those decisions and specific information about common components of a compliance management system (CMS).
“The Bureau seeks to promote access to financial products and services for all consumers, including LEP consumers,” the agency said in its statement. “Despite having considerable credit needs and representing a large segment of the U.S. population, LEP consumers often encounter significant barriers to participating in the consumer financial marketplace.”
The bureau said the statement outlines compliance principles and guidelines that encourage financial institutions to expand access to products and services for LEP consumers. The agency said it was doing so for three reasons: to promote access to financial products for all consumers; facilitate compliance by providing clear rules of the road; and educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions.
“Financial institutions play an important role in building a more inclusive financial system and presenting opportunities for LEP consumers to build their financial capabilities,” the agency noted. “The effective and responsible integration of LEP consumers into the financial marketplace has the potential to create positive benefits for consumers and the financial services industry alike.”