Bureau unveils ‘help’ program to assist financial institutions in reporting small business lending activity

A week after unveiling its small business lending rule (widely criticized within the financial industry), the federal consumer financial protection agency launched Wednesday what it called a “dedicated regulatory and technical support program” for financial institutions.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the new “SBL Help” program can provide oral and written assistance to financial institutions about their data collection and reporting obligations under the final rule. The program, the agency indicated, is designed to help financial institutions “implement and comply” with the small business lending rule.

The program is essentially a portal for submitting technical questions about reporting small business lending data. CFPB, on the portal, says that information submitted will be sent to technical support staff, and submitters should allow 24-28 hours for a response time during normal business hours “although occasionally more time may be required.”

The final rule, unveiled March 30 (meeting a court order to finalize the rule by March 31), requires lenders to collect and report information about the small business credit applications they receive, including geographic and demographic data, lending decisions, and the price of credit. Lenders that originate at least 500 loans annually must collect data starting April 1, 2025. Those that originate at least 100 loans annually must collect data starting Jan. 1, 2026.

Upon announcement of the rule last week, banks, credit unions and other groups criticized it calling it “unnecessarily far-reaching” and “misguided.”

The bureau also said Wednesday that it plans to publish additional resources “to help financial institutions implement and comply with the small business lending final rule.”

SLB Help portal (technical question submission form)