Study finds CFPB complaint database affects mortgage approval rates–of rival banks

Yiwei Dou of NYU’s Department of Accounting, Mingyi Hung of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology, Guoman She, and Lynn Linghuan Wang, both of the University of Hong Kong – Faculty of Business and Economics, have written Learning from Peers: Evidence from Disclosure of Consumer Complaints, 77 Journal of Accounting & Economics (Forthcoming 2024). Here’s the abstract:

In 2013, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau released a database of consumer complaints filed against banks under its supervision (“CFPB banks”). We find that after the disclosure, rival banks exhibit a greater increase in mortgage approval rates in markets with more intensive mortgage complaints about CFPB banks. The effect is weaker when rivals have more expertise in the local market, are less concerned about credit risk due to mortgage sales, and locate in areas with more alternative information about the CFPB banks. The effect is concentrated in severe complaints and complaints related to loan underwriting practices. In addition to approving more loans, rivals also open more branches and are more likely to post a job opening in these markets. The findings suggest that these banks learn from the nonfinancial disclosures about operational deficiencies of peers (i.e., CFPB banks) in local markets, which alleviates their adverse
selection concern about expanding.

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