COMPLY: The Marketing Compliance Podcast

COMPLY: The Marketing Compliance Podcast

Episode 3: The State of Marketing Compliance Pt. 2

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Episode Description:

Today’s podcast is part two of the conversation had between Rhonda McGill, Senior Director of Client Solutions here at PerformLine and John Henson, now General Counsel and previously Head of Legal and Compliance at ConsumerAffairs. Their discussion revolves around various topics around marketing compliance across industries that we see under the microscope of growing regulatory scrutiny.

Topics that John and Rhonda discuss this week include compliance expectations for 2022 as it pertains to fair lending, UDAAP, data privacy and protection - both from the regulators' perspective and third-party partners and things for all compliance professionals to keep in mind as we continue into a year of enforcement and oversight.
 

Show Notes:

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About COMPLY: The Marketing Compliance Podcast

The state of marketing compliance and regulation is evolving faster than ever, especially for those in the consumer finance space. On the COMPLY podcast, we sit down with the biggest names in marketing, compliance, regulations, and innovation as they share their playbooks to help you take your compliance practice to the next level. 

Episode Transcript:

Ashley:
Hey there, COMPLY podcast listeners. Today's podcast is part two of the conversation had between Ronda McGill, Senior Director of Client Solutions, here at PerformLine. And John Henson, now General Counsel and previously Head of Legal and Compliance at ConsumerAffairs. Their discussion revolves around various topics on marketing compliance across industries that we see under the microscope of growing regulatory scrutiny. If you have not done so already, I would highly suggest listening to our previous podcast, which contains part one of this conversation, which we will share in the show notes for today's podcast. So you can get caught up before jumping into this week's conversation topics that John and Rhonda had discussed this week, including expectations for 2022, as it pertains to fair lending, UDAAP, data, privacy, and protection, both from the regulator's perspective and third-party partners. And thanks for all compliance professionals to keep in mind as we continue into a year of enforcement and oversight. Thanks again for tuning in and enjoy the show.


Rhonda:
So one of the hot areas everywhere I go, people wanna talk about fair lending folks, wanna talk about data privacy and protection and UDAP and all of those things. That seems to be like the hot topic. What are you hearing in terms of some of the expectations for 2022, and what thoughts or additional insights would you have as far as fair lending and UDAP and data privacy and protection?


John:
Yeah, no, I, and I think this is a, a great area to discuss, and we're seeing it both from the regulators activity that you're seeing. And then also from our partners obviously ConsumerAffairs, we have lender partners, and we're seeing that they're interested in that from that, from their perspective as well in working with us. And I'm probably famous in my company for saying that compliance is really easy. It's a two-step process and you tell the consumer what you're gonna do. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and then you do it. And the, any, any gap in those two things are compliance concerns, and that is incredibly true in UDAAP. But it's also very true in fair lending as well, right? Yes. And that if you look at a consumer, you're gonna create the consumer that you're targeting for this advertisement, right.


John:
Mm-hmm <affirmative> and it's a reverse mortgage, so it's an elderly consumer, like, can you explain it to that consumer? Can you tell them what's going to happen? And then if you do it, do they understand that that match what you told them they were gonna do? Mm-hmm <affirmative> if not, that's, that's where we, we come into the problems, right. And, you know, the same way you know, you're gonna treat my seventy-year-old mother for our first mortgage, the exact same way that you're gonna treat a young African American couple are, are they gonna understand everything as well? That, that you know, it's making sure people are, you know, I hate to say this, it makes make people are treated well. Right? You treat people well, it's not that hard


Rhonda:
Do the right thing. <laugh>, let's do the right thing.


John:
So does that customer understand that? And would they say, Hey, they told me that X, Y, and Z happened and guess what? X, Y, and Z happened, great. That's compliance. Right. And I think that that's been very evident too, from some of the things, the regulators that we've seen lately, like the FCC, have been hot and heavy on reviews over the last few months. And what's been really interesting on that for us. Well, it is twofold. One, as I told our team recently, everything is UDAAP right. Everything. So if, if the consumer doesn't understand why you're picking those reviews, or if they don't understand why you're promoting this partner over this partner, like you're running the risk of unfair deceptive practices, right. So how can you explain those decisions to them in a way that makes sense and that they UN that and that they are comfortable making the consumer making their decision based off the information you're giving them.

And I, the other issue there is, it's not just that moment in time that they see the marketing, especially from on an, in an online business, right. It's the entire customer experience. Absolutely. From beginning to end and actually had a partner tell me I asked to see not just the, the marketing material but like show me the landing page and the customer experience. And he said, why do you care about the customer experience? And I just care about the compliance part. And I looked at him, I said, the customer experience is the compliance part compliance. Right, so again, because the customer experience can fall between that gap can, can, can separate that me telling you what's gonna happen. And then me doing it, doing it right. That that customer experience is the gap between those two dots.


Rhonda:
Wow. That's you make it simple?


John:
You know, I try, and I think that it's been very helpful for our product team in general to have that really simple framework. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And I was in a meeting that, you know, I was one of 40 people in a meeting, and the product person said, well, what we're trying to do is tell the consumer what we're gonna do, and then go do it. And I was like, wait a second. That's my line. Right. So like, oh my God, somebody listens. So, yeah, I think that's really is that simple. I mean, and there are technical compliance things that we talk about a lot, like, here's, you gotta show this APR, if you're gonna show this rate and you've gotta show these fees and you know, that kind of stuff. And, but if you're doing a good job training your team on, you know, that two-step process, right.

That's gonna cover so much ground, then creates additional bandwidth of you can go back and do the technical abuse. Yeah. Right. And, and that's kind of what I've impressed on our team, because we have a small compliance team. I'm technically the only compliance person in our company. We have a legal team with a paralegal, that's it? And the, if they can all understand treating the customer correctly, avoiding you that problems, then it allows us to really lean into, okay, now let's go make sure these rates are right with the proper disclosures and that those are all matching and, and what the customer experience is.


Rhonda:
That's a great, great breakdown. I know, and I've been, as I'm talking to people, it's like more and more, they're very concerned. Everything is fair lending, fair lending, fair lending. And I think that some of the warning shots that are coming from the regulators is probably pointing people towards that. But when you take kind of that simplified approach of tell the customer what it is you're gonna do for them and do it, mm-hmm, <affirmative> that kind of explains that's, that's, that's, what's making it fair. You know, you're creating fairness. So that's, that just really hits home. It really


John:
Does. And, and I, I, I also talk a lot about to, to our team about if there is a reason to segment that population, right? Whether it's geographically or socioeconomically or whatever, right. What's the data behind that. And we need to be able to understand and tell the story of someone who's not in our building. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and doesn't have the sophistication that we have about how marketing works. Yes. That we should be able to hand them this in. So they're coming in completely in a vacuum and say, oh, this makes sense. Right. This makes sense that you're doing it, and you're not doing it because of, you know, they're veteran status, you're doing it because this brand, or this potential product or service is actually a better fit for them based on the data. Right. And I think that, that you, you have to have that in a vacuum mindset. And I think that, that, that can be difficult, especially when you're giving, getting that information from a technical data person or a technical product person that, that they're like, well, why don't they understand this? Well, they don't understand it cuz they don't live and breathe it.


Rhonda:
Right. I was about to say, it's not them, it's not their nine to five.


John:
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And, and, and that's, that's always interesting conversations


Rhonda:
For sure, for sure. And one of the other areas I always tell people, you know, is don't assume that your marketing team understands everything about your business. I don't care if you're in the mortgage or if you're in the, by now pay later space or whatever, you have to approach the marketing team with a compliance mindset because once they start understanding those potential pitfalls, they're going to be a little bit more conscientious about making sure that they're taking those extra steps to make sure that things are compliant before they're sending them to the compliance team. So it's, it's about that openness and that education,


John:
Uh, couldn't agree more. And I think that what I have seen in larger organizations is that, again, coming from an online space, right? Like if you're looking at it as a funnel, a lot of times, marketing is so concerned with getting people at the top of the funnel, yep. That they don't necessarily understand the product funnel mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that causes that disconnect between telling the consumers what's what they're, what's gonna happen and then doing it and doing it. And if they don't understand that, that can lead to problems as well. And you know, I, I have a tendency as a compliance person to ask the marketing team, like when was the last time you went through this from beginning to end. Yeah. And does your marketing match it from beginning to end? And you know, that can be interesting conversations as well. I think that it, it helps to have everyone on the same page. You know, and I think it, there's quick, that's a quick way to get everyone on the same page too.


Rhonda:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. And just, just understanding, you know, the marketing team, understanding how they're, you know, getting those leads in and what you know, who are they targeting and why are they targeting all of that is so critical. So definitely moving forward, I, I hope that all compliance folks, teams big or small, are spending that time digging into the different business areas, but especially with marketing, because that's ultimately the folks that are bringing in saying, this is what we're gonna do for you. Yep. Absolutely. And they're leaning on the rest of the business to do it. So. Absolutely.


John:
Absolutely.


Rhonda:
Yep. I appreciate that. So, yes, we're kind of coming around. I think if we're just about a, almost we've talked for quite a bit, haven't we <laugh>, every time we get together, we kinda lose track of time.


John:
I'm glad you're having fun.


Rhonda:
I know we're having fun. But wanted to just kind of dig in some thoughts and some closing thoughts, you know, some things that are key that you would like for folks to keep on top of mind as we're going through this 20, 22, which sounds like it's gonna be a year of lots of enforcement and lots of oversight. And I don't know,


John:
I, I, I agree wholeheartedly when you see it from, you know, the CFB, the FTC, various states, you see that some of the things we've touched on already that UDAP that fair lending, data privacy is going to be big issues this year. Yeah. And, you know, data privacy also falls under that, tell what the customer you're gonna do and do it. Right. And you know, I'm actually, you know, we were discussing the other day and looking at some privacy policies and there's some great privacy policies out there that are so crystal clear to the consumer about what's gonna happen to their data. And like, so I'm really actually encouraged to see that mm-hmm <affirmative> that people are companies are really taking the time to write those policies in a way that is customer friendly. I think that's very beneficial. That's just a side note there.

Um, but I would also one of the things from a compliance perspective, and as we've talked about with a small compliance team clients team, you don't want to be the blocker. And while again, ideally, I'd love to have a hundred people on my team, or I'd love to be able to do X, Y, and Z. I am still part of the process, and how can I insert myself into the businesses process with the least amount of disruption mm-hmm <affirmative> do I like getting compliance questions on slack? No, I hate it. <laugh> however, I get them, and I answer them because that's the way they want to communicate with me. Right. And so take advantage of that and really lean into that. And you will find that you will get more connections with your colleagues and more conversations coming out of those by meeting them where they are, instead of forcing them into one, the funnel that you want. Right. Yep. And that's how you really close those monitoring gaps too. And you really create those champions. Like we talked about earlier is, meeting people where they are and trying to be available to them. Mm-hmm <affirmative> the other thing, and this is very related, is that I've had so many conversations with compliance people, and it's, they, they, they, they, they


Rhonda:
Mm-hmm, <affirmative>,


John:
It's not us versus them. It is together it's we, and the, you know, the really disappointing thing is when I have those conversations and I ask them, who's your Because really the business units that we're supporting are our customers mm-hmm <affirmative> and there is a level of customer service that they should receive. Absolutely, and if you don't, it's really easy for you to be left out of the loop. True. It's a really vicious cycle that I've seen before of well, they never bring me information, so I'm not gonna reach out to them. And then it just spiral, spiral, spiral, spiral


Rhonda:
Them


John:
<laugh> and nobody wins nobody.


Rhonda:
And that's when mistakes happen.


John:
Yep. So I would say that those that that's probably my biggest takeaways are one, tell the customer what you're gonna do, then go do it. And then also, if we creating those good relationships internally will help you more than you even think possible from just a return on investment. Right? Yeah, getting that, those champions, and creating those champions are really, really beneficial


Rhonda:
Almost sounds like you could create your own little compliance team within your org because everyone is looking at it from a different lens when you're working together.


John:
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And that's what we want. Right. We want, we want a company who cares about compliance, and if you can create that atmosphere of, again, we, not us versus them, then that can go really, really long


Rhonda:
Way. My old company, I Quicken loans when I was there. One of the isms they used was we are the they, and yes, that pretty much everything you're saying kind of resonates with that. That was kind of the thought process of, you know, we are the, they there's no them there's no, yes. You know, just had to be all in it together. So it just I really, it, everything I'm hearing from you today just sounds like there's so much opportunity for compliance to take a different approach with the business and to really, really dig in and allow the business, or allow compliance to work alongside of the business all the way across. Because again, we are they, and it benefits the entire organization. So very, very happy to hear your, your way of breaking it down, cuz it really has how,


John:
Oh, well, thank you. Yeah. Yeah. And I think that like if I'm gonna get out crystal ball, which again, you didn't ask, but I'll go ahead and get it out. I think that we're in a really interesting time for compliance for sure. And if you can create those relationships and, as a compliance person, understand the business and continue to add value, that is how you elevate the compliance department in value. And you get the seat at the table that it, you know, we've talked about many times before and we've talked about for years, but like that's how that happens. You don't, you aren't given a seat, you aren't owed a seat at the table,


Rhonda:
You


John:
Earned it, you earn it and you earn it by being a great business partner. And you know, if you can focus on that, it's amazing what else can happen?


Rhonda:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, John, I thank you so much for taking time outta your busy schedule to join us today. This has really been a good conversation. I always look forward to an opportunity to get with you and chat about compliance. And especially in this day and time, it's so important to just have other voices I've been working so hard to keep compliance folks, you know, across different organizations, just having the conversation because compliance always says it can be a very lonely place <laugh> for a lot of


John:
It. Absolutely can. And thank you for everything that you do. And you know, I love having these conversations and I can't wait to do this again and also in person


Rhonda:
In-person next time. That's for sure we're getting there.


John:
Absolutely,


Rhonda:
Absolutely. Thanks again. And enjoy the rest of your day and we look forward to the next time we have an opportunity to get together with you.


John:
Absolutely. Thank you so much.


Rhonda:
Thank you.


Ashley:
Thanks for listening to this episode of the COMPLY podcast. We hope you enjoyed the conversation between Rhonda and John on these marketing compliance challenges for additional insights into all things marketing compliance, you can head to content.performline.com and be sure to check out the links and resources in today's show notes. And if you haven't done so yet you can subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcast. Thanks again for listening and we'll see you next time.