Consumer Access and Choice to Credit
The American Financial Services Association (AFSA), based in Washington, D.C., is the national
trade association for the consumer credit and finance industry. Founded in 1916, AFSA has a
broad membership, ranging from large national financial services firms to single office,
independently owned consumer finance companies. AFSA represents financial services
companies that hold a leadership position in their markets and conform to the highest standards
of customer service and ethical business practices. Although it is diverse, AFSA’s membership is
united by its main goal of serving the credit needs of consumers and businesses.
AFSA’s mission is to advocate the need for consumer access and choice to credit and to protect
and improve the consumer credit business, maintain a positive public image, and create a
legislative climate in which reasonable credit regulation can and will be enacted. The Association
operates in the public interest, encourages and maintains ethical business practices, and supports
financial education for consumers of all ages.
AFSA MEMBERS – PRODUCTS AND SERVICES
Current membership is nearly 350 Active (consumer credit and commercial finance companies
with over 10,000 branch offices nationwide), Associate (industry suppliers), Affiliate (state
associations) and Foreign financial services companies. Members include:
Diversified Financial Services Companies – Companies that offer a broad range of financial
products and services to middle-income consumers through offices nationwide. Credit products
include: personal loans, first and second mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards and
private label cards, sales financing and credit insurance. Many of these companies also offer
consumer deposit products through banks or savings and loans owned or affiliated with them.
Examples of AFSA members that are diversified financial services companies include: American
General Finance, Inc., CIT, CitiFinancial, Inc., GE Money - Americas, HSBC North America
and Wells Fargo Financial, Inc.
Captive Finance Companies – These companies, often owned by a manufacturer of hard durable
goods, provide financing for customers who purchase their products. In addition to offering
financing and leasing options on products manufactured by the parent, the companies or their
parents have formed or acquired other financial entities that include: credit card affiliates,
mortgage companies, savings and loans, and consumer finance affiliates. Finance subsidiaries of
manufacturers include: American Honda Finance Corporation, DaimlerChrysler Financial
Services Americas LLC, GMAC Financial Services, Ford Motor Credit Company, Harley-
Davidson Financial Services, Inc., Mercedes-Benz Credit, Nissan Motor Acceptance
Corporation, Toyota Motor Credit Corporation, and World Omni Financial Corporation.
Automotive Finance Companies – In addition to the auto captives listed above, this category
includes other companies that provide indirect financing to automotive dealers of new and pre-
owned vehicle customers. Examples include: AmeriCredit Financial Services, Capital One Auto
Finance, Inc., CitiFinancial Auto, Reliable Credit Association, Inc., HSBC Auto Finance; Long
Beach Acceptance Corporation, Mission Financial Services, and Wells Fargo Auto Finance,
Consumer Finance Companies – Consumer loan companies’ core business includes: unsecured
personal loans, home equity loans, student loans, and sales financing (providing credit for
retailers’ customers). This group includes multi-billion dollar companies with nationwide
offices, regional companies, and independently owned firms that have one branch office or
branches in several states. Consumer finance companies include: American General Finance
Corporation, CitiFinancial, HSBC North America, Wells Fargo Financial, Inc. and
independently owned firms such as 1st Franklin Corporation, Brundage Management/Sun Loan
Company, Finance & Thrift, First Tower Corp, Heights Finance Corporation, Omni Financial
Corporation, Personal Finance Company, Pioneer Credit Company, Reliable Credit Association,
Security Finance Corporation of Spartanburg, Textron Business Services, Tidewater Finance
Company, Inc., United Finance Co., and World Acceptance Corporation.
Many independently-owned companies specialize in one type of lending such as specialty auto
Mortgage Lenders – Companies that provide home equity loans/second mortgages,
manufactured housing loans and other loans secured by a borrower’s residence. Companies in
this category include: ACC Capital Holdings, Budget Finance Company, Countrywide Home
Loans, CitiFinancial, EquiFirst Corporation, First Tennessee/First Horizon, GMAC Mortgage,
HSBC Consumer Lending; Irwin Home Equity, New Century Mortgage, Option One Mortgage
Corporation, Popular Financial Holdings, Inc., and Residential Capital Corporation.
Commercial Finance Companies – Companies that offer commercial finance and leasing
services include: Boeing Capital Corporation, Caterpillar Financial Services Corporation, iStar
Financial Inc., International Lease Finance Corporation, John Deere Credit Corporation, Nelnet,
Inc., SMR Corporation (Sallie Mae) and Textron Financial Corporation.
Card Companies – Companies that offer bank cards, charge cards, credit cards, or private label
credit cards. Several AFSA member companies are among the largest credit card issuers and
processors in the United States including: Citi, Wells Fargo, GE Money - Americas, Dell
Financial Services, GMAC Financial Services, HSBC North America, Morgan Stanley
(Discover), Visa and MasterCard.
Companies that are engaged in consumer and commercial lending on both a secured and
unsecured basis. They accept time deposits and deposits that may be withdrawn through
negotiable orders of withdrawl ("NOW" accounts). Many industrial banks are consumer
lenders, engaging in mortgage, auto, credit card and other forms of consumer and small
business lending on a nationwide basis including: CIT Bank, CitiFinancial Services, Finance &
Thrift, GE Capital, GMAC Automotive Bank, Harley-Davidson Financial Services.
REGULATION OF CONSUMER CREDIT COMPANIES
Consumer credit and finance companies lend money to consumers and businesses without
relying on insured deposits. They are generally licensed at the state level and are highly
regulated at both state and federal levels.
Specifically, these companies must comply with federal regulations relating to consumer credit –
the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, the Truth in Lending Act, the Truth in Leasing Act, the Fair
Credit Billing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Federal Trade Commission’s Credit
Practices Rule are among the more important. Compliance with the principles of the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act has been incorporated into AFSA’s Code of Ethics.
In many cases, finance companies own or are affiliated with depository institutions, such as
savings & loans, consumer banks (limited-purpose banks), or credit card banks. These
institutions are fully regulated institutions, subject to all of the laws and regulations applying to
banking institutions. They are regularly examined by state and federal banking authorities.
MAJOR AFSA ACTIVITIES
Federal Government Affairs – Formulates industry positions and actively advocates these
positions in legislative, regulatory and judicial settings; lobbies both Congress and the
regulatory agencies to achieve industry’s goals; participates in major litigation as amicus curiae;
ensures accurate dissemination of information; activates grass roots involvement through
Congressional Action Programs; forms inter-industry coalitions and discussion groups on high
State Government Affairs – The active SGA Committee comprises four subcommittees focused on
the specific product lines of our members (auto finance, cards, mortgage lending and personal
loans). The SGA Committee meets in person three times a year to work on issues of common
interest, share political intelligence, and develop resources for current and emerging issues. The
Subcommittees meet regularly by phone for briefings on legislation and regulation, and to
prepare and commit resources to important issues. Through these subcommittees, AFSA
prepares studies, white papers, talking points, and issue briefings; hires lobbyists, public
relations experts, and other experts as needed.
Legislative and Regulatory Relationships: AFSA’s State Government Affairs staff actively
participates in national legislator and regulator associations, including the National Association
of State Legislators (NCSL), the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), the American
Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (AARMR) and others to ensure the industry is
represented and the benefits of the industry are known. AFSA also holds its State Government
Affairs Forum each year in conjunction with the National Association of Consumer Credit
Administrators (NACCA’s) Annual Meeting. This is a rare opportunity for companies to interact
and mingle with key state regulators. The meeting features the highest caliber speakers on the
top issues facing the industry.
Premium Legislative and Regulatory Tracking – StateScape®: All AFSA members have access to
StateScape’s comprehensive web-based monitoring system—legislative and regulatory tracking
in all 50 states every day of the year from anywhere in the world.
Legal Affairs – The AFSA Law Committee has long been one of the most successful and
substantive of all of AFSA’s Committees of Professional Interest. The Committee deals with all
aspects of the legal environment facing the industry, including legislative issues, regulatory
matters, and litigation.
The Law Committee is presently divided into the following Subcommittees: Home Mortgage
Lending, Credit Card and Personal Loans, Auto Finance and Leasing, and Emerging Issues.
Periodically, special task forces are established to focus on issues of long term impact to the
industry such as Privacy. Each Committee has a Chairperson, and is assisted by an invited outside
counsel with particular expertise in the relevant subject area. These Sub-Committees routinely
activate and administer special projects, such as the extensive AFSA litigation involving municipal
home equity lending ordinances.
Public Affairs – Serves as the industry’s voice to the public and informs media of current
industry developments and issues; targets key audiences affecting public policy; develops and
executes industry communications initiatives; provides industry leaders as key spokespersons.
Committees of Professional Interest – Available for executives who work in a variety of
professional positions within the industry to share information and participate in presentations
on emerging issues in their professional interest area. Committees include: Accounting, Audit &
Compliance, Electronic Commerce, ID Theft Fraud Control (NEW), Financial Relations,
Human Resources, Information Systems, Law, Marketing, Operations, Public Communications,
State Government Affairs, and Tax.
Specialized conferences and smaller seminars that help serve members’ needs by focusing on
the latest developments within the financial services industry. For more information, view the
meetings section of the AFSA website at www.afsaonline.org
Vehicle Finance Conference & Exposition – Held in conjunction with the National Automotive
Dealers Association (NADA) Annual Convention and sponsored by the Vehicle Finance
Division of AFSA representing both prime and specialty finance companies. (January/February)
Marketing Forum – A two-day professional development opportunity for industry executives
interested in marketing and business development topics. (March)
Independents Conference & Exposition – This four-day conference, sponsored by the AFSA
Section on Independent Operations, is the main event for independent finance company owners
and suppliers to this segment of the industry. The Outstanding Independent and the
Outstanding Employee Awards are presented. (March/April)
Finance Industry Investors Conferences in Europe and the U.S. – Brings together investors in
the finance industry, leading analysts, and top financial executives from member companies
who provide company-specific presentations. (April, May)
State Government Affairs Forum – A two-day meeting to enhance the skills and educate state
lobbyists and state association executives on critical state legislative issues and industry trends.
The group meets in conjunction with the annual meeting of the National Association for
Consumer Credit Administrators (NACCA). (September)
Management Development Programs – www.afsaef.org
AFSAEF provides three top-notch management development programs for member company executives in
the career development of managers at the University of North Carolina and Marquette University.
AFSA Executive Development Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
The Professional Development Committee has undertaken an in depth review of the day and one-half
biennial Executive Presence Program. Assessment of the original program concluded that an enrichment of
the curriculum was warranted and that the investment in travel and tuition should be rewarded with a
program extending over two full days. The core of the curriculum will be in Executing Strategy through
People. The extra half day will be devoted to a panel of AFSA member senior management executives that
will interact with the students in a discussion of real world challenges for industry leaders. (May)
AFSA Leadership Development Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
This two-week program provides a leadership development opportunity for individual who have excelled in
your organization. This program is designed to broaden the skills of mid-level supervisors, regional and
district managers, and vice presidents in technical and support functions. The sessions combine a number of
learning situations, including case discussions, simulations and role plays and a day-long outdoor team-
building exercise that focuses on leadership, teamwork, problem solving and self discovery. (July)
National Institute on Consumer Credit Management (NICCM), Marquette University WI
This is a two-year program providing a valuable and enriching experience in layer modules of learning. Year
1 courses provide a sound basic knowledge for financial managers and Year 2 builds on this knowledge with
applications and higher level skills. This is designed for high-potential branch managers, team leaders and
supervisors who are on the "fast track" in their career development. (June)
Annual Meeting & Leadership Conference – The Association’s major convention featuring
prominent speakers and panelists on critical industry issues. Distinguished Service Awards
(DSA) and Merit Manager Awards are presented. (October)
AFSA AFFILIATED ORGANIZATIONS
Section on Independent Operations – Formed in 1983 to represent the special needs and
interests of owner-operated finance companies, the Independents Section sponsors an annual
conference, a quarterly newsletter and other materials directed toward owner-operators.
The AFSA Education Foundation (AFSAEF), a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, mission is to educate
high school students on personal finance concepts and to help consumers realize the benefits of
responsible money management and understand the credit process. AFSAEF’s educational initiatives
position AFSA members as responsible and concerned for their customer’s financial well-being and
provide a track record to point to when dealing with members of Congress, the media, and consumer
AFSAEF forms partnerships with AFSA members, government agencies and non-profit organizations to
focus on personal finance issues affecting a specific segment of the market place. Recently, the
Understanding Vehicle Financing brochure, developed in a joint venture with the National Automobile Dealers
Association (NADA) and in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was updated with the
approval of the FTC, NADA and AFSA. This brochure is available in English and Spanish.
MoneySKILL® 2007 – the highly popular online free personal finance curriculum for young adults, is
one of the most significant initiatives that the AFSA Education Foundation has undertaken in its eleven-
year history. The enhancements updated not only the p[program’s underlying technology but also the
MoneySKILL® has been successfully incorporated into schools in all 50 states with more than 1,000
new teachers registered to use the course in 2006 resulting in more than 9,000 new students taking the
AFSAEF staff conducted MoneySKILL® teacher-training workshops with state Jump$tart Coalitions
and state business education associations in 26 states; plans underway to reach out to remaining states in
AFSA Vehicle Finance Division – Formed in 1996 for association members who finance and
lease new and pre-owned vehicles to consumers. Members include captive automobile and
motorcycle finance companies, diversified financial services companies, specialty finance auto
finance companies and suppliers to the vehicle finance industry.
Division members facilitated the development of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) working
group within AFSA. They were the first to express the need for immediate attention to extend
the provisions within the FCRA that expired at the end of 2003.
The Card Division acknowledged the need for a unified effort in order to extend those provisions
and invited all AFSA members to take an active role. AFSA and Division members are currently
involved in analyzing a number of data security bills to determine what our position should be.
AFSA’s Mortgage Lending Division incorporates federal and state government affairs initiatives,
legal issues, communications and public relations. The Division plays a critical role in
developing AFSA’s formation of the Mortgage Lending Division is in response to the growing
number of members in the mortgage industry. The Division works with the mortgage lending
subcommittees of the AFSA Law and State Government Affairs Committees to focus on issues of
concern to mortgage lenders.
MAJOR FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY ISSUES
Auto Leasing/Finance – AFSA has worked cooperatively with the Federal Reserve Board to
revise federal leasing laws, with the goal of providing more useful information for consumers
shopping for a lease. Consumer finance and leasing education continues to be one of the main
focuses of AFSA.
Bankruptcy Reform and Implementation – AFSA has been a leader in efforts to amend the
bankruptcy law by putting personal responsibility back into the bankruptcy code. On October
17, 2005, The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 went into
effect. This culminates an eight-year, bipartisan effort by Congress to reform the U.S.
Bankruptcy Code. The new law will bring sweeping changes to an overburdened, antiquated
system while encouraging personal accountability and responsibility.
AFSA is part of an industry coalition to ensure that bankruptcy reform is being implemented
according to the spirit and letter of the law as intended by Congress.
Data Security – AFSA supports H.R. 3997, the Financial Data Protection Act of 2005, which was
passed by the House Financial Services Committee. The bill would establish an effective
uniform national standard, complimentary the existing regulatory structure and coexist
appropriately with Gramm-Leach-Bliley and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. H.R. 3997 applies to
any entity that possess sensitive financial personal information and preempts all state laws with
respect to data protection, breach investigation and credit freezes for victims of identity theft.
AFSA has joined with a diverse mix of trade associations and financial services companies to
form the Electronic Payments Coalition. The EPC seeks to educate policymakers on the value
of payment systems and to increase public awareness of the many benefits provided by these
systems to consumers and merchants. Through its involvement with the EPC, AFSA will
support and protect competition and efficiency in the payments industry and oppose
unnecessary government regulation.
Fair Credit Reporting Act – AFSA has been active in the legislative debate over consumers’
access to data in lenders’ files and to information used to compile credit scores. AFSA adopted a
voluntary standard on credit bureau reporting under which members have agreed not to
withhold borrower information from credit bureaus in an effort to keep competitors from
“poaching” good consumers.
Financial Privacy – The ability of companies to share customer information among their
affiliates and third parties is coming under increased scrutiny due to personal privacy concerns.
AFSA is working with Congress and financial regulators to ensure that new privacy protections
for consumers will achieve their goals without unduly burdening the free exchange of
information which is necessary for maintaining AFSA members’ operational and marketing
GSE Reform – The AFSA is working with Members of Congress to ensure that the Government-
Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) are not empowered to move into the nonprime market and the
new regulatory is not given any authority over this vital sector.
National Standards on High Cost Mortgage – AFSA continues to work with Members of
Congress as they pursue national standards legislation for mortgage lending. The proposed
legislation aims to preempt the growing patchwork of state and local predatory lending laws that
raise the costs of lending and encumber the national mortgage lending market. In exchange, the
mortgage industry will comply with national standards for high cost lending that track a number
of the voluntary standards adopted by AFSA member companies. AFSA is emphasizing the need
to ensure that any effort does not negatively impact member companies’ ability to provide
lending products to their customers.
Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) – AFSA is leading an industry working group to study
the findings of the HMDA data and to provide policy makers with information to help them
assess the mortgage industry’s track record of making access to credit available and affordable
for more Americans.
For More Information
To learn more about the benefits of membership in AFSA, please visit its website at
http://www.afsaonline.org or call
Vice President, Membership Services
American Financial Services Association
919 18th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, D.C. 20006-5517
Phone: (202) 466-8602 Fax: (202) 223-0321