By PHILLIP LEE
The House of Representatives’ version of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency bill specifically skips pawnbrokers, to the industry’s relief.
The bill refers to it as an “exclusion,” as it does for others such as community banks that were able to convince legislators that they shouldn’t be covered by the prospective agency, says Fran Bishop, government relations chairman for the National Pawnbrokers Association.
“It’s really more of a limitation on the authority that this proposed CFPA would have over the pawn industry,” Bishop says. The industry would still be covered by the Federal Trade Commission and any other federal agency that presently affects pawnbroking.
The seeds to winning the battle were sown years ago.
“We’ve been working grassroots for years, and it’s been a long process,” Bishop says. The NPA started working on a regular basis at the federal level little over five years ago when it hired lobbyists in D.C.
It also started holding legislative conferences in Washington every year. The NPA encourages its our members to take to the Hill and meet with their congressman and staff people, as well as attend fundraisers and similar events.
Among the facts pawnbrokers pointed out is that they are already regulated at the state and local level.
Another effective tool is to be store visits by legislators. “We had a lot of pawnbrokers who got store visits from the representatives or their aides. They were given store tours and explained this is how the whole thing works,” Bishop says.
Media a Plus
In the past, the media may have been the pawnbroker’s biggest enemy, often characterizing their shops and trade in a negative light. But recently, there have been numerous stories about pawnbrokers that show them in a positive light.
The NPA also has been encouraging its membership to upgrade the appearance of their stores and image. The positive press is culmination of everything coming together, Bishop says, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
In the end, members of Congress got the message. “They’re listening to the product that we.”
But even with a victory under the industry’s belt, Bishop is cautious. “There’s no such thing as a sure thing,” she says.