Embarking on the journey toward fair lending analytics under Dodd-Frank Section 1071 is akin to setting sail on a grand adventure, seeking a treasure trove of knowledge hidden within the demographic data collected by covered financial institutions (FIs). The provisions of Section 1071 require FIs to collect and report data on small business lending, including valuable information on the race, ethnicity, and gender of business owners, among other crucial data points. This new mandate, just issued in March by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), aims to shed light on potential discriminatory practices in small business lending and promote transparency in the financial industry.

Section 1071 isn’t a maiden voyage for those lenders who have already implemented the 2018 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) expansion under the Dodd-Frank Act. Yet, much like that requirement, which increased the available data fields for mortgage lending, Section 1071 opens up uncharted waters, allowing lenders to delve deeper into fair lending analytics.
In this article, if you’ll excuse the extended metaphor, we will embark on a voyage to uncover the potential of fair lending analytics, exploring how the new demographic data can be harnessed to identify potential discrimination and promote fair lending practices.

Setting Sail into the Dodd-Frank Sea

To understand the significance of the new demographic data under Section 1071, we must first chart our course back to the origins of Dodd-Frank and its mission to reform the financial industry following the 2008 financial crisis. The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, commonly known as Dodd-Frank, sought to enhance transparency, accountability, and consumer protection within the financial sector.

Among its provisions is Section 1071, a relatively lesser-known part of the act but one of immense importance to small business owners and advocates for fair lending practices. Section 1071 aims to address disparities in small business lending by mandating FIs to collect and report data on their lending activities to gain insight into potential discriminatory practices. Lenders of different sizes will need to begin collecting data under the rule’s staggered deadlines ranging from October 2024 to January 2026.

Unearthing the Treasure Map: New Data Fields

Much like a treasure map, the new data fields prescribed by the CFPB hold the key to unlocking hidden truths about small business lending. These fields include information on the race, ethnicity, and gender of business owners, as well as loan size, interest rates, business revenue, and other critical details. The availability of this data promises a more comprehensive view of lending practices and enables fair lending analytics to reach new heights.

Drawing a parallel to the 2018 HMDA Dodd-Frank expansion, where additional data fields were introduced for mortgage lending, lenders now possess a richer dataset to navigate through potential discrimination concerns in small business lending. By exploring historical trends and patterns, lenders can compare their current practices to past behaviors and make informed decisions to ensure fair and equitable lending.

Charting the Fair Lending Waters: Existing Models and New Challenges

As we sail into the uncharted waters of fair lending analytics, it’s essential to recognize the existing fair lending models that lenders may have in place. Regression models, for example, have been commonly used to identify potential fair lending risks in mortgage lending under HMDA. However, the application of such models to small business lending may require adaptation and fine-tuning due to the unique characteristics of this market.

Lenders already equipped with fair lending models may find themselves with a head start on this new journey, but they must be mindful of the differences between mortgage and small business lending. Small business lending involves a diverse range of borrowers, varied loan purposes, and dynamic market conditions, all of which demand careful consideration to ensure accurate analysis and interpretation of the new demographic data.

The Compass of Fair Lending Analytics

To navigate the fair lending waters, lenders need a reliable compass in the form of sophisticated fair lending analytics. The new demographic data offers unprecedented opportunities to assess lending practices with a focus on promoting inclusivity and eliminating biases. By combining traditional regression models with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques, lenders can gain a more comprehensive understanding of fair lending risks and take proactive measures to address them.

Moreover, leveraging the power of big data and AI-driven algorithms, lenders can identify subtle patterns and trends that might have otherwise gone unnoticed. This treasure trove of insights will enable lenders to fine-tune their lending practices, ensuring fair treatment for all small business owners, regardless of their demographic backgrounds.

Treasuring Transparency and Accountability

Next, we arrive at the ultimate treasure of fair lending analytics: transparency and accountability. By complying with Dodd-Frank Section 1071 and embracing the new data mandate, FIs demonstrate their commitment to fair lending principles. Transparent reporting of lending practices fosters public trust, while accountability ensures that any disparities are identified and rectified promptly.

FIs must ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure and data collection processes in place to meet reporting requirements. This entails robust data governance, data security measures, and proper documentation of fair lending analytics procedures. Proactive compliance is a sign of a responsible and trustworthy financial institution, promoting customer loyalty and regulatory goodwill.

The Challenges of Fair Lending Analytics

As with any grand adventure, the voyage to fair lending treasure is not without challenges. Fair lending analytics in the context of small business lending introduces unique hurdles that require careful consideration.

For instance, the small business market comprises a wide array of industries, each with distinct risk profiles, economic conditions, and borrower characteristics. Traditional models may struggle to capture the nuances of this diverse landscape, necessitating the development of specialized analytics tailored to small business lending.

Additionally, interpreting the newly collected demographic data demands sensitivity and cultural awareness. The analysis must be mindful of potential proxy variables and avoid drawing conclusions solely based on a borrower’s race, ethnicity, or gender. Properly accounting for other relevant factors is crucial to ensure accurate and unbiased assessments.

The Role of Explainable AI

As we continue our quest, a new tool emerges as a guiding star—Explainable AI (XAI). In the fair lending landscape, AI-driven models hold great promise in uncovering hidden patterns and potential discrimination. However, the opacity of some AI algorithms can raise concerns about biased decision-making. XAI provides a solution by offering insights into the factors that influence AI model outcomes. This transparency fosters trust and ensures that any discriminatory elements are exposed and addressed.

By adopting XAI in fair lending analytics, FIs can not only comply with regulatory requirements but also build a robust foundation for making ethical and unbiased lending decisions. The synergy of XAI and the new demographic data presents an unparalleled opportunity to establish a fair and accountable lending environment.

Navigating Regulatory Compliance

As our voyage progresses, we encounter the regulatory lighthouse that stands as a beacon for lenders. Compliance with Dodd-Frank Section 1071 is not a mere suggestion but a legal obligation that financial institutions must adhere to diligently. Failure to comply can lead to severe penalties and reputational damage.

Since the implementation of the HMDA 2018 Dodd-Frank rule, regulatory agencies have imposed penalties on non-compliant financial institutions, reinforcing the importance of fair lending practices. Some specific examples of penalties include:

  • Civil Monetary Penalties: The CFPB has imposed fines ranging from thousands to millions of dollars on lenders found in violation of HMDA rules.
  • Corrective Action Orders: Regulatory authorities have issued orders mandating specific actions to remedy violations and ensure future compliance.
  • Public Enforcement Actions: Non-compliant institutions have faced public enforcement actions that damaged their reputation and public image.
  • Consent Orders: Regulators have entered into negotiated settlements, requiring corrective actions and penalty payments without admission of guilt.
  • Private Lawsuits and Class Actions: Expanded HMDA data has facilitated class-action lawsuits alleging fair lending violations.
  • Loss of Privileges: Severe non-compliance has led to the revocation of certain privileges or licenses.
  • Enhanced Regulatory Scrutiny: Persistent or egregious violations have resulted in heightened regulatory monitoring of institutions’ operations.

FIs must ensure that they have the necessary infrastructure and data collection processes in place to meet reporting requirements. This entails robust data governance, data security measures, and proper documentation of fair lending analytics procedures. Proactive compliance is a sign of a responsible and trustworthy financial institution, promoting customer loyalty and regulatory goodwill.

Ethical Considerations in Fair Lending Analytics

As we venture deeper into the fair lending sea, ethical considerations come to the forefront. Fair lending analytics must not only be compliant but also just and equitable. The demographic data collected under Section 1071 reveals sensitive information about borrowers, making it imperative for lenders to treat this data with utmost respect and confidentiality.
Moreover, FIs must be mindful of the potential for algorithmic bias in AI models. Biased algorithms perpetuate discrimination, even if unintended. Hence, lenders must prioritize the ethical development and deployment of AI models, conducting thorough testing and audits to ensure fairness and accountability.

Promoting Financial Inclusion

In our pursuit of the fair lending treasure, we uncover a broader goal: promoting financial inclusion. The new demographic data illuminates the gaps in lending access and opportunities for historically underserved communities. Armed with this information, FIs can devise targeted strategies to extend credit to minority-owned and women-owned businesses, contributing to economic growth and diversity.

Financial inclusion not only benefits borrowers but also enhances the stability and resilience of the financial system. A more inclusive economy fosters innovation and competition, propelling the small business sector to greater heights.


The new demographic data collected under Dodd-Frank Section 1071 serves as a powerful tool for promoting fair and equitable lending practices in the small business sector. The synergy of fair lending analytics and advanced technologies like XAI provides the compass that guides FIs toward a brighter, more inclusive financial landscape.
This treasure, however, comes with great responsibility. Lenders must navigate the fair lending waters with vigilance, addressing challenges and ethical considerations along the way. By embracing transparency, accountability, and a genuine commitment to financial inclusion, FIs can make a lasting impact on borrowers’ lives and the communities they serve.

In conclusion, the journey toward inclusive small business lending requires financial institutions to navigate through a complex seascape of fair lending regulations. By implementing tangible measures to mitigate fair lending risks, enhancing existing compliance frameworks, and considering key factors, lenders can steer toward a future where equal opportunities shine upon every aspiring entrepreneur.

For a step-by-step guide to preparing for collection of small business lending data, please read my colleague Carl Pry’s recent article: “Maximize Efficiency & Minimize Risk.”


Daniel Johnson Sr.

Daniel Johnson is a Managing Director at Treliant. He is an experienced regulatory compliance and data science professional with comprehensive financial services experience in regulatory compliance, risk management, internal audit, fair lending, statistical analysis, operations management, enterprise program administration, and compliance training.