The nation's top consumer financial watchdog will step down this month, sparking concern from advocacy groups — and relief from financial firms — that the federal agency he has led since 2012 will soon be much friendlier to the industry it polices.

Richard Cordray announced his impending resignation Wednesday to the staff of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform act after the financial crisis.

He was appointed by President Obama as the first director of the bureau and his term was not set to expire until July. Now, President Trump will get to nominate a replacement to head the bureau, fiercely criticized by many Republicans and trade groups as overzealous and unaccountable under Cordray's leadership.

"I would anticipate the new director nominee will be someone who is pro-industry and in favor of deregulation," said Scott Pearson, a partner at law firm Ballard Spahr who has represented companies facing bureau regulatory actions. "Under a new director, I think it's fair to assume you will no longer see the CFPB pushing the envelope."

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