The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released their annual report on the work the agency is doing to "improve the financial literacy of consumers and initiatives to educate and empower consumers to make better informed financial decisions." As recently-confirmed CFPB director Richard Cordray explains in his introduction to the report, this is important work: "Empowering people to take more control over their economic lives is absolutely essential to [the CFPB's] mission. But consumers should not have to go it alone, without ready access to a trusted source of impartial and expert information about matters of consumer finance." The report goes on to detail the agency's financial education work, focusing on their efforts to support research on what strategies work well to promote the financial knowledge and skills of average Americans, as well as on their outreach efforts to particularly vulnerable groups.
Earlier this week, a group of asset-building practitioners and policymakers, consumer advocates, and long-time supporters of the CFPB gathered for a policy forum looking at the impact the agency has had thus far. Organized by CFED and Democracy Journal, the forum featured Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is widely acknowledged to have laid the visionairy groundwork for a federal agency capable of regulating the financial services marketplace. In her remarks (watch a recording here), Senator Warren noted how rising expenses and stagnant incomes have squeezed America's middle class - while the consumer credit market was able to thrive. The timing of the event - just one day after the U.S. Senate confirmed the CFPB's director - was perfect. Getting to this point has been, as Warren put it, "a tough fight." To audience chuckles, she undertoned, "Boy, that was the understatement of my life..."
Senator Warren and the panelists that followed her were able to point to some impressive accomplishments from the CFPB.