We recently held our second event in the Women in Finance Leadership Series at the Treasury Department. The program featured Elizabeth Warren, Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Speaking to a crowd in Treasury’s Cash Room, Professor Warren discussed her efforts to stand up the CFPB as a data-driven agency that can make consumer financial products more transparent and help level the playing field for American families. By working to fix the broken consumer credit market, CFPB will address real problems faced by families across the country.
In her remarks, Professor Warren provided an overview of CFPB and what to expect in 2011 and beyond. In summary, CFPB is focusing on three initiatives for its near-term substantive agenda:
1. Shopping for a Mortgage: The typical mortgage application and closing process requires buyers to sign stacks of documents, most of which they will never read. The new Bureau has initiated an effort to re-think and streamline the federal consumer disclosures, both to find better ways to deliver critical information when it is most useful to consumers and to reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens on industry.
2. Picking a Credit Card: Last year’s CARD Act outlawed many of the credit card industry’s more objectionable practices. The CARD Act also improved consumer disclosures, particularly on the monthly statement. Nonetheless, during the transition to the new rule, some issuers developed new techniques for continuing similar exploitive practices. Cardholder agreements remain long and complex. The new consumer agency will focus on reducing long, complicated, fine-print-laden credit card agreements and making the pricing more transparent. The agency’s goal will be to make the costs clear and enable consumers to comparison shop among cards.
3. Engaging Families: The agency is designed to be a voice for consumers in Washington. It must be built with the active engagement of American people, locking in the culture that the agency belongs to them and that it serves their needs. Outreach is a large part of the mission, and efforts will include continuing to communicate the agency’s mission and progress and to interact directly with the American people.
The Women in Finance Series is a follow-up to the Women in Finance Symposium that Treasury hosted last spring, which brought together senior officials from across the government's economic agencies, private sector leaders, and women entering the field for a series of panel discussions to recognize the contributions of women and to discuss the best means to foster success among future generations of women in the finance sector.
The inaugural Women in Finance Leadership Series event was held on October 19, 2010, when we highlight a variety of roles and responsibilities of the senior women in Treasury. Lael Brainard (Undersecretary for International Affairs), Marisa Lago (Assistant Secretary for International Markets and Development), Mary Miller (Assistant Secretary for Financial Markets), and Leslie Ireland (Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Analysis) joined me for that event. We at Treasury look forward to continuing our Women in Finance Leadership Series in 2011.
Rosie Rios serves as Treasurer of the United States.