Dr. Mary Ann Campbell, CFP® = "Dr. MAC"

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Elizabeth Warren: Good bye with Gratitude

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

John Wayne’s dead and one of our top Sheriffs of Wall Street, Elizabeth Warren, is leaving Washington, D.C.  We are losing our legendary role models.  We have too few heroes and too much hubris in our American society in general and politics in particular.   Elizabeth Warren, architect of the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), is my absolute hero.   She saw terrible injustices to ordinary consumers in the lending arena, and did something about it.  Bankers, mortgage companies, car loan providers, credit card companies, payday lenders, credit bureaus, debt collectors, and check-cashing shops had all better become more transparent and fair.  I am grateful to see the CFPB shaping up to be an advocate for simplifying lending and making fairness a standard. 

I was saddened, for consumers, to learn this week that Elizabeth Warren is returning to her esteemed law professor position at Harvard.  Professor Warren certainly deserves more time with her family and a normal life.  I doubt anyone as articulate, assertive, and smart will emerge any time soon in her place.  We are losing a really good one!

It was indeed a thrill and a treat for me to actually meet and visit with Dr. Warren in May when she traveled to my home town and held a small listening session at the offices of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP.)  Amber Stubbs of CardRatings.com and I attended together on behalf of QuinStreet vertical publishers.  One never knows how a person will be who has had so much publicity and notoriety.  Elizabeth Warren came off warm and compassionate.  She’s a consumer advocate to the core and dedicated to easy access and ethics.  In full disclosure, I consider myself a consumer advocate, know some about what it takes, and respect her commitment. 

Dr. Warren has set up the CFPB as a research based bureau.   Bank examiners are being trained and a database of financial information is being built of lending markets.  Making financial information more easily digestible is a top mandate. 

The CFPB will have teeth.  Not only will it be able to issue guidance papers on problematic financial products, it will be able to send cease-and-desist orders.  If other measures fail, the bureau will be able to take offenders to court.  Sheriff Warren’s time has been well spent constructing an agency that can affect positive change.

Beverly Harzog of Credit.com wrote an excellent letter to the CFPB that outlines suggestions that would improve and simplify applications for credit cards.  These include:

  1. Standardize the name and location for the APRs and fees.
  2. Group similar items together.
  3. Make it easy to understand rewards program details.
  4. Some clarity with prepaid cards would be nice.

As a P.S., Harzog asks that the CFPB look into business credit cards, because they aren’t covered by the Credit CARD Act of 2009. 

One of the first initiatives to be produced by the CFPB is a clear, simple, two-page mortgage form.  Be on the lookout for this and other helpful tools to simplify and improve understanding of lending practices.  Sheriff Warren has left the building.  Fortunately, she left it in good hands and set up to succeed.

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