The CFPB’s new Office of Financial Empowerment is open for business, with a former credit union industry leader as its head.
Clifford Rosenthal resigned as CEO of the National Federal of Community Development Credit Unions to join the CFPB staff. Previously Rosenthal had announced that he would retire in 2010, but economic conditions postponed his departure, according to the Credit Union Times.
The Office of Financial Empowerment “is charged with developing and implementing policy and programs that empower low- and moderate-income and underserved consumers to make better informed financial decisions.”
Rosenthal joined the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions in 1980, serving as CEO since 1983. From 1989 through 1991, Rosenthal served on the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve System.
In 2009, he was appointed to the Consumer Affairs Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He has served on the boards and advisory bodies of SEEDCO Financial Services, Self-Help, J.P. Morgan Chase, the Fair Mortgage Collaborative, and the New York City Office of Financial Empowerment.
The office won’t have enforcement authority, and it exists separately from other CFPB offices that seek to educate other consumer groups (descriptions from Richard Cordray’s Feb. 15, 2012, testimony to Congress):
Office of Consumer Engagement
Creates an interactive, informative relationship between consumers and the Bureau to link consumers to information targeted to particular types of financial decisions and to use consumer input to help inform the Bureau’s policymaking.
Office of Financial Education
Educates and empowers consumers to make better-informed financial decisions through a variety of activities, including determining the most effective financial education practices, providing access to tools and information relevant to making particular financial choices, and enhancing access to services to improve financial literacy.
Office for Older Americans
Helps improve financial literacy among Americans 62 and over and protect them against illegal acts and practices through outreach, education and specific initiatives, such as monitoring certifications of financial advisors who advise seniors. The Office also monitors complaints submitted by older Americans to Consumer Response.
Office of Servicemember Affairs
Works to improve consumer financial protection measures for servicemembers and their families. This involves partnering with the Department of Defense to ensure that servicemembers and their families receive financial education that is relevant to their specific needs, monitoring complaints submitted by servicemembers and their families to Consumer Response and escalating certain complaints for expedited resolution.
Office of Students
Works to enhance the financial decision-making capability of students by increasing awareness about the financial impact of borrowing to finance higher education. That includes providing information and tools to help students understand the risk from student loans and other financial products, identifying policy and marketplace issues with special impact on students and providing escalation for expedited resolution of complaints submitted by private student loan borrowers to Consumer Response.