The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) officially launched the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) on June 25th, 2012, by hosting a conference call with CFPB Director Richard Cordray and Associate Director of Consumer Education and Engagement Gail Hillebrand. The OFE, which is a part of the Division of Consumer Education and Engagement, is tasked with coordinating with agencies to focus on providing safe affordable access to financial products and services to low-income populations. The OFE will focus on the over 50 million low-income individuals and tens of millions of economically vulnerably individuals and families.
The OFE will be led by Assistant Director Clifford Rosenthal who served for the last 30 years as the President and CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, a nonprofit association for credit unions that serve low-income communities.
The OFE will focus on five main themes:
- Innovation: Looking into which technologies are promising, applicable, and affordable.
- Data: Researching which programs and products work and which do not.
- Collaboration: Working with government agencies, public and private sectors, and community partners to achieve goals.
- Access: Examining barriers preventing access to financial products and services, alternative pathways to products and services, and how to make them safe and efficient.
- Scale: Examining data and pilot programs to determine which programs can realistically be brought to a national scale.
The OFE hopes to bring transparency to aspects of the financial marketplace such as transactions, payments, credit, and savings. Savings will be a main focal point, because low-income people can and do save. The OFE will help provide a range of suitable financial choices, free of traps, to provide low-income individuals with the opportunity to achieve financial stability.
The CFPB requests input from advocates, services providers, and community partners on current projects and comments on future endeavors. If you have specific questions for the OFE you may email email@example.com; if you would like to share your story to better inform the CFPB’s policies please visit the CFPB website.