Jennifer Lawrence is pretty awesome, right?

For several years now she’s excelled at playing characters that excite the American imagination- they’re young, vibrant, and struggle against difficult odds or crafty opponents.  The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) is also young, rather vibrant, and also goes to battle with powerful forces but, despite all this, the CFPB doesn’t have anywhere near J-Law’s acclaim.

Let’s end all that today.

Ten Reasons Why The CFPB Is The Best Thing To Happen To Americans Since Jennifer Lawrence

  1. The CFPB was one of the few good things to come out of the crash. Remember, the crash was effectively the result of the financial slicing and dicing and then wheeling and dealing of a very popular consumer finance product, the mortgage.  The President, Congress, advocates, and virtually everyone that’s ever been scammed by a financial services company, all agreed there needed to be a single agency to hold the big banks in check.  As a result, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street & Consumer Protection Reform Act , which created the CFPB.
  2. The CFPB wins money for consumers.  And we’re talking big money, folks.  According to its annual report it must submit to Congress (PDF),since its inception in July 2011 it has returned over $750 million to consumers. Seven. Five. O. Enough said.
  3. The CFPB is the bane of Wall Street’s friends in Congress.  In Congress, the CFPB has many critics.  Two particularly vociferous ones are Rep Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the former Chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee.  For Hensarling, check this and this out and, for Shelby, take a gander at his op-ed for the Wall Street Journal written well before the agency’s creation.   What’s behind all this intensity? Follow the money here and here.
  4. The CFPB actually WANTS you to complain! I know, can you imagine? A government agency wants you to complain? So, is your student loan crushing your future or are you trying to refinance your house, but your bank won’t cooperate? Let them know so they can help you!
  5. The CFPB’s Director has a set term.  Yup, term limited, he is, young Skywalker. The current Director, former Attorney General of Ohio Richard Cordray, will serve a 5 year term (just like the Fed Chair, Ms Yellen) and that means he will serve through a change in Presidential leadership (again, just like the Fed Chair).  Why is that important? It means that the CFPB, like the Fed, is immune from the intensity of Washington politics which means it can do its job without too much political or industry influence.
  6. The CFPB’s budget isn’t determined by DC sausage making.  The CFPB derives its funding not from the politically charged budget process in Washington, but by Fed revenues, thus insuring it has an independent funding stream so the agency can concentrate on its most important job: protecting the consumer!
  7. The CFPB can make rules.   So, as any parent knows, sometimes you can lay down a law but, if its not clear who it affects and how it should be obeyed, won’t ever be enforced. You can’t just say “the kids are responsible for washing dishes in this household,” without specifying who, what and when. Laws passed by Congress need similar “detailing” and this is carried out by agencies (like the CFPB) when they make rules. The CFPB has been given the authority to make rules for supervising and policing the ENTIRE CONSUMER FINANCE INDUSTRY for the first time. EVER.
  8. The CFPB goes after alot of bad guys. You name the industry, the CFPB is taking them on. The list is endless, from student loan service providers, to debt collectors that prey on veterans, to credit report errors to auto lenders who discriminate by race….Isn’t it great consumers FINALLY have a brawler in our corner with some muscle?
  9.  The CFPB runs a cool website.  The site is a marvel of functionality, simplicity, and intuitiveness.  It even has a page where regular folks like us can weigh in as it crafts new rules to a really interesting (and informative) page where, in the case of credit card complaints, you can see a breakdown of all the complaints, the target company of the complaint, and if the complaint has been resolved.  See, and you thought the Feds sucked at creating websites?
  10.  Finally, the CFPB rocks it on social media.  Check out their very active Twitter feed, Facebook page, and its highly engaging Youtube Channel.   Seriously people, at some point soon we’ll be using Snapchat to send in consumer complaints.

There you have it, folks. Ten great reasons for one critical institution that is not only a guardian of our financial futures but a key defense against another financial crisis.  Now, if we can honor J-Law with an Oscar surely you can give the CFPB a shout-out in the comments?