Warren off and running as Obama adviser

Elizabeth Warren has spent her first days as President Obama’s consumer financial adviser asking industry and other groups to partner with her on new regulations.

Warren, the Harvard law professor and outspoken champion of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), has met with or reached out to dozens of lobbying groups, consumer advocates and others since she was named to her position on Friday.

ADVERTISEMENT
On Wednesday, she stopped by a conference of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), where she introduced herself and mentioned that she is a longtime member of a credit union.

“I know this is a time of great anxiety for everybody in financial services — we’re about to see a lot of changes,” Warren said in brief remarks. “I believe that if we work together we can make this a new day that works for families and works for credit providers ... I’m here, I hope, so that we can work in partnership.”

Warren is an assistant to Obama and special adviser to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Obama avoided a difficult confirmation battle by naming Warren to the two advisory positions instead of nominating her as a full-time head of the agency, which would have required Senate confirmation.

Since Friday, Warren has also talked with Ed Yingling, president of the American Bankers Association, held a private meeting with Bill Cheney, head of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and met with nearly 30 lobbyists and industry representatives at a forum.

She is scheduled to be the dinner speaker next Wednesday at the Financial Services Roundtable and has reached out to the Financial Services Forum, a group of 19 CEOs of large financial firms.

Warren also met with the ABA and representatives from the credit card industry as part of a meeting planned earlier between the association and the Treasury Department.

Many financial lobbying groups, particularly those of large banks, loudly opposed the consumer agency during more than a year of congressional debate. The groups argued the new office would overreach in its regulation of financial products and increase costs on the financial industry.

Warren was a constant presence during the congressional debate, arguing that the agency was needed to improve regulation of home loans, credit cards and other products.

Warren said Wednesday the agency would help “level the playing field” not only between consumers and lenders but also between different types of lenders.

She said the financial system has become “badly out of whack” in recent decades. The agency is expected to be set up by mid-2011 and will have an annual budget in excess of $400 million.