American consumers are not well equipped to fight through the complexity of the financial marketplace to make sound and sensible decisions, according to Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Cordray made the statement during his speech at the Clinton Global Initiative Conference on Friday.
“We now hear every day from people who lament the choices they made, often expressing anguished regret that they did not know more about the risks involved at the time they made key financial decisions,” Cordray said.
Cordray said the agency believes in leading by setting an example and announced a new CFPB program focused on providing its own employees with a solid foundation for financial decisions. The program provides individual financial planning services, life-event guides and in-office seminars on topics like retirement savings and financial wellness.
Cordray said participants at the conference should join the CFPB in its mission to improve the financial capability of American consumers and implement at least some of the practices initiated by the agency.
“Mark my words: the United States cannot continue to miss the point on the importance of financial education,” Cordray said. “Other developed countries around the world – including Australia and the United Kingdom, most recently – now require such instruction as part of children’s schooling. We have no excuse for falling behind, except that we have frankly failed to recognize the importance of these issues. And that is not an acceptable excuse for this great and powerful nation.”