Today, I was appointed by President Obama to serve as the first Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I am honored by this opportunity to continue my work on behalf of consumers. And I am energized by the responsibilities and challenges facing the Bureau.
The importance of this day has less to do with me personally and much more to do with you -- and the millions of individuals and families across the country who access consumer financial markets every day to participate in our economy and to pursue their dreams and aspirations. That's because now, with a Director, the CFPB can exercise its full authorities -- with respect to both banks and nonbanks -- to help those markets operate fairly, transparently, and competitively.
Consumer finance is a big part of our economy -- and it plays a large role in the daily life of almost every American. Few people spend their entire lives with so much wealth available to them that they never need to borrow money. Whether it is to pay the bills and meet their everyday needs, or to finance larger investments in their futures like an education or a home, most people find it necessary to use financial products to access credit.
Financial products can help make life better, but they can also make life harder. Most of us know at least someone -- a parent or sibling or friend -- who has money troubles. Sometimes, those troubles are caused by a tough break or just not having enough money to go around; other times, by a poor decision. But sometimes, those consumer money troubles arise out of problems in the consumer financial markets. I have seen senior citizens lose their life savings to scams and fraud. I have seen young adults start their lives with crushing student loan debt burdens that they cannot afford. I have seen families bankrupted, and thrown out of their homes, by complex mortgages with spiraling interest costs and monthly payments that were never clearly explained.