WASHINGTON (4/16/08)—National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman JoAnn Johnson yesterday told Congress that her agency and credit unions have made great strides in promoting financial literacy. But Johnson said the consumer needs more than just education to get ahead in the marketplace. She said even great strides in financial awareness do not mitigate the need for solid consumer protection laws. “We do not have any illusions about financial literacy being a panacea,” she said in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. “While there are benefits to greater levels of financial awareness, NCUA does not view financial literacy as a substitute for strong and comprehensive consumer protection.” She praised President George W. Bush, Congress, and credit unions for their contributions and dedication to the education that the consumer needs to make intelligent financial decisions. “For credit unions,” she said, “equipping members with the knowledge and information to make sound decisions has always been a priority.” The NCUA chairman said credit unions have always viewed financial education “as a natural outgrowth of their service-oriented philosophy.” Additional data on credit union efforts in this field also was submitted to Congress by Chairman John Faries of the National Youth Involvement Board. He said the NYIB tracking system reveals that since July 1, 2000, 1,511 credit union professionals have made 47,729 financial education presentations, reaching a total of 1,437,510 young people. Faries forwarded the material to Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), a committee member. CUNA also submitted a statement on credit union financial education efforts (see April 15 News Now
), “CU fin lit efforts spotlighted in CUNA statement”) which was included in the hearing record. Joining Johnson on the first panel of witnesses were:
* Anna Escobedo Cabral, Treasurer of the United States; * Dean Martin, Treasurer, State of Arizona; * Sandra Braunstein, director of the division of consumer and community affairs, Federal Reserve Board; * Robert Mooney, deputy director for consumer protection and community affairs, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.; * Cassansra McConnell, director, consumer and community affairs, Office of Thrift Supervision; and * Barry Wides deputy comtroller for community affairs, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The committee also heard from representatives of community and consumer groups.