Professor Warren, friend, this may officially your last day at the agency you pioneered into existence; the Consumer Federal Protection Bureau, but it is not the last day for the change you have set in motion, here in America and by extension, around the world.
People can argue on whether you were too hard or too harsh, or too left, or too right, but no one can argue that you had good reason to be deeply concerned about the "real concerns" of the average American consumer, in the backdrop of this global economic crisis.
The average American didn't create this crisis, so every American, and American leaders in finance, have to now answer to it. Neither can they question your sense of authenticity. Many can argue about tactics of approach, but no one has even suggested to me or my team that you are anything less than authentic. In Washington, D.C., this may in fact be the highest compliment possible.
And of course my friends from the financial services community were going to fight you tooth and nail. That didn't surprise you, I am sure. It was game time, and everyone showed up suited to play (smile).
In some ways, this was either their real or perceived obligation (to their organization and shareholders), or simply what they personally believed was right, from their unique vantage point. You of course, were sitting from another unique vantage point, and this honest debate in America is what makes our nation truy great. Think about how many places where one side or the other would be jailed simply for raising a voice of opposition.
I have found that people find it hard to look at themselves with any sense of complete fair play for all, when they are the one being principally pointed at, and being held responsible. Not a complete analogy here, but I am reminded of something former President Bill Clinton once told me. He said, "it is hard to get people to agree with the truth, when the lie is funding their paycheck." Every good marriage is made of constructive friction.
And so, the CFPB is here, because you saw a need and you never gave up. People will debate its merits for some time, but I remind my friends that no regulatory agency was created in response to good times, but rather to bad (times, and actions). This is the story of the Federal Reserve, the FDIC, the SEC, the OCC and countless others. It is now the story of the CFPB. Rainbows, after storms. You cannot have a rainbow without a storm first.
And so, as one era ends and another begins, know this; you have already changed America my friend. And with that act of real leadership, you have done more than your part to change our world too — for generations to come. You are for the people, so the universe will be for you too.
Just remember, that rainbows only follow storms, that loss creates leaders, and that no good deed shall go unpunished. At times like this, I am reminded of how Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was dogged and bitterly criticized in his life, right before he made America better, for us all.
No good deed shall go unpunished. But real leaders, do good anyway. You are one of them.
P.S. Thank you for helping me and Operation HOPE to make financial literacy the new civil rights issue in and for America. Let's go....
Onward and with HOPE
John Hope Bryant is a thought leader, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation HOPE and Bryant Group Companies, Inc. Magazine/CEO READ bestselling business author of LOVE LEADERSHIP: The New Way to Lead in a Fear-Based World (Jossey-Bass), and Member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for President Barack Obama