WASHINGTON — The woman setting up the new Bureau of ConsumerFinancial Protection said the bureau will be a strong ally ofcredit unions that “want to work on behalf of their members.”

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Elizabeth Warren told CUNA's Governmental Affairs Conferencethat the bureau will have an ongoing dialogue with credit unions toensure that credit unions can serve their members and not face moreregulations. She said her bureau will combine TILA and RESPA rules,and this should simplify things for small lenders. Warren alsopromised that the bureau would seek to ensure that there areconsistent rules and enforcement for nonbank lenders so that thefinancial service market can be a more level playing field.

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Warren noted that if the rules require financial serviceproviders to disclose all costs of their products up front, smallerinstitutions will benefit as will consumers. The bureau will issueregulations that will benefit middle-class families, many of whichwere hurt by the recession.

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“These families played by the rules but were squeezed by aneconomic system tilted against them,” she said.

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Warren, who holds an endowed professorship at Harvard LawSchool, came up with the idea for the consumer agency. She haswritten extensively about bankruptcy issues and has been a frequentcritic of what she sees as misleading practices by some largefinancial institutions and credit card issuers.

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During her speech, she praised credit unions for championing theinterests of consumers and said she wants to ensure credit unionscan continue to do that for many years.

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“Credit unions are an example of an institution that gives realvalue to consumers,” she said. “Families won't benefit if a fewtrillion-dollar financial institutions are the only ones thatsurvive.”

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She noted that a credit union provided valuable counseling whenher niece got into financial trouble.

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And she thanked Harvard University Employees Credit UnionPresident/CEO Gene Foley for teaching her about some of theproducts that credit unions offer their members and for educatingher about credit unions and the credit union philosophy.

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Warren also praised credit union pioneer Edward Filene for hisefforts to advance the cause of credit unions and for advocatinggreater access to financial services for persons of modestmeans.

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The new bureau, which was created by the financial overhaul billpassed last year, will be an independent agency housed in theFederal Reserve. It is scheduled to begin operating thissummer.

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President Obama hasn't named a director of the bureau yet.Warren has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but it's notclear if she could be confirmed.

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