Two years ago, I saw a list of opinions regarding his/her/their "own grandiose challenge to the industry." In my opinion, it was more like an in-your-dreams list, so I saved it to see if a couple of years would produce any kind of change close to the dream. The short answer is, it would take decades or fuggetaboutit. Here's the score card:• Consolidation of U.S. bank and financial services regulatory agencies.
I believe there will be more specialist regulatory agencies thanks to SocGen and subprime, so give up any idea of fewer than the eight bank/federal agencies we now have.
• Creation of an independent financial-services consumer advocate.
Is Ralph Nader doing anything these days?
• Centralized U.S. government financial crime statistics, including those for identity theft.
A good goal, but only after the War in Iraq ends, we get universal health coverage, we solve the immigration problem, we educate every child to the level of excellence, we regain the respect we had back in 1777, and our economy competes on the basis of quality and performance rather than lowest price.
• Public online disclosure of both financial crimes and consumer complaints.
This isn't even a dream. It's a nightmare. In a world where any screwball can gain worldwide exposure, who is going to screen the legitimate complaints from the weirdo complaints?
• Consolidation of consumer protection laws.
So that it would take 18 lawyers to figure out which type of account is involved? I'd rather see an effort to dumb it down - the consumer protection laws, that is.
• Greater consumer protections on deposit accounts and credit cards for businesses, which lack nearly all protections available to consumers.
That'll have to wait until 2009 when the new lobbying firm of Cheney & Bush is established. You noticed Cheney got first billing just to preserve what's been going on for eight years.
• An industry move away from risk-based pricing on loans and the rewarding of high-balance customers on deposits.
Only after the Democrats win. If this has anything to do with equality like the one in our Constitution, then I'd expect Ross Perot and Jose Himenez would get the exact same terms and treatment in their application for a home equity loan. How real is that?
• Regulation for all. All financial institutions -- including finance companies, mortgage companies and industrial loan companies -- should be accountable to the same strong federal consumer protection and disclosure rules.
How does this reconcile with #1 - Consolidate regulatory agencies? It sounds like more government, more overlap and more confusion.
• Financial institutions should strive to offer special, fairly-priced accounts for those who never have had a checking account or credit card.
After the immigration problem is solved.
• Speed. Faster crediting of interest on deposits, which is only fair now that banks are debiting checking accounts faster.
Good idea, and after that, would you like to come to my house and see my baseball card collection?
• Choice of venue for complaints. Consumers opening bank accounts should not be required to submit to arbitration if they have a dispute with their bank.
Is there even one consumer in the U.S. who would do that now? This sounds like a change looking for a problem.
• More uniform disclosure of credit-card fees, interest rates and other pricing nuances. If a solicitation or ad offers an attractive rate, the institution should be required to display any catch to it in equal-size type.
I have a better idea. Caveat emptor, or read the fine print. Saying it differently, I have never been screwed by a bank since I opened my first bank account in 1945.
• Give notice. If terms of a bank account or credit card have changed, institutions should be required to provide in notices both what they are, and what they will be. Easy-to-read disclosure of specific account terms should be required with account approval notices.
I get those now and throw them away because I can't afford to take off time from life to read everything that comes in the mail. Is this another attempt to ask government to govern our lives?
• Universal default clauses should be prohibited on credit cards and loans. Rates and fees on a bank loans should not increase based upon a misstep with another unrelated customer account.
Another regulatory nightmare.
• More speed. Improved bank customer service response times.
I have a better idea. Bring the call centers back to Iowa, Montana, the Dakotas, etc. where speed will be improved by simply speaking English without the accent.
• Soldier solidarity. More financial education and assistance to our military, whose families are getting particularly clobbered by steep bank fees and unfair practices.
Haven't you heard? Hillary's going to end it on January 21, 2009 (day one). Besides, banking is not the main issue for our warriors. Start with rewards, bonuses, benefits and care. That's what they want, not seminars.
• More attention to bank online security. And along with that stronger guarantees of reimbursement to consumers who bank online. Elimination of phishing, viruses and hacking incidents that lead to both consumer and bank losses.
Now I'm not sure I did the right thing to save this list. I coulda gone to Disney World if I wanted to experience a series of fairy tales.