Express Advantage’s Dave Sieminski to Join CFPB’s Office of Financial Empowerment

Dave Sieminski has been working to support Washington’s most vulnerable consumers for years. After nearly a decade focusing on family economics and asset-building initiatives with United Way of King County, he has spent the last five years finding new ways to support low-income families and help them break the cycle of poverty as the managing director of Express Advantage Credit Union.

“That is my primary focus,” Sieminski said. “How do we improve the economics of the family and strengthen the family by helping them be more financially stable and secure?”

Soon, through his recently accepted position in CFPB’s Office of Financial Empowerment, a division whose work focuses specifically on empowering low-and moderate-income consumers, Sieminski will have a chance to pose that question to a much larger audience.

“A lot of the work seems very similar to what I’m doing and have been for a number of years, but it’s on an entirely different scale and from a different perspective, to really be thinking about it at a national level and having the opportunity to work with a lot of incredible people who are of the same mind and focusing on the same work,” he said. “That’s what I’m most excited about, just being able to continue my work in a different way.”

With the CFPB, Sieminski will work on federal and state policy associated with financial services and consumer protections, specifically looking at “how we can work through the federal government to improve that situation and how we can get better information to consumers.”

“One of the small pieces of that puzzle is helping people get access to the mainstream financial system. It reduces the high cost of being poor, that high cost that people experience because they have to use alternative service providers and things like that,” Sieminski said. “And it helps people get access to things like credit, it incentivizes savings, and it does a number of things that help the family’s economic picture become viable and sustainable.”

Sieminski explained that part of what makes this work arguably more pressing than ever is the growing importance of having access to sophisticated financial services.

“I think it’s a fundamental social injustice that we have such a gap in the market in access to financial services that you can literally measure the haves and have-nots in part by whether they’re engaged in the mainstream financial system or if they’re really in the secondary market, which tends to be more predatory and exploitative,” Sieminski said.

According to Sharon Hall, CEO of Express Credit Union and Express Advantage, credit unions will benefit from Sieminksi’s presence at the CFPB in addition to the consumers the bureau was created to safeguard.

“He understands credit unions more than any non-profit person I know,” Hall said. “He really is a credit union advocate as well as a consumer advocate, so many times he’ll go down to Olympia, and our intent is to be an advocate for consumers, and we end up shouting from the rooftops about the credit union industry.”

And while Sieminski will, in a sense, be stepping outside the credit union movement, he still sees credit unions as a key player in reaching the unbanked.

“I think there’s a huge opportunity for credit unions, and I understand that they serve entire communities, and certainly they have a whole variety of membership,” Sieminski said. “But really, credit unions are, to me, the ideal entry point for a lot of folks who have limited resources but really are anxious to form a relationship with a financial institution for a whole variety of reasons—everything from sheer convenience to also just having that be an anchor for them as they move up that ladder from financial instability to financial stability. We have a huge opportunity to cater to that population who can end up being good customers and members.”

Sieminski is excited for the next step, but he acknowledged that there may be an adjustment period.

“It’s going to be a big transition, not only geographically but culturally, when you think about moving from a very small organization to working for the federal government,” Sieminski said. “It will be an interesting experience.”

“I told them I’m mad at them for taking him from me,” Hall said with a laugh, “but you can’t hold people back from doing great things.”

 

Questions or comments? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

 

 

Questions or comments? Contact Matt Halvorson, Anthem Editor: mhalvorson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Advocacy News, Community Impact, Federal, Marketing & Communications, NWCUA.