Better Markets is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month. To mark the event, Better Markets will publish a series of blog posts profiling members of its staff and highlighting the work they do as lawyers, regulatory and legislative specialists, researchers, administrators, and fundraisers as they fight for the economic security, opportunity and prosperity of all Americans, particularly those who are disenfranchised.
Spotlight: Michael Hughes, Research and Program Assistant
Background: As the Research and Program Assistant, Michael facilitates research projects, coordinates with the programming and communications teams on organizing and compiling data for publications and contributes to Better Markets reports. Michael joined Better Markets more than a year ago following his graduation from the University of Edinburgh where he majored in economics. At the university, Michael studied econometric analysis of topics ranging from financial returns of education to the effects of immigration on perceptions of foreign nationals.
What is a typical day for you at Better Markets?
One of the best parts about working at Better Markets is that the days are rarely typical! Our advocacy efforts are always evolving and adapting as events in Washington, D.C., change the regulatory landscape.
We react quickly to new opportunities to advance our policy priorities. Whether that means issuing a new comment letter or rapidly deploying a press release to counterbalance the industry-driven narrative, we are always looking for ways to exert influence in the rulemaking process.
As the research and program assistant at Better Markets, I have a part to play no matter how we are applying our resources. I work to supplement the skills of our senior staff and subject matter experts; providing research and administrative assistance to ensure that they can always work to the best of their abilities.
I’ve also become adept at quickly drafting summaries of Better Markets’ various reports, white papers, among other public documents, and posting them to our website so we get our analysis and opinions out in front of those who want this information. I’ve also been able to use my social media skills to advantage at Better Markets as we are very active on Twitter and Facebook.
What are you most proud of regarding your work at Better Markets?
Predatory financial institutions are too often allowed to exploit the most vulnerable Americans. Retirees, veterans and countless others are ruthlessly targeted by con artists and loan sharks every day.
Better Markets’ consumer protection efforts work to create robust rules and ensure that regulators and prosecutors have the tools they need to stop financial criminals in their tracks.
One of our top priorities has been to rearm the CFPB, a critical consumer protection agency whose efficacy has been continuously undermined by the Trump administration. This means not just working to replace zealously deregulatory political appointees at the agency with competent professionals, but also keeping a keen eye on CFPB rulemakings and resisting any attempts to weaken consumer protections.
Beyond our efforts at the CFPB, we also advocate for consumer rights in the courts and at the other agencies. These efforts include protecting rules that stop charlatans from foisting high-risk investment products onto retail investors and guaranteeing that every American gets his or her day in court by resisting mandatory arbitration agreements.
As a fairly recent graduate, you are the youngest member of the Better Markets team. What has that experience been like so far?
It has been an incredible privilege to work with the other members of the Better Markets team. Our senior staff and subject matter experts are professionals at the top of their fields with decades of experience behind them. Working under them has been a masterclass in advocacy and efficient non-profit operations.
I am glad to be part of such a team and to be associated with an organization that has made, and continues to make, such a difference in the financial lives of all Americans.