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Interview With the Regulator

After stumbling out of the gate in his long-awaited interview with a former CFPB official, the editor discovers the regulator was more than willing to talk.

April 30, 2014

I almost blew it. I waited a year to get my interview and, well, I choked. Lucky for me, the subject of this month’s cover story was forgiving — although he did put a nice scare in me when he dropped off our call after the first two minutes.

Rick Hackett is our lead story this month. The former assistant director with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) had agreed to the interview about a month after joining Hudson Cook LLP. My connection was Michael Benoit, Hackett’s colleague at the firm and the magazine’s Legal columnist. After exchanging a few emails, Hackett said he could talk while driving to visit a client.

I was prepared to start with a few softball questions. No, I wasn’t trying to get Hackett to lower his defenses before I hit him with the “gotcha” questions. It’s just standard practice. However, knowing there was a chance we could be disconnected, I changed up my sequence of questions to make sure I got what I needed.

With that said, I’m not sure why I opened the interview by asking why his former employer wasn’t speaking to the media. Hackett immediately asked me to clarify my question, which caused me to ramble on for a minute or so to try to explain myself. He paused for a few seconds before responding. He went on for less than a minute before asking if he could call me back after eating lunch. Such requests, at least in my experience, usually mean the interviewee doesn’t like my line of questioning, and I can accept that. It just never happened after the first question.

Hackett called back 20 minutes later, as promised. He asked if it was my conference he was speaking at in September. I was embarrassed. Not only had I failed to thank him for agreeing to deliver a keynote address at this year’s Industry Summit, I didn’t even introduce myself. Talk about a rookie mistake.

I read a few blogs last year that suggested that Hackett’s time in Washington had worn him down. Then there were those critical reports about the bureau’s management practices. I guess I thought his departure from the bureau was somehow linked to those reports. I was wrong.

I sensed Hackett was fearful that his responses to my questions could become fodder for groups who detest the bureau’s very existence, so I took the extra step of offering to let him review the article and even clarify any statements he made before it was published. But aside from a few minor changes, he left the article pretty much untouched.

Hackett stayed on the line with me for more than an hour and responded to just about every question I asked. I’m sure you’ll come up with a few of your own, but you’ll have to wait until Industry Summit, which is scheduled for Sept. 8–10. Hackett will open the first full day of the conference on Tuesday, Sept. 9, at 9 a.m.

Folks, I’m really excited about how this year’s conference is shaping up. Aside from Hackett, we announced last month that Capital One Auto Finance’s Steve Braskamp will deliver the conference’s opening address. Given his title of director of national sales and originations, I’m excited to hear what he has to say, especially following the NADA Used Car Guide’s recent announcement that it expects credit conditions to become less favorable later this year.

And, like we always do, we’re also bringing out the best F&I trainers in the business to lead this year’s F&I program. The conference will also host Greg Goebel’s Special Finance and Used Vehicle Retailing tracks, as well as a new addition, the Dealership Sales & Technology track.

See, a couple of years ago we began referring to our annual dealer event as Industry Summit. At that time, we envisioned a show that would address everything from marketing and sales to F&I. And this year, we’re taking that next step.

We hope the new addition will give your management team a solid reason to send you and other front-end staffers this year. Yes, we’ll be in Las Vegas — Paris Las Vegas, to be exact — but it’s all business at Industry Summit. But I will say some of the best tips and insights are shared over a fine Scotch and cigar. Yes, we even talk shop after show hours.

So start talking to your management team about sending you to Industry Summit 2014, and be sure to monitor www.industrysummit.com
for updates on this year’s event. Oh, and don’t forget to prepare your questions for Rick Hackett. You may find him more accommodating than you expected.

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