March 17, 2004
Investors need to have a straight forward, direct description of what the costs are for various investment vehicles. From the perspective of an individual investor, this information appears to be purposely obfuscated by most brokers, mutual funds and other marketers of investment vehicles.
I realize there are different points of view on what information needed for investors to understand what they are obligating themselves to pay. Over the last several decades as more and more individuals have become investors and have become responsible for their own retirement accounts, the amount and format of information provided has not kept up with the consumer product/service nature of the industry. As many other industries have learned with disasterous implications, mistreating the American consumer is not smart.
The SEC needs to represent the public/indivdual investor the way the FCC or FDA protects the American public in their areas of responsibility. If the SEC doesnt step up to the challenge, the states will and we will have 50+ different sets of rules. The American markets will be less efficient, less predictable and less fair.
The public is angry at the investment industry after the excesses of the 1990s. From Enron to Tyco to WorldCom to Martha Stewart, the public wants an SEC that will keep the playing field level for individual investors. Without a demonstration of good faith to provide the individual investor with full and accurate disclosure of all costs and interlocking agreements, the SEC will not be doing its job to protect the American public from an investment industry that has all too regularly shown little respect for the source of much of its own prosperity.
The public is watching to see if the SEC is serious about protecting the public and restoring trust in the American investor. If the SEC fails to meet this challenge, at lot more than a few expense dollars will be lost. The 1990s are over. Restore public faith in the SEC or face an ugly investor public and perhaps an ugly future for us all.