August 29, 2010
I am a US citizen currently living in the Netherlands and planning to return to the US.
This is not a complicated issue. In order to protect American investors, most of whom are far less financially savvy then brokers and dealers, brokers and dealers should have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of their customers. Period. This should take effect within a reasonable period of time, for instance, one year.
If, for whatever reason, the SEC decides NOT to hold brokers and dealers to this fiduciary standard, then there should be a standardized disclosure statement, no longer than one page, expressly explaining that brokers do NOT have a fiduciary duty. An investor opening a new brokerage account should be required to sign a statement confirming that (s)he has read and understood this disclosure statement. The disclosure statement should also be sent annually to all brokerage customers. There should be strict penalties for brokers who fail to comply with these requirements.
Joel Ethan Fried