June 9, 2009
Millions of US investors rely on retirement savings via 401k programs managed by multiple brokerage firms. Depending on the 401k plan being used, investors have the option to select direct stock purchases, mutual funds, or other market-based products, with the goal of earning long term gains. Unfortunately, most investors have also been unknowing (and unwilling) participants of the industry-wide practice of share lending to sell-short traders by the brokerage firms holding these 401k accounts.
While most 401k plans do not allow shorting of stocks by participants of these plans, the brokerage firms managing these same 401k plans will proactively loan shares out from the individual accounts to short traders. Additionally, most brokerage firms keep 100% of the profits from the share lending practice while 401k stakeholders are forced to accept 100% of the risk that short-selling has placed on the investments within their account. Adding insult to injury, most 401k plans do not allow the individual 401k investor to opt out of allowing their holdings to be "loaned" to sell-short traders
The practices and restrictions above are abusive to consumers, and counter-productive to the original goals of all long term investors. I beg that these practices also be considered for review.