January 16, 2005
A customer walks into a bank with money to invest. The finely-clad broker puts him into B shares because there is no sales charge but does not disclose that they pay less that A shares. He has no obligation to disclose that he is paid more on B shares. He has no obligation to disclose that, for the month, his bank has a promotion on that fund family that pays him an extra 1. He has no obligation to disclose that the funds are proprietary and therefore sticky. In other words, the customer cannot take his money out of the bank without liquidating them and paying a CDSC charge. He does not know that, of every unsuitable, inappropriate, misbegotten or dishonest dollar that that broker brings in, the institution will get 65 cents.
Financial institutions routinely make 6-10 on the investors money before taxes. Over the past 20 years, investors have made an average of about 2.5. They dont even beat inflation. This is, quite simply, because the interests of the client are irrelevant. The sole focus of a financial institution is production without getting into trouble. This is why these scandals erupt weekly and will continue until the industry is held to some customer-oriented standard.