Let me start by saying that you can’t impose morality and ethical behavior through legislation. Those that wish to take advantage of others for personal gain by nature do not follow the rules. Therefore, any legislation or rules attempting to enforce moral character, in my opinion, will not work. Don’t get me wrong, I think that change is necessary in the financial services industry, but there must be a better way.
I believe it is every financial advisor’s moral responsibility to put the clients’ interests ahead of their own with no exceptions.
How do we protect ourselves and minimize the risk of being the victim of fraudulent activity? Become more aware! In most cases when we think of crime, we protect ourselves with things like neighborhood watches and self-defense classes. We watch shows and read articles on crime prevention. Why? We are afraid of physical harm. However, when it comes to our money, Americans find themselves less than prepared to protect themselves. With skyrocketing debt-per-household numbers and bankruptcy filings in American, it is clear that we are not holding ourselves accountable. According to a financial literacy study titled “Study Regarding Financial Literacy Among Investors” conducted by the SEC in August 2012, they discussed the existing level of financial literacy in the U.S.
As stated in the findings: “Studies reviewed by the Library of Congress indicated that U.S. retail investors lack basic financial literacy. The studies demonstrate that investors have a weak grasp of elementary financial concepts and lack critical knowledge of ways to avoid investment fraud.”