Transparency is ultimately a useful tool and a move in the right direction: the more we know, the better. Of course, if you've hired a portfolio manager who charges a monthly or quarterly inclusive fee, you have already been enjoying full transparency, long before these regulations came into affect.
If you want a thing done well, do it yourself. With self-directed investment accounts, discount brokers, free online financial tools and an overabundance of online personal financial advice, it may seem like consumers today are well positioned to manage their own financial path. But access to tools doesn't necessarily mean one has the skills to use them properly.
I don't believe the average person has any idea of what an imbedded commission is or how it affects them. As a matter of fact, I wouldn't be surprised if most investors of mutual funds had a better understanding of how a black hole works. The root of this conundrum is that advisors who sell mutual funds usually get paid from the fund companies.
There are a lot of people who make over $200,000 per year, have over $1,000,000 of investable assets and are often encouraged to invest more than $150,000, without knowing very much about investing. Just because you make a lot of money, or have a lot of money, doesn't mean it should be acceptable to have someone take it from you.
Pierre Lassonde, one of the world's foremost experts on gold, says the only way's up for the shiny stuff. He should know and has made his fortune in the gold game. This week, he spoke at a mining seminar in Toronto organized by mining consultant Terry Ortsland, Chair of the Mineral Resource Analyst Group.
It has all come to where we are today: Loss of confidence, loss of trust, and staggering market losses. This is the time for transparency, authentic conversation, honesty and humility. Those who display this behaviour have a chance to slowly regain the shattered trust of their customers. Straight talk. Honest talk. Committed talk. No spin. No rationalization. The industry messed up, and the public wants to hear the truth.
Recently, there have been some examples of shareholder activism, at Yahoo, Research in Motion and CP Rail. What does not seem to dawn on people (at least not completely) is that if public company boards really understood and did their jobs, there would be no need for "shareholder empowerment." The only question in responding to a "concerned" or activist shareholder is: what is in the best interests of the company and its shareholders?