So far, we know of no evidence that the broker was at all dishonest, thieving, underhanded, or anything else along those lines. Information to that effect may come out at some point, but it’s interesting to note that we’ve not seen any as yet. What we do know him to be is a guy who sells investments…perfectly legal investments, for a very mainstream financial institution. Could it be that doing such a benign sort of thing has the potential to become tantamount to murder in the nanny-state America of 2011?
Perhaps this warning will be dispensed to newly-licensed investment professionals: “Be careful whom you retain as a client; if you sell someone a mutual fund and it goes down in value, and he goes off the deep end, kills himself, massacres a family of six, or does something else similarly horrible, it will be your responsibility, Mr. Broker, and we will get you.”
While no reasonable person should be anything less than mortally offended at fraud-minded investment professionals, mortgage companies that falsify documents to the pronounced detriment of loan customers, and other like misdeeds in the financial services industries, there is no evidence that any sort of behavior even approaching the aforementioned was engaged in by the broker or Bank of America. Throwing out bathwater is what we should be doing…but I think we’re still supposed to hold on to the babies.
At the root of this remains the notion of the implied guarantee; that everything, all of the time, should be guaranteed by someone or something, and if that guarantee fails an inch, then the someone or something guarantor should be fined, prosecuted, thrown in jail, etc. The customer’s suicide is a tragedy, to be sure, but as long as there was full disclosure to the customers as to the nature of what they were buying when they made their investments, there is no fault to be borne by the broker or his employer for the subsequent performance of those securities. People who choose to live in America are those who choose to live in a society that is predicated on personal freedom, with all of the rewards…and risks…that are natural components of that freedom – that is how it has always been, and that is how it should remain.
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Bob Yetman, Editor-at-Large at Christian Money.com (www.christianmoney.com), is an author of a variety of materials on personal finance and investing, as well as on topics of fitness and self defense, to include the book Investor's Passport to Hedge Fund Profits (John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) and the unarmed combat training DVD Thunderstrikes - How to Develop One Shot, One Kill Striking Power (Paladin Press).