We're protected against corporate misconduct by the combination of
RegulationThe regulators focus on keeping financial institutions solvent. They set rules and specify minimum capital requirements. When capital gets set aside, it's typically invested in conservative investments for security. There are likely restrictions on the types of investments permitted, which means lower (but safer) returns. Tying up capital is not attractive for investors but protects buyers.
Canada escaped the financial meltdown and the regulations were certainly a reason.
CompetitionIn the world of gadgets, market share is an important consideration. When there’s a clear market leader like the iPad, it’s tough for competitors to charge more (or even the same price). Lowering prices also increases the size of the market.
In financial services, profits seem more important. When I was designing insurance products, there was always pressure to boost profits but without losing market share. That’s virtually impossible. At any given time, some competitors will be more interested in market share.
Overall, competition is your friend and augments regulation.
PublicationRegulations may be followed and competition may be effective. There can still be problems. For instance
- mortgage life insurance from lenders is a bad deal
- multilevel marketing has risks
- mutual funds have high investment expenses
Awareness helps everyone who pays attention make better decisions. You’re still free to make mistakes you later regret but you can avoid them too.
What’s stopping you from buying from a good company? When you do, you punish a bad one at the same time. That’s an ideal win/lose.
- Reasons to be cynical and how to fight cynicism
- What are you doing about your high investment expenses?
- Three reasons life insurance prices are shooting up
- Rate hikes: Is your advisor sleeping on the job?
- image courtesy of KaYann
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PS What do you do if you see misconduct?