Wall Street Gauges Public’s Trust

There’s too much greed, too much self-interest and too little punishment of wrongdoers.

No, that’s not the Washington political process we’re talking about--those are investors’ top gripes about the brokerage industry.

The Securities Industry Assn. last week released results of a consumer satisfaction survey it commissioned, and the data gave SIA something to crow about, and some crow to eat.

The good news: The telephone survey of 1,505 investors in August and September showed that 71% of investors with a full-service broker were “very satisfied” with the service they get. In addition, 55% of the survey respondents had either a “somewhat favorable” or “very favorable” opinion of the securities industry as a whole.


But the SIA conceded that a “significant minority” of investors--24%--expressed either a “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” opinion of the industry. Another 21% said they weren’t sure what opinion to have.

Asked to name a major issue facing the securities industry, nearly half of the investors couldn’t come up with anything. But when prompted with a list of issues, 54% said the charge that the “industry is motivated by greed” was indeed “a big problem.”

Fifty-one percent said a major problem was “brokers or firms putting their own interests ahead of investors’,” and 50% cited the “industry’s reluctance to punish wrongdoers.”

Nearly half of investors said it is “extremely desirable” or “absolutely essential” for brokerage firms to teach them how to make better investment decisions. But only 7% believe that brokerages now do an “excellent” job of educating investors.