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Investor protection is one of the most important elements of a thriving securities market or other financial investment institution. Simply put, investor protection is the effort to make sure that those who invest their money in regulated financial products are not defrauded by brokers or other parties. The U.S. government maintains some regulatory agencies and operations aimed at providing investor protection for those who buy into various investment opportunities.
It’s important to note that unlike government insurance for monetary deposits, investor and customer protection does not extend to covering losses when the securities or products decrease in value. Investors have to assume the existence of risk as part of their opportunity for gains. Investor protection focuses on making sure that investors are fully informed about their purchases, that insider activity does not threaten the worth of some portfolios for the enrichment of others, and that holdings are not simply “lost” in instances of brokerage failure.
The Securities Investor Protection Corporation or SIPC is an integral part of investor protection in America. This agency provides a claims system for incidents of “lost or missing securities” that may happen in a brokerage failure or similar situation. The SIPC outlines the specific eligibility for its services on its web site.
In the U.S. stock market, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also provides some significant protection for investors by attempting to regulate the market. Some rules and regulations on Wall Street are intended to prohibit insider trading, where individuals may use exclusive information about future events to gain from timely stock transactions that may decrease the worth of remaining securities. The SEC also evaluates publicly traded companies for accurate accounting reports to the stockholders.
In terms of its overall scope and power, the idea of protection for investors has generated some intense debate. Some question whether the SEC and related agencies can effectively “police Wall Street,” and whether true investor protection is part of the American financial landscape. Meanwhile, there are relatively few safeguards against the smaller types of fraudulent fund managers and other vendors who take in investor money and subsequently devalue their own funds.
With investment offers that are not part of the publicly traded exchanges, investors are particularly vulnerable to fraud. Although federal agencies do investigate and prosecute some of these individuals, a part of savvy investing is to do “due diligence” not only on the solvency of the financial securities or equities involved in a trade, but also on the individuals who are running small investment companies. Many of the more informal investment offers are generally below the radar of federal regulators, and finance pros warn investors to view them with suspicion. Future changes in the American financial sector may lead to improvements in general investor protection for all classes of people who put their money into uncertain assets.