If you've memorized all our articles (you have, right?), you'll surely remember that back in December 2002, we noted that, "After months of wrangling, it all finally comes to an end today as the major Wall Street brokerage firms are agreeing to pay some $1.4 billion to settle charges of biased and misleading research. And after years of campaigning for such reforms, The Motley Fool looks upon this as a landmark day -- especially since the settlement includes reforms that will help curb future abuses."
The firms involved included Citigroup
In a recent MarketWatch article, columnist Chuck Jaffe pointed out that $52.5 million of the $1.4 billion went into a trust fund to be spent on investor education and that our friends at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have yet to figure out how to spend it.
He offered some good suggestions for the decision makers: a national high-school personal-finance curriculum, better calculators for investors, and a search service for financial advisors. I can't quibble with these. We've long wanted youngsters to receive better financial educations, and for that reason we prepared our nifty Teens & Their Money area (which is free and open to all teens, clever pre-teens, and post-teens, too) and wrote a book: The Motley Fool Investment Guide for Teens. We offer lots of financial calculators on our website, and we're eager to help you find a good financial advisor, too. (We even offer our own financial advisory service, which compares quite favorably with most other options.)
Now that I think about it, perhaps the SEC should contract with us to educate investors. After all, we've been doing it for about a decade (except for a brief foray into selling meringue pie toppings -- but we're out of that business now). Consider, for example, our TMF Money Advisor service, which anyone can try for free. It costs $199 per year (which may sound high until you realize that many financial advisors charge upwards of $150 per hour). The trust fund could buy almost 264,000 subscriptions to it. That's enough to cover everyone in Louisville, Ky., and nearly enough for all of Newark, N.J. Of course, remember that one subscription covers an entire household, so that $52.5 million would cover nearly 10% of all the households in Los Angeles County. Now we're talking!
If that's not enough people, how about using the money to buy Fool books. Our flagship book, The Motley Fool Investment Guide, is just $10.50 at Amazon.com
Here's another idea. There are roughly 20 million kids in America aged 15-19. At Amazon's price of $8.99 a copy, 5.8 million copies of our book for teens would serve a big chunk of that group. Toss in a bulk discount that might be negotiated with the publisher, and perhaps even half of those youngsters would receive a portable, soft-cover financial education.
Hey, as a last resort, if the SEC is really deadlocked, perhaps it might just buy 52.5 million lottery tickets, so that America can watch what happens and learn how unproductive an investment lottery tickets are.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Amazon.com.