If you're an account holder at or a shareholder of brokerages such as Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD), E*Trade (NYSE:ET), Schwab (NYSE:SCH), Fidelity, and TD Waterhouse, a unit of Toronto Dominion Bank (NYSE:TD), you might be interested in this: Our friends at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have a new rule coming out, requiring (a) brokerages to designate chief compliance officers, (b) CEOs of brokerages to have compliance policies and procedures in place, and (c) CEOs of brokerages to meet with the compliance officers at least annually.

It's true that when one or more people want to get away with something naughty, they will often find a way to circumvent any impeding policies or procedures. Still, these new regulations should do more good than bad. They should help those who want to run a clean operation do so.

To back up a bit, understand that brokerages have often operated with some conflicts of interest that can hurt us. We've written about it many times, such as in this article by Jeff Fischer. These reforms are a step in the right direction, but as Robert Glauber, CEO of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD), noted, "Securities firms must build a culture of compliance to deal with the regulatory challenges evident over recent years." That's more easily said than done.

Bill Mann recently touched on the topic of corporate culture when he took to task three financial firms that have been "behaving badly": Citigroup (NYSE:C), American International Group (NYSE:AIG), and Fannie Mae (NYSE:FNM). He quoted Fortune magazine's Bethany McLean, who asked a fine question: "Do you think Citi will ever get it? Or do corporate cultures just not change?"

Here's hoping that companies can indeed change their cultures -- when it will make them better and stronger, at least.

In the meantime, learn more in our Broker Center -- where you can also find out how to evaluate brokerages in general and how to make sure you've got the best one for your needs.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.