The entire article is well worth reading, with a call to action at the end. Here is a brief excerpt.
In my nearly 30 years as an estate planning and tax attorney, and in my nearly 15 years as a fiduciary investment adviser, I have possessed the opportunity to review hundreds of clients’ investment portfolios. When the clients’ investment portfolios were advised upon by either broker-dealer firms, by dual registrants (firms and individuals with both securities broker/dealer licensure and registered investment adviser licensure), or by insurance agents, the allure of high-fee investment and insurance products was nearly always too strong to resist. Over 95% of the time, in my reviews of hundreds of clients’ portfolios, I discerned high-cost investments, tax-inefficient portfolios, or both.
The high costs of Wall Street’s services and products not only engender the retirement security of individual Americans, but also impair the American economy. As the role of finance has grown ever larger, instead of providing the oil that ensures the American economic engine churns efficiently, the peddling of expensive investment products to Americans has led to a sludge that impairs the vitality and threatens the future of not only our fellow Americans, but Americans itself.
The growth of the financial services industry has grown to an extraordinary proportion of the overall U.S. economy. As stated in a recent article by Gautam Mukunda appearing in the Harvard Business Review: “In 1970 the finance and insurance industries accounted for 4.2% of U.S. GDP, up from 2.8% in 1950. By 2012 they represented 6.6%. The story with profits is similar: In 1970 the profits of the finance and insurance industries were equal to 24% of the profits of all other sectors combined. In 2013 that number had grown to 37%, despite the after effects of the financial crisis. These figures actually understate finance’s true dominance, because many nonfinancial firms have important financial units. The assets of such units began to increase sharply in the early 1980s. By 2000 they were as large as or larger than nonfinancial corporations’ tangible assets …. ” Gautam Mukunda, “The Price of Wall Street’s Power,” Harvard Business Review (June 2014).
The result of this excessive rent extraction by Wall Street is impairment of the growth of the U.S. economy. As Steve Denning recently noted in Forbes:
The excessive financialization of the U.S. economy reduces GDP growth by 2% every year, according to a new study by International Monetary Fund. That’s a massive drag on the economy–some $320 billion per year. Wall Street has thus become, not just a moral problem with rampant illegality and outlandish compensation of executives and traders: Wall Street is a macro-economic problem of the first order … Throughout history, periods of excessive financialization have coincided with periods of national economic setbacks, such as Spain in the 14th century, The Netherlands in the late 18th century and Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The focus by elites on “making money out of money” rather than making real goods and services has led to wealth for the few, and overall national economic decline. ‘In a financialized economy, the financial tail is wagging the economic dog.’
Steve Denning, “Wall Street Costs The Economy 2% Of GDP Each Year,” Forbes (May 31, 2015).