Your retirement investments have been turned into easy casino cash for Wall Street Corporations as well as for the financial firms that mismanage your investments!

On August 13, 2015 Edward Jones once AGAIN was fined $20M by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for bilking main street investors of their hard earned retirement savings.   The Edward Jones brokerage firm overcharged customers on the sale of new municipal bonds, was required to repay 13,000 customers $5.2 M or $400 each.  The former head of the firm’s municipal bond underwriting desk, Stina Wishman was fined $15,000 and will be barred from working in the securities industry for at least two years, the SEC said.   No jail time was required, just a slap on the wrist and this isn’t the first time Edward Jones has played their investors.

Edward Jones disregarded rules requiring municipal bond underwriters to offer new bonds at the “initial offering price” negotiated with the issuer of the bonds.  Instead, the company took the bonds into its own inventory and then sold them at a higher price and at also they held bonds back until trading started in the secondary market.  As a result, Edward Jones customers paid at least $4.6 million extra for their purchases between 2009 and 2013 and involved 156 different bonds in 75 total offerings in which Edward Jones served as a co-manager.

Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P., a financial services firm headquartered in Des Peres, MO., changed their name in 1995 to Edward Jones and today serves 7 million clients nationwide through its 12,000 branches on every main street.   Edward Jones is employee owned and therefore not publicly traded with fewer regulations than I.P.O.’s have.  This firm focuses SOLELY on individual investors, small-business owners and retirees.  They appear to TARGET the unsophisticated investor and older retiree searching for local or free advice, which in the end, has proven to be costly investment advice.

The facts are that main street and wall street financial firms of Edward Jones, A.G.Edwards and others that struggled to make money after markets were jolted by the 2000 technology bust and then the 2001 terrorist attack, figured out how to replace the loss of 50% of their earnings and developed an ever new and evolving bag of tricks to play the players.

Yes, your employers, the big corporations, ended employee pension plans in the 80’s claiming they were saving your jobs but more importantly it was to increase their bottom line for their owners and shareholders.  401k’s were streamlined, the private I.R.A. was encouraged and Americans shrugged off the need to start, sometimes liquidating their savings as they reeled from stock market corrections every seven years  and needed to bail out their families finances in an effort to stay above water with decreasing wages and job changes.

Since 2008 investors have received an unwanted education about junk bonds, high mutual fund fees, toxic mortgages, lying Libor interest rates and derivatives.  The stock market is largely an arena for the wealthy and today 50% of Americans own NO stocks at all.  The financial industry was created to supposedly put you in charge of planning your future; instead the financial industry pilfers from you as well as receiving commissions for buying and selling your investments.  Often we discover that they sell overpriced offerings or high commission equities to increase their earnings.  Next the market makers and corporations steal from you every seven years as equity markets correct by a third and more!

Today 50 % of ALL Americans 55 and older have NO retirement savings and only 35% own their home clear of debt.  The system now offers “Reverse Mortgages” to allow retirees some semblance of a retirement yet there is still added taxes, maintenance and insurance.  Another 40 percent do not own a home meaning they pay rent that continues to outpace social security and cost of living increases.   The newest offering is for you to sell financial firms your life insurance policies whole, universal or term policies.  Makes one wonder what kind of investment they have left if the policy is about to end and you are still alive?  Could a nefarious accident happen before the policies expiration date?   The reality today is that retirement is not the dream world shown on TV and in magazines of margaritas on long white beaches. Today retirement is a luxury only 30% of retirees can afford because of this theft!

Did you know that in 2002 Edward Jones settled a class action suit for $490 M with 8,500 Edward Jones customers who owned shares whereby the company was simply negligent in filing their claims by the provided deadline?

The S.E.C. in 2004 settled with Edward Jones for $75 M for failing to adequately disclose revenue sharing payments that it received from a select group of “Preferred Family” mutual fund families that Edward Jones recommended to its customers.   These Preferred Family funds had supposed exclusive benefits not otherwise available to non-preferred family funds including exclusive access to Edward Jones investment representatives.   They simply failed to disclose and inform investors that Edward Jones was being compensated with tens of millions of dollars from these fund companies year after year.  This class action settlement would return $55 million in cash to customers and attorneys and another $73 million was to be delivered to current customers in non-cash vouchers over the next three years.  The $75 M was to be placed in a Fair Fund for distribution to Edward Jones customers.

Would not one assume that they would receive access to investment representatives?  Is there more deceit to come?  This all leaves one to wonder if Edward Jones gets caught often or are they deceitful in ALL actions.  Is this just a bad apple or do MOST or all financial investment firms devise and act to separate you from your hard earned assets?  Regulators even stated, “Edward Jones’s supervisory lapses are especially troubling in this case because of the direct conflict between the firm and its customers welfare.”

Then in December 2005 customers filed a class action lawsuit against Edward Jones for failing to file against Bank of America who had failed to disclose large financial losses stemming from an investment in a hedge fund.

In Sept of 2006 Edward Jones spent $127 M to settle nine class action lawsuits for questionable revenue-sharing practices.

Next in September 2008 California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. settled with Edward Jones for $7.5 M to enforce consumer protection laws for failure to inform its customers of its revenue-sharing agreements with various mutual-fund companies.   In these revenue-sharing agreements, Edward Jones obtained payments from mutual fund companies in exchange for promoting their mutual funds to its clients.  This settlement would allow customers to make better-informed decisions.

Last year in February 2014 the New Hampshire Bureau of Securities settled with Edward Jones for illegally soliciting, known as cold-calling, prospective clients whose names were registered on the National Do Not Call Registry.

Saving for retirement is a slow process and planning for your retirement should be made with careful consideration and due diligence.  You CANNOT just trust anyone with a BIG NAME behind their business with your hard earned assets.   There is nothing free and if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is such as free advice, free storage, free safes or free silver!  No longer can one simply stash money into CDs and savings bonds and allow your money to rot away for decades because banks pay close to zero percent on your savings thanks to the Fed’s low rate policy to JUICE the markets.  So do you invest in the casino stock market hoping your financial adviser isn’t ripping you off ten different ways and hope they get caught if they are?  Do you attempt to leverage real estate and get burnt AGAIN when values plummet?  Or risk that your renters duck out under the cloak of darkness failing to pay you rent?  Or did your renters just fail to pay and stayed to tear up your investment when you acted to reclaim your property through long and costly eviction processes?   There must be easier ways to save, retain your wealth and grow it?  NOT these days as there appears to be a manipulated, concerted effort to keep the common man enamored in the paper markets and dollars to keep their of chance, house of cards and derivative markets upright!

The other option, that less than 2% use today, is the private choice to get out of their systems and refuse to play their games of theft by purchasing real assets of metals.  The contrarian today UNDERSTANDS that the market makers with their interventions are intentionally under-valuing real assets to keep the world enamored in their worthless paper, keeping their game on going for their gain.