In an ideal world, banks and brokerage firms would be required to allocate a certain percentage, perhaps 10 percent of the amount of their advertising budgets, to fund industry-wide educational programs. Another funding source would be levying a small fee of a penny or less on all securities and futures transactions, which is the approach used to fund the SEC. The options industry has a good model. The exchanges pay an annual fee, based on market share, to support the operations of an educational marketing group that teaches investors how to use puts and calls.
The key is teaching people how to properly think about investing in a language that they can understand, and in ways that are impactful. It is critical, too, to address the effects that people’s financial decisions have on their overall well-being. This is not altruistic. Not everyone deserves to be a winner, live in a big house, and take fancy vacations. But everyone deserves to have a fair chance. Narrowing the information gap between Wall Street and Main Street is an important principle.