Monday, December 10, 2007

Thanks, but No Thanks

In spite of my better rational judgement, I'm often guilty of signing papers that I haven't thoroughly read. For instance, during the mortgage process, I probably signed thirty or more documents that might have sold future Mean generations into slavery, for as much as I looked into them. In fact, I might have knowingly signed such documents toward the end, to hurry the completion of the nightmarish process. Also, when I visit a new doctor, I sign all sorts of "Medical Release" forms which may or may not be legally allowing the harvesting of my organs while I'm still alive.

But, unfortunately for Salomon Smith Barney, my broker, I decided to read the latest forms they sent to me, requesting a signature. Here are a few interesting tidbits from these documents:

I understand that, although not a requirement for my participation in [long-winded explanation of various programs omitted], Smith Barney ("SB") may, from time to time, act as "principal" when effecting securities transactions on my behalf. I understand that when SB acts as princial in transactions with my account, SB will buy securities from me for its own account or sell securities it owns to my account (hereinafter referred to as "Principal Transaction"). I acknowledge that the only notification I will receive of the capacity in which SB acted in any given transaction on my behalf, including any Principal Transaction, will be the written confirmation sent to me by SB after the transaction has been executed.

Wow, call me paranoid, but that sure sounds like I'd be allowing "SB" to buy and sell stuff in my account without my consent or foreknowledge. They do nothing to alleviate my fears in the next paragraph:

I also understand that effecting a Principal Transaction on behalf of an investment advisory client presents certain potential conflicts of interest. In addition to the fees for the Programs charged by SB, I appreciate that SB also may profit from the transaction by receiving a markup, markdown or other fee. I understand that when acting as an underwriter or member of the selling group of an offering, SB will obtain an underwriting fee or selling concession, and may have reputational interests in the success of an offering that act as incentives to execute Principal Transactions on my behalf.

Again: wow. Probably this just falls into some legal category of over-notification, and I shouldn't even blink an eye before I sign it, but this sure sounds a lot like "We want to screw you for our own benefit, and we'd like your permission please." I do hope that SB understands when I politely decline.


At 4:45 PM, Blogger sparrowlegs said...

I don't see the problem. I always ask for permission before screwing Sherry.

At 5:58 PM, Blogger Sweet Tea said...


Now imagine handing Sherry a document which, if she signed, would waive her right to could have sex anytime and anywhere you wanted, without ever asking her again.

Think she'd sign it?

At 6:48 PM, Blogger sparrowlegs said...

Well, no.


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