Well I'm down here in the "cheap seats" where SIPC and FDIC protection are sufficient coverage. So I don't hedge for it at all. I did have all my eggs in the E*Trade basket, but have spread into Fidelity and Ameritrade, partially to take advantage of promotions (Delta SkyPesos) and partly to see if I like them enough to move out of E*Trade entirely. As best as I understand it SIPC should take care of my equities but not the cash. However I don't generally leave a lot of cash laying around in a brokerage account indefinitely, if there's much there I move it back to bank account where I have FDIC protection.
When I am investing, I buy mutual funds. These I have at Vanguard and T.Rowe Price.
I've only bought several individual stocks, which I consider more speculation than investing. I sold them and kept Apple and bought a few shares. That is the only individual stock I own.
I have heard of Merrill paying fines in the millions of dollars so many times over the years I wouldn't touch them with a 10 foot pole.
Since my Vanguard stock trades are so inexpensive ($2) there's never a reason to even consider another place do make them. I think T.Rowe Price brokerage fees are also very low.
I have no fear of anything unusual happening at either Price or Vanguard to any cash in a sweep account.
I have no need for the other places whatsoever.
I don't have much faith in the legal protections set up for investing. MF Global is a ringing indication that there is no rule of law and the system is broken.
I checked my Etrade accounts and technically only margin accounts are subject to rehypothecation but the customer agreement specifically states that cash in my regular brokerage account is NOT segregated.
So if I understand all of this correctly, if Etrade went POOF tomorrow my shares in stocks SHOULD be okay but my cash could conceivably be gone.
As a result I lowered the amount of cash I had sitting one the sidelines by about 20% and returned some of it to a regular bank, some to silver/gold, and some to the Mark 1.0 Mattress.
Thanks to the sheer ideological idiocy of Phil Gramm, enabled by the corruption of former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and the hubris of former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Glass Steagall was repealed. Thus, banks could be as stupid as they want to be — and you get to foot the bill.
I don't have trust issues with Vanguard, the mutual fund company I invest with. However, I would have trust issues with other large financial companies.
At least with passively managed index funds, you don't need much trust in the financial institution. However, I have long-term trust issues with the U.S. economy. Seems like it's century is over and America is going to be a second-rate economy during the 21st century.
Thanks for pointing this out. But for me, it's really only practical at the retail investor level to spread one's risk over more than one brokerage and to shelter cash under FDIC. Anything else would make sense for serious money managers but takes too much time to be worthwhile.
Alternatives? Buy gold and bury it in your yard I guess.
Quote for the day is relevant:
"Of course the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you--if you don't play, you can't win." - Robert Heinlein
"Time for me to pick up my toys and go home."
It's perhaps no surprise that customers burned by the MF Global collapse have sworn off commodities, and in some cases, investing in general. Desai says, "I've stopped contributing to any 401(k) plans. I don't put any money, anywhere that's not FDIC insured. I'm buying real assets and I've quit all the trading."