“If investors are constantly worried they will be ripped off…by abusive practices” in financial services, and “lose confidence, it hurts the economy,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., on Thursday to the crowd of over 500 in a speech at the opening of the 2011 fi360 Conference in San Antonio.

chris doddIn an interview with AdvisorOne after his speech, Dodd (left), now CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, said advisors who were interested in helping restore investor confidence should “get to know decision makers and make public policy statements. Don’t assume [lawmakers] won’t pay attention if advisors haven’t made a contribution.” He noted earlier that one of the most effective things individuals can do to compel change is write letters to Congress and to regulators, on policies and proposed rules.

Dodd also asserted that advisors can help to bring to lawmakers: “financial literacy is not just for professionals but for decision makers [political representatives] on the state and local level.” Get to the “staff person,” as well, he said, “because they are going to advise the member. Engage in the public debate in the country and write op-ed pieces [on financial issues] for the local paper,” he recommended.

“Educate the media and find a financially literate local reporter who really understands the issues. Raising the level of awareness” is important, Dodd added. And, he said, talk with people whose views oppose yours; “you can't just have conversations with those [you are] comfortable with but those who [challenge]. Raise the level of support or you may get bad decisions.” 

Saying “financial literacy is invaluable,” in his speech, Dodd said that raising the level of financial literacy for congressional members was very important, too. Dodd explained that many members think they can be “Secretary of State or Secretary of Defense, but very few think they can be Secretary of the Treasury.”

Dodd’s New Job

While he is still based in Washington, the Senator is immersed in the business of movies now. He told AdvisorOne, “It’s a huge business, with 2.5 million employees, an average wage of $60,000; pays a total of $140 billion in wages; adds $15 billion in positive balance of trade and pays $15 billion in tax revenues.”

Dodd is very concerned with the technological pirating of movies via Web download or other means to steal this media. Some parents, he said, don’t think anything of it if their child illegally downloads a movie from an unauthorized source, “but if the kid was caught shoplifting they’d be mortified.”  He sees no difference, adding “copyright protection is important, whether it’s pharmaceuticals or movies.” 

Read about Dodd's speech on Thursday at the opening of fi360 at AdvisorOne.