My employer has offered me to participate in a stock incentive program wherein I will receive a certain amount of stock in their American parent corporation on the (ostensibly) sole condition that I stay employed with them for such-and-such period of time.

It turns out there is a catch: The stock can only be issued through a particular (American) brokerage, which refuses to create me in their system unless I answer a number of invasive personal questions (my marriage status? number of dependents? annual income? net worth? Am I active in politics? Etc. etc. etc.). They've made it clear that I will be thrown out of the stock program unless I answer the questions, and claim that they're asking on behalf of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which (so it is claimed) requires that stock brokers collect this information about everyone they have dealings with.

In other words, what I'm really being offered is a deal where I give out my personal information in exchange for a chance to get some possibly valuable stock later.

If I agree to this, what is the SEC going to do with my personal data? Nobody seems to be able or willing to give me the straight story, but I need to know this before I can make a rational decision whether the stock-for-privacy deal is advantageous for me.

(I am neither a resident nor a citizen of the United States).


You aren't getting a straight answer because nobody knows why those regulations are the way they are.

Everyone has to give this information to open the brokerage account or for any access to the US financial system whether it is with a bank account, or a brokerage account.

Everyone also typically gives this information to their employer to be employed at all for IRS regulations.

The SEC isn't going to do anything with the data, unless you do something illegal related to the stock market, then they will know who you are.

The IRS isn't going to do anything with the data, unless you are noncompliant in paying taxes, then they will know who you are.

  • Are you implying that my existing net worth could become subject to U.S. taxation if I own stock in a U.S. corporation? If so, that's certainly relevant information. Where can I learn more about that? – hmakholm left over Monica May 12 '15 at 0:27
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    Your Net Worth is never subject to US taxation even if you are a US citizen. I don't understand what question you're asking. – keshlam May 12 '15 at 1:26
  • @keshlam: CQM seemed to be sort of suggesting that it was the IRS rather than the SEC that wants to know my net worth, and I'm trying to understand how that might be. – hmakholm left over Monica May 12 '15 at 10:28
  • Employee stock plan has tax implications. They have a legitimate need to know who got stock at what price and on what date, and when it was sold and for how much. I admit I can't explain the net worth question, and have no idea where that one originated; I'm just saying that most of this has some justification and it's hard to get a clear answer on the rest. – keshlam May 12 '15 at 12:44
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    Brokerages are required to use reasonable diligence to get to know you in the US: finra.org/investors/what-expect-when-you-open-brokerage-account What's not clear is which pieces of information are legally required for you to provide fully and which are not. Regardless of legality, it may be brokerage policy to require certain information as a condition of opening the account. Read anything you are asked to sign very carefully. Best to get a lawyer if you want to push the boundaries of disclosure. FWIW, I never disclose my entire financial picture to any entity. – pseudon May 12 '15 at 13:23

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