As a vast sector of the US population reaches old age and the systems in place to supervise its care remain inadequate, instances of elder abuse will continue to rise. This includes not only the physical and emotional abuse of the elderly in nursing homes and care facility, but also financial exploitation and abuse at the hands of family, friends, caregivers, and financial advisors.
Elder abuse is everywhere, though; not just on the news. One of the reasons for the growing problem is that the largest and wealthiest generation in American history — the Baby Boomers — have retired and are aging. Meanwhile, their children and grandchildren may be struggling. This is a recipe for disaster and exploitation that regulators and legislators have been working diligently to solve before it gets any worse.
In an upcoming program directed at the general public, the SEC Philly office, in conjunction with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, and Temple University’s Institute on Protective Services, will share the latest on the products, strategies, and scams that most affect elderly investors.
Four United States Senators have sent a letter to the CEO of securities industry regulator FINRA asking the agency to bar stock brokers from client wills. Lead by Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, the Senators have sought to curb elder financial abuse by financial advisors who illegitimately appear in client wills. The move by the legislators came as a result of a Maryland broker receiving $500,000 from a client who was suffering from dementia and had been living in a nursing home.
Signed into law a year ago, the Senior Safe Act specifically addresses how financial professionals can do a better job in reporting suspected senior financial abuse and exploitation to the authorities. The fact sheet was circulated on the first anniversary of the passage of the Senior Safe Act in order to further promote awareness or resources and training among financial professionals, institutions, senior investors, and their families.
Philadelphia is getting serious about its elder financial abuse problem. As we noted in a recent blog post, the Philadelphia Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission announced that it would be hosting public awareness talks and meetings to combat the growing problem of elder financial abuse. That announcement was followed by the District Attorney for Philadelphia Larry Krasner's statement that he would be creating a special task unit targeting perpetrators of financial fraud against senior citizens.
Every year, new and more elaborate schemes appear to bilk older investors out of their life-savings. Fortunately, FINRA has committed itself to several early detection measures aimed at stemming the tide of elder financial abuse. The new measures also encourage broker-dealers to further supervise their own employees when it comes to suspicions of broker misconduct.