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  • Writer's pictureRita Rhodes

Protecting Seniors and Vulnerable Clients

Updated: Dec 31, 2023


Younger hands holding the hand of older person in comfort

We often hear on the news about how seniors are the victims of fraud and financial exploitation. I recently read an article on NextAvenue.org by Richard Eisenberg, How to Fix America's Elder Justice Problem, which reminds us that every year, "roughly 10% of Americans aged 60 and older experience elder abuse, and elder financial abuse is on the rise. Victims over 60 lose over $28 billion annually to elder financial exploitation, according to a recent AARP study." The article discusses the difficulties of addressing elder abuse. But I think it's important to also mention that vulnerable clients may not be limited to those over 60. Sometimes developmental or emotional issues may not be as readily apparent as grey hair and wrinkles. Struggling with cognitive issues or trying to cope with extreme stress, grief, or depression can also make an individual susceptible to financial exploitation.

 

As a financial adviser, in interacting with your clients, you may become aware of suspected or potential incidents of abuse or financial exploitation with your vulnerable clients. Your compliance manual should include information on how to identify potential issues, and what to do if you suspect your client is a victim. Check your compliance manual to see if you need to add or update your policies regarding vulnerable clients.

 

Some states (such as Washington) also require that all RIA supervised persons receive annual training regarding vulnerable clients. Make sure you are fulfilling those requirements.

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