The Hidden Truth About Adult Protective Services
In all the proposed rules by Finra and the SEC to address financial exploitation of seniors, advisors are urged to report suspected abuse to the local Adult Protective Services or to call the police. Unfortunately that is not always a solution.
There seems to be a lack of clarity about how things work. Here’s a typical scenario that illustrates an issue.
Myra is 87 and her daughter, Lexie has been taking advantage of her for years. Myra feels sorry for her daughter because she can’t seem to hold a job. Never mind she has a drug habit. Myra has means and she often gives Lexie “loans” that are never repaid.
Lexie gets a power of attorney from Myra, goes with Myra to her financial advisor and tells the advisor that Myra needs $80,000 for a trip they are going to take. Myra is disabled and never travels. The advisor knows this. Advisor decides after seeing several of these demands for withdrawing Myra’s funds under suspicious circumstances that Lexie is abusing Myra. The total amount withdrawn at Myra’s request is over $150,000 in six months, which is highly unusual.
Advisor calls the police. They refer her to Adult Protective Services. APS takes a report over the phone, asks questions and then asks Advisor to fill out a report form. She fills it out and reports the recent questionable $80K demand and withdrawal and she lists the total taken of $150K. She puts Lexie’s name on it as the person suspected of financially abusing Myra.
APS sends a social worker out to investigate the complaint and to visit Myra at home. Myra finds the worker to be very nice and they chat. “Has your daughter ever pressured you to give her money?” the worker asks. “No”, says Myra. “Do you remember giving her gifts or loans totaling $150K this year?” the worker asks. “I don’t think I did that” Myra says. The worker asks if she is in the habit of giving money gifts to Lexie and Myra says yes, that Lexie is her daughter and she needs some help sometimes. The worker concludes that giving money to Lexie is what Myra wants and the case does not go any further. No one has tested Myra to see if she is competent to understand the consequences of giving her assets to Lexie, particularly since she has two other adult children.
In this case the facts are not clear enough to prove that a crime was committed. APS will not recommend that Lexie be prosecuted because even though giving away money is not in Myra’s best interests, she is assumed to be competent to do so. In this case APS is not solving any problem and takes no further action. If Myra did not want the funds to be given to Lexie it would be different and elder abuse could be proven perhaps. As is there is too much doubt about Myra agreeing to be taken advantage of by Lexie, no prosecutor could meet its burden of proof.
The Other Option
Lexie’s other two siblings were not initially aware of the abuse by Lexie. Their potential inheritance is directly affected by their sister’s actions and when they find out they call APS also. The case is closed and they get nowhere. They are furious.
They consider another option. If there is no crime here that can be proven, there may be a civil case. They contact an attorney who handles civil cases of elder financial abuse. The attorney does an investigation and finds out that Lexie has bought a condo with the money taken from Myra. The attorney successfully proves that Myra was duped by Lexie and the matter is settled by Lexie’s attorney agreeing to sell the condo and give the proceeds back to a fund set up for Myra in case she needs more cash as she ages. And the settlement agreement says that Lexie will inherit no part of the fund. Further, the power of attorney Lexie got is torn up and Myra appoints a more responsible agent, another daughter who now oversees all of Myra’s finances.
With a misunderstanding of how law enforcement works, there is a belief that all one must do is report to APS and somehow, financial abuse will be stopped. But when APS finds insufficient proof, or a wiling victim like Myra, they do not intervene. They are essentially an arm of law enforcement. A civil case is outside their sphere and a civil attorney must be consulted to explore whether one can pursue that possible way of recovering an elder’s assets that have been wrongfully taken.
The important thing to know here is that APS is limited in what it can do. A criminal case of any kind has to be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Any advisor who wants to keep senior clients safer needs to understand that a willing victim will pretty well destroy a criminal case of abuse. A civil case is a possibility as long as there is an asset (in Lexie’s case, a condo) to get. One should know a competent elder abuse attorney to consult and find out if your client has that choice in taking legal action of if her heirs do.
Building a Better Index With Strategic Beta
Written by: Yazann Romahi, Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Beta Strategies and Lead Portfolio Manager of JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF at J.P. Morgan Asset Management
With the global economy warming up, but political uncertainty remaining a constant, it’s more important than ever for investors to position their global portfolios to navigate long-term market volatility. That’s where the power of diversification comes in, says Yazann Romahi, Chief Investment Officer of Quantitative Beta Strategies at J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Lead Portfolio Manager of JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).
Not all diversified portfolios are alike
In their search for diversification, many investors turn to passive index ETFs, which track a market cap-weighted index. But these funds aren’t always the most effective way to steer a steady course through volatile markets—and there are two key reasons why.
First, traditional market cap-weighted indices are actually less diversified than investors may think. For example, in the S&P 500, the top 10% of stocks account for half the volatility of the index. Within sectors, while you might assume that sector risk is distributed across the ten major sectors fairly evenly, it is a surprise to many that at any point in time, one sector can be as high as 50% of the risk.
Second, cap-weighted indices come with some inherent weaknesses, including exposure to unrewarded risk concentrations and overvalued securities. So, while these indices provide investors with exposure to the equity risk premium and long-term capital growth, as is the case with any other investment, investors can also experience painful downturns, which increase volatility and reduce long-term performance. For investors seeking equity exposure with broader diversification—and potentially lower volatility—strategic beta indices may be better positioned to deliver the goods.
How do we define strategic beta?
Strategic beta refers to a growing group of indices and the investment products that track them. Most of these indices ultimately aim to enhance returns or reduce risk relative to a traditional market cap-weighted benchmark.
Building on decades of proven research and insights, J.P. Morgan’s strategic beta ETFs track diversified factor indices designed to capture most of the market upside, while providing less volatility in down markets compared to a market cap-weighted index. Rather than constructing an index based on market capitalization—with the largest regions, sectors and companies representing the largest portion of the index—our strategic beta indices aim to allocate based on maximizing diversification along every dimension—sectors, regions and factors. The index therefore seeks to improve risk-adjusted returns by tackling the overexposure to risk concentrations and overvalued securities that come as part of the package with traditional passive index investing.
So, how do you build a better index?
As one of just a few ETF providers that combine alternatively-weighted and factor-oriented indices, our disciplined index methodology is designed to target better risk-adjusted returns through a two-step process.
First, we seek to maximize diversification across the risk dimension. This essentially means that we look to ensure risk is more evenly spread across regions and sectors, which balances the index’s inherent concentrations. As uncontrolled risk concentrations are unlikely to be rewarded over the longer term, we believe investors should strive for maximum diversification when constructing a core equity exposure.
Second, we seek to maximize diversification across the return dimension. Research shows that there are a number of sources of equity returns beyond growth itself. These include risk exposures such as value, size, momentum and quality (or low volatility). When creating a diversified factor index in partnership with FTSE Russell, we seek to build up the constituents with exposure to these factors. We therefore select securities through a bottom-up stock filter, scoring each company based on a combination of these return factors to determine whether it is included in the index. These factors provide access to a broader, more diversifying source of equity returns as they inherently deliver low correlation to one another, providing diversification in the return dimension.
So, whereas traditional passive indices allow market cap to dictate allocations, the diversified factor index seeks to ensure that we minimize concentration to any source of risk—whether it be region, sector or source of return.
How are you currently weighted versus the market cap-weighted index, and how have your under- and over-weights enhanced risk-return profiles?
Crucially, our weightings don’t reflect specific views on sectors or regions and are instead, by design, the point of maximal diversification. It is important to remember that market cap-weighted indices typically carry a lot of concentration risk—for example, at various points in time, a single sector can explain half the risk of the index when left unmanaged. At the moment, three sectors explain two-thirds of the risk of the FTSE Developed ex-NA Index—these being financials, consumer goods and industrials. In contrast, the FTSE Developed ex-NA Diversified Factor Index—or strategic beta index, which JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN) tracks—is explicitly designed to maintain balance and therefore these sector allocations range from 8% to 12%. In the short term, any concentrated portfolio can of course outperform a more diversified one, if the concentrated bet paid off.
Investing wholly in a single stock may outperform over short-term periods. At other times, it may significantly underperform an index. However, it is well understood that an investor is better off diversifying across lots of stocks for better risk-adjusted long-term gains. The same applies here. From a pure return perspective, if financials, for example, account for half of a cap-weighted index in terms of market cap and have a strong run over the short term, of course, this index would outperform over this period. Over the long run, however, it is fairly uncontroversial to suggest that the more broadly diversified index could achieve better risk-adjusted returns.
Seeking a smoother ride in international equity markets?
For investors targeting enhanced diversification through a core international equity portfolio, JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN) targets lower volatility by tracking an index that more evenly distributes risk, enabling them to get invested—and stay invested.
Learn more about JPIN and J.P. Morgan’s suite of strategic beta ETFs here.
Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit www.jpmorganetfs.com to obtain a prospectus. Carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read them carefully before investing.
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