How to Determine Whether or Not You Want to Report Financial Abuse

How to Determine Whether or Not You Want to Report Financial Abuse

In a recent issue of Investment News, a study of financial advisors looked at this question. 591 advisors were asked about their experiences with elder financial abuse. One of the surprising findings focused on those advisors who knew or suspected abuse but did not report it.

A significant percentage of those who did not report abuse gave as a reason that they did not know who to contact. What is most troubling about this finding is that not knowing who to contact is such a simple problem to solve. Historically your regulators have never required that you have the name of a trusted contact for your client in order to open a file for that person. Here at AgingInvestor.comand, where elder financial abuse comes up often, we think it is extremely short-sighted to be without a trusted contact or two in every client’s file. Isn’t it obvious that you need someone to call if a client gets into danger, whether it’s elder abuse or not? No one gets out of here alive and a client can live for quite a long time, developing cognitive impairment along the way. That puts a person at much higher risk for financial abuse.

New FINRA rules will require that you make “reasonable efforts” to get a trusted contact from your clients. We assure you, reasonable efforts are a lot easier to make when your client is signing up than they are when your client is 92 and forgetful or suspicious of everyone’s motives.

From us, two professionals who have worked with countless elders and their families over the last 10 years, we have three tips for every financial professional handling a client’s finances:

  1. You can’t ensure that your client will be competent for financial decisions forever. Be realistic! People are living longer and they may develop dementia or other cognitive impairment. Get at least two trusted contacts in every file for every client age 65 or older. Why two or more? One trusted contact might end up being the very person who is abusing your client–a family member.
  1. Get smart about the basics of recognizing red flags of diminished capacity. We offer a simple free checklist to help you. Click on the green button here to get yours now. These signs are warnings that your client is more vulnerable to manipulation by others.
  1. Know how to report financial elder abuse. You don’t have to be certain that abuse has occurred. You do need to know who may be doing it, when and how, in general (e.g., pushing your client into large, unexplained withdrawals). A reasonable suspicion is enough. It’s ok if you’re wrong. And you can do it anonymously. Call Adult Protective Services in the county where your client lives if you think someone is ripping off your vulnerable client.

Some advisors are worried that they’ll get sued for reporting suspected financial abuse. This is incorrect. Your regulators want you to report it. If you do what is reasonable, you are not a target. However, if you know that your impaired client is being financially abused and you do absolutely nothing, liability for failure to act is certainly possible.

Carolyn Rosenblatt
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Carolyn Rosenblatt is an R.N. with 10 years of nursing and a lawyer with 27 years of legal practice. She has extensive experience working with both healthcare and legal i ... Click for full bio

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work

Written by: Jon Sabes

When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward. 

However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:

  • He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
  • He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
  • When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
  • While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
  • In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.

Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (, is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.

Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.

Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.

His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”

When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”

On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.

“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”

That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing.  Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.

Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”

When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it.  He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.

I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.

GWG Holdings, Inc.
Investing in Life
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GWG Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq:GWGH) the parent company of GWG Life, is a financial services company committed to transforming the life insurance industry through disruptive and i ... Click for full bio