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
Twitter Email

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

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 17-21

Most Read IRIS Articles of the Week: April 17-21

Here’s a look at the Top 11 Most Viewed Articles of the Week on, April 17-21, 2017 

Click the headline to read the full article.  Enjoy!

1. Market Keeping You up at Night? Look for the Right Hedge

Like so many others in the industry, I was wrong. For years, I was certain that the bull market was nearing its end. I thought the market was over-extended, and that, surely, the wild equities run was coming to an end. But everyone else was bullish, and perhaps rightfully so. And while I’ve watched equities continue on their spectacular rise, I do think now is the time (really!) to put a hedge in place. Here’s why. Here’s how. — Adam Patti

2. How to Manage Bond Market Pain and Seek the Gain When Rates Are Rising

The realities for fixed income investors have changed. How is this being reflected in markets? Bond investing has become increasingly difficult over the past decade. Markets have been heavily distorted by ultra-low interest rates and quantitative easing, as well as by extreme risk aversion in response to the global economic crisis and the eurozone debt crisis. — Nick Gartside

3. Seven Reasons You'll Fail as a Financial Advisor

Is being a financial advisor worth it? I am an optimistic person and I encourage other people to keep a positive mental attitude (shout-out to Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone). However, by taking a good, hard look at the negatives in life, we can successfully pivot towards the positive aspects that will help us achieve our goals. — James Pollard

4. The Secret to Turning Every Prospect into a Client

How do you treat one of your most valued, existing clients? Here’s a list of some things that come to mind. — Andrew Sobel

5. Why Do Clients Change Advisors?

According to many advisors I speak with, the only clients that leave are those who have died. And while attrition may not be a big problem in this industry, I have to assume that at least a few clients change advisors without doing so via the funeral home. — Julie Littlechild

6. Why You Should Focus on Getting Referral Sources

I was talking with an advisor last week about how to get into conversations about what he does. He was relaying the story of going jogging with a friend who could be a good client but is, more importantly, connected to a large network of people who fit this advisors ideal client description. — Stephen Wershing

7. How Big Picture Thinkers Seize More Opportunities in 7 Steps

Big picture thinkers are not unicorns - rare and mystical. And they were not born with the innate ability to think big. They do, however, pay attention to the broader landscape and take the time to think, analyze and evaluate. — Jill Houtman and Danny Domenighini

8. 5 Actions to Build Your Reputation

Your reputation is who you are and how you show up, Monday to Monday®.  Many of us take our image and reputation for granted.  Give careful thought to the kind of reputation that you would be proud of Monday to Monday® and that would resonate with your purpose and priorities. — Stacey Hanke

9. How Are You Poised to Begin Welcoming GenZ to Your Workplace?

The generational changing of the guard is a fact of life as old as time. Young replaces old in responsibility, importance, control and culture. Outside of the family, the workplace is perhaps where this is seen most regularly by most people. — Shirley Engelmeier

10. Are Price Objections REALLY Price Objections?

Next time you hear your prospects give you price objections, it’s not because of the price. The give price objections because they don’t know the full value proposition that they’d be paying for. And it’s not based on their need, or your features and functions. It’s based on the buying criteria they want to meet internally. — Sofia Carter

11. Understanding the Economic Value of Transition Deals

Last week we wrote about the economic rationale behind going independent vs. moving to another major firm as an employee. As a follow-up topic, we thought it prudent to analyze transition packages attached to big firm moves and peel back the layers of the onion to show the components of these deals. — Louis Diamond

Douglas Heikkinen
Twitter Email

IRIS Founder and Producer of Perspective—a personal look at the industry, and notables who share what they’ve learned, regretted, won, lost and what continues to ... Click for full bio