The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the North American Securities Administrators Association have updated their 2008 report regarding financial firms’ best practices when serving elderly investors. The security regulators remain committed to making sure that seniors are given a “fair market” with responsible sales practices and suitable products. The 2008 report, called “Protecting Senior Investors: Compliance, Supervisory and Other Practices Used by Financial Services Firms in Serving Senior Investors,” gave investment firms steps they could take to improve their procedures and policies when working with senior clients.
The 2010 addendum concentrates on several categories, including:
• Effective communication.
• Better employee training regarding issues that specifically affect seniors.
• Establishing internal processes to deal with issues that arise.
• Surveillance, supervision, and compliance reviews that focus on seniors.
• Making sure investments offered to elderly investors are appropriate for them.
The SEC is also tackling regulatory measures related to financial products that target retirees and seniors. Last month, the SEC put out a staff report suggesting that Congress define life settlements as securities to make sure that investors receive protection under federal securities law. Also, in an attempt to enhance target date fund disclosures, the SEC recently proposed rule amendments.
Regulators report that there are nearly 40 million people in the US that belong to the age 65 and older age group. By 2050 that number is expected to hit 89 million.
It is important that the necessary steps are taken protect seniors from elder financial fraud. With their retirement funds, elderly seniors are at risk of becoming the target of securities fraud. As MetLife (MET) Mature Market Institute notes, elder financial abuse “has been called the ‘crime of the 21st century.” She noted for every dollar lost, the victims often suffer related financial losses resulting from health issues and stress.
Related Web Resources:
Protecting the Elderly From Financial Fraud, Minyanville, June 16, 2010
SEC, NASAA, FINRA Update Best Practices for Serving Seniors, Wealth Manager, August 13, 2010
Read the 2008 Report (PDF)