Securities regulators from state and federal agencies gathered here this week to talk about ways to protect older investors.
The agencies that participated in the Senior Summit — the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Washington; and the North American Securities Administrators Association, Washington – released a report describing practices that financial services firms have been using to protect retirees and investors who are nearing retirement age.
Russ Iuculano, executive director of the North American Securities Administrators Association, Washington, briefed summit participants on a new NASAA model designed to curb abuse of professional designations by agents and brokers who are selling investment products to seniors.
Abuse of designations “was the focus of last year’s Senior Summit, and we believe we have developed a responsible and aggressive regulatory solution to strengthening protections for our most heavily targeted and vulnerable investor constitutions-seniors,” Iuculano said.
New Hampshire has adopted the model through legislation, and Washington, Wisconsin and Virginia have adopted the model in the form of a regulation, Iuculano said.
States where NASAA designation model adoption efforts are pending include Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana and Texas.
Also at the Senior Summit, Mary Schapiro, chief executive of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Washington, said FINRA has a clear message for investment firms and their employees: “Treat seniors properly, and educate your brokers how best to interact with this growing segment of the investor population, because FINRA is watching.”
In addition to preventing abuses by brokers, investment firms should tell brokers what to do when the brokers suspect that an elderly customer is the victim of financial abuse by a caretaker, “or even a family member,” Schapiro said.