In a recent article in the New York Times, a study that showed elderly individuals to be generally more trusting of others and as a result more likely to be scammed by immoral opportunists was explored. As a financial professional, it’s not uncommon to hear about the numerous financial scams making the rounds at any given time, but it’s also easier for someone who works in finance to detect such scams. While a lot of the scams may seem obvious to those in the field, many of your clients over the age of 55 may be more prone to trusting these otherwise suspicious ventures and individuals promising quick, profitable returns. Protecting your clients from these scams is one of the best ways to both guarantee future business and establish rapport with individuals who would otherwise be at risk of falling prey to some unsavory business practices.
One of the first things you should do as an advisor is become aware of precisely what’s circulating. Whether you hear it from clients themselves or find out about it through colleagues or even the news, be prepared to discuss any warning signs with your clients. As noted in the New York Times article, the scams themselves are “ranging from fraudulent sweepstakes to bank accounts emptied out by guardians.” Understanding what risks are out there will make it easier for you to discuss with your clients the best ways to make sure their money is safe or they don’t end up finding themselves otherwise defrauded.
It’s just as important to establish yourself as a trusted source of clarity as well not only should you be informing your clients of warning signs that may signal someone trying to get less-than-honest access to their pocketbooks, you should offer yourself up as someone for them to come to with questions when any of those warning signs of fraud do come up. Offer them clarity and peace of mind alongside your cautionary tales, since the more your clients see you as an invaluable resource, the better your business will fare.
As the article notes, financial exploitation of the elderly is on the rise (a nearly 12 percent increase in two years), making it more important than ever to offer your services as a judge whenever one of your clients may come across a venture or investment opportunity that seems almost too good to be true. Know the scams, know your clients, and most importantly of all, offer yourself as a solution to this growing problem.
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