One of the high priorities for the SEC announced in 2017 was the growing recognition of problems with the financial abuse of senior citizens. Given the close relationship with client money held by brokers and investment advisers, it makes sense to get those persons involved with their older clients from the standpoint of the potential for abuse by others.
An elderly person may not always be aware or understand when they are being taken advantage of by another person, whether because of reduced capacity, misplaced trust, or even manipulation. The sources of the abuse often are family members or caregivers but also may be trusted persons such as a pastor, attorney, contractor, financial adviser, broker, accountant or even scam artists.
Among the warning signs to look for are the following:
Changes in banking habits and the identity of persons handling financial matters for the client
Large or extraordinary withdrawals outside of normal client needs
Access to the elderly client is restricted or denied by another person
A caregiver speaks for the client or is always present at any meetings so the client may not be able to speak freely
If there is any reason to suspect financial abuse, the issue should be noted and reported for possible action. A variety of organizations and services may be available to help if you suspect that someone is being subjected to financial (or other) abuse. Apart from law enforcement and adult protective services, the various regulatory authorities and other family members may be informed of the suspected problems. Ignoring the problems will not help the client, the family, or the adviser. You may be the only person who steps forward to make a difference so much depends on you.