Industry regulators are always coming out with recommendations. And those have a way of eventually becoming mandates. When it comes to seniors, the regulators are very concerned about financial professionals keeping aging clients safer financially. We’re not talking about the DOL rule here. We’re talking about a lot of other recommendations they’ve made. One of these is increased communication with your older clients, 65+. What’s the big deal? These clients are more at risk of financial abuse from every direction. Regulators want you to do what you can to protect senior investors.
Here are two ways they suggest you do that.
First, increase the frequency of your communication with these older clients. That means reviewing their portfolios more often. It means calling or writing more often. It means paying attention to what is going on in their lives that may increase their risk of being manipulated financially.
Second, discuss with your clients the issues that affect seniors. One of these issues is the possibility of becoming impaired. You can present the idea in terms of having a stroke or heart attack. That’s a lot easier a concept for an older person to swallow than the idea of becoming cognitively impaired, everyone’s great fear. So you suggest that your client be sure to have an appointed agent on a durable power of attorney.
Another important piece of the picture of improved communication with aging clients is for you to encourage them to discuss their financial affairs with their heirs. You can be the catalyst in this process. Such discussions provide a forum for you to recommend that the client appoint a trusted other to serve as agent on a durable power of attorney document. Knowing that your client has done that essential thing, you have the potential to work with the appointed person in the event that your client becomes incapacitated for any reason, including dementia.
Without a DPOA, it is generally a messy legal problem for those who must take responsibility for an impaired elder. They may have to undertake the expense of seeking a guardianship in court to even have legal permission to make a bank withdrawal or sell a stock for the elder. If you know who the appointed person is, suggest a conversation with your client and that agent. Lay the groundwork for communication, should the need arise to have the DPOA step in at a later time and act on behalf of your client.
(Incidentally, from a legal point of view there should not be a conflict in appointments of the agent on a DPOA and an appointed successor trustee for the family trust. That begs for later fights. Encourage your client to consider this!)
We are touching on just a bit of what the SEC, FINRA and NASAA have jointly recommended for you and indeed urged you to consider in working with your aging clients. They want you do to business with this population in your book differently than the way it goes with younger clients.
You will absolutely benefit by being informed of what the regulatory agencies want from you when it comes to seniors. It is spelled out in some detail in our book, Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisor’s Guide to Best Practices. Check out the chapter “Pre-Emptive Strike: Hit the Aging Client Problem Before It Hits You“. Click HERE to get your book today. You will develop expertise you’ll appreciate soon.
By Carolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder law attorney, AgingInvestor.com