You’ve probably had an aging client or a few of them who had you worried. They are increasingly forgetful. Maybe they called you multiple times a day and didn’t remember that you had already answered their question. Perhaps they are not following anything in the conversations you have with them. After the fact, you are scratching your head, trying to figure out what to do with that client.
Regulators have not mandated that firms and individual advisors have policies that specifically address age-related issues with their clients, but they strongly urge it. One of the first things they want you to do is to have several trusted third party contacts in every client’s file so you can contact someone in the event that your client becomes impaired.
Regulators want you to recognize the warning signs of financial abuse. They want you to keep your clients financially safer, mainly because they are more vulnerable than your younger clients. They want you to deal with privacy concerns but offer little guidance except for when you see abuse. What to do about financial abuse is not yet a regulation, though it will be.
How many firms have taken even these basic proactive policy steps to keep aging clients safer? From what we read and observe, not many. It takes time. You won’t be directly paid for doing it. Maybe you think you can just wait until “something happens” before you do anything to change the status quo. That is a bigger risk than you want to take.
An aging client can fall into cognitive impairment without you noticing. They can be in a dire situation before you have had a chance to think about what to do proactively. Waiting for a crisis is not the style of a competent financial advisor nor any manager. What should you do?
First, you need to do as the regulators recommend: start putting together a plan for those clients who may become impaired for financial decisions. And plan for what to do when you see financial abuse happening. Next, you need to have a uniform path for escalation and contacting a third party. This requires more minds than one. Your mission of client protection needs to be clear and that must drive policy. Legal input is essential to this process. Privacy is a legal issue that can be dealt with when you have a legally sufficient privacy waiver in hand, standardized for every client. Finally, you need to commit your policy to writing and ensure that everyone you work with will follow it.
Develop this yourself or get a kit with the whole thing done for you in a template. Doing so will keep you alert for aging client issues at the beginning, not after things are a mess and you are trapped with that incapacitated client. Learn more about the policy-in-a-box, our Program Initiator at AgingInvestor.com.
Dr. Mikol Davis and Carolyn Rosenblatt, co-founders of AgingInvestor.comCarolyn Rosenblatt, RN, Elder Law Attorney offers a wealth of experience with aging to help you create tools so you can skillfully manage your aging clients. You will understand your rights and theirs so you can stay safe and keep them safe too. Dr. Mikol Davis, Psychologist, Gerontologist offers in depth of knowledge about diminished financial capacity in older adults to help you strategize best practices so you can protect your vulnerable aging clients. They are the authors of "Succeed With Senior Clients: A Financial Advisors Guide To Best Practice," and "Hidden Truths About Retirement And Long Term Care," available at AgingInvestor.com offers accredited cutting edge on-line continuing education courses for financial professionals wanting to expand their expertise in best practices for their aging clients. To learn more about our courses click HERE