Six weeks after entering effect, Missouri’s new rules protecting seniors from financial exploitation hasn’t resulted in many arrests, but it’s still getting a visible impact. “Folks are informing us that as they’re getting older, they are able to invest with more self-confidence,” says Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander. Previous to the law, broker-dealers could not record their suspicions because of personal privacy laws and contract terms. The SSPA shields them from liability when reporting suspected fraud. The new law pertains to adults older than 60 or those between 18 and 59 with a verifiable mental or physical impairment.
If a brokerage suspects such one is the victim of scams or exploitation, it is authorized, however, not required, to first statement those suspicions to the state dept. of Health insurance and Senior Services or the Missouri Commissioner of Securities. Afterwards, the broker-dealer is permitted to report the suspected fraud to a member of the family, legal guardian, or power-of-attorney. Missouri’s statute mirrors prior laws in Washington Delaware and state – together, the three laws and regulations served as the basis for model condition legislation drafted by the UNITED STATES Securities Administrators Association. 2.6 billion, said securities attorney Don McBride at St. Louis-based Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale.
“In some ways, broker-dealer reps know their clients better than other people, including family,” McBride said. St. Louis-based Wells Fargo Advisors, long a proponent of more powerful protections against senior exploitation and abuse, advocated for the statutory legislation. “We think the immunity provisions are important,” said Ron Long, director of Wells Fargo Advisors’ Elder Client Initiative.
“Securities laws has us faithfully and promptly executing client purchases and transactions, and privacy laws and regulations prevent us from raising concerns about dementia and other mental position issues. Broker-dealers must carefully consider their suspicions before reporting, McBride said. “Not everything that sounds dubious is deceptive or exploitative,” McBride said. Since broker-dealers are not doctors, they must carefully vet the mental statuses of their clients as well. “When it’s litigant that you’ve seen over many years, you can tell when there’s a big change and a concern about mental capacity,” Long said.
“We are able to only ask that reps survey what doesn’t feel right, what they’re seeing and what they’re hearing. At Wells Fargo Advisors, reps’ suspicions are first reported to the Elder Client Initiative, which then chooses whether to bring the matter to convey customer and regulator’s family. The law doesn’t cover investment advisors, meaning an advisor reporting suspicious activity or delaying the execution of client requests may be held liable for resulting losses or any other damages.
“My view is that it should and probably will be applied to investment advisors and other financial professionals,” Long said. “It bears noticing that the large companies like Wells Fargo were here first, we were the ones who emerged together with regulators and sociable service experts to advocate because of this law.
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