Senior and vulnerable investors — Helping to protect your clients

Submitted by Yue.S.Wang on April 27, 2018

Senior and vulnerable investors — Helping to protect your clients

Michelle Thetford
Vice President, Schwab Advisor Services Client Strategic Solutions

The population of people in the United States 65 years of age or older has dramatically increased. The baby boomer generation began turning 65 in 2011, and by 2031, the surviving baby boomers will be turning 85. 

This surge in an aging population brings many challenges to service providers within the financial services industry, coupled with a changing regulatory landscape.

Diminished capacity and financial exploitation are becoming more and more common leading to difficult conversations with your clients and their families.

Schwab has made changes to help you protect your clients. Our applications now include the option of providing a trusted contact. This is a person that you or Schwab can reach out to if we suspect there is something going on with your client - that they are being exploited or perhaps experiencing signs of diminished capacity. 

The trusted contact may be able to assist with confirming specifics of the client's current contact information, the health status, or identify any legal guardian, executor, trustee, or holder of a power of attorney.

We've also created a team of individuals that are trained to deal with situations involving financial exploitation. They will work with you and your client's trusted contact to protect your client's assets.

And advisors need to have a solid plan as well. 

Many states have enacted regulations that impact you as the advisor. You have a fiduciary responsibility to help protect your clients - and here are some things for you to consider:

  • Have a documented process to identify and escalate suspected diminished capacity or financial exploitation.
  • Document meetings and conversations with relatives 
  • and others about the situation, and
  • Confirm who has the authorization on the account.
  • You can consider adding provisions to your client agreements, and
  • Conduct training with your teams to make sure your staff is trained on handling these situations and knows what red flags to look for.

We know protecting your clients is always your utmost concern. And as your clients' age and go through other life changes, that dedication to their safety will never be more important.

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