A May 7 story by NPR highlights some of the ways in which bogus financial advisers use the “art of confusion” to siphon money from unsuspecting elder Americans. A contributing factor to this type of elder fraud is the myriad of senior designations that exist in the financial industry and the fact that it’s almost impossible to discern if an adviser’s designation actually translates into proper training and education to advise seniors about their investments.
NPR guest Stacy Canan, deputy assistant director at the Office for Older Americans, cites a recent study conducted by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on senior designations. The report found that more than 50 different senior designations currently are used today, with senior designees recommending or selling everything from securities, to investment opportunities, to financial products and annuities and long-term care insurance.
Meanwhile, consumers are more confused than ever by the array of designations and have no simple way to determine if the designations themselves required rigorous college-level coursework or simply showing up at a weekend seminar.
“Seniors in particular often mistakenly believe that their financial adviser is looking out for their best interest. That is rarely true. Often, they are trying to sell a particular product, or they may be using – advising or recommending a product that is perhaps suitable but not necessarily the best product. So that’s why we would encourage investors to ask, ask their adviser: Are you looking out for my best interest? What duty of care are you bound,” said Canan on NPR.
You can read the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau report on senior designations here.