Remarks as Prepared for the 2019 SIFMA Senior Investor Protection Conference

Remarks as prepared for SIFMA’s 2019 Senior Investor Protection Conference, One Year Later: FINRA Rules 2165 and 4512.

It has been ten years since we first negotiated the Washington state report and hold law – a groundbreaking law that, for the first time ever, permitted broker-dealers to place a temporary pause on suspicious disbursements and their underlying transactions. As of today, we have helped enact similar laws in 19 other states and we hope to be able to cover a majority of America in the next year or two.

We’ve also worked with FINRA and other federal regulators to address the issues on a broader scale. These efforts have included our support for the new rules enacted by FINRA one year ago today – Rules 2165 and 4512. These new federal rules have been helpful tools for our members and assist them in helping to protect our clients from financial exploitation.

Under New Rule 2165, the ability to hold a disbursement that we suspect is exploitative helps prevent bad actors from pursuing our clients and provides a pause to allow us to engage a client’s friends and family members – and the appropriate authorities – to protect our clients.

Where the perpetrator is a family member, the pause gives us the opportunity to find others within the family – or caring people outside the family – who have the client’s best interest in mind.

The second rule, which amended Rule 4512, encourages us to collect the name of a trusted contact for the client. A trusted contact can be another person we can reach out to as an additional layer of protection for a client.

Financial exploitation of senior and vulnerable adults is a serious issue that has impacts that are destructive to our friends, our family, our neighbors, our country and ourselves. Seniors often lose their entire life savings to bad actors, leaving them unable to maintain their independence or pay for their own healthcare – not to mention the added stress, significant health impacts, and – often – the loss of important relationships.

No one has yet been able to estimate the precise impact of financial exploitation on the national economy, but a New York study estimated an annual cost around $1.5 billion in that state alone. Across the entire U.S. population, that could mean a $25 billion annual cost.

Making things more difficult is the fact that the bad actor is often a family member, friend or caregiver of their victim – in fact, that same New York State found that 67% of verified cases of financial exploitation were committed by family members – and only an estimated 1 in 44 cases are ever reported to the authorities.

Fortunately, the financial services sector has been working with legislators, regulators, and law enforcement to combat and mitigate the damage caused by this practice. We commend FINRA for its work on this issue and helping to lead the way with new rules that are important tools to protect senior and vulnerable clients.

Federal Legislation

On the federal level, we strongly supported recently enacted federal legislation, including the Senior Safe Act and the Elder Justice Prevention and Prosecution Act, which are already showing dividends.

We supported both bills and are pleased to be joined today by two of the DOJ’s Elder Justice Coordinators – new positions created by the EJPPA. This law is intended to increase training for federal investigators and prosecutors, equip each judicial district with prosecutors having expertise with elder abuse cases, and overall strengthen the ability of our justice system to respond when elder abuse is identified, including when broker-dealers report suspected abuse. You will have a chance to hear more from them later today – for the first time at an industry event.

We also strongly supported the Senior Safe Act because it would make it clear that our broker-dealers could share information relating to potential exploitation with Adult Protective Services and similar organizations. We look forward to this new law, which helps coordination between our industry and government investigators.

National Adult Protective Services Association

A few words about APS and its national organization, NAPSA. We have been partnering with this organization for the past several years, including participating in their annual Financial Exploitation Summit, helping them with their work on World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, and receiving their assistance on our regional workshops. On a regular basis, their members work closely with our financial advisors to address financial exploitation on the ground.  To that end, we will work with APS and its national organization NAPSA to help secure federal funding to ensure they can continue to provide their worthwhile assistance.


We continue to work collaboratively with policymakers, academic experts, psychologists, and other key stakeholders to better understand the risks to senior investors, and the role that firms and advisers can and should play. Some of you here today participate in our Senior Investor Protection Forum, collaborating monthly to discuss scenarios and practices, as well as identify problems and develop workable solutions.

We have also been putting together Regional Workshops to help our firms coordinate with prosecutors, adult protective services, and other firms within their region to jointly and comprehensively address issues. I am also pleased to announce that we have begun our efforts to widely distribute our Senior Investor Protection Toolkit – a collection of resources that SIFMA developed several years ago and has routinely updated. RBC Wealth Management has sponsored the distribution of hard copies of our Toolkits to over 50 new APS offices across the country.

I encourage you all to visit our senior investor protection website and review these free materials – web information is in your conference materials.

We have other key projects we are working on to protect our seniors, including an innovative project with AARP and a grant program we are working on with the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College and NAPSA to create a single portal platform for reporting instances of exploitation.

We also continue to seek out new partners on a federal and state level to address and prevent financial exploitation.

Thank you for joining us today and let me turn it over to Gerri Walsh of the FINRA Education Foundation who has been a great partner in building coalitions to help our vulnerable seniors.

Lisa Bleier is managing director and associate general counsel for SIFMA. For more information on senior investor protection, visit