The Securities and Exchange Commission, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the North American Securities Administrators Association have joined forces to offer a program to help securities firms implement training requirements of the Senior Safe Act.
Firms can use the program, “Addressing and Reporting Financial Exploitation of Senior and Vulnerable Adult Investors,” to train associated people on how to detect, prevent and report such exploitation.
The Senior Safe Act, included as Section 303 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, was signed into law on May 24, 2018.
The groups said Tuesday that they were offering the free program to recognize World Financial Elder Abuse Awareness Day. In May 2019, the groups provided the industry with the Senior Safe Act Fact Sheet.
A NASAA spokesperson told ThinkAdvisor that “NASAA, FINRA and the SEC have been working on this training since 2019. This was a significant effort involving many hours of hard work and collaboration between three organizations — representing the federal regulator, the industry’s self-regulatory organization, and state securities regulators – to develop such a comprehensive training.”
The act protects “covered financial institutions” — which include investment advisors, broker-dealers, and transfer agents — and their eligible employees, affiliated persons, and associated persons from liability in any civil or administrative proceeding for reporting a case of potential exploitation of an older adult to a covered agency.
The act provides immunity if employees and firms provide and receive training on how to identify and report exploitative activity against seniors before making a report.
In addition, reports of suspected exploitation must be made “in good faith” and “with reasonable care,” the groups state. This immunity applies to both individuals and firms.
“By partnering with FINRA and NASAA to offer this training program, we can help educate financial professionals on how to identify and report financial abuse of older adults,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement. “The SEC also strongly encourages all investors to utilize the education resources on sec.gov to ensure they are working with a registered investment professional.”
FINRA states that as of June 2021, the training satisfies state training requirements for certain firms and financial institutions relating to senior investor protections in Florida, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and Washington.
Lisa Hopkins, NASAA president and senior deputy commissioner of securities and general counsel with the West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, added that NASAA is pleased “to work collaboratively with our counterparts at the SEC and FINRA to provide this important training resource in the hope that it will promote greater and earlier detection and reporting of suspected financial exploitation of older Americans.”
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