There was a new vendor at the May 2018 conference of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys – only it wasn’t really a vendor. It was FINRA. The Financial Industry Regulatory Association was looking for people to arbitrate disputes between customers and brokers.
Because seniors are going broke thanks to their brokers.
Brokers usually have no legal duty to act in their clients’ best interests. All too many do not. This is a big problem for retirees, who have accumulated a nest egg and cannot go back to work to earn another.
Most agreements between customers and brokers require that disputes be arbitrated. You don’t have to be a lawyer to become a FINRA arbitrator: a couple of years of college will do.
You also don’t have to be a lawyer to see the evidence of theft.
Excessive and unauthorized trading is the most common complaint.
Brokers not only have no duty to put their clients’ interests first, they also have widely varying interpretations of the standard they do have to meet: suitability. Some chafe at the idea that they even have to consider whether an investment or trade is suitable for a client.
Most brokers are not Registered Investment Advisers under the Investment Adviser Act of 1940. They are not fiduciaries under Section 4975 of the Internal Revenue Code. They are not fiduciaries under Section 3(21) of ERISA. They only arrange (broke) purchases and sales.
Review your statements carefully. Don’t pay your broker for making you go broke.
For a helpful list of phone numbers for FINRA and other organizations where you can report elder abuse, visit this page: Elder Abuse: Who To Call.
Terry Garrett is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys and is active in the Texas and Austin Bar Associations. She graduated with honors from Cornell University. She was on the Dean’s List at Wharton Business School. She earned her J.D. at Columbia Law School, receiving the Parker Award and a Mellon Fellowship.
She assists families of people with special needs, people planning for the retirement years and people administering estates.
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