Not waiting for regulators — including state-government agencies — to expand protection of senior customers, Wells Fargo has decided to allow its brokers to interfere, even if the action could lead to lawsuits, Financial Advisor magazine writes.
Regulators certainly seem to be looking into ways to curb elder abuse. Finra launched a senior help line in April and — according to Gerri Walsh, head of Finra’s Investor Education Foundation — has already received 1,000 calls from brokerage clients as well as executors and beneficiaries of estates, reports the magazine.
But Wells Fargo is preparing to tackle the issue. Appearing at a Practising Law Institute seminar last week, Wells Fargo managing counsel Beverly Jo Slaughter said the firm’s brokers will be able to stop transactions if they suspect fraud — regardless of whether they have legal authority — even at the risk of getting sued, Financial Advisor reports.
While Wells Fargo’s Elder Services Program is working with state regulators to grant brokers the right to stop transactions, some states apply the right only to abuse at nursing homes and not to financial exploitation, the magazine quotes Slaughter as saying.
One form of such exploitation, according to the magazine, stems from recently arrived young “foreign friends” — often grifters intent on wringing money from their victims — Joseph Peiffer, president of the Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association, tells Financial Advisor.
In a specific measure against such shenanigans, Slaughter says her employer is teaching its advisors how to take notes as concrete evidence of elderly customers’ intentions in the face of contrary — and potentially exploitative — directives, the magazine writes.