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Survey: Suspicions of Financial Abuse of Elderly Common Among Advisors

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 10, 2017
Financial Abuse

Our financial advisors are there to help us grow, manage, maintain and in some cases protect our wealth.  Their job is to maximize our financial stability and to meet our goals.  Increasingly, it seems that some financial advisors are struggling with where to draw the line on involvement with the lives of their clients.  That’s because a surprisingly large number of them suspect that their older clients are targets of financial abuse.  Unfortunately, a recently published survey also states that many advisors who suspect financial abuse of the elderly are not reporting it.  The elder abuse lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys want to make sure that everyone understands the nature of the serious and growing problem that is elder financial abuse.  Below you’ll find an overview of this survey and some ideas on how you can protect loved ones from this type of harm.

About the Financial Abuse of the Elderly Survey published the survey.  Those who would like to review it can find it here.  The publication surveyed 591 financial advisers who had worked with seniors during their careers.  62 percent of the respondents stated that they had either seen or suspected financial abuse during their careers.  While that’s a troubling statistic, what may be even more troubling is that 56 percent – more than half – of those who had suspected or seen financial abuse did not report it.

The survey dug deeper into this issue, and the advisors who answered the survey specified whom they had either seen or suspected of financial abuse of the elderly.  Their answers, given in percentages of overall respondents, were as follows:

  • Family member – 64.62 percent
  • Financial professionals – 38.72 percent
  • Caregiver – 30.36 percent
  • Friend or acquaintance – 29.53 percent
  • Other – 9.47 percent

Not only did more than half of the respondents see or suspect financial abuse of the elderly during their careers, but some of them have seen or suspected it quite often.  According to the survey, the following percentages of respondents had seen or suspected financial abuse the following number of times:

  • Never – 37.61 percent
  • 1 – 2 times – 33.5 percent
  • 3 – 4 times – 14.7 percent
  • 5 times or more – 14.19 percent

Financial Abuse of the Elderly and Reporting Suspicions

In response to the question of why financial advisors did not report suspected financial abuse, respondents provided the following reasons, again given in percentages:

  • Did not have enough evidence – 60.61 percent
  • Other – 25.76 percent
  • Privacy concerns – 17.17 percent
  • Didn’t know who to contact – 10.61 percent
  • Was reported by a colleague – 10.61 percent
  • Fear of litigation – 9.6 percent

The answers above become more interesting when one reviews the responses to a question regarding whether or not advisors should be responsible for reporting suspected financial abuse of elders.  The following are the answers to that question:

  • Yes, reporting should be mandatory – 47.2 percent
  • Yes, but reporting should be optional – 43.6 percent
  • No, advisors should not be responsible for reporting suspected abuse – 9.22 percent

While only a small minority of respondents feel that advisors should not be responsible for reporting suspected financial abuse of elders, fewer than half of the respondents feel that reporting should be mandatory.

Financial Abuse of Elders and Diminished Cognitive Capacity

One of the biggest problems relating to the exploding problem of financial abuse of elders is the tendency for seniors to show signs of cognitive decline as they continue to age.  This diminished capacity in some makes them vulnerable to scams and other attempts to steal from them.  The surveyors asked the advisors about their clients and diminished capacity.  The first question asked how many of their clients had shown these signs.  Their answers follow:

  • 10 or more clients – 10.2 percent
  • 5 – 10 clients – 13.1 percent
  • 3 – 4 clients – 24.9 percent
  • 1 – 2 clients – 26.8 percent
  • No clients – 25 percent

In furtherance of the question above, the surveyors asked the respondents if they had ever cut ties with a client because of signs of diminished cognitive capacity.  83.9 percent of respondents said that they hadn’t and 16.1 percent stated that they had.  The surveyors then asked the respondents who had cut ties with respondents because of diminished mental capacity what the specific reasons were for that decision.  Those responses were as follows:

  • The family situation was becoming difficult – 57.6 percent
  • Client refused to follow recommendations – 42.4 percent
  • Litigation risk – 37.9 percent
  • Fear that the client was vulnerable – 21.2 percent
  • Client had no emergency contacts – 15.2 percent
  • Didn’t know how to discuss – 9.1 percent

Why This Survey Matters

Financial abuse of the elderly is a substantial problem in the United States and it’s getting worse every day.  The elder abuse lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys have been working tirelessly not only to defend the rights of seniors who have been targeted by scammers, but also to raise the level of awareness with regards to this ongoing threat.  For additional information on financial abuse of elders, see the following links below:

Unfortunately, this is a problem that is likely to get worse before it gets better given the growth in the number of seniors in the United States.  The more everyone knows about this issue – particularly those whose loved ones have either already reached or are about to reach this age group – the more people will recognize potential problems and do something about them before it’s too late.

How San Diego Elder Abuse Lawyers Can Help

One way that people can help to take a stand against this situation is to make sure that they do what’s necessary to hold those responsible for this type of harm accountable.  If you suspect that a loved one is being targeted for financial abuse of elders or you have been harmed in this manner, you need to take this step.  Seek the help of San Diego elder abuse lawyers who have been fighting for the rights of clients for more than a decade.  Contact Gomez Trial Attorneys for a free case evaluation.


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