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You may have lost money in your investment portfolio,
due to mismanagement and not even know it.

Agents who exploit the trust of the elderly

You were satisfied that your parents had enough to sustain them into retirement, barring any unforeseen circumstances. You knew they had worked hard and saved carefully, and perhaps you had a hand in helping them invest for the future. That's why you were shocked to learn that a large chunk of their savings was gone, lost in an investment they never should have made.

While your parents may insist that the agent was looking out for their best interests, you have your doubts. You may be especially suspicious when you learn that the agent said he received a certification to work with senior citizens.

What is senior designation?

An investment or insurance agent may have a string of letters after his or her name. Some of these letters suggest that the agent is specially trained or qualified to work with the elderly. Because of the delicate financial needs of many seniors, you may think senior designation is a positive quality in an agent. However, many times, having a senior designation is simply a marketing gimmick to lure in the elderly. To qualify for a senior designation, agents often need to do very little, for example:

  • A Chartered Senior Financial Planner trains for three days before taking an open-book exam. The deceptive use of the word "senior" in this designation actually indicates professional seniority, not demographics.
  • A Certified Senior Advisor takes three days of classes. This term is not limited to financial professionals but can also designate health care workers and estate planners.
  • A Certified Senior Consultant passes three final exams after about 30 hours of independent study. The agent must then complete additional hours of continuing education over the next five years.
  • A Certified Senior Specialist is often the most thorough, though still incomplete, designation since an agent is required to study numerous courses particular to the senior demographic.

You can probably understand why these designations would be confusing and misleading to your parents and many other seniors. Financial advisors recommend you work with an agent who is a Certified Financial Planner since this is the most widely accepted and respected designation. A CFP certification requires an agent to complete a rigorous academic program with a more complete financial curriculum.

What can I do if my parents have lost money?

If you feel that an unscrupulous investment or insurance agent has taken advantage of your loved ones, you have every right to be upset. Such agents use the vulnerability and trust of the elderly to line their own pockets. In fact, some states, like California, have placed restrictions on the use of many senior designations. By calling themselves senior consultants or senior advisors, agents can attract the business of people who may have substantial assets in addition to having concerns about their futures.

Fortunately, some attorneys are working to repairs these wrongs. By contacting a lawyer who has experience helping elderly people reclaim their lost investments, you will learn what you can do for your parents.

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