Elder Financial Abuse is Going to Happen: Now What? with Tom West & Suzanne Schmitt

Tom West is a Senior Partner with Signature Estate & Investment Advisors, LLC, providing personalized financial planning and investment services to families in the Washington DC metro area. 

Suzanne Schmitt is a financial wellness expert with nearly two decades of industry experience in consumer insights, product development and positioning, and marketing and market enablement in financial services.

In this episode of The Family Financial Conversation, Tom and Suzanne explore the multifaceted issue of elder financial abuse, highlighting the blurred lines in defining and preventing exploitation while underscoring the need to change the narrative around financial vulnerability and engage clients in proactive problem-solving.

Topics they also discussed:

  • The macro-environment, including institutional approaches such as FINRA's trusted contact requirement (4152), highlighting the need for more proactive measures beyond mere compliance.
  • The role of advisors in supporting clients facing financial exploitation, sharing real-life stories and reflecting on the impact on individuals' identities and agency.
  • Seniors being defrauded due to their religious beliefs, caregiving roles, and perceived roles as protectors of their families.
  • The psychological tactics used by fraudsters to manipulate victims and the limitations of traditional approaches in preventing elder financial abuse.
  • Advisors’ need for a more comprehensive and proactive approach to addressing elder financial exploitation as well as scenario-based training.
  • The effectiveness of introducing vulnerability and shock in discussions, advocating for more open dialogue on financial security.
  • Resources for consumers, such as the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline, Ever Safe, and Carefull, are mentioned as tools to combat financial scams.

Resources: Signature Estate & Investment Advisors, LLC

Related: Passing the Torch: Advising Successor Decision-Makers with Tom West & Suzanne Schmitt