Over the last few years, more and more states have enacted laws to protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. These laws typically apply to the conduct of registered investment advisers, broker-dealers, and their employees. Two states – Iowa and Nebraska, have passed such legislation in 2021. Two other states – Florida and Texas – have added additional protections to already existing laws. The new laws are worth studying as they point to the general tenor and structure of the laws being adopted in other states.
For example, Iowa Sec. 502.801, titled “Financial Exploitation of Eligible Adults,” includes protection for adults over 65 and certain other “dependent adults.” The law requires all broker-dealers or investment advisers to provide vulnerable adult training for its employees “appropriate to the job responsibilities” of the employee. The training must occur within one year of the employee’s hire date and must include information on how to identify actual or attempted financial exploitation of eligible adults and how to report such exploitation to the regulatory authorities. “Financial exploitation” is defined to mean “any act or omission taken by a person to wrongfully and knowingly deprive an eligible adult of money, assets, or property, or to obtain control over or otherwise use, convert, or divert the benefits, property, resources, or assets of the eligible adult by intimidation, deception, coercion, fraud, extortion, or undue influence.”
The statute permits, but does not require, certain actors to report any reasonably suspected exploitation to the securities administrator, which is the Securities and Regulated Industries Bureau of the Iowa Insurance Division (“the Bureau”). Any such report made reasonably and in good faith cannot form the basis of civil or administrative liability by the person or company making the report. Those authorized to make such reports, and therefore able to take advantage of the civil and administrative immunity provisions, are any broker-dealer, investment adviser, or any individual who has received the required training. Continue reading ›