In October 2015, the Financial Services Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (“FINRA”) requested comments on a proposal (“Proposal”) to amend its Customer Account Information Rule (“Rule 4512”) and to adopt a new Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults Rule (“Proposed Rule 2165”). Based on a study published in 2011 and a survey published in 2013, FINRA determined that financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults is a serious and growing problem that must be addressed. As of now, a small number of states have already enacted legislation that is designed to help detect and prevent financial exploitation of seniors. As discussed previously, the North American Securities Administrators Association (“NASAA”) recently adopted a model act that is intended to provide states with guidance for drafting legislation or regulations to protect seniors and other vulnerable adults from financial exploitation.
FINRA, however, believes there needs to be a uniform, national standard regarding a financial institution’s obligations in helping to prevent financial exploitation of seniors and other vulnerable adults. Thus, FINRA first published its Proposal in October 2015 and requested comments on it. After receiving 40 comment letters from both individuals and institutions, FINRA filed the Proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission in October 2016. The SEC began a comment period on November 7, 2016, and it will end on November 28, 2016.
The proposed amendments to Rule 4512 and Proposed Rule 2165 pertain to the accounts of “Specified Adults.” A “Specified Adult” is defined as “a natural person age 65 or older or a natural person age 18 or older who the member reasonably believes has a mental or physical impairment that renders the individual unable to protect his or her own interests.” Thus, the Proposal applies to accounts held by seniors and other vulnerable adults.