Seniors looking for reliable, knowledgeable financial advisors tend to gravitate towards those who have credentials that certified they know what they're doing.
But the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says in a report published today that there are more than 50 so-called “senior designation” credentials that financial advisers use to indicate that they have advanced training or expertise in the financial needs of older consumers
“With such a bewildering array of titles and acronyms, it is no wonder that older Americans are confused and misled by these titles,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. “Today’s report underscores the need for consistent high-level standards of training and conduct for those advisers who want to acquire a bona fide senior designation.”
The report highlights the challenges that the nation’s 50 million seniors face as they try to navigate the complex world of financial advice and services. Older consumers have unique vulnerabilities, and are often the targets of fraud, Cordray noted.
The report found that:
- The names and acronyms of senior designations confuse consumers. Titles and acronyms for the numerous designations can appear quite similar, and consumers have no simple, clear means to distinguish among them .
- There is a wide variety of required training, qualifying exams, and oversight associated with different designations. Some senior designations may require rigorous college-level coursework while others may be acquired by attending a weekend seminar.
- There is a lack of comprehensive supervision and enforcement. No single authority is responsible for ensuring that those who use senior designations do not mislead or harm consumers.
Vulernable to fraud
Older consumers are already vulernable to fraud. They tend to have higher net worth than younger consumers and are more likely to experience cognitive decline and other healthproblems.
A particular problem associated with senior designations is the participation of some designees in “free lunch seminars.” These events are often marketed as educational seminars, when in fact they are staged sales events to sell investment and other financial products.
The complete report on senior designations is available at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201304_CFPB_OlderAmericans_Report.pdf