The creation of an interdivisional task force at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to protect senior investors, could become a reality, if the legislation continues to move forward.
Investment News recently published “House introduces bill targeting elder financial abuse.” The article reports that Representative Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., introduced the National Senior Investor Initiative Act of 2018 to create a team of staff members from the SEC's Division of Enforcement; Office of Compliance, Inspections and Examinations; and Office of Investor Education and Advocacy. They would be responsible for examining the challenges facing elderly investors, focusing especially on the issues seniors have with financial services providers and investment products.
The task force would coordinate with law enforcement authorities, federal agencies, other SEC offices and state regulators, and report its findings every two years to the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, as well as the House Financial Services Committee.
The group’s objective would be to recommend specific regulatory or statutory changes that would help senior investors.
The bill also calls for the Government Accountability Office (the “GAO”) to study and report on the economic costs of the financial exploitation of senior citizens, within a year of the bill's enactment.
The law has a sunset clause that will end the task force after 10 years.
The full House subsequently passed by a 406-4 vote, the JOBS and Investor Confidence Act of 2018, also known as House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s “JOBS Act 3.0,” which includes a package of 32 bills.
This “package” included H.R. 6323, also known as the National Senior Investor Initiative Act of 2018, which requires the SEC to make the senior task force a reality.
In my view, to date, few legislative or regulatory initiatives have done much to reduce, let alone stop, the thriving industry of elder abuse, and the likelihood that this task force will have any real impact is quite low. Nevertheless, any attention that the federal government and regulators focus on elder abuse is better than what we have today, and maybe it will result in some incremental progress.
Reference: Investment News (July 10, 2018) “House introduces bill targeting elder financial abuse”