Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says financial
advisers marketing themselves as specialists in
serving seniors may be causing more confusion than
clarity for consumers.
advisers often advertise "senior"
designations to imply to consumers that they have
advanced training or expertise in the financial needs
of older people. But a report released Thursday shows
that these designations are not always a clear
indicator of experience and are confusing for
CFPB found that there are more than 50 different
senior designations in use to sell a variety of
products, including securities, financial products and
insurance products like annuities and long-term care
professionals who typically acquire these designations
include investment advisers, broker dealers,
accountants, insurance agents, financial planners and
other general financial professionals.
titles and acronyms for the different designations are
often similar or nearly identical to other
designations, making it difficult for consumers to
distinguish one from the next.
example, the report pointed out, Certified Estate
Planners (CEP), Chartered Estate Planning
Practitioners (CEPP) and Certified Estate and Trust
Specialists (CES) are different designations conferred
by different organizations, with different training
requirements. But the similarity of these titles may
lead consumers to believe each possess similar
qualifications and expertise.
addition to confusing consumers, some of these
specialists also appear to be exploiting seniors as
group said that various regulators and consumer groups
have been reporting in recent years that some
financial advisers with senior designations are
targeting older consumers and selling them
inappropriate and sometimes fraudulent financial
products and services.
said that while people 60 and older make up 15 percent
of the population, they account for about 30 percent
of investment fraud victims.
group is urging Congress and the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission to look closer improving the
clarity of "senior designation" titles that
financial advisers use to market their services, as
well as beefing up regulation of these industries.
is also suggesting that a centralized tool be created
for consumers to research and verify senior
designations and that the SEC track related
also wants to require that those individuals holding
senior designations and certifications meet and
maintain minimum levels of professional standards,
including education and accreditation, as well as a
code of conduct.
recommendations mark an important step toward
addressing the proliferation of designations,
certifications and titles used to mislead, confuse and
deceive America's seniors," Kevin Keller, CFP
Board's CEO, said in a statement."