This is Part 2 of my article relating to protecting seniors from investment fraud. Part 1 can be found here…
“Senior” Specialists and Advisors: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS
Some financial professionals use designations such as “senior specialist” or “retirement advisor” to imply that they are experts at helping seniors with financial issues.
Many seniors, however, don’t understand the titles or the sets of initials that may follow the names of these financial professionals.
The education, experience, and other requirements for receiving and maintaining a “senior” designation vary greatly. In some cases, a financial professional may need to study and pass several rigorous exams—after working in a designated field for several years—to receive a particular designation.
In other cases, it may be relatively easy in terms of time and effort to receive a “senior” designation, even for an individual with no relevant experience.
If you want to find out more about a particular professional designation, check out the “Understanding Investment Professional Designations” page on FINRA’s website, www.finra.org/investors. The page provides the education and experience requirements for many professional designations.
In addition, you can find out whether the granting organization for a particular designation requires continuing education, offers a public
disciplinary or investor complaint process, or provides a way to check the status of a financial professional. Keep in mind that neither FINRA nor the SEC endorses any professional designation.
Even after doing some research, it may not be clear to you whether a professional designation represents legitimate expertise, a marketing tool, or something in between. That’s one reason you should always look beyond a financial professional’s designation and determine whether he or she can provide the type of financial services or product you need.
We encourage you to thoroughly evaluate the background of anyone with whom you intend to do business—before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
You also should ask questions—that’s the best advice we can give you about how to invest wisely. We see too many investors who might have avoided trouble and losses if they had asked basic questions from the start.
Where To Go For Help
SEC OFFICE OF INVESTOR EDUCATION AND ADVOCACY
If you encounter a problem with an investment or have a question, you can contact the SEC’s Office of Investor Education and Advocacy at:
Securities and Exchange Commission
Office of Investor Education and Advocacy
100 F Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20549-0213
Telephone: (800) 732-0330
Fax: (202) 772-9295
You also can send us an online complaint form at www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml or email us at email@example.com.
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
FINRA, a self-regulatory organization, also regulates the brokerage industry. If you have a complaint against a FINRA member firm or one of its employees, you can file a complaint at:
FINRA Investor Complaint Center
1735 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006
Fax: (866) 397-3290
You also can file an online complaint by going to www.finra.org.
You can verify registration and disciplinary information about an individual broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA BrokerCheck, www.finra.org/brokercheck. You also can call them toll-free at (800) 289-9999.
FINRA’s website includes investor resources as well as an investors’ claims fund page.