Serving Seniors with Diminished Capacity


Financial advisors are undoubtedly familiar with the financial planning issues that older clients face: the need to maximize Social Security benefits, develop an income stream to last throughout retirement, ensure that health care costs are covered, and ultimately develop an estate plan to transfer assets to heirs in a tax-efficient manner. To ethically serve the wave of aging baby boomers, financial advisors must be prepared to address the important issue of diminished capacity. Those who understand the signs of cognitive decline and develop protocols and strategies for working with such impairment can help ensure that clients are protected during a vulnerable stage in their lives.

In this course, we’ll learn about the general ethical duties that financial advisors owe to clients as well as the enhanced duties that are required when working with senior clients. We will review the normal age-related changes that occur as people get older, the issue of financial capacity and the red flags that may indicate its decline, and the proactive measures advisors can take if diminished capacity in a client is suspected. The course concludes by examining the growing problem of financial abuse of the elderly and the steps that advisors can take to protect clients and mitigate their own risk of liability.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the ethical duties that financial advisors owe to clients in general and the specific duties owed to senior clients 
  • describe the various physical, psychological, and cognitive changes individuals face as they age  
  • explain what financial professionals can do to help ensure client understanding of financial concepts and products
  • identify the warning signs that may indicate a client is suffering from cognitive impairment
  • explain how to have a conversation about cognitive impairment with one’s clients
  • take steps to protect themselves and their practices, and mitigate their own risks
  • cite the various red flags that may indicate a person is being financially exploited or abused
  • explain how advisors can protect older clients from financial abuse

Designed For

Financial professionals who wish to learn more about ethical decision making and how to work with their senior clients ethically. 
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