Press Releases


For Immediate Release
December 12, 2005  

Regulators Urge Investors to Carefully Check Credentials of ‘Senior Specialists’

(Madison) The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today urged seniors to carefully check the credentials of people calling themselves “senior specialists.”

“Individuals may call themselves ‘senior specialists’ to create a false level of comfort among seniors by implying a certain level of training on issues important to the elderly. But the training they receive is often nothing more than marketing and selling techniques targeting the elderly,” said DFI Securities Administrator Patricia Struck.

“These sales people and the alphabet soup of letters after their names can be confusing, and in some cases, may even be deceptive to seniors,” she said.

According to Struck, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) has observed a significant increase in designations claiming to provide the holder with expertise in providing services to investors 55 years and older. Securities regulators have opened 26 cases in the past year involving “senior specialists” in the eastern half of the United States alone. Most of the cases involve securities recommendations by people who are not properly licensed by state securities regulators. The DFI in Wisconsin has investigated several such cases.

Bogus senior specialists commonly target senior investors through seminars where the specialist reviews seniors’ assets, including securities portfolios, and typically recommends liquidating securities positions and using the proceeds to purchase indexed or variable annuities products or other investments the specialist offers.

Although there are legitimate organizations whose members must complete rigorous programs of study, pass extensive examinations, and have practical experience in order to receive their designations, a number of entities formed in the last few years have created designations with much less stringent requirements. Without reviewing the course material for each of these designations, it is difficult to verify the claims made by the promoters.

“Before doing business with any investment professional, all investors, especially senior investors, should check with their state securities regulator to determine whether the individual is properly licensed and if there have been any complaints or disciplinary problems involving the individual or his or her firm," Struck said.

For more information, visit the Senior Investor Resource Center on the NASAA website at www.nasaa.org for more investor education and protection tips for seniors. For additional consumer tips, visit the DFI website at www.wdfi.org.