Investor Protection – Beware of “Senior / Retirement Designations / Specialist”

Investor Protection Beware Senior Specialist Retirement Specialist Titles

In this article covering investor protection we look at “titles” for advisors.  One trend that investors should be cautious of is the creation of designations or titles in the finance world that imply expertise in financial planning for seniors and retirees.  These “Retirement Designations” should be viewed with caution.

There Are Few Legitimate “Senior or Retirement Designations” that are meaningful

While at first it may appear that someone that is a “specialist” in the retirement planning or senior planning is exactly what you need if you are a retiree or a senior, the truth is that there are few, if any, rigorous designations or official specializations that I am aware of.

Massachusetts Has Banned Bogus Senior Designations Since 2007

As detailed by the Boston Globe here:

LPL Financial, which is based in Boston, has been fined $250,000 after state regulator said its advisors were using titles and designations that didn’t measure up.  Secretary of State William F. Galvin actually said that 10 different senior designations were used that violated the state law which has been in effect since 2007.

William F. Galvin states:

“In these days when workers are increasingly having to assume responsibility for their retirement savings, it is vital that the financial services industry not employ titles that suggest an expertise in advising senior citizens when none exists…..That is why Massachusetts has these rules in place.” – William F. Galvin Secretary of State Massachusetts.

AARP Provides Recommendations to States to Prevent the Misleading Use of Senior Designations

The AARP’s Public Policy Institute has released a 6 page recommendations to States to help curtail the misleading use of designations.  You can read the recommendations here:

The SEC has issued a Warning About “Senior Specialists” and “Retirement Advisors”

At the link below the SEC, Securities and Exchange Commission, issued a warning about these designations.

As stated by the SEC in the links provided:

“The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) do not endorse professional designations or titles such as “senior specialist” or “retirement advisor” that some financial professionals use to market themselves.

The requirements for being designated as a “senior specialist” vary greatly. In some cases, a financial professional may need to pass several rigorous exams and have several years of experience working in a particular field to receive a specialist designation. Other “senior specialist” designations may be relatively quick and easy to obtain, even for an individual with no relevant experience” – Securities and Exchange Commission

The Take-Away

While outside of Massachusetts, Advisors can use senior and retiree specialist titles but the investing public should take these titles with a grain of salt.  The CFP designation and CFA Charter demonstrate much higher levels of experience and training than the other titles.  Both programs go into great details on investing and financial planning for seniors and retirees.  Further, I question the wisdom of a program offering those designations when the SEC and state regulators have specifically called out that type of designation.

** The information on this website is intended only for informational purposes. Investors should not act upon any of the information here. Reh Wealth Advisor clients should discuss with their advisor if any action is appropriate.

Image by Stuart Miles at