FINRA seniors’ hotline leads to US$4.3 million in reimbursements

A helpline for senior investors that the U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is operating has led to several million dollars being voluntarily returned to investors while also alerting regulators to a variety of investor issues.

The self-regulatory organization (SRO) launched the toll-free helpline in April 2015 to enable senior investors and their caregivers to easily raise concerns about their brokerage accounts and investments with the regulator.

In the two years of the helpline’s operation, callers have received US$4.3 million in voluntary reimbursements, FINRA reported on Thursday. The SRO also says the helpline has received more than 9,200 calls, resulting in almost 650 issues being referred to other regulators, more than 130 referrals to Adult Protective Services and it has revealed several issues to FINRA itself.

For example, FINRA has learned about issues, including impersonation scams, binary options issues and difficulties transferring assets from a broker-dealer. It also led FINRA to adopt a new rule addressing the financial exploitation of seniors.

“The need for the rule became clear from calls to the helpline, and FINRA has also used information it has learned to complement its regulatory programs and discipline registered representatives,” the SRO reports.

“FINRA is committed to protecting senior investors, and our dedicated helpline staff has done a great job responding to callers’ questions, recognizing and addressing concerns around certain products and issues, and promptly escalating relevant matters,” says Susan Axelrod, executive vice president, regulatory operations, at FINRA, in a statement. “The helpline’s success is also due in large part to firms that are proactively assessing issues raised to them by helpline staff and making customers whole where appropriate.”

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