red warning flag on a stormy beach

As the opioid epidemic rages in both Canada and the U.S., securities regulators are sounding the alarm about the impact on both investment industry professionals and their clients.

The umbrella group of state and provincial securities regulators, the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), has published new resources that aim to raise awareness of the impact of the public health crisis in opioids on industry personnel and investors, particularly seniors.

“The opioid crisis in North America is devastating families and our communities. It is also a rising contributor to elder financial abuse and investment professionals are often the first to see the signs of this type of exploitation,” Michael Pieciak, president of NASAA and commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation, said in a statement.

The new publications include a guide for advisors that aims to explain how opioid abuse could impact clients, how to identify possible client exploitation and information on helping affected clients.

NASAA also issued a checklist of questions that advisors can use to broach the issue with potentially affected clients.

“The cost of opioid addiction and treatment can have major financial ramifications. Clients facing opioid addiction – either themselves or within the family – may be strapped for resources and can be vulnerable to poor financial decision-making or even fraud,” Pieciak added.

Judith Shaw, chair of NASAA’s Senior Issues and Diminished Capacity Committee and Maine Securities Administrator, noted that reps can be part of the solution to the epidemic, “but they have to be prepared to talk to clients in crisis.”

“Regulators have a responsibility to educate and provide resources to investment professionals as they confront these challenging situations,” Pieciak said.