The U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday approved a bill to give financial firms immunity from privacy violations for disclosing possible cases of senior exploitation.
The action, passed on a voice vote, is the latest step in easing up on rules that some observers blame for making brokerage and advisory firms hesitant to report cases of abuse.
Under the House legislation, compliance supervisors or legal advisors for financial institutions, including broker-dealers and investment advisors, would have a safe harbor to make the disclosures to authorities in “good faith” and with “reasonable care.”
A companion Senate bill, which enjoys bipartisan support, is still under consideration by the Senate banking committee.
“I am hopeful the Senate will quickly follow suit,” said Financial Services Institute CEO Dale Brown, in a statement, adding that the trade group is working on gaining co-sponsors for the Senate version.
The House action is the latest in a series of steps policymakers have proposed to make it easier to report senior abuse and delay disbursement of funds in such cases.
A model state law, proposed by NASAA last September, would allow a 10-day hold on disbursements when firms and individual advisors believe financial exploitation of an investor 60 years of age or older is taking place.
Last October, Finra asked for comment on its proposal to permit supervisors and compliance people to put 15-day holds on disbursements from accounts owned by people age 65 and older (or otherwise impaired) when financial exploitation is suspected.
While state eldercare officials want more cooperation from financial firms in identifying victims and their assets, financial institutions may fear reporting suspected abuse for fear of privacy violations and often refuse to stop disbursements without a court-ordered account freeze.
The model state act would also require reporting by advisors and firms to authorities when they see cases of suspected abuse—an idea the securities industry opposes.