Some 65% of broker dealers are “worried about the aging registered representative population at their firms.”

Those are the findings of an on-the-spot cell phone poll taken at Finra’s “Senior Investor Protection Conference” in Washington, DC, today.

“We think this is an important question to ask,” said Robert Mascio, Manager of Finra’s Securities Helpline for Seniors, who led a panel on diminished capacity and suspected elder abuse at the conference.

With the average age of financial advisors in their mid-50s and many in their 60s and 70s--and the investments of millions of investors hanging in the balance—advisors should expect accelerating training, monitoring and procedures for detecting advisor cognitive impairment to ramp up across the industry, broker-dealer executives said.

“People get so freaked out that they’re invading an employee privacy, but if you look at this as a performance management issue, we all have the tools to investigate and manage this,” Mary Shea Tucker, Director of Wells Fargo Advisors Elder Client Initiatives Team, said at the conference.

Tucker said monitoring for and managing the signs of cognitive impairment and diminished capacity in advisors is as important as it for broker-dealers’ senior clients.

“It’s critical to ask managers, ‘do you have an advisor who doesn’t know how to use your technology systems, hasn’t checked in with clients, hasn’t met with his or her clients for the last seven months?’ All of this is what managers should be documenting as performance issues,” Shea said.

“If you no longer have the ability to do the job, other arrangements need to be made. The [human resources] tools are out there. You just need to use them,” Shea told the audience of broker-dealer compliance professionals and attorneys.

Shea said at Wells Fargo Advisors, the team approach makes it easier for managers and associates to see if a rep is having difficulty that may be impacting clients.  “One thing we’ve leveraged is our teams. Manager will call us if they have anyone who is having cognitive impairment, based on an assessment of performance management. This is the best thing we have at this point regarding the cognitive ability of advisors,” Shea added.

Another panelist, Amber Crouch, Senior Compliance Officer and Regulatory at Crews & Associates, said the subject of reps’ cognition and diminished capacity is on the docket at the broker-dealer of 150 dually-registered advisors.

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