Opening Remarks to the Elder Justice Coordinating Council
June 5, 2018
Thank you Secretary Azar.
Good morning. Thank you all for being here today for the 2018 Spring Meeting of the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, and the World Elder Abuse Awareness Day Fourth Global Summit.
I want to especially thank our two distinguished guests we have with us here today: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who chairs the Elder Justice Coordinating Council, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who serves as a permanent member of the Council. Thank you for your remarks. I am grateful for all you have done for seniors, and we are honored to have you both here at the SEC.
On behalf of the SEC, I also want to say how fortunate we are to host such an incredible group of experts, who are coming together to discuss the many issues regarding the protection of older Americans from abuse. All of you in this room play a vital role in safeguarding seniors.
I want to thank you for all of your tremendously important work to protect elder Americans, particularly our most vulnerable, against different kinds of abuse—whether it’s physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, or financial exploitation.
At the SEC, we are very concerned about financial exploitation of our seniors. Every day, bad actors target the elder community, and we – all of us at the SEC – despise this behavior. Americans work hard and save their entire lives with the hope of living better as a result of their retirement savings. We need to do all we can to protect them while ensuring they have quality investment opportunities.
We are intensely focused on efforts to educate Main Street investors so they can be in a position to make better, more informed investment decisions – so that they have the best chance of protecting and growing their life’s savings. We place great importance on in-person outreach efforts, including regional roundtable meetings with investors and events specifically targeting seniors. I personally have spoken with senior investors throughout the country – including just yesterday in Houston. We also have a website at Investor.gov with a great deal of information geared specifically toward older Americans. And of course, our investor advocacy team at the SEC is just a phone call away for those Americans that don’t have access to the Internet.
And for those who continue to target our elder community with investment scams, I have a message for you: our Enforcement Division is on the lookout. Last year we established a Retail Strategy Task Force whose focus is to identify, punish and deter misconduct that most affects everyday investors.
For those of you who are seeking ways to protect seniors from financial exploitation, we want to help. For example, last week, our Division of Investment Management provided no-action relief to permit mutual funds to temporarily delay the disbursement of redemption proceeds when there is a reasonable belief of financial exploitation of a senior or impaired adult.
Indeed, stopping financial exploitation and fraud against seniors has been a priority for many of us, including our state securities regulators. Just two weeks ago, President Trump and Congress enacted bipartisan legislation, sponsored by Senators Collins and McCaskill and Representatives Poliquin and Sinema, which will strengthen the ability of financial institutions and their employees to identify and report instances of financial exploitation of seniors to the appropriate authorities.
We are proud to be partners with you in the fight against elder abuse. Thank you for your dedication and the selfless work you do every day in protecting the elder community.