Closing Remarks to the Older Investor Roundtable
April 28, 2022
In 1937, in his first press conference as Chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, William O. Douglas told members of the press that, in this country, “We have got brokers’ advocates; we have got Exchange advocates; we have got investment-banker advocates; and we are the investor’s advocate.”
Eighty-five years later, those words hang on a plaque outside of the Chair’s office. We, at the SEC, are the investor’s advocate. Investor protection is fundamental to our three-part mission, and we are here to represent you.
That’s why today’s event is important. Our investor-protection mission depends on our ability to help all Americans, including older Americans, who have worked to prepare for their golden years and guard against financial fraud.
The need to guard against fraud is great, as you heard today. The FBI estimates that older adults lose nearly $3 billion a year to financial scams. What’s more, the risk of fraud is growing for us all as we spend more time online.
Furthermore, new and emerging technologies create the risk of gaps in investor protection. For example, currently, there are significant gaps in investor protection when it comes to the American public—including older Americans—buying, selling, or lending crypto assets.
And, as more Americans use novel technologies—such as robo-advisers and brokerage applications—to inform their investing, those technologies raise questions about digital engagement practices. We need to ask, what are these finance platforms optimizing for? Are they optimizing for your best interest, or are they putting their interests ahead of yours?
These platforms have to comply with investor protections through specific duties. You heard about them today: fiduciary duty, duty of care, duty of loyalty, best execution, and best interest—standards that also apply to older Americans’ work with investment professionals.
Looking out for older Americans is a group enterprise. I am thankful for this agency’s work with key partners like state securities regulators, state attorneys general, and wonderful organizations like the AARP and our co-host today, NASAA. These collaborations help us carry out our work to educate the investing public, to examine needs for new rulemaking, and, through our Division of Enforcement, to serve as the cop-on-the-beat for fraud and other misconduct.
Most of all, this group enterprise depends on you in the audience and our panelists today. I thank all of you for your participation in this roundtable, and give my thanks as well to Richard Szuch of NASAA; Nancy LeaMond of the AARP; and Investor Advocate Rick Fleming as well as Adam Anicich from the SEC’s Office of the Investor Advocate.
William O. Douglas’s words hang outside of my office—and the work that all of you do gives those words added weight. Thank you.
 See The New York Times, “Text of W. O. Douglas’s Statement at Press Conference” (Sept. 23, 1937), available at https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1937/09/23/118992510.html?pageNumber=45.
 See FBI, “Elder Fraud,” available at https://www.fbi.gov/scams-and-safety/common-scams-and-crimes/elder-fraud.