When the 2018 Exam Priorities were released by the SEC, few were surprised to learn that risk to retail investors (especially seniors and those saving for retirement) would be at the top of the list. With the Baby Boomer population rapidly aging out of the workforce and the so-called Millennial generation quickly becoming the one of the largest purchasing groups in the nation, these two massive age groups of consumers are at more risk than ever before of being taken advantage of.
Both groups have very different potential vulnerabilities that might make them vulnerable to certain types of fraud, but interestingly, those vulnerabilities intersect in the form of technology.
The technologically savvy Millennial group is often too quick to trust technology and too accepting of robo-advisers, who may not be safe due to a lack of proper disclosures or the use of questionable tactics.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Baby Boomers can be distrusting of or uneducated about technology, to the point that they either struggle to work with the modern adviser who regularly employs technology to work with clients, or they become the victim of technologically based fraud.
That's why the SEC continues to release new tools to help investors make the most comprehensive, informed decisions possible when considering an investment, for retirement or otherwise. SALI (SEC Action Lookup - Individuals) is just such a tool.
SALI - The SEC Action Lookup for Individuals
SALI is similar in many ways to FINRA's BrokerCheck and adds to the repository of tools that savvy and not-so-savvy investors can use to investigate firms they're considering going into business with.
That being said, one must realize that this is only a tool and is in no way an indication of anything beyond a history of violations or fraud. There is only so much one can do to warn and protect investors - in the end, if they are persuaded to do business with a bad actor while knowing of potential issues, there is little we can do but hope they receive a portion of a future disgorgement and don't lose their house in the process.
That being said, the SEC and other regulatory bodies spend significant time ensuring investors have the proper tools in the first place. SALI is a wonderful help, but more important are the actions the SEC takes every day to ensure firms remain in compliance and avoid particularly dangerous or damaging practices, such as the use of wrap fees.
Though the 2018 Exam Priorities put the protection of retail investors and seniors at the top of the list, this is nothing new - the SEC and other regulatory bodies have been preparing for decades to meet the needs of aging Baby Boomers, and SALI is just one more tool in their tool chest to help the richest generation in history safely and intelligently invest.
Avoid Compliance Issues - Help Aging Investors Get the Info They Need to Make Smart Investment Decisions
Aging investors are vulnerable, but firms can take specific steps to avoid common pitfalls and work with these investors even if their mental faculties decline (diminished capacity) or they become the victim of elder abuse.