Why fighting financial fraud isn’t just business for me, it’s personal

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Financial advisors can hold a special place in a family’s life. They’re also in a unique position to identify a cause for concern.

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Michael Armstrong
CEO
RBC Wealth Management–U.S.

A few years ago, my parents each fell victim to financial exploitation. These are two of the smartest, most savvy people I know. Still, they lost tens of thousands of dollars because they trusted someone who set out to dupe them.

Of course, I felt a fair amount of guilt. I’ve spent my entire career in financial services—how could this have happened?

What I realized through that experience is that anyone can become the target of financial abuse. I also learned how difficult it is for people to talk about it, even with those they are closest to. But having open conversations about the risks, the warning signs, and what we can all do to prevent financial abuse are critical to addressing the issue.

Since then, I’ve been determined to shine a light on this growing problem and to protect others—particularly the clients in my firm’s care—from losing their hard-earned assets to fraud and deception.

The Client Risk Prevention division at RBC Wealth Management–U.S., launched five years ago, arms our employees with the resources and training to prevent, detect and report suspected financial abuse.

We’re not just paying lip service to a popular topic, we’re putting money and resources into addressing it. We’re doing it because it’s increasingly necessary in the world today and we did it because it’s personal—for me and for the thousands of people impacted by financial abuse on a daily basis.

Financial advisors can hold a special place in a family’s life. They know more about their clients’ financial picture than sometimes even the clients themselves do. For that reason, advisors are in a unique position to identify signs of trouble early on. Those signs can range from changes in behavioral patterns, the sudden addition of other family members as decision makers on accounts, or a drastic swing in risk tolerance or investment preferences brought on, often times, by some form of dementia.

Financial advisors can also encourage clients to name a Trusted Contact, a person the advisor can call on in certain circumstances to protect a client’s assets and respond to possible financial exploitation.  

While our clients are our top priority, this mission we’re on is much further reaching.

Beyond arming our employees with resources to identify and prevent financial abuse, we are creating new connections with community resource groups, like the Alzheimer’s Association, and conducting broad outreach to government agencies, with the goal of sharing knowledge and building awareness.

Financial fraud and exploitation is rampant today and it would be naïve to say we can eliminate it altogether. But I do believe it is feasible to change the trajectory of the trend.


RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.


Michael Armstrong

CEO
RBC Wealth Management–U.S.

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