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Exploitation of Senior and Vulnerable Investors in the COVID-19 Era and Regulatory Responses

Level: Advanced
Runtime: 63 minutes
Recorded Date: November 19, 2020
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  • COVID related scams targeting seniors and vulnerable investors
  • Regulatory actions
  • State legislative actions
  • FINRA Notice 20-34
  • NASAA 2016 model act
  • Reporting issues
  • Factors making the elderly more vulnerable
  • Financial exploitation red flags
  • Diminished capacity of financial advisors
Runtime: 1 hour, 3 minutes
Recorded: November 19, 2020


Since March 2020, due to the facts that: seniors have a large proportion of accumulated assets compared to that of prior generations; COVID-19 has caused many seniors to endure enforced isolation since they are in the highest risk group; and an increasing number of scams has been directed at seniors and vulnerable investors, regulators, as well as securities firms, have had to intensify their efforts to create and implement better protections for these investors. This panel will ask experts, state and federal regulators and counsel to address the latest developments in this area.

This program was recorded on November 19th, 2020.

Provided By

American Bar Association
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Marin E. Gibson

Managing Director & Associate General Counsel

Ms. Gibson is Managing Director and Associate General Counsel, State Government Relations at SIFMA. She manages state legislative and regulatory issues.

Prior to joining SIFMA, Ms. Gibson had an extensive career in state government in both the legislative and executive branches of New York State. Her public service included her role as Counsel to the Senate Committee on Consumer Protection, Acting General Counsel for the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation, and Legislative Bureau Chief in the New York State Attorney General’s Office.

After receiving her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English from Rutgers College in New Jersey, Ms. Gibson earned her Juris Doctor from the University at Buffalo Law School in Buffalo, New York.

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Joseph Thomas

Bates Group

Joseph Thomas is a Director with Bates Group, working out of St. Louis, MO. Mr. Thomas has thirty years of securities industry compliance, supervision, operations and administration experience. He has an educational background in quantitative management, and work experience leading teams of associates, implementing process and workflow changes, and developing supervisory systems and policies. In addition, Mr. Thomas has provided quantitative and substantive witness testimony and opinions in over 100 retail securities litigation, arbitration, and court matters.

While with Wells Fargo/Wachovia Securities/A.G. Edwards & Sons, as Vice President and Finance Manager/Litigation Auditor, Mr. Thomas was responsible for coordinating and supervising the preparation of financial and damages analysis reports. He was also responsible for consulting and providing opinions on trading patterns, investment product and market risk analysis, investment cost analysis and case assessment related to securities litigation. In addition, Mr. Thomas provided expert testimony during legal proceedings as to the validity of the financial data and substantive matters including compliance procedures and supervision. Mr. Thomas also served on the Wells Fargo Advisors Information Governance Board, Information Strategy Initiative Committee, Business Continuity Council, and Service Break Committee, Firm Incentive Award Advisory Committee and was a member of the Senior Leadership Council.

Prior to Wells Fargo, Mr. Thomas was with Edward Jones Investments for 17 years. In his role as Area Team Leader, his responsibilities included coordinating the sales and compliance supervision of approximately 780 Investment Representatives in the Southeastern United States, supervising a staff of Field Supervision Directors and providing oversight and development. Mr. Thomas coordinated branch compliance audits, developed and delivered educational training to the department as well as regional Investment Representative Meetings. He also served as firm representative in arbitration hearings and provided testimony regarding suitability, supervision systems, and performance analysis. Mr. Thomas also participated in Sales Practice Examinations with the NASD and NYSE on a regular basis.

While with Edward Jones, Mr. Thomas spent six years in a Field Supervision Director role where his responsibilities included daily oversight and supervision of 130 Investment Representatives as registered Branch Manager. He reviewed all daily trading activity, provided guidance and instructions directly to the Investment Representatives, and delivered education advice, and compliance presentations at regional meetings. Mr. Thomas conducted annual compliance audits and oversight of all functions of the branch office. During this time, he was also involved in the development of supervisory systems as well as an automated new account system.

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Erin Linehan

Associate General Counsel
Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.

Erin is responsible for four areas within the enterprise-wide compliance function for Raymond James: Dispute Resolution, Senior & At-Risk Clients; Marketing Compliance and Corporate Functions Compliance. Aside from handling substantive work for these areas of the firm, these teams provide compliance and legal advice and guidance; metrics, data and trending; and education on best practices so the company may benefit from lessons learned. Erin is involved in developing policies and procedures in these ares for the firm at large. She is a frequent speaker at company and industry events, domestically and abroad, on lessons learned and best practices for financial advisors, supervisors, attorneys and compliance professionals.

Erin received her BS from Cornell University and JD, cum laude from Tulane Law School. She has her Series 7, 9 and 10 licenses, a member of SIFMA’s Senior Investor Working Group, FINRA’s Senior Investor Roundtable, FINRA CIC, and is on the Board for the FSDA and Pace Center for Girls, Inc. – Hillsborough.

In 2016, Erin founded and co-chairs an organization of over 100 of women lawyers in the Southeast US who work in financial services, Southeast Women in Financial Services is focused on networking, professional development, the advancement of women in financial services and philanthropic efforts to support financial education, professional development and economic security for women and girls through community partnerships, education and advocacy.

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Amy Bard, Esq.

Law Office of Amy Bard

Amy bring 37 years of litigation experience to her practice. After starting at a major Wall Street firm, Amy served as Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, prosecuting federal Drug Enforcement Agency investigations of major narcotic traffickers.

Amy has devoted the last 20 years of her legal career to litigation in the securities and financial services arenas. As in-house counsel to UBS Financial Services, Inc., and then principal at Bressler, Amery & Ross, a national firm representing major broker dealers and Investment advisors, Amy has developed extensive experience arbitrating before FINRA and other regulatory tribunals. She has tried or mediated hundreds of arbitration cases over the past 20 years involving claims of unsuitable recommendations, product failure, fraud, misrepresentation, conflicts of interest as well as issues relating to recruitment and termination of brokers. Amy has represented individual brokers in expungement proceedings throughout the country.

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Richard Szuch

Enforcement Chief
New Jersey Bureau of Securities

Richard Szuch currently serves as the Enforcement Chief for the New Jersey Bureau of Securities. His enforcement team will triage firms’ financial exploitation reports when New Jersey’s report and hold law goes live in April 2020. Prior to his work as a regulator, he spent more than 25 years defending some of the industry’s largest banks, broker dealers and investment advisers. In 2017, he formed Bressler Amery and Ross’s Senior and Vulnerable Investor Group.

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Lawrence E. Fenster

Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C.

Lawrence Fenster is a principal in the firm’s Financial Institutions practice group. For more than three decades, clients have relied on Larry’s skills in securities litigation, securities and commercial arbitrations — both domestic and international — and regulatory matters at the state and federal levels. He has represented hundreds of clients in securities fraud class action suits, securities arbitrations, internal fraud investigations, and complex commercial litigation at the trial and appellate levels.

Larry’s depth of knowledge and experience amply prepares his clients to successfully defend cases involving the most complex issues. Larry’s experience is both broad and deep, and has included the defense of claims relating to: Securities fraud, Consumer fraud, Structured products, Auction rate securities, Leveraged municipal bond funds, Options ,Leveraged ETFs, Employee stock option plans, PIPE transactions, Annuities, Real estate limited partnerships and Complex derivatives.

Clients seek Larry’s insight and talent for offering clear analyses of complex legal issues. His innovative thinking produces tangible results for securities and corporate firms, financial institutions, and their officers and directors.

Larry is a member of Bressler's Senior and Vulnerable Investor Group. The lawyers in this group have a shared interest in providing counsel to corporate clients who confront issues affecting seniors. He is also the Co-chair of the ABA Section of Litigation Subcommittee on Seniors and Vulnerable Investors.

Larry writes prolifically and publishes often in the area of securities litigation and arbitration. He has been featured in a variety of publications, including the New York Law Journal, the Broker-Dealer Dispute Report, Securities & Commodities Regulation, Securities News, Securities Law360 and the ABA Securities Litigation Journal. He speaks frequently about securities law issues before professional organizations. He has been a featured speaker at the ABA Annual Meeting, before the ABA Securities Litigation Committee, as well as for the National Institute of Arbitration, among many others.

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