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iStock-594049560-300x200Atria Wealth Solutions, Inc. is a wealth management holding company with subsidiaries that serve independent finanicial advisors and financial institutions. The company has recently agreed to acquire NEXT Financial Group Inc., an independent broker-dealer based in Houston. NEXT Financial Group serves more than 500 independent advisors with approximately $13 billion assets under administration.

Financial terms for this transaction have not been disclosed. However, it is expected to close during the beginning of 2019 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Atria will acquire 100% of NEXT and all of its sister companies, NEXT Financial Insurance Services Company and Visionary Asset Management Inc. In taking on these new companies, Atria will serve nearly 2,000 advisors with approximately $64 billion in assets under administration.

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https://www.silverlaw.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Broker-Sylvester-King-Jr.-Resigns-from-Wells-Fargo-Advisors-LLC-Concurrent-with-FINRA-Suspension1-300x200.jpgThe National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors of New York State Inc. (“NAIFA”) filed a lawsuit on November 16 in the New York Supreme Court alleging New York regulation requiring insurance agents and brokers to act in the best interest of their clients when selling life insurance and annuity products is unfair. It is arguing that the state’s Department of Financial Services overstepped its boundaries by promulgating the rule without legislative or constitutional authorization.

The suit also states the insurance sales standard contradicts existing New York insurance law, as it requires insurance sales professionals to prioritize their clients before their firms. Many investors remain confused why insurance agents or financial advisors are not required to act in the clients’ best interest.

Donald Damick, an agent with Nationwide Insurance Companies and past president of NAIFA New York State, has stated that this rule has put him and many other in an impossible situation, as agents are under contractual obligations to act as an agent of the insurer, not of the customer. “I can lose my NYDFS license if I do not follow the state’s insurance statutes, and now I can also face penalties under the regulation’s best-interest standard,” he said.

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When you purchase insurance from a broker, investment advisor or insurance agent, shouldn’t they have your best interests at heart?

Proposed-Fiduciary-Duty-Rule-Poised-to-Pass-Leaves-Brokers-Seething-300x199New York’s Regulation 187 was designed to do just that, and could take effect as early as August of 2019. In it, agents and brokers are required to have the “best interest” of the consumer in mind when offering recommendations for their life insurance policies and annuities. Agents and brokers are not to consider any financial incentives or compensation that they might receive as a result of the financial products they offer while discussing different options for annuities and policies.

While Regulation 187 is intended to supplement New York’s existing consumer protection laws and “fill in the gaps” of regulations, it isn’t being met with resounding applause by Wall Street. According to one trade industry group, a number of issues exist with the new law that can be problematic.

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General Cannabis, formerly known as Advanced Cannabis Solutions, is a service provider based in Denver, CO, that provides consulting and assistance to cannabis-related companies for production, cultivation and retail operations. (The company does not actually grow crops.)

Like any company offering securities for sale, Advanced Cannabis was required to supply certain types of company information. It was listed on both the OTC Bulletin Board and OTC Link, “alternative stock exchanges” to the NYSE and NASDAQ.

Any company that trades securities on these platforms have to meet strict requirements and qualifications, and are required to answer to a regulating agency such as the SEC or the FDIC. Securities are traded directly by dealers. Penny stocks, shell companies, or in bankruptcy are not traded here.

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If you’ve been investing for even a short while, you may have been contacted by someone claiming that you were “cheated” out of money or otherwise wronged by your broker. This company can help you get your money back that you are rightfully entitled to, they say.

Non-attorney representatives have been the subject of numerous recent news stories about how they fail to adequately represent investors in arbitration.

If you were to work with a law firm like Silver Law Group, you would be entering into a payment agreement commonly known as a “contingency fee arrangement.”  In other words, your legal fee would be contingent on representing you, and winning your case. You would generally have no out-of-pocket expenses.  A percentage of your settlement would be the fee you pay for the work on your case.

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Some estimates suggest American seniors lose nearly $40 billion a year due to elder financial fraud

According to a 2015 report from the retirement planning site True Link, American senior citizens lose an estimated $35.6 billion each year from investment scams and other fraudulent financial schemes. Despite the role that shady financial advisors play in many cases of elder fraud, ethical advisors may be the people best equipped to determine when financial fraud has been perpetrated on one of their elderly clients by another individual.

The idea that brokers can act as a shield against elder fraud isn’t just an fuzzy concept: according the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), brokers and financial advisors report more than 2,300 cases of elder fraud each year. Considering the fact that many elderly individuals may not possess a high degree of financial literacy (in addition to issues with cognitive decline, such as dementia-related confusion or memory loss) brokers and advisors are in a perfect position to identify financial inconsistencies in accounts, such as large, unexpected withdrawals or a series of small, suspicious ones.

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Awareness will help you avoid becoming a victim of elder financial fraud

Investment fraud is something that can affect anyone, but elderly people seem to be targeted the most. According to one study, 1 in 5 people in the U.S. over the age of 65 have been the victim of a financial scam. Various studies have found that due to elder financial abuse, seniors lose billions every year.

So, how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from fraud? Vigilance is the key. Here are three common signs of investment scams to be aware of:

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Learn about the safeguards that can help older investors

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is a nonprofit organization overseen by the government and tasked by the securities industry to protect investors through the creation and enforcement of rules and regulations. Periodically, FINRA makes adjustments and revisions to its guidelines, and the agency recently added measures to safeguard elderly investors.

In its 17-13 regulatory notice, FINRA spells out its new principal consideration, one of which is intended to protect vulnerable customers. Focusing on the undue influence a broker could have over a customer, the regulation “reaffirms that financial exploitation of senior and other vulnerable customers should result in strong sanctions.”

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New rules are intended to assist financial institutions in reducing the amount of investment fraud targeting seniors and other vulnerable investors.

Senior investment fraud. Elder fraud. Elder financial abuse. Scamming older investors. No matter what it is termed, this unfortunate activity takes place at a far greater rate – with far greater losses – than necessary. In fact, a 2011 MetLife study found that the losses of elder financial abuse victims are at least $2.9 billion annually.

Why is elder financial fraud so prevalent?

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Advisors and other trusted professionals have an ethical duty to stop senior financial fraud

Elder financial fraud is an increasingly serious issue in the U.S. As more Americans become seniors – at the rate of about 10,000 a day – new victims across the country are feeling the consequences. This means that whether you’re a financial advisor, accountant, or lawyer with elderly clients, or you simply have older friends or family members, it’s essential to understand the warning signs of senior financial fraud. By doing so, you may be able to help protect the seniors you care about from serious monetary losses as well as the associated emotional damage when someone becomes a victim.

FINRA has made several recent changes in order to help advisors combat senior fraud

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