As parents, there often are situations with children that necessitate a series of uncomfortable discussions, where questions must be asked and sensitive topics discussed. Regardless of what can be an awkward situation – – for both parents and the children, it is the responsibility of the parent to have the conversations. The phrase “I’m not here to be their friend”, is undoubtedly uttered on a daily, if not hourly or minute basis by parents.
But what happens when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot? What of the situation where it is the child, now an adult, that must discuss issues and raise questions to the parents; questions that are uncomfortable for everyone, but for the protection of the parents?
Nothing can make for a more uncomfortable conversation than a discussion about money with your parents. Unfortunately, like the “birds and bees” conversation you had decades ago, this is just as important. As our parents get older, there are times when their decision-making abilities are lessened, and the opportunity for someone to take advantage of them financially has increased.
It is not coincidental states have laws on the books that protect older investors. There unfortunately are people who will target such investors, knowing they can be worn down much more easily than others and will place their trust in strangers.
And now the uncomfortable conversation. Most likely, before having the “talk” with you, your parents prepared themselves. Just as they may have taken the time to bring the topic to you, you should do the same with them. Your parents may have spoken to your teachers or your friend’s parents; today there is nothing wrong with you having a conversation with your parent’s accountant to make sure at the very least the accountant is another set of eyes reviewing your parent’s investments.
When talking with your parents, start with basic conversation about where they have their money invested, but do so with an understanding of basic investing principals. Here are some basic terms and rules to help you out in the process.
First, Discretionary versus Non-discretionary account. A discretionary account permits the broker to buy and sell securities in your parent’s account without the requirement of speaking to them first. A non-discretionary account, which is the majority of securities accounts, requires the broker to speak to your parents before every single trade. Ask your parents about what their broker is recommending, and when your parents learn of the trade – before it is effectuated or when they receive their monthly statements?
The next point you should know about is suitability. A broker is required to comply with the Know Your Customer Rule. This rule requires the broker to know about your parent’s investment experience, net worth, liquid net worth, level of risk they are prepared to take in their investments and their primary investment goals. No trade may properly be recommended to your parents unless the broker takes each of the above points into consideration.
The strength and resolve of a parent is not being concerned about the awkwardness of a conversation, but rather protecting you. It may be time to return the favor.
The Law Offices of Barry M. Bordetsky represents customers and industry representatives in FINRA securities and employment arbitrations as well as litigants before state and federal courts. If you have questions about an issue you are involved with, please contact Barry Bordetsky at (800) 998-7705 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.