The Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) today announced the availability of resources to help raise awareness of the impact of the opioid epidemic on investment professionals and their clients, especially senior investors.

“The opioid crisis in North America is devastating families and our communities. It is also a rising contributor to elder financial abuse and investment professionals are often the first to see the signs of this type of exploitation,” said Secretary-designee Kathy Blumenfeld. “Regulators have a responsibility to educate and provide resources to investment professionals as they confront these challenging situations.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in 2017 declared opioid abuse a public health emergency and estimated in 2017 that 11.4 million Americans misused prescription opioids. Recent research by Virginia Tech’s Center for Gerontology and the Elder Justice Coalition identified a connection between opioid abuse and elder abuse, including financial exploitation.

Secretary-designee Blumenfeld said the agency is offering two new resources to help raise awareness of how the opioid crisis impacts investment professionals and their clients.

The first is a guide to help investment professionals understand the many ways opioid use disorder might affect their clients, how to spot signs of financial exploitation, and how to help clients affected by opioid abuse. The guide also includes a list of helpful resources in Wisconsin.

The second resource is a checklist of questions financial professionals can use to help start a conversation with clients about the financial ramifications of opioid addiction.

“Investment adviser representatives and broker-dealer agents are well positioned to be part of the solution, but they have to be prepared to talk to clients in crisis,” Secretary-designee Blumenfeld said. “The cost of opioid addiction and treatment can have major financial ramifications. Clients facing opioid addiction – either themselves or within the family – may be strapped for resources and can be vulnerable to poor financial decision-making or even fraud.”

To request a copy of these resources, please contact the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at 608-266-2138. The resources also are available on the agency’s website at www.wdfi.org/.

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