Real Questions and latest syllabus of CHFP exam

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Exam Code: CHFP Practice exam 2023 by Killexams.com team
CHFP Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP) - 2023

Module I - Business of Health Care: Participation and successful end-of-course assessment of the HFMA Business of Health Care® online program offering participants an overview of healthcare finance, risk mitigation, evolving payment models, healthcare accounting and cost analysis, strategic finance, and managing financial resources.



Module II - Operational Excellence: CHFP aspirants must also complete HFMA's Operational Excellence exam, which includes exercises and case studies on the application of business acumen in health care.



Please note HFMA membership is a required aspect for earning and maintaining the CHFP credential.



Paid student members are eligible to register for and to take both modules of the CHFP certification program (included with membership). Student members who successfully complete the CHFP requirements (two modules) will earn their designation upon assuming Professional or Business Partner level member status.



The Big Picture Healthcare environment



- Reform/Current State of US Healthcare

- Transformation Under Reform

- Payment System Overview

- The Role of Financial Management in Health Care Organizations

- Management Roles & Hierarchy

- What Keeps CFOs Up at Night?



Financial Accounting Concepts Accounting Principles



- Analysis of Financial Statements

- Management Reports

- Accounting Terminology

- Reports for financial analysis



Cost Analysis Principles Cost Management



- Definitions

- Traditional Cost-Finding Methods

- Setting Prices

- Profit analysis



Strategic Financial Issues Basics of Strategic Planning



- Budgeting Concepts

- Variance Analysis

- Revenue & Performance Budgeting

- Controlling Operating Results

- Benchmarking, Productivity, and Cost-Benefit/Cost-Effectiveness

- Analysis



Managing Financial Resources Financing the Healthcare System: Revenue Cycle



- Working capital management

- The Use of Metrics and Data

- Long-Term Financial Resources



Looking to the Future ACA, ACOs & Bundled Payments:

Evolving Reimbursement

The Need for Business Intelligence & Analytics

Population Health Management

Aligning Clinicians and Finance Professionals to Drive Value

Accountable Care Organizations – Payer Cancers

Premium Growth in a Shifting Environment

Denials of coverage

Limitations on profits

Health Insurance Exchanges

Payer consolidations

Unsustainable rates

Payer Differentiation

Rise of Business Process Outsourcing

Consumerism and physicians

Physician –Hospital alignment

Demand for Physician Collegiality

Emerging Ancillary Positions

Physician Burnout

Physician Independence

Physician Shortages (Leakage)

Physicians as Entrepreneurs

Reform and Physician Liability

Physician – Hospital Financial

Relationships

Hospital Consolidations

Hospital – Physician Alignment

Hospital Facing Bankruptcy

Provider- Payer Consolidations

Physician Engagement and Leadership

Integrated Care Delivery

Physicians Remaining

Independent

Accountable Care Organizations

Sustainability of Physician

Employment



Module I Concept Guide – It is recommended that you preview this guide prior to working through the online materials. For example, the pages in this guide associated with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) may be viewed before working in the first course, Healthcare Finance -- The Big Picture. This preview indicates the key concepts that will be covered and attunes you to areas of professional practice that may be less familiar. Feel free to make notes in this document. By taking the time to customize this guide, you can develop a handy reference tool as you continue your work in health care.



• Module II Concept Guide - It is recommended that candidates preview the key‐concept guide prior to working through this online course. The module is itself an examination with three (3) hours allowed for completion. This preview indicates the key business challenges that will be presented and attunes candidates to areas of professional practice that may be less familiar. The learner guide can then be used to focus additional outside memorizing and study on unfamiliar issues

Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP) - 2023
Financial Professional book
Killexams : Financial Professional book - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/CHFP Search results Killexams : Financial Professional book - BingNews https://killexams.com/pass4sure/exam-detail/CHFP https://killexams.com/exam_list/Financial Killexams : Financial Adviser: 5 Business Lessons Everyone Can Learn from 'Thrift Book King' Manny Sison, Founder and CEO of Booksale No result found, try new keyword!He combined his passion for learning with the business world by taking on a part-time role as a university professor while working as a full-time advertising account executive. This dual journey ... Mon, 21 Aug 2023 14:00:00 -0500 en-us text/html https://www.msn.com/ Killexams : Beware of These 10 Common Financial Advisor Mistakes

Here’s practical advice from a 30-year-plus advisor who oversees 115 Primerica offices and more than 500 licensed financial professionals as an Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction in Pennsylvania:

“You want to have the type of relationship where it’s you and the client against the world. The goal is always to position it so that the client understands that it’s us and them together trying to get what they want,” Howard Lashner, national sales director at Primerica, tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.

His philosophy of working with clients is expressed clearly — and with anecdotes — in his classic book “10 Common Mistakes Financial Advisors Make & Simple Ideas to Avoid Them” (April 2018).

In the interview, the independent, whose Lashner Financial Group is located in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania, discusses all 10 mistakes and how to avoid, correct or eliminate them.

Not only can these blunders “create massive confusion” for clients and “an overall bad experience,” they “move the entire industry down a notch in terms of the way people view financial advisors,” Lashner argues.

In our conversation, he talks about why “the biggest mistake” to building a successful client relationship is failing to reveal how you, the advisor, are compensated before the first meeting.

He also delves into why the most important client questions are follow-up questions, and why relying too much on technology means that financial advisors are “basically making themselves obsolete.”

One of Primerica’s top 10 securities producers, Lashner has received a number of honors, including a “Best in Client Satisfaction” award for the Philadelphia tri-state area from Philadelphia Magazine and appearing on Forbes’ 2022 Top Financial Security Professionals list, in which he came in No. 31 nationwide.

ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Lashner, who was speaking by phone from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

“The Buck Stops With Us” is his motto, an allusion to former President Harry S. Truman’s famed pledge and desk plaque.

That’s as close to talking politics with clients as Lashner gets. Instead, he discusses differences in economic policies and not the politicians he “likes or doesn’t like.” That, he says, “isn’t my role.”

Here are highlights of our interview:

THINKADVISOR: How do the 10 common advisor mistakes you write about affect financial services?

HOWARD LASHER: They create massive confusion for clients and an overall bad client experience. They move the entire industry down a notch in terms of the way people view financial advisors.

In your first chapter, you write about “Too Much Jargon, Not Enough Clarity.” Why do advisors make the mistake of routinely using so much jargon with clients?

One of two reasons: They have an insecurity and think if they use big words and industry jargon, it will make them sound intelligent; that will impress people, so they’ll want to work with them.

The second reason is that they’re trying to hide something. If they use language that somebody doesn’t understand, and it creates the misperception of something, they can say, “I did tell the client, but they didn’t understand.”

Our job is to explain things in the simplest way, so that people get it and to educate them and use language they’re comfortable with.

I’ve met with clients who have said, “I was going to transfer my old 401(k) to an IRA. The advisor sent me paperwork, but it’s just too overwhelming.”

Why wouldn’t the advisor say, “Let me fill in everything for you, you verify it and then sign at the bottom”?

But many advisors don’t do that, and it creates massive frustration for people.

You advise that “the best way to be valuable to a client is to keep yourself in the situation whenever possible. Why is that important?

I get that there’s definitely a need for high tech for people to be able to get information and research on their own.

But the majority want to be able to look over and have somebody nod their head and say, “Yep, that’s okay. You can do that.”

The second mistake in your listing is: Building a Client Relationship on Selling a Commodity.” Why is that ineffective?

You need to build a relationship on trust. When l hear [a company] say, “This product is wonderful for clients, and here’s how you want to sell it,” I always think, when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

You want to have the type of relationship where it’s you and the client against the world. When you’re a product pusher, it’s you versus the client.

People don’t want to be sold. They want somebody valued to deliver them information, but they want to feel that they made the decision themselves.

So the goal is always to position it so that the client understands that it’s us and them together trying to get what they want. It should be about whatever the right solution is.

You stress that not talking about compensation at the start is “the biggest mistake” to successfully build a client relationship. Why is it?

I don’t see anyone that isn’t referred to me, and I don’t schedule an appointment until we’ve had that conversation about compensation — and the client says, “I get it.”

When you don’t do that, the client is sitting there waiting for the next shoe to drop: “What’s this going to cost me? Can I afford it? Is it worth it?”

So in that first phone call, I’ll say, for example, “Your neighbor, Mary, introduced us. Did she explain to you how I get compensated?”

Typically the [prospects] say “no”; when they say “yes,” they usually get it wrong.

“Trying to Sell or Implement Your Plan Right From the Start” is another big mistake. How come?

The most important questions to ask are the follow-ups after the client responds. The key is the question beyond the question.

Sometimes newer advisors get so caught up in what they’re going to say, they’re almost like machine guns: “Let me just get through the interview. The client will answer my questions, and then I’ll get right to my recommendation.”

My experience is that it’s not about the [prepared] questions; it’s the questions we ask after the client answers. That makes all the difference in the world.

It’s about trying to see what’s important to them, and what’s a priority?

“Trying to Do It All by Yourself” is a mistake as well. You say advisors should hire administrative staff, even if only one person.

This is a big one. A [Kitces Research] study found that about 50% of an advisor‘s time is taken up with administrative [work].

They do it themselves because they’re pennywise and pound-foolish. They don’t want to pay for it or think they can do it better.

But it involves a lot of wasted time. First, it’s getting organized; then, once you’re done, you have to access a different part of your brain to go back to being an advisor.

Also, administrative people develop their own relationships with clients, and that’s really valuable.

Sometimes clients say things to my administrative people that they don’t say to me, and I’ll [get worthwhile information]; for instance, their job is at risk or a close family member is dying.

Those things will change what I’m talking to them about.

“Relying Too Heavily on High Tech Instead of High Touch” is another common mistake you point out. What about building trust?

If we rely on technology too much, then we’re basically making ourselves obsolete [as financial advisors].

There’s a massive push by the industry for technology, like, “We have a great website where you can do everything on your own.”

But a very high percentage of people don’t want to do it on their own because they know they’re going to make mistakes and hit walls.

Tue, 22 Aug 2023 09:14:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2023/08/22/beware-of-these-10-common-financial-advisor-mistakes/
Killexams : AI won't replace financial advisors in the complex products market
Complex financial products require human advisors, not chatbots
No matter how good generative artificial intelligence gets, consumers navigating the purchase of complex financial products will always demand the attention of expert human advisors, write Kevin Jacques and Ben Malka, of Cota Capital.

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No matter how advanced generative artificial intelligence becomes, in some industries, humans will always matter. This is especially true for complex product markets — including wealth management, complicated insurance plans or mortgage transactions. Individuals purchasing large deductible programs or seeking help navigating the market want expert advisors to guide them, not chatbots.

But these industries are undergoing a transformative period, and whether consumers will rely on advisors from major firms like Morgan Stanley or turn to tech-driven advisory platforms is less clear.

For decades, individuals seeking complex products or services turned to large corporations like Merrill, Morgan Stanley, Coldwell Banker or AIG. Why? They had the best advisors with the most robust back-office support and top technology. But this is changing and there is an emerging fight between big firms and disruptive, tech-backed advisory platforms for the best personnel.

Due to a confluence of workforce and technological trends, professionals in the field of complex products are setting off on their own and bringing clients, and market share, with them. This will only accelerate in the coming years, shaking up these industries, decentralizing services and bringing more competition and options to consumers via an emerging workforce that favors flexibility and independence over the historical rigidity of big-box firms.

Wealth management provides a great example. According to a recent report by Cerulli Associates, as of 2021, roughly $2.4 trillion, approximately 8% of industry assets, were managed by investment advisors planning to retire by 2026. This report finds that "over the next five years, advisor headcount growth will turn negative." At the same time, advisors are turning away from large Wall Street banks and regional brokerages. The number of advisors affiliated with independent registered investment advisors (RIAs) has proliferated as the "fastest-growing form of advisor affiliation over the last decade."

The insurance industry tells a similar story, with the 2022 Agency Universe study showing 4,000 new independent insurance agencies opening up between 2020 and 2022.

What these examples show is that the workforce of today is seeking out options other than major firms. While changing demographics and new workplace preferences are driving complex product providers from larger firms to smaller practices, new technology platforms are enabling and facilitating the underlying transition.

In the past, advisors relied heavily on a robust back office to handle payroll and accounting, HR, IT, compliance and other functions. This was augmented with cutting-edge technology platforms to streamline their services. Advisors needed the Coldwell Bankers and the Morgan Stanleys of the world to manage and support their clients and keep their books of business humming along.

Smaller firms or independent advisors couldn't afford robust back-office staff or the most up-to-date technology that would make employing a large back-office less critical. Firms or individuals that did try would get pinched during downturns.

But with the advent of SAAS and new platforms across financial services, real estate and insurance, this is quickly changing. Smaller, more dynamic and tech-forward players are gaining an edge.

New software solutions from innovative fintech, insurtech and proptech startups are digitizing and automating the back office to create far more opportunities for professionals and advisors in these industries to leave legacy firms for independent opportunities or smaller agencies. In fact, technology is cited as critical to real estate brokers when picking an agency and key to serving their clients and growing their businesses.

Professional advisors in the front office are not going anywhere, but with the rise of new software solutions, the way they serve customers will inevitably shift toward a technology-led approach. Big firms and disruptive platforms, therefore, will be competing for the top advisors and their books of business.

The multitrillion-dollar complex products industry is undergoing a significant transformation with far-reaching implications for consumers, companies and advisors. The era of big firm domination in these markets is gradually giving way to a new chapter characterized by independent and technologically empowered advisors. Consumers now have more choices, while professionals can embrace the freedom, flexibility and enhanced capabilities offered by advancements in technology.

As the landscape continues to evolve, embracing independence and leveraging technology will be key to thriving in the competitive complex products industry of the future.

Wed, 23 Aug 2023 06:00:00 -0500 en text/html https://www.americanbanker.com/opinion/ai-wont-replace-financial-advisors-in-the-complex-products-market
Killexams : When should you hire a financial advisor?

Key points

  • A financial advisor can help you identify and achieve your financial goals.
  • Consider hiring an advisor if your finances are complex or you experience a major life event.
  • Choose an advisor you feel comfortable with and whose expertise aligns with your needs.

Hiring a financial advisor is a big decision. Not only are you inviting a complete stranger into some of the most intimate areas of your life, but you’re paying for the privilege. 

While more than 60% of Americans think their financial planning needs improvement, only 35% seek help from a financial advisor, according to Northwestern Mutual’s 2022 Planning and Progress Study.

The study also revealed how impactful a financial advisor can be, from helping clients save during the COVID-19 pandemic to making them feel like they’re on more solid ground.

Working with a financial advisor can be great, but it isn’t for everyone. Here’s how to determine if you need a financial advisor and what to look for if you do.

Do I need a financial advisor?

Deciding to work with a financial advisor is a personal choice. There is no set litmus test for whether you need one.

That said, if you have investable assets, personal and financial goals, or questions about your finances, you may want to hire a financial advisor.

If it sounds like anyone with money should work with a financial advisor, that’s the gist of it, according to Kimberly Stewart, a financial advisor at Ameriprise Financial, whose personal philosophy is “If you have money, you need a financial advisor.”

“Your finances are too important to leave to chance,” Stewart said. “Understanding money and its applications are paramount to achieving financial success.”

If you already possess that understanding and feel confident in your financial plan and ability to manage your money throughout life’s ups and downs, you may be fine on your own. 

Still, you might want to engage a financial advisor for a second opinion and to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals.

At the end of the day, a financial advisor’s job is built around offering counsel and actionable guidance. 

“If you’re the type of person who’d feel more confident and in control of your finances if you had someone to gut-check decisions and plans with, working with a financial advisor may be a smart move,” said Manuel Alvarez, a senior wealth advisor at Citi International Personal Bank U.S.

You may also want a financial advisor for peace of mind.

If money creates anxiety for you and you worry about your financial future, an advisor can help you understand your situation and suggest actions you can take to boost your financial confidence. 

When it makes sense

Just like there’s no set litmus test for whether you need a financial advisor, there’s no definitive answer to the question of when you should hire one. But certain situations tend to benefit from financial advice.

Experts say it makes sense to hire a financial advisor in the following circumstances:

  • You don’t have the time or inclination to manage your finances.
  • You experience a major life event, such as a marriage, divorce, loss of a spouse, birth of a child, relocation or change in your employment status.
  • Your financial situation changes, such as receiving an inheritance.
  • Your financial situation becomes more serious and the cost of a financial mistake more costly.

“When we begin our careers, our finances can be comparatively simpler than when our families grow, our income grows and life becomes more complex,” said John Diehl, senior vice president of applied insights at Hartford Funds. This is when getting financial guidance can make sense.

While a major event could be the impetus for hiring a financial advisor, Alvarez recommended finding one before life gets crazy. 

During busier and more stressful moments, you may feel rushed to choose an advisor and not deliver yourself sufficient time to vet candidates. 

“As many advisors like myself can attest, it’s during those quieter times that you’re more likely to provide an accurate financial picture and, in turn, help your advisor get a clearer sense of your goals as well as any potential pain points and opportunities,” Alvarez said.

Then, when life gets hectic, you’ll have someone in your corner to help.

Financial advisor vs. financial planner

A follow-up question is what type of professional to hire. You’ll most likely encounter two job titles: financial advisor and financial planner. While the terms may be used interchangeably, they describe different types of financial professionals, each providing unique guidance.

“A financial advisor typically focuses on a specific area of your finances,” Stewart said. “Conversely, a financial planner typically helps clients with a more holistic, comprehensive approach that encompasses several aspects of one’s finances, such as budgeting, savings, investments, retirement planning, insurance planning and estate planning.”

Another potential distinction between a financial planner and a financial advisor is the compensation model:

  • Financial planners are more likely to be paid a percentage of the assets they manage for you.
  • Financial advisors are more likely to be paid through commissions on the products they sell you.

Understanding these points is more important than what a financial professional chooses to call themselves.

Questions to ask a financial advisor

Once you decide to hire a financial advisor, it’s time to begin the interview process. 

You may want to meet several professionals to compare their services and fees. Questions to ask before hiring a financial advisor include the following:

  • What services do you offer?
  • What is your investment philosophy and strategy?
  • How are you compensated, and how much will it cost me to work with you?
  • How will we work together?
  • Do you specialize in any areas of financial planning?
  • How is your business structured? Do you work as part of a team or are you a solo practitioner?
  • Who will be my primary point of contact with your office, and how will we communicate?
  • What is your professional background?
  • What credentials do you hold?

Ultimately, while titles and certifications matter, it comes down to whether you feel comfortable working closely with the financial advisor long term. Ask yourself if you trust them and believe in their ability to responsibly manage and grow your wealth. If the answer is anything other than a resounding yes, keep looking.

Tips for choosing a financial advisor

When choosing a financial advisor, consider the following expert tips.

1. Tap your network for recommendations

Your network is a great place to begin looking for a financial advisor. It can include your friends, family, colleagues and neighbors. The best recommendations often come from people whose financial situations resemble yours or who share similar financial goals.

But don’t take a recommendation at face value. “Play the field and meet with multiple candidates to see who you mesh with,” Alvarez said.

2. Identify the factors that are most important to you

Ask yourself what you want most in a financial advisor. What would your ideal advisor be like? 

You might prefer working with a financial advisor whose background is similar to yours. For instance, Alvarez speaks Spanish and finds that many of his clients whose primary language is Spanish appreciate being able to communicate that way.

3. Find someone who listens

You could be working closely with this person for decades to come, so it’s crucial that you feel comfortable with them. Ask yourself if the advisor is receptive to your personal and financial goals and confident in their ability to create a financial plan to help you achieve them. 

4. Vet their background

Personality traits are important, but so are professional qualifications. “You will want to know about their background, their expertise and if they often work with clients in similar circumstances to yours,” Diehl said.

You can check an advisor’s credentials and disciplinary history using the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck tool or the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Investment Advisor Public Disclosure website. 

The former is often used by financial advisors working at broker-dealers, while the latter is likely where you’ll find financial planners working at investment advisory firms. If the professional isn’t listed on the first site you check, try the other.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

A financial advisor can wear many hats, but common services include creating a financial plan, identifying investment products for you, and monitoring and managing your portfolio to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals.

The right time to get a financial advisor is when you need financial guidance, such as if you experience a major life change or your financial situation becomes more complex. Or maybe you’re just tired of doing it all on your own. 

You might even want a financial advisor to get a second opinion on the financial plan you’ve created for yourself. In short, there’s never a bad time to contact a financial advisor.

How often you should meet with your financial advisor will be determined by you and your advisor. 

Many experts recommend at least an annual or biannual review. 

Stewart’s tip: Meet with your advisor more often if your financial situation is complex or in flux.

Wed, 16 Aug 2023 03:16:00 -0500 en-US text/html https://www.usatoday.com/money/blueprint/advisors/do-i-need-a-financial-advisor/
Killexams : 3 Important Financial Moves to Make 5 Years Before Retirement No result found, try new keyword!You don't need to unload all of your stocks ahead of retirement. That's actually not a good idea at all. But if you're five years away from retirement, it's generally not the time to have 90% of your ... Mon, 21 Aug 2023 22:47:00 -0500 text/html https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/3-important-financial-moves-to-make-5-years-before-retirement Killexams : Can I Get a Financial Advisor With a Low Income Budget?

A lower income individual working with a financial advisor

Developing money management skills can help you get better at saving and investing, both of which are important for building wealth. A financial advisor can lend their expertise to help you get where you want to go. If you have a low income or limited budget, you might assume that hiring an advisor is off the table. While it might require a little research on your part, it’s possible to find a financial advisor for low-income clients. If you’re ready to connect with a financial advisor, SmartAsset can help you to get started.

What Does a Financial Advisor Do?

Financial advisors work with clients to help them develop a plan for managing their money and reaching their goals. That typically involves offering advice relating to things like investing and tax planning. Financial advisors can charge fees for their services and a typical fee is around 1% of assets under management.

So who needs a financial advisor? The short answer is that anyone can benefit from getting professional financial advice, regardless of their net worth or income. Advisors have knowledge and experience that someone who’s not a financial professional may lack.

Does that mean everyone needs an advisor? Not necessarily. Some people may be perfectly comfortable with managing their portfolios themselves. But if you’re in a lower income bracket and you’d like to start building wealth, that’s something an advisor could help you with.

Can You Hire a Financial Advisor for Free?

While financial advisors may offer a free consultation, they typically expect to be paid for their services if you’re using them on an ongoing basis. Advisors may be fee-only or fee-based and it’s important to understand the difference.

A fee-only advisor charges fees based only on the advice and services they provide. They may charge an hourly fee, a flat rate or a percentage of assets but at the end of the day, you’re only paying your advisor for the work that they do for you. Fee-only advisors act as fiduciaries, meaning they’re obligated to put your interests ahead of their own when offering advice.

Fee-based advisors can charge hourly fees, flat fees or percentage-based fees, but they can also earn money by recommending specific investment products. For example, if your advisor suggests a specific mutual fund, they might earn a commission if you decide to invest in it. Some, but not all, fee-based advisors are required to follow a fiduciary standard.

Benefits of Working With a Financial Advisor

Financial advisor working with a low income client

If you don’t have a lot of income or assets yet, you might be wondering whether hiring an advisor is worth it. While it largely depends on your needs and goals, an advisor may be able to pinpoint steps you can take to get ahead financially that you might overlook yourself.

Here are some of the ways you might benefit from working with a financial advisor when you have a low income.

  • Potential tax savings. You may already be in a lower tax bracket based on income. But an advisor might be able to help you find additional ways to reduce your tax bill, which could put more money back into your budget to save and invest.

  • Retirement planning. You probably want to retire someday but if you don’t know how to start, an advisor can help. For instance, they may offer advice on how to make the most of your 401(k) or the benefits of opening an Individual Retirement Account (IRA).

  • Minimize investment fees. Investing can help you build wealth, but it can be an uphill battle if you’re paying back a sizable chunk of your returns in fees. An advisor may be able to help you find low-cost investments that fit your objectives and risk tolerance.

There’s another good reason to consider working with a financial advisor on a low income. When the market becomes volatile, an advisor can keep you from slipping into panic mode and making rash decisions.

It’s tempting to sell when stock prices begin to fall, but that could do more harm than good. An advisor can talk you through potential outcomes should you decide to sell your investments or hold them, so that you can make a reasoned decision.

How to Find a Financial Advisor for Low Income

If you’d like to work with a financial advisor and you have a low income, it helps to know how to narrow your search. One way to get started is to use an online tool that matches you with advisors in your local area. You’ll answer a simple questionnaire about your needs and goals, then get recommendations for advisors that might be a good match. You can then decide if you want to follow up with them or not.

Should you choose to meet with an advisor, asking some questions can deliver you a sense of whether they might be right for you. Here are some demo questions to ask a financial advisor.

  • What types of services do you offer?

  • Are you a fiduciary?

  • What is your investment strategy or style?

  • How do you get paid and what fees can I expect to pay?

  • What’s your preferred method of communication?

  • How often will we communicate?

  • Is there anyone else on your team that I might work with?

The fee question is important because you want to know upfront whether an advisor is in your budget range. If you talk to some advisors and find that the fees are out of reach for the moment, there are a couple of other options you might try to get free or low-cost financial advice.

For instance, you might search for pro bono financial planners in your area. The Financial Planning Association has a pro bono program that offers services to people who belong to underserved and/or high-risk communities. According to the FPA website, that includes low-income individuals and families, military personnel and veterans, domestic violence survivors, people affected by natural disasters and people experiencing serious medical crises.

A robo-advisor is another option. Robo-advisors use an algorithm to develop a personalized investing plan, based on your age, goals and risk tolerance. Compared to the 1% annual fee a financial advisor might charge, robo-advisors may charge fees that are closer to 0.25% or 0.35%.

The difference, of course, is that a robo-advisor lacks the human element. That may not seem important if your goal is saving money on fees, but it can make a difference when the market gets bumpy. In that scenario, a robo-advisor can’t coach you through the ups and downs the way a human advisor could. So that’s something to keep in mind when deciding where to look for financial advice.

Bottom Line

Low income family working with a financial advisor

A financial advisor can help you shape a plan for managing your money, even if you have a low income. If your income grows, then an advisor can help you adjust your plan to account for any additional money you might have to invest. Looking for advisors that offer a free consultation can deliver you a better idea of what you might stand to gain by working with a financial professional.

Financial Planning Tips

  • If cold-calling advisors seem too intimidating, you can start your search online. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

  • Reading personal finance books or blogs is another way to get money advice for free. You can also try listening to some personal finance podcasts to learn the basics of investing if you’re new to the market. Expanding your financial education can make it easier to take the reins of managing your money when you’re not quite ready to work with an advisor.

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Killexams : Important Financial Goals for Teens

Developing smart financial habits is not second nature. It takes time and practice to reach financial security, and the sooner…

Developing smart financial habits is not second nature. It takes time and practice to reach financial security, and the sooner you start, the better.

To increase your chances of becoming a financially literate adult, starting to make smart money decisions as a teenager is crucial. For most teens, the stakes are lower — you aren’t risking losing a home or ruining your credit score — allowing you the space to learn how to manage your finances with less to lose. Still, as you start making your own money or looking toward leaving home, you’ll need to know what to do with the money you earn.

Financial Goals for Teens

“Young people are strongly focused on the present and need help keeping the future in sight. They are experimenting with thinking and deciding for themselves, therefore they require the space for doing that in a risk-controlled environment,” says Mariana Martinez, senior family dynamics specialist with Wells Fargo Advice and Planning.

For younger individuals learning how to manage money, goals might not be as clear as saving for a home or planning for retirement. Instead, focus on these five financial goals that help to establish baseline habits that set you up for future success.

1. Identify Your Personal Financial Priorities

Each individual has different financial priorities and goals, which are closely tied to their personal values. As you start learning to manage your money, it’s important to understand what those are in your circumstances.

“The most important goal for teens, and the best way to gain financial independence at a young age, is to identify their values and priorities, and to use that as a base to establish good financial habits,” says Bobbi Rebell, certified financial planner, founder of Financial Wellness Strategies and author of “Launching Financial Grownups: Live Your Richest Life by Helping Your (Almost) Adult Kids Be Everyday Money Smart.”

[Related:Homeownership Not a Priority Yet? These Financial Issues Should Be]

For some, Rebell says, the goal might be to save for a specific purchase, have a career that offers them financial freedom or earn scholarship money to attend their dream college.

“It doesn’t matter what the goals are — what matters is that they identify their financial values and priorities,” she adds.

Once you understand your particular financial priorities, you can start to make a plan to achieve your goals.

2. Start Earning Your Own Money

While not all teenagers might be in a position to start a part-time job, finding small ways to earn money that is just yours — whether it be employment, allowance or odd jobs for friends and family — can help with understanding the value of your money.

“Have the satisfaction of earning your own dollars,” says Martinez. “Use your own money to pay for important items. Experience the empowerment of financial independence.”

3. Learn to Follow a Budget

A good budget is a fundamental tool for any financial toolkit, so building one as a teen can help you learn the basics before more income and expenses come into play. This can be as simple as learning to shop around for cheaper items on your grocery run.

“Learn to shop comparatively and within a budget. Savor knowing that you got your dollars’ worth and that you will not be surprised by extras (taxes, hidden costs, unexpected fees, etc.),” Martinez says.

[Read: How to Make a Budget — and Stick to It.]

4. Curate Financial Tools that Work for Your Needs

Setting up checking and savings accounts are important for teens, but those are just the beginning of the financial tools most will need for financial security. For instance, being added as an authorized user on a credit card can help you start building your credit history at an early age.

Now is also the time to check out budgeting apps and other tools to see what works best for you. The more you use these resources now, the easier it will be to navigate trickier programs as your financial life becomes more complicated.

5. Start Long-Term Savings

Besides a budget, emergency savings is probably the second most important financial tool to have at your disposal as an adult. Savings accounts also help you plan for long-term financial goals ranging from large purchases to homeownership to retirement.

[READ: How Much Should You Save In an Emergency Fund?]

It’s clear that getting used to setting aside money for savings is important to learn — not to mention the earlier you start saving, the more you can earn in interest over time.

“Begin to envision long-term savings (not necessarily with a clear goal in mind) and learn about the power of time in growing money. Understand concepts such as interest and dividends,” Martinez says.

How Parents Can Prepare Their Teens for Financial Success

Parents and guardians can support their teens on their financial journey in a variety of ways, from sharing the best money books for kids to being transparent about their own financial situations.

“Parents are often tempted to ‘protect’ their kids from anxiety by avoiding sharing their past financial difficulties, and that can make sense at times. But if the kids are mature enough, and especially if the situation is in the past, letting the next generation know that things were not always perfect for their parents can really enhance the parent/child bond,” says Rebell.

Martinez adds that while many parents might not think these types of conversations are age appropriate, they provide real-world exposure to money lessons that teens can learn from.

“[Openly talking] about money goals and plans in the family represent invaluable lessons,” Martinez says.

More from U.S. News

Financial Security: What Does It Actually Mean?

15 Steps to Achieve Financial Freedom

How to Adopt a Better Money Mindset

Important Financial Goals for Teens originally appeared on usnews.com

Mon, 21 Aug 2023 23:59:00 -0500 en text/html https://wtop.com/news/2023/08/important-financial-goals-for-teens/
Killexams : How Illinois’ safety net to protect the elderly from financial exploitation is falling short

For much of his long life, Paul Borik kept busy in the service of others.

As a young soldier in the aftermath of World War II, he helped rebuild France. Then he returned to Chicago, where he dedicated his time and money to his older brother, whose head was pierced by a metal fragment in the war.

During long work days, he tended to the flowers and towering palms at the Garfield Park Conservatory as a Chicago Park District horticulturist.

To help his family, he sacrificed his dream of opening an evergreen nursery in Michigan. Instead, he stayed in the same Northwest Side bungalow where he grew up, never marrying, watching over his aging parents and disabled brother until their deaths left him alone.

During a visit in 2012, when Borik was 80, a state-contracted social worker found a portable heater beside his easy chair amid thigh-deep piles of food cartons and trash. The sink was filled with dirty dishes. Leaves that sprouted from small pots on a living room windowsill were the only vestige of a once-orderly life and career.

A social worker described his house as “unlivable” and its lonely inhabitant as “a magnet for people running a con game.”

He needed help.

Yet records show that, for the next five years, state officials filed report after report but never intervened as Borik was swindled again and again, losing more than $340,000 in all — the bulk of his life savings.

The safety net designed to protect thousands of older Illinoisans like Borik didn’t protect him, an Injustice Watch investigation has found.

State officials say Borik refused their offers of help and that is his and every citizen’s right to do so.

In a four-month investigation, Injustice Watch examined dozens of cases like Borik’s in which predators took advantage of old people and defrauded them of savings they were counting on.

In Illinois, the system designed to protect the elderly from financial exploitation is failing, the investigation found. And that’s happening as what’s been called a “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers increasingly find themselves living alone, without the support of family nearby.

The number of elderly people in Illinois victimized by financial abuse is at an all-time high. In all, Illinois seniors were swindled out of a record $75.9 million last year, up from $5 million in 2014, according to FBI reports. Because such crimes often go unreported, experts said that figure is likely to be a vast undercount.

Yet the numbers of arrests and prosecutions for elder financial abuse are falling.

Illinois ranks 49th among states in the number of suspicious banking transactions per capita reported against older adults by financial institutions, according to an Injustice Watch analysis of federal data.

Yet Illinois is among a minority of states without its own investigators to look into elder financial abuse, saving money by instead contracting with about 40 social service agencies for that work. 

Caseworkers often are confused about their authority and their mission, records and interviews show. In an interview, the Illinois Department of Aging’s top Adult Protective Services official mischaracterized his own agency’s responsibilities, saying APS is barred by state law from investigating fraud by financial professionals, criminals or strangers such as those who victimized Borik. 

“We don’t do fraud,” said Brian Pastor, who was named manager of Illinois APS in 2021.

Officials later backed off of Pastor’s interpretation of the law.

Injustice Watch found that limits in banking regulations, loose state watchdog laws and cost-cutting at almost every level of government have played roles in hampering efforts to protect the state’s elderly.

“None of the systems meant to protect elders are working effectively,” said Paige Fox, a Chicago lawyer who is president-elect of the Illinois Chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. “Seniors are easy targets because our society doesn’t care about them. They’re looked at as disposable. They’re easy money.”

Pastor called Illinois’ plummeting numbers of Verified cases of elder financial abuse a “fluctuation.” And he says his office cannot intervene when people decline help, regardless of their age or infirmity.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker declined an interview request. In a written statement, his spokesman said: “The Adult Protective Services program works around the clock to investigate this abuse, keep seniors safe and ensure law enforcement can hold bad actors accountable when appropriate … These provider agencies are experts in their communities and local dynamics.”

A note that reads “It is night not morning” reminds Paul Borik, who has dementia, to lower the volume in his room at a seniors facility in the northwest suburbs.

A note that reads “It is night not morning” reminds Paul Borik, who has dementia, to lower the volume in his room at a seniors facility in the northwest suburbs.

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

Chicago man targeted at 80

Predators first targeted Borik in 2012.

A 27-year-old woman named Pebbles Miller approached Borik, then 80, as he gassed up his car two miles from his home, records show.

She seemed friendly. She said she was an interior designer and was in the neighborhood shopping for light fixtures. She invited him to coffee. 

As a flirtation developed over weeks, Miller told her new friend she had cancer and could not afford treatment.

Over the next five years, she and a loose network of accomplices fleeced the increasingly confused Borik through four separate cons, home-repair frauds and sweetheart scams, according to a review of court cases.

He lost the house his family owned for more than seven decades, the bulk of his retirement savings and his liberty.

Now 91 and living in a seniors facility in the northwest suburbs as a ward of the state, Borik struggled in interviews to recount what happened.

“They seem to find me very easily,” he said. “You wonder if it wasn’t a pattern of sorts.”

A family photo in Paul Borik’s room at a seniors facility in the northwest suburbs.

A family photo in Paul Borik’s room at a seniors facility in the northwest suburbs.

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

Officials with the $1 billion-a-year Illinois Department on Aging and its Adult Protective Services program, established by state law a decade ago as the frontline agency to protect elderly and disabled adults, filed detailed reports each time Borik was fleeced.

He triggered its involvement when he contacted one of its contracted investigative agencies, Catholic Charities, asking for help paying Miller’s medical bills.

Miller ended up being convicted of felony theft. She spent 20 months in state prison. But only a fraction of the $98,000 Borik gave her was recovered, court records show.

And the swindlers kept coming.

After another woman befriended Borik at a grocery store and eventually made off with $162,455 in 2015, a Catholic Charities caseworker called the same Chicago police detective who handled the first case

“He was not interested in getting involved this time because Borik obviously did not learn a lesson,” according to APS reports.

In 2013, when state officials were investigating Borik’s first case, it was one of 6,744 reports of elder financial exploitation handled by APS. By last year, that number had risen to 8,410.

Pastor defended his program’s record and said state-contracted investigators face a moral choice when the protection of an older adult could come at the cost of that person’s liberty, privacy and free will — their fundamental right to live as they want even if they make calamitous financial choices.

“It’s always about asking them what they feel is appropriate, asking them what they feel comfortable with,” Pastor said. “We always ask for consent to do things. That’s the primary piece. That’s all we always have to go off of.

“Oftentimes, that might mean the client refuses to do an investigation on their family member or on someone they care about,” Pastor said. “That’s their choice, and we have to respect that.”

Preserving the liberty of older adults is a priority for every layer of government, but APS is not doing that effectively, said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert.

“At some point, Adult Protective Services has to step in and protect,” Golbert said.

Cook County Public Guardian Charles P. Golbert

Cook County Public Guardian Charles P. Golbert.

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

He runs the government agency of last resort in such cases. His office can ask a probate court judge to deliver the public guardian the right to take over the finances of people who don’t have the ability to care for themselves and who have no family to do that. The public guardian handles the estates of more than 700 disabled adults — including Paul Borik. 

“You want to talk about taking liberty away?” Golbert said. “When you take away somebody’s life savings, you are taking away options and choices and liberty for them.” 

He said such lost savings might have kept older people in their own homes, with support, or allowed them to move to a four-star nursing home — “that takes money,” Golbert said — instead of a “substandard facility.”

“Every time you hear about one of these cases you will see chinks in the armor where things should have been done differently,” said Diane Slezak, chief executive officer of AgeOptions, one of 13 Area Administrations on Aging that help APS investigate financial abuse of older adults. “It’s a systems problem.”

A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic Charities would not address specific cases, citing confidentiality.

“We will continue to strive to meet those needs with care and compassion,” she said.

Other states do more

Illinois is among half a dozen states in which investigations of abuse of older adults are contracted to social services agencies, according to Bill Benson of the National Adult Protective Services Association, which represents state and local APS administrators and workers. 

In most states, reports of elder financial exploitation are handled by government employees. Arizona’s in-house APS staff includes forensic accountants and investigators with law enforcement backgrounds.

The Illinois contractors — mostly nonprofit social services agencies — are paid hourly rates to investigate and verify financial abuse complaints from bank officials, relatives, landlords and victims themselves. 

Of 8,410 reports of financial exploitation last year, the state-contracted caseworkers Verified evidence of abuse in just 462, about 5.5%, down from about 19% of cases a decade ago. This plunge in APS-verified cases helps explain the decline in arrests and prosecutions for elder financial abuse in Chicago and Cook County. 

Records show APS referred only 40 cases last year to law enforcement statewide — fewer than 1% of the reports it got. APS would not say how many cases were referred to the Chicago Police Department.

Chicago police reports on elder financial exploitation since 2001 show the number of arrests dropping steadily. 

Officials with Chicago Police Department and Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration did not respond to requests for comment.

According to data from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, prosecutors are filing fewer cases and getting guilty verdicts against fewer defendants than a decade ago.

On his agency’s website, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul proclaims that one of his office’s most important responsibilities is protecting older people from financial exploitation and “taking legal action against those who prey on older residents.” But when asked for a list of accurate legal actions or even statistical data about them, the office said it did not track cases specifically targeting seniors. 

Adult protection experts said Illinois lacks APS investigators with the financial skills to safeguard vulnerable people.

The state-contracted social workers “are overloaded and undertrained ... and their caseloads overwhelm them,” said Dr. XinQi Dong, a health epidemiologist and geriatrician whose staff at Rush University interviewed more than 3,000 Chicagoans for a 2016 study on the underreporting of elder financial abuse in immigrant communities. Dong also has advised the Illinois Department on Aging and lawmakers.

John K. Holton, who directed the Department on Aging from 2011 to 2015, when Illinois’ current Adult Protective Services Act was written, said the system to hire outside investigations was designed to empower senior services organizations and to contain costs.

“It was easier to get legislation putting in place Adult Protective Services with a delivery mechanism that didn’t add to the state payroll and increase the pension liabilities of state employees, versus subcontractors being responsible for the salaries and benefits,” Holton said.

Illinois ranks near the bottom of states in the per-capita number of “suspicious activity reports” about elder financial abuse filed with the U.S. Treasury Department.

Illinois isn’t among the 39 states to supply case-level information to the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, a federal data repository designed to spot abuse trends. It also isn’t among the 26 states in which financial institutions are required to notify state authorities when the accounts of older or disabled people show unusual activity. And it is not among the 34 states that mandate reporting of the cases to state securities regulators and the APS program.

In May, after a decade of efforts by elder justice advocates, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law mandating reporting for one category of professionals: investment advisers.

Declining enforcement

The situation in Illinois is emblematic of a national crisis. The reported amount lost to financial exploitation of older adults nationwide rose to $3.1 billion last year – a ninefold increase from $342.5 million in 2017, according to FBI data. Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse in the United States, according to a publication by the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Treasury Department.

The largest number of known abusers are relatives who have easy access to the victim’s account information, government records and research studies show. But the largest dollar amounts are lost to financial professionals and experienced criminals — like the ones who exploited Paul Borik.

“While the largest number of cases reported involved family, friends and caregivers, the aggregate dollar amounts lost through commercial elder abuse was the highest,” a 2011 MetLife study reported.

The confidence scams such as those that targeted Borik — typically run by criminals who pose as home repairmen or sweethearts — took 4,661 victims older than 60 last year nationwide, up from 583 in 2017, a sevenfold increase, according to FBI data. 

There also are tech-savvy scamsters who use high-pressure telephone and Internet solicitations — including voice-cloning software to mimic grandchildren.

The nationwide rise in elder financial exploitation is driven in large part by demographics. The United States has a growing number of older adults with no relatives living close by and no immediate support network, according to census data and research studies.

In 2018, about 40% of Illinois residents 60 or older lived alone, a figure that’s expected to grow as the number of older adults rises.

Paul Borik speaking Lutheran Home Arlington Heights Chicago Illinois

Paul Borik: “I tried to help in what ways I could. I tried to take care of my family.”

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

‘Of his own free will’

Paul Borik said his fascination with plants began in childhood when he discovered snapdragons spilling over a neighbor’s fence. As a child in the 1930s, he delivered flowers to Chicago hospitals by streetcar or on foot and then, as a teenager, worked for nurseries.

Borik got a horticulture degree from the University of Illinois. But events pushed him into a new primary role — physically helping and financially supporting his aging parents and brother John Borik Jr., disabled in WWII. 

“I tried to help in what ways I could,” Borik said. “I tried to take care of my family and Johnny.” 

“Paul is such a good man with such a giant heart that I can see where it would be possible for people to take advantage of him,” Borik’s cousin Jo Otiepka said.

Borik’s memories dissolve when asked about the scams that plunged him into a nursing home. The following account is based on APS and court records.

Those who targeted Borik came from a loose network of at least 40 people convicted together of felonies against seniors or who lived at the same addresses as they carried out cons against elderly victims in Illinois and elsewhere, according to a review of more than 100 Cook County cases.

In what’s listed as Case A, for which Pebbles Miller served prison time for felony theft, state-contracted APS investigators visited Borik’s house and immediately reported the matter to police.

“Worker went around to back yard which was so overgrown with plant and tree branches that worker could not walk in it,” a Catholic Charities caseworker reported to APS.

A year and half later — in June 2013 — Catholic Charities closed its file on Borik, saying in its final report that he “does not believe he will ever see any of his money again but he will get along.”

In January 2014, Borik was taken to Swedish Hospital for a leg infection and diagnosed with dementia. Doctors recommended a nursing home due to his inability to manage daily living. But Borik opted to stay in his house. 

In early 2015, a 42-year-old woman appeared at a nearby grocery store Borik frequented, the public guardian’s office said in court filings. She said she needed surgery, records show.

Between March and August of that year, records show, Borik made 22 payments to the woman totaling $162,455. 

“The same thing is happening again,” a Catholic Charities caseworker wrote. “Client is a hoarder and the house is unlivable.” 

But Catholic Charities closed Case B on Christmas Eve 2015, citing Borik’s refusal of services.

Paul Borik plants

Paul Borik with his plants.

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

What’s referred to as Case C began in the summer of 2016, when Borik called Catholic Charities after being taken for $39,200 by a home-repair scammer who promised to lay concrete in front of Borik’s home on North Lowell Avenue. If he didn’t get the job, the man told Borik, he would be deported and likely killed.

Borik made three cash payments, then “the alleged abuser vanished,” an APS report said.

Borik told Catholic Charities he went to the police but that they would not take a report because he could not name this new abuser. The nonprofit closed Case C on July 20, 2016, noting that Borik didn’t know the name of the abuser “and client gave money of his own free will.”

Case D was opened a few days later. A 23-year-old woman struck up a conversation with Borik at a Tony’s Finer Foods. Borik ended up buying her a $12,000 Ford Fusion and authorized $75,000 in bank withdrawals that allegedly went to her and family members, records show. 

No criminal charges were filed against her or anyone else in cases B through D. 

Paul Borik hand plants

Paul Borik dreamed of owning land where he could tend to his plants. Instead, to provide for his family, he worked for years as a horticulturalist at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

Sebastián Hidalgo / Injustice Watch

In his room, Borik keeps a reference book on plants, using prayer guides as bookmarks. 

“In the Army, you’re drafted, you’re there, it’s maybe not what you want,” he said. “It’s not a perfect life, by any means. But I try to do what’s right.”

Contributing: Carlos Ballesteros | Injustice Watch, Alex Richards | Syracuse University, Mrinali Dhembla

David Jackson reports for Injustice Watch, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit journalism organization.

David Jackson reports for Injustice Watch, a nonpartisan, not-for-profit journalism organization.

Fri, 11 Aug 2023 16:56:00 -0500 en text/html https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/8/11/23825733/elderly-financial-exploitation-protection-paul-borik
Killexams : In Illinois, A System Meant To Protect Against Elder Financial Exploitation Is Failing

This story was originally published by Injustice Watch, a Chicago-based nonprofit newsroom that examines issues of equity and justice in the court system. Subscribe to Injustice Watch’s newsletter here.

This is the first story in a series about elder financial exploitation in Illinois. Part two will be published Friday.

CHICAGO — For much of his long life, Paul Borik kept himself busy in the service of others.

As a young soldier in the aftermath of World War II, he helped rebuild France. Then he returned to Chicago, where he dedicated his time and money to his older brother whose head was pierced by a metal fragment in the war. During long workdays, he tended to towering palms and flowers as a city horticulturist at the Garfield Park Conservatory.

To help his family, he sacrificed his dream of opening an evergreen nursery in Michigan. Instead, he stayed in the same Northwest Side home, where he grew up, never marrying, watching over his aging parents and disabled brother until their deaths left him alone.

During a visit in 2012, when Borik was 80 years old, a state social found a portable heater beside his easy chair amid thigh-deep piles of food cartons and trash, according to records reviewed by Injustice Watch. The sink sloped with dirty dishes. Green leaves sprouted from small pots on a living room windowsill, the only remaining vestige of a once-orderly life and career.

In an internal report, a social worker later described his house as “unlivable” and its lonely inhabitant as “a magnet for people running a con game.”

He needed help.

But for the next five years, records show, state officials filed report after report and did little to intervene as Borik was swindled out of more than $340,000, the bulk of his life savings.

The safety net designed to protect thousands of older Illinoisians like Borik collapsed, with state officials justifying their inaction by saying it is every citizen’s right to waive off help.

READ MORE: Older Black Americans Are At Higher Risk For Financial Exploitation

Dozens of cases like Borik’s examined by Injustice Watch during a four-month investigation reveal a failed system to protect older adults from financial exploitation, even as a “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers are increasingly living alone without the support of family nearby.

Last year alone, Illinois seniors were swindled out of a record $75.9 million, up from $5 million in 2014, according to FBI reports. Experts say those figures are a vast undercount.

Yet the numbers of arrests and prosecutions for elder financial abuse are falling. Holes in banking regulations, loose state watchdog laws, and cost-cutting ripple through almost every level of Illinois government.

Illinois ranks 49th among states in the number of suspicious banking transactions per capita reported against older adults by financial institutions, according to an Injustice Watch analysis of federal data. Illinois is also among only six states without its own force of investigators to look into exploitation cases, saving money by contracting with about 40 local social service agencies to do that work.

Caseworkers often are confused about their authority and their mission, records and interviews show.

The Illinois Department on Aging’s top Adult Protective Services official mischaracterized his agency’s responsibilities in an interview, saying APS is barred by state law from investigating frauds by financial professionals, criminals, or strangers, such as those who victimized Borik.

“We don’t do fraud,” said Brian Pastor, who was named manager of Illinois APS in 2021.

Officials later walked back Pastor’s interpretation of the law in an email exchange with Injustice Watch. But they then got lawmakers to amend the statute to match Pastor’s restrictive definition, according to records and an aide to one of the bill’s sponsors.

“None of the systems meant to protect elders are working effectively,” said Chicago lawyer Paige Fox, president-elect of the Illinois chapter of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. “Seniors are easy money.”

Pastor called Illinois’ plummeting numbers of Verified cases a “fluctuation,” and he said his office cannot intervene when people decline help, regardless of their age or infirmity.

In Chicago, elder financial exploitation is especially prevalent in predominantly Black neighborhoods, records show. Experts cite a variety of factors, including a lack of police response in those neighborhoods.

“Historically, they have turned people away,” said Rev. Robin Hood, a West Side community activist who works with victims of mortgage fraud.

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker declined an interview request.

In a written statement, his spokesman said, “The Adult Protective Services program works around the clock to investigate this abuse, keep seniors safe, and ensure law enforcement can hold bad actors accountable when appropriate. … These provider agencies are experts in their communities and local dynamics.”

Credit: Sebastián Hidalgo for Injustice Watch
Paul Borik shows a visitor his love for his main hobby, caring for his plants in his one-room apartment as a ward of the state.

‘A Pattern Of Sorts’ 

Predators first targeted Borik in 2012.

A 27-year-old woman named Pebbles Miller approached him, then 80 years old, as he gassed up his car 2 miles from his home, records show.

She seemed friendly. She said she was an interior designer in the neighborhood shopping for light fixtures. She invited him to coffee. As a flirtation developed over weeks, Miller told her new friend she had cancer and could not afford treatment.

Over the next five years, she and a loose network of accomplices fleeced the increasingly confused Borik through four separate cons, home repair frauds, and sweetheart scams, according to an analysis of court cases.

He lost the house his family owned for more than seven decades, the bulk of his retirement savings, and his liberty.

Now age 91 and living in a nursing home as a ward of the state, Borik struggled in interviews to recount what happened.

“They seem to find me very easily,” he said. “You wonder if it wasn’t a pattern of sorts.”

Officials at the $1 billion-per-year Illinois Department on Aging and its APS program, established by state law a decade ago as the frontline agency to protect older and disabled adults, filed detailed reports each time Borik was fleeced.

In fact, Borik first triggered APS involvement when he reached out to one of its contracted investigative agencies, Catholic Charities, asking for help paying Miller’s medical bills.

At first, the system seemed to work as it should.

Miller was convicted of felony theft. She spent 20 months in state prison. But only a fraction of the $98,000 Borik gave her was recovered, court records show.

And the swindlers kept coming.

After another woman befriended Borik at a grocery store and eventually made off with $162,455 in 2015, a Catholic Charities caseworker called the same Chicago police detective who had handled the first case.

“He was not interested in getting involved this time because Borik obviously did not learn a lesson,” according to state APS reports.

In 2013, when state officials were investigating Borik’s first case, it was one of 6,744 reports of elder financial exploitation handled by APS. By last year, that number had risen to 8,410.

Pastor defended his program’s record and said state-contracted investigators face a moral choice when the protection of an older adult could come at the cost of that person’s liberty, privacy, and free will — their fundamental right to live as they want, even if they make calamitous financial choices.

“It’s always about asking them what they feel is appropriate, asking them what they feel comfortable with. We always ask for consent to do things,” Pastor said. “That’s the primary piece. That’s all we always have to go off of.”

“Oftentimes, that might mean the client refuses to do an investigation on their family member or on someone they care about,” Pastor said. “That’s their choice, and we have to respect that.”

Preserving the liberty of older adults is a priority for every layer of government, but APS is not doing that effectively, said Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert.

“At some point, Adult Protective Services has to step in and protect,” he said.

He runs the government agency of last resort in such cases. His office can ask a probate court judge to take over the finances of people who have lost the ability to care for themselves and who have no family to step in. The public guardian currently handles the estates of more than 700 disabled adults — including Borik.

“You want to talk about taking liberty away?” Golbert said. “When you take away somebody’s life savings, you are taking away options and choices and liberty for them.”

He said such lost savings might have kept the older person in their own home with support or allowed them to move to a four-star nursing home instead of a “substandard facility.”

“That takes money,” Golbert said.

“Caring for those who seek assistance in their time of need is central to our mission,” a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Catholic Charities wrote in an email response. “We will continue to strive to meet those needs with care and compassion.”

Credit: Sebastián Hidalgo for Injustice Watch
Charles Golbert, the Cook County Public Guardian, said more should be done to protect older adults suffering from dementia before it is necessary for them to become a ward of the state under his care.

Other States Do More

“Every time you hear about one of these cases, you will see chinks in the armor where things should have been done differently,” said Diane Slezak, CEO of AgeOptions, one of 13 Area Administrations on Aging that help APS investigate financial abuse of older adults.

“It’s a systems problem,” Slezak said. “Trying to close some of these loopholes is critical.”

Illinois is among a half-dozen states where investigations of abuse of older adults are contracted  to social service agencies, according to records and an interview with Bill Benson, national policy adviser at the National Adult Protective Services Association, which represents state and local APS administrators and workers.

In most states, reports of elder financial exploitation are handled by government employees.  Arizona’s in-house staff includes forensic accountants and investigators with law enforcement backgrounds.

The Illinois contractors — mostly nonprofit social service agencies — are paid hourly rates to investigate and verify the financial abuse complaints from bank officials, relatives, landlords, and victims.

Of 8,410 reports of financial exploitation last year, the state-contracted caseworkers Verified evidence of abuse in just 462, about 5.5%, down from about 19% of cases a decade ago.

This plunge in APS-verified cases helps explain the ongoing decline in arrests and prosecutions for elder financial abuse in Chicago and Cook County.

Records show APS referred only 40 cases last year to law enforcement statewide — fewer than 1% of the reports it got.

APS would not say how many cases were referred to the Chicago Police Department.

But Chicago police reports on elder financial exploitation since 2001 show the number of arrests dropping steadily.

Officials with CPD and Mayor Brandon Johnson’s administration did not respond to requests for comment.

According to data from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, prosecutors are filing fewer cases and getting guilty verdicts against fewer defendants than a decade ago.

On his agency’s website, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul says one of his office’s most important responsibilities is protecting older citizens from financial exploitation and “taking legal action against those who prey on older residents.”

But asked for a list of accurate legal actions or even statistical data about them, the office said it did not track cases specifically against seniors.

Adult protection experts said Illinois lacks APS investigators with the financial skills to safeguard vulnerable residents.

The state-contracted social workers “are overloaded and undertrained. They may not have enough time, and their caseloads overwhelm them,” said Dr. XinQi Dong, a health epidemiologist and geriatrician whose staff at Rush University interviewed more than 3,000 Chicagoans for a 2016 study on the underreporting of elder financial abuse in immigrant communities. Dong also has advised the Illinois Department on Aging and lawmakers.

John K. Holton, who directed the state Department on Aging from 2011 to 2015, when Illinois’ current Adult Protective Services Act was written, said the system to contract out investigations was designed to empower existing local senior services organizations — but also to contain costs.

“It was easier to get legislation putting in place Adult Protective Services with a delivery mechanism that didn’t add to the state payroll and increase the pension liabilities of state employees versus subcontractors being responsible for the salaries and benefits,” Holton said.

Illinois ranks near the bottom of states in the per-capita number of “suspicious activity reports” about elder financial abuse filed with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, government data shows.

Illinois is not among the 39 states to supply case-level information to the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System, a federal data repository designed to spot abuse trends. It is not among the 26 states where financial institutions must notify state authorities when the accounts of older or disabled people show unusual activity. And it is not among the 34 states that mandate reporting of the cases to the state securities regulator, as well as the APS program.

In May, after a decade of efforts by elder justice advocates, the Illinois General Assembly passed a bill to mandate reporting for one category of professionals: investment advisers.

Declining Enforcement

The situation in Illinois is emblematic of a national crisis. The reported amount lost to financial exploitation of older adults rose nationwide to $3.1 billion last year — a ninefold increase from $342.5 million in 2017, according to FBI data. Financial exploitation is the most common form of elder abuse in the United States, said a publication by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of the Treasury.

The largest number of known abusers are relatives who have easy access to the victim’s account information, government records and research studies show.

But the largest dollar amounts are lost to financial professionals and experienced criminals, like the ones who exploited Borik.

“While the largest number of cases reported involved family, friends, and caregivers, the aggregate dollar amounts lost through commercial elder abuse was the highest,” a 2011 MetLife study reported.

The confidence scams, such as those that targeted Borik — typically run by criminals who pose as home repairmen or sweethearts — took 4,661 victims older than age 60 last year nationwide, up from 583 in 2017, a sevenfold increase, FBI data shows.

There also are tech-savvy scamsters who use high-pressure telephone and internet solicitations — including voice-cloning software to mimic grandchildren.

The nationwide rise in elder financial exploitation is driven in large part by demographics. The United States has a growing subset of older adults with no relatives living close by and no immediate support network, according to census data and research studies.

In 2018, about 40% of Illinoisans age 60 or older lived alone, and the figure is expected to grow as the number of older adults rises.

‘Of his own free will’

Borik said his fascination with plants began in childhood, when he discovered snapdragons spilling over a neighbor’s fence. In the 1930s, he delivered flowers to Chicago hospitals by streetcar or on foot and then, as a teenager, worked at local nurseries.

He got a degree in horticulture from the University of Illinois. But events pushed him into a new primary role — physically helping and financially supporting his aging parents and brother John Borik Jr., disabled in WWII.

“I tried to help in what ways I could. I tried to take care of my family and Johnny,” Borik said.

“Paul is such a good man with such a giant heart that I can see where it would be possible for people to take advantage of him,” said Borik’s cousin Jo Otiepka.

Borik’s memories dissolve when asked about the scams that plunged him into government care. This account is based on APS and court records.

Those who targeted Borik came from a loose network of at least 40 people convicted together for felony crimes against seniors or who lived at the same addresses as they executed elderly cons in Illinois and elsewhere, according to a review of more than 100 Cook County cases.

In what’s listed as Case A, for which Miller served prison time for felony theft, state-contracted APS investigators visited Borik’s house and immediately reported the matter to police.

“Worker went around to backyard, which was so overgrown with plant and tree branches that worker could not walk in it,” a Catholic Charities caseworker reported to APS.

A year and half later — in June 2013 — Catholic Charities closed its file on Borik, saying in its final report he “does not believe he will ever see any of his money again, but he will get along.”

MORE: How We Reported On Elder Financial Exploitation

In January 2014, Borik was taken to Swedish Hospital for a leg infection and diagnosed there with dementia. Doctors recommended a nursing home because of his inability to manage daily living. But Borik opted to stay in his house.

In early 2015, a 42-year-old appeared at a nearby grocery store Borik frequented, the public guardian said in court pleadings. She said she needed surgery, records show.

Between March and August of that year, records show Borik made 22 payments to the woman totaling $162,455 from various accounts.

“The same thing is happening again,” a Catholic Charities caseworker wrote in an internal APS report. “Client is a hoarder, and the house is unlivable.”

But Catholic Charities closed Case B on Christmas Eve 2015, citing Borik’s refusal of services.

What’s referred to as Case C began in summer 2016, when Borik called Catholic Charities after being taken for $39,200 by a home repair scamster who promised to lay concrete in front of Borik’s home on North Lowell Avenue. If he didn’t get the job, the man told Borik, he would be deported and likely killed.

Borik made three cash payments, then “the alleged abuser vanished,” an APS report said.

Borik told Catholic Charities he went to the police, but they would not take a report because he could not name this new abuser. The nonprofit closed Case C on July 20, 2016, noting Borik didn’t know the name of the abuser, “and client gave money of his own free will.”

Case D was opened a few days later, when a 23-year-old woman struck up a conversation with Borik at a nearby Tony’s Finer Foods. Borik ended up buying her a $12,000 Ford Fusion and authorized $75,000 in bank withdrawals that allegedly went to her and family members, records show.

No criminal charges were filed against her or anyone else in cases B through D.

Today, in his nursing home room, Borik keeps a reference book on plants, using prayer guides as bookmarks.

“In the Army, you’re drafted, you’re there, it’s maybe not what you want,” Borik said. “It’s not a perfect life by any means. But I try to do what’s right.”

Injustice Watch reporter Carlos Ballesteros, Syracuse University digital journalism Assistant Professor Alex Richards, and Northwestern University journalism student Mrinali Dhembla contributed to this story.

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