In recent months we have come across a lot of financial mis-selling cases. A vast majority of the anecdotes have the same contours - an elderly user, in-person visits to banks or brokers, an overzealous salesman trying to meet revenue targets, and investment-linked insurance policies. Author and economist Vivek Kaul argues that since banks are awash in liquidity there is increased pressure to sell anything but a fixed deposit.
Then why do the majority of mis-selling happen in person? Because it is easier to do so - at home by the broker, at a bank branch by the RM, or on phone by either. Private conversations are not recorded and are thus not audited - there is no proof of mis-selling. The advice or product pushing that happens within four walls, stays within four walls till it is too late.
Online mis-selling, at least for now, is more subtle and also benign. Like showing star ratings when everyone knows they do not work or by claiming a particular day is better for SIP.
The other difference in the online space is that if an error is made, it is immediately caught and rectified at a record speed. This is unlike offline misselling which can continue for decades as the agent just keeps finding new marks. When such errors by online platforms are reported social media thinks of it as a weakness of such online platforms. In reality, this rapid feedback cycle is a strength - both for the users and the platform.
So how do you ensure that your elders are not taken for a ride by a few bad actors trying to maximize revenue?
Firstly, teach your elders to use the relevant online financial apps - banking or otherwise. We built the family account and manage account features just to make it easier for you to help the elderly in your family. The learning curve to learn an app may be steep, but the price you sometimes pay just to show up at the bank branch or pick up a broker call is really high these days
Secondly, if they absolutely have to do in-person meetings ask them to get everything in writing and from an official email. Once you frame it as such they will understand that any promise that the agent is not willing to give in writing is just that - a vague promise.
Thirdly, the elderly also happen to be less financially savvy and easier targets to spin tales of security around. Spend some time explaining to them why mixing investment, insurance, and a long lock-in is the worst financial product ever. Trust me, if you break it down in simple terms they will understand and get over their familiarity with ULIPS.
Finally and this may be the hardest, keep reminding them that it is ok to say no to friends and family members if what they are trying to sell to you is not in your best interest.
The author is Founder & CEO- Kuvera.in