Banks starting to offer age-friendly services to meet the needs of older customers

According to the AARP Americans over age 50 own 67 percent of bank deposits and control 70 percent of the nation’s assets.

And with the population of those age 65 and over set to double within the next 30 years, the deposits owned by older adults are also poised to balloon.

This article from US News quotes an AARP exec as saying that your banker might notice before anyone else in your life that you’re facing cognitive decline, and that’s why it’s important for bank tellers to be trained to spot potential fraud targeting older adults as well as help customers who might need extra assistance.article-2229776-15EA3169000005DC-909_634x286

We have conducted Age-Friendly audits on numerous banks and financial services businesses. Very few do well. For example, rarely do they provide a physical space that is friendly to older adults. When you walk into the bank, is there a place to sit while talking to bank tellers? Is the area well lit and do the tellers speak loudly, with the option of communicating without the glass partition in place? Do they offer to write account balances in large font if necessary?

Here are a few more signs a bank is ready for its older customers:

Extra fraud alerts. Some banks, like Wells Fargo in the USA, have launched internal units to crack down on fraud aimed at older customers. They have systems in place to alert family members if there are concerns about fraud on an account, and bank tellers are trained to spot suspicious behaviour, like large withdrawals. Some banks also offer real-time alerts to family members about unusual transactions and delay money transfers to provide more time to investigate suspicious requests. Some banks even check in​ with older clients if they go long periods without hearing from them.

Providing services outside the bank. Sometimes, older customers find it much easier to conduct business outside the bank, from home or another location. Notary services in particular should be offered outside the bank’s walls, Whitman says. That way, if older clients need help with something like finalising wills, they can do so from the comfort of their own home.

Caregiving-specific products. Banks that make it easy to add a name to an account for monitoring, without transactional authority, can help older adults avoid fraud. Banks can also make it easier to pay bills from someone else’s account, so a caregiver can more easily handle bills and prevent commingling of funds, she adds. Some banks also offer educational programs and information to caregivers who take over financial management for their loved ones.

​There are other new products, like the prepaid Visa debit card True Link, that are designed to help seniors and their caregivers avoid fraud. A caregiver can put money on the card and then set spending limits for different categories, add real-time alerts, turn the card on or off and even block specific stores. If an older adult has overspent on a certain charity or retailer in the past, then the caregiver can use a blocking feature so the card won’t work for a particular expense.

Sensitivity to concerns and needs of older clientele. ​A general awareness and sensitivity to the issues that come up for older banking customers can go a long way toward providing age-friendly services. Bank tellers trained to notice red flags, like when a new​ spouse or caregiver attempts to withdraw large amounts of money from an account, can help​ prevent fraud and abuse.

Good tips and the sort of things we cover in our AF workshops.