Trusted Contacts for Your Financial Accounts

Trusted Contacts for Your Financial Accounts

When you open an account or update an existing account at a brokerage or a financial firm, you may be asked you if you want to designate a “trusted contact.” This individual may be contacted in certain situations such as when financial exploitation is suspected or there are other concerns about your health, welfare, or whereabouts. Naming a trusted contact is optional, but may help protect your account assets.

The person you name as a trusted contact must be at least 18 years old. You’ll want to choose someone who can handle the responsibility and who will always act in your best interest — this might be a family member, close friend, attorney, or third-party professional. You may also name more than one trusted contact.

Understandably, you might be concerned that the person you name could make transactions in your account but that’s not the case. Your trusted contact will not be able to access your account or make financial decisions on your behalf (unless you previously authorized that person to do so). You are simply giving the financial firm permission to contact the person you have named.

Here are some examples of times when a financial firm might need to reach out to your trusted contact.

To confirm current contact information when you can’t be reached
If financial exploitation or fraud is suspected
To validate your health status if the firm suspects you’re sick or showing signs of cognitive decline
To identify any legal guardian, executor, trustee, or holder of a power of attorney on your account
A firm may only share reasonable types of information with your trusted contact. U.S. broker-dealers are required to provide a written disclosure that includes details about when information might be shared. Ask your financial firm or professional if you have any questions about the trusted contact agreement.

You may add, remove, or change your trusted contact at any time, and you’ll need to keep your contact’s information up-to-date. It’s also a good idea to let the person you’ve chosen know so that he or she is prepared to help if necessary.

High Inflation: How Long Will It Last?

High Inflation: How Long Will It Last?

When inflation began rising in the spring of 2021, many economists, including policymakers at the Federal Reserve, believed the increase would be transitory and subside over a period of months. One year later, inflation has proven to be more stubborn than expected. It may be helpful to look at some of the forces behind rising prices, the Fed’s plan to combat them, and early signs that inflation may be easing.

U.S. Credit-Card Debt Levels Begin to Return to Normal Seasonal Patterns

U.S. Credit-Card Debt Levels Begin to Return to Normal Seasonal Patterns

U.S. credit-card debt saw a record drop during the second quarter of 2020 — the height of the pandemic. This was largely the result of Americans paying down their balances with the help of COVID-19 financial assistance in the form of stimulus payments, suspended student loan payments, and broad state-sponsored unemployment benefits, as well as a reduction in spending due to lockdowns.

Inflation Cuts into Wage Gains

Inflation Cuts into Wage Gains

Driven by labor shortages, median hourly wages increased at an annual rate of 5.2% in December 2021, the highest level since June 2001. However, inflation cuts into buying power, and real wages — adjusted for inflation — actually dropped as inflation spiked in 2021. By contrast, negative inflation (deflation) during the Great Recession sent real wages skyrocketing temporarily even as non-adjusted wage growth declined.

Will Infrastructure Investment Pave the Way to a Stronger Economy?

Will Infrastructure Investment Pave the Way to a Stronger Economy?

In November 2021, Congress passed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a roughly $1 trillion package that reauthorized existing programs and provided more than $550 billion in new funding over the next five years to help upgrade aging U.S. transportation, water, power generation, and communication systems.1 The American Society of Civil Engineers applauded the bipartisan legislation, calling it a significant down payment on the $2.5 trillion in deficiencies identified in the industry group’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure.