As the days get closer and closer to that elusive first deadline for plan sponsor fee disclosures – and the sure-to-be-exciting moment of truth for participant disclosures – it might be a good time to take a broader look at both the good and bad of similar experiences in other industries that have gone through a government-regulated "parting of the curtains."

Those of us attending SPARK's national conference in D.C. earlier this week got a hopeful (but equally unnerving) dose of compare and contrast of the real-world impact of federally mandated clarity in industries including the auto business, the pharmaceutical business and even the much-beloved tobacco industry, courtesy of Cynthia Hayes, president of Oculus Partners LLC.

The good news? For even the most controversial of businesses, being forced to provide a wider sense of clarity to consumers has provided plenty of new business opportunities and has given many the chance to modify their products and strategies for more successful market penetration.

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