No, “Dog Days of Summer” doesn't refer to thestring of blockbuster megaflops Hollywood pumped out thisseason.

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The term actually derives from ancient Rome when, before theprecession of the equinoxes gradually changed things, the brighteststar in the night sky (“Sirius,” a.k.a. the “Dog Star”) rose aboutthe same time as the sun. This generally occurred from late July tolate August during the height of the hot, humid Mediterraneansummer. Life slowed down to a standstill.

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While the Earth's precession has shifted Sirius' rise with thesun by about a month, the effect of “Dog Days” remains today. Infact, Italy still honors the Roman tradition of taking the month ofAugust off. Business (except for that related to tourism) windsdown to a standstill. Even our own government leaves the capitalduring the hottest months of summer. Legislation, regulatorydevelopment and the usual shenanigans virtually stop, leavingpolitical reporters with their thumbs twiddling.

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And so, we're left with the dog days of fiduciary. It's a timewhen the SEC has wrapped up its public comment period on theuniform fiduciary standard and the DOL continues to defer itsdecision on the fiduciary rule. We'll spend the next several weekswith nothing more than idle speculation by those few journalistswho have used up all their vacation time. No doubt they'll refer tothe mountains of published “data” on the business impact of actingin a fiduciary capacity.

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I say “data” because there's very littleempirical support for the numerical claims pouring out of the inkof the industry's lobbyists printers. These are the same folks whocontinue to claim adopting a universal standard will increase the“cost” to brokers who want to act like advisers. They convenientlyomit, if these costs are in fact true, the fact advisers today mustalready be paying those costs where brokers providing the sameservice aren't. Gee, does that sound fair?

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On the flip-side, advocates for the universal fiduciary standardhave their own set of “data.” Unlike their opponents, at leasttheir numbers are based on real experience, although thestatistically significance is still uncertain. These folks showadvisers who switched from the non-fiduciary broker-adviserbusiness model to the fiduciary-adviser model actually increasedtheir revenue.

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The real, empirically supported data, however, was publishedyears ago (and confirmed in other academic studies as recently asearly this year). This data has been available to both the SEC andthe DOL since before they began to pursue their various fiduciaryendeavors. The fact they ignored it in their first iteration tellsyou all you need to know about the intellectual honesty ofWashington, D.C.

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Nothing happened then when we had real data. Expect more nothingas a result of the conflicting faux data.

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Perhaps now it's best we take an extended vacation. I hear Italyis a good place to visit this time of year.

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Christopher Carosa

Chris Carosa has been writing a weekly article and monthly column for BenefitsPRO online and BenefitsPRO Magazine since 2011 and is a nationally recognized award-winning writer, researcher and speaker. He’s written seven books, including From Cradle to Retire: The Child IRA; Hey! What’s My Number? – How to Increase the Odds You Will Retire in Comfort; A Pizza The Action: Everything I Ever Learned About Business I Learned By Working in a Pizza Stand at the Erie County Fair; and the widely acclaimed 401(k) Fiduciary Solutions. Carosa is also Chief Contributing Editor of the authoritative trade journal FiduciaryNews.com and publisher of the Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel, a weekly community newspaper he founded in 1989. Currently serving as President of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and with more than 1,000 articles published in various publications, he appears regularly in the national media. A “parallel” entrepreneur, he actively runs a handful of businesses, including a small boutique investment adviser, providing hands-on experience for his writing. A trained astrophysicist, he also holds an MBA and has been designated a Certified Trust and Financial Advisor. Share your thoughts and story ideas with him through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/christophercarosa/)and Twitter (https://twitter.com/ChrisCarosa).