It's not often anything so unclear can be so clear. No, I'm nottalking about the amazing presidential election. Wait. Yes I am. Ina way. As a long-time securities analyst and portfolio manager,I've had to dig deep into business trends of various industries andlearn how to read the otherwise random patterns of economic tealeaves. Hmm, patterns. That's an apt description. Here's why.


Related: NAFA asks D.C. Circuit to delay DOL ruledeadline


Years ago, I wrote a paper on the psychology of winning chess.In my research I discovered why it's surprisingly easy for humansto consistently checkmate supercomputers with sophisticatedprogramming: pattern recognition. The more games of chess agrandmaster plays, the more patterns he can quickly and efficientlyrecognize. This is the key to winning chess (especially against acomputer, where nonverbal techniques go unnoticed).


When it comes time to identify the three least expected trendsthat 2017 will shortly reveal to us, it comes down to patternrecognition. This is most acutely true given today's unpredictablepolitical and regulatory environment. Or, is it thatunpredictable?

Unexpected development #3: The current version of the DOL'sfiduciary rule will be DOA.

Many fiduciary thought leaders feel, despite President-electTrump's opposition to the new rule, the regulation will gounchallenged for several reasons. First, the industry is alreadymoving toward acceptance. For example, several brokerage firms havealready announced they will eliminate commissions for IRAs.


Related: Kansas judge upholds DOL fiduciaryrule


Second, repealing the fiduciary rule is simply not a priorityfor the new administration (it failed to make the list in Trump's“New Contract with America” speech in Gettysburg.) What many failto recognize, though, is that Trump is a deal maker and there areplenty in Congress who want to see the fiduciary rule go away. It'stherefore safe to assume repealing the fiduciary rule will be oneof those “players to be named later” in the many deals Trump willmake with Congress to realize his stated priorities.

Unexpected development #2: The fiduciary battle begins inearnest among top financial service providers with deep advertisingbudgets.

The clue here is something I said above: “Several brokeragefirms have already announced they will eliminate commissions forIRAs.” Well, several other brokerage firms insist they will keepcommissions on IRAs. All I have to say is “Let the advertising warcommence!” The marketplace has long anticipated this inevitableconflict and 2017 will be the year we finally witness it.


Related: Schumer says he can block Trump's efforts to repealDodd-Frank

Unexpected development #1: The need for state-sponsored IRAsrapidly diminishes.

Speaking of competition, once Congress passes (as expected)legislation allowing open 401(k) MEPs, you'll see an avalanche ofthese plans coming from the private sector. They will becompetitively priced compared to their state-sponsoredcounterparts, but will have the added advantage of ERISA protectionand broader savings and investing features. Retirement savers willlook back and wonder “Why didn't anyone think of this before?”


There you have it. Wasn't that easy? Now, if we only had roomfor a child IRA …

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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 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 ( Twitter (