(Bloomberg) -- A new move by Trump may mean higher costs forindividual investors and retirement plans, especially 401(k)s offered by small businesses.

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The good news, though, is that you can protect yourself againsthis order, which delays and reconsiders the so-called fiduciaryrule, if you ask the right questions.

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Related: We don't have to be flat broke inretirement

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Brokers often get incentives to steer clients intocertain financial products, which can charge very highfees.

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President Barack Obama’s White House had estimated that theseconflicts of interest were costing American investors $17 billion ayear. The Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, scheduled togo into effect in April, would have fought this, requiringfinancial advisers to put clients interests before their own whenproviding advice on retirement accounts.

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The financial industry balked, predictably, disputing the Obamaadministration’s math and suing to stop the rule.

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Wall Street argued it would be costly to implement and restrictinvestor choices by making it less profitable to provide advice tolow- and middle-income investors.

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Related: Wells Fargo is your last warning --- checkyour 401(k)

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Despite the opposition, the threat of the regulation had alreadystarted to change the way financial institutions do business. Firmshave moved away from their higher-cost products and toward makingtheir fees clearer and easier to explain to clients.

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Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. bothannounced they’d stop charging commissions on individual retirementaccounts. Insurance companies are also changing their productlineup, and their sales of variable annuities, a costly investmentproduct much-criticized by personal finance experts, havebeen plunging.

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By asking these 3 questions, investors can avoid financialadvisers who don’t put their interests first:

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1. Are you a fiduciary?

Clients can ask: “Are you a fiduciary?” Many are already, whichmeans they’re required by law to watch out for your best interests,much as doctors and lawyers are. That won’t change based onTrump’s order.

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2. How are you paid?

Investors can also ask detailed questions about how theiradvisers are being paid. What incentives do they have to steer youinto particular products? Advisers may operate differently ifthey’re paid by the hour or by a percentage of the assets theymanage, vs. if they’re paid extra commissions for certain in-houseproducts.

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3. What are my fees?

Finally, investors can keep a close eye on how much they’repaying, with the understanding that a fee of 1 percent or 2percent can have a surprisingly large cumulative impact on theirfinancial future if it’s charged year after year after year.

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Many investors are already asking these questions. That’s onereason many investment firms have said they’ll stick withthese changes no matter what Trump decides. “We plan to go forwardwith the majority of the work we’ve done,” Bill Morrissey, managingdirector of business development at LPL Financial Holdings Inc.,told Bloomberg News. “What investors want is more transparency andlower fees.”

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If firms and advisers stick to (or return to) the old ways,they’ll need to go after investors who won’t ask too manyquestions. A target in the past has been small businesses.Chronically starved of time and rarely expert at investing,their owners can end up paying widely varying amounts for401(k) plans. An analysis by the research firm BrightScope foundfees on small retirement plans can vary from as little as 0.5percent a year to more than 3 percent or 4 percent.

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Related: The Labor Day guide to putting your moneyto work

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But even small business owners are getting moreoptions. A number of small startup firms compete tooffer low-cost, basic 401(k) plans. While Trump’s order couldstall that momentum, it’s unlikely to stop it entirely.

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The last remaining targets for non-fiduciary advisers, then, arethe most unsophisticated investors, people who don’t know the firstthing about annuity expenses, load fees, or the importance ofa mutual fund’s expense ratio.

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Unfortunately, these are often the people least able to affordthe extra costs—if Trump guts the fiduciary rule, it is the leastwealthy investors who will feel the consequences.

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Related: 8 financial mistakes couples make thatcould derail retirement

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