Here in early February, the financial advice business is a little like a James Bond martini—shaken, but not stirred.

After journalists initially misinterpreted a directive from President Donald Trump calling for greater scrutiny regarding a U.S. Department of Labor rule that would apply a more stringent fiduciary standard to advice given within retirement accounts, industry watchdogs started to take the executive order in stride.

“This is not a surprise,” said Charles Goldman, president & CEO of AssetMark, a consultant to financial planners and investment managers. “We expected the administration to delay the implementation of the rule and to review it. We believe that advisors should continue to prepare for the implementation of the rule.”

Yet it isn’t completely clear whether Trump’s order would eventually lead the DOL to delay or overturn the fiduciary rule. Instead, the executive order calls for the DOL to investigate the economic and industry impacts of the rule and of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, the banking law that empowered the DOL’s regulatory efforts.

The order, signed on Friday afternoon, contrasts with a draft leaked a day earlier that explicitly called for a 180-day moratorium on the rule’s enforcement. In response to the leaked draft, advisors woke Friday morning to headlines announcing the rule’s delay—or demise.

Angela Pecoraro, president and COO of Advicent, said advisors preparing for the DOL’s rule should stay the course.

“With the April 10 deadline near, many advisors have already invested a lot of time and money to be compliant with the Department of Labor fiduciary rule, as it stands,” said Pecoraro in comments via email on Friday. “The discussion of the fiduciary standard illuminated by the DOL rule is now something of which consumers are aware and will come to expect from financial professionals. It’s been a global trend to implement standards similar to the fiduciary rule and the financial industry has moved toward a more client-centric way of doing business as a whole.”

Advicent, a fintech software provider, has tilted many of its offerings in anticipation of the DOL’s rule, including the launch of a three-part “Compliance Blueprint” suite of tools to help advisors with additional workflows, data collection, documentation and reporting required by the regulation.

Advicent is one of many firms operating within the industry investing time and resources on the assumption that the rule would be implemented. Thus, it’s no surprise that many advisors and companies servicing them were alarmed by Friday morning headlines like “Trump to Direct DOL to Delay Fiduciary Rule” from ThinkAdvisor, “Trump delays rule giving savers greater protections” from CNBC and “DOL fiduciary rule delayed 180 days by Trump directive” from InvestmentNews. And yes, Financial Advisor also fell victim to the rush to break the news, sending an email blast declaring "Trump To Halt DOL Rule And Order Review Of Dodd-Frank."

Many industry analysts and commentators found themselves caught in the confusion, including Kurt Schacht, managing director of standards and advocacy for the CFA institute, who called for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to step in and draft a single fiduciary rule that would apply across the entire investment industry.

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