After an ugly election cycle that lasted almost two years, investors woke up last Wednesday morning wondering how their financial interests will be served in the Trump Administration.
Will there be a rollback of regulations designed specifically to protect Mom and Pop investors?
Will the new Department of Labor fiduciary duty rule, which affects investors IRAs, be eviscerated?
Will Wall Street’s interests be put ahead of its customers?
Early indications are that investors will face greater risk in the coming years as a Trump Administration will likely take steps to do away with reforms President Obama put in place to take risk out of the markets.
According to multiple news organizations, including the Wall Street Journal, former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Paul Atkins has been tapped to be Trump’s point man on financial regulation. The Journal reported over the weekend that Atkins is a “longtime critic of heavy regulation” and will lead the Administration’s plans to do away with much of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul.
Since Dodd-Frank took effect in 2010, Wall Street investment banks have been much more subdued. There hasn’t been a financial calamity, as we saw in 2000 with the technology crash and again in 2008 with the mortgage crisis. As you may recall, investment banks were at the center of those systemic failures.
This blog in the coming months will closely watch the battle over Dodd-Frank. “Mr. Trump has detailed little about his views on financial regulation beyond his vow to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank law —a campaign promise on which his transition team privately has sought to temper expectations, saying the focus was on rescinding or scaling back individual provisions of the law that Republicans find most objectionable,” the Journal reported.
“The fact that Mr. Trump has turned to Mr. Atkins for recommendations provides an additional window into how the president-elect is likely to govern,” according to the Journal. “Mr. Atkins, too, has repeatedly assailed Dodd-Frank, targeting provisions such as the creation of a systemic-risk council that has the power to designate large financial firms for bank-like regulation from the Federal Reserve. Mr. Atkins has said the council will ‘substitute government judgments for investor judgments, deciding for investors whether a product merits investment.’”
Adkins also advocates going easy on the banks when it comes to paying large fines for their actions. As a past SEC commissioner, Adkins was against “big fines for companies, arguing they punish shareholders,” according to the Journal. One Wall Street insider and a former chief of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. described Atkins as being “very pro deregulation.”
Like Adkins, Texas Congressman Jeb Hensarling, reportedly Trump’s choice for Treasury Secretary, has a reputation for advocating against regulation.
Let’s hope that Trump’s stated disdain for Wall Street, along with the support of the working class who elected him, results in sensible rules designed to protect investors. But with people like Paul Atkins playing leading roles in the administration, a Trump Presidency could herald a return to the Wild West days on Wall Street. Strap yourselves in…
Zamansky LLC are investment and stock fraud attorneys representing investors in federal and state litigation and arbitration against financial institutions.