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Trump victory seen as ushering in regulatory reform, pushing retirement policy to backburner

Donald J. Trump
Donald J. Trump

Donald J. Trump's election victory combined with continued Republican control of Congress could bring a political agenda that includes regulatory reform, tax reform and increased infrastructure spending.

With two Senate seats still unconfirmed, Republicans kept their majority but did not win enough seats to prevent legislative filibusters, “which means that they will have to compromise,” said Will Hansen, senior vice president of retirement policy for the ERISA Industry Committee in Washington, in an interview. “I do not see much occurring in the benefits space from a legislative point of view. I don't see retirement policy at the forefront.”

On the regulatory front, Mr. Trump's presidency could mean revisiting the Department of Labor fiduciary rule scheduled to take effect in April 2017. “President-elect Trump may not even have a DOL secretary, or assistant secretary” by then, said Duane Thompson, senior policy analyst at fi360, which provides fiduciary-related training, in an e-mail. A more likely scenario would be extended compliance deadlines for the best interest contract exemption and principal transaction requirements, he said.

Mr. Trump also campaigned on repealing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which would not be an easy task.

The next big question will be answered Nov. 15 when the House elects its speaker. Current Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and other Republicans in Congress have had an uneasy relationship with Mr. Trump. “I think that will set the stage for what the House will be focusing on,” said Mr. Hansen.

The initial panic in financial markets “may be followed by a recovery of sorts as the market tries to price in the uncertainty around how much Trump will follow through on his campaign promises and the extent to which he can expect support from a Republican Congress,” Investec Asset Management noted in a postelection commentary.