Which Donald J. Trump will be calling the shots on matters that affect small investors?
If we're lucky, it will be the guy who vowed in his victory speech that he'd have the backs of "the forgotten man and woman." That would be the same Trump who said earlier this year that he was "not going to let Wall Street get away with murder" and that he'd like to bring back Glass-Steagall, the post-Great Depression reforms that separated depository banks from investment banks.
But then there's that other Trump, the one who has said "the regulation industry is one business I will put an end to."
That's the Trump I'm worried about.
If a betrayal of small investors is in the cards, you'll start to see the Trump administration rolling back tough financial rules and installing his deregulatory brethren in consumer-friendly agencies.
Sadly, those seeds already are being planted.
Consider Trump's vow to dismantle the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the birthplace of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Trump hasn't weighed in specifically on the agency's future, but his fellow-Republicans are going all-out to neuter it.
The CFPB is arguably the most effective financial agency out there -- if you define "effective" as being true to its mission to look out for the public. Most recently, it was behind that $100 million settlement in September with Wells Fargo (WFC) , the disgraced bank whose employees opened hundreds of thousands of bogus customer accounts to satisfy sales quotas.
That's "bogus" as in "the customers were clueless that accounts were opened in their names."
Along with big public cases that call banks, credit unions and others to task, the CFPB has infuriated financial companies by publishing more than 600,000 consumer complaints online. Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republican lawmakers were so riled by even the notion of a consumer financial agency that attacks against it began before its 2011 launch.
Texas congressman Randy Neugebauer, a vociferous critic, has called the CFPB a "national nanny" and "benevolent financial products dictator."
Now it turns out that Neugebauer's name is being floated as a possible replacement for the agency's current director, Richard Cordray, according to the Huffington Post. That would make Trump's life infinitely easier if he decides he wants to take on the legal fight to fire Cordray. With Neugebauer in charge, the 45th president of the United States wouldn't even have to go to the trouble of trying to shut the place down.
And then there is the new, investor-friendly Department of Labor rule that would force stockbrokers giving retirement advice to put their clients' interests ahead of their own, a standard that already applies to investment advisers.
Hedge fund manager and Trump economic adviser Anthony Scaramucci has relentlessly trash-talked the fiduciary duty rule. Borrowing a favorite adjective of the future president, Scaramucci said in a Twitter post earlier this month that the rule, set to be effective next April, was "disgusting."