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Why I am incautiously thankful on Thanksgiving eve -- and especially with regard to the RIA business

The election and the on-again, off-again lurch toward a more DOL-rule-compliant financial advice world are bruising but the process itself is still doing its job

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 – 9:36 PM by Brooke Southall
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Nobody's seriously questioning whether we should share Thanksgiving with relatives whose views clash with ours.

My mother, my siblings and their families will gather for Thanksgiving around an old table in Freeport, Maine.

Sadly, I will miss it. Yet I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

For about a decades-worth of Thanksgivings, I have been taken in by an old cycling partner and his family in San Francisco. My friend's wife is Chinese and her family makes up the bulk of the group, many of whom speak little English. 

As turkeys brine for 2016's post-election Thanksgiving, many might envy the built-in bar against discussing politics that such a language barrier presents. It's been that kind of year.

It's spilled over into the RIA business as advisors wonder whether the DOL rule, in spirit or full letter of the law, will survive the transition. See: The DOL rule is DOA -- and that's just the beginning, says RIA champion Brian Hamburger, law school chum of odds-on chief of staff Reince Priebus

The same air of questioning is true of nuclear treaties with enemy states, health care insurance for the previously sick, immigration, and whether we should be concerned about the view that Miami will soon have the same charms as Venice. Liberals and conservatives alike have no for-sure great answers.

What we all do seem to agree on is that we are going to put all that aside tomorrow and sit side by side as people. It's an inviolable part of American culture and a party that 's too good to miss. It's a holiday built into our system, an institutionalization of putting family love first. It works.

Turkey for everyone

As to why I'm as fired up as ever about the RIA business: It's bringing more investment processes to people at the micro level, which in turn is feeding the macro prospects for this industry and the macroeconomics of the American economy. It's exciting to be part of a virtuous circle. See: Why the RIA business starts 2016 without its swagger: 2014 and 2015

Before the Labor Department stepped up its efforts to make much of this advancement a matter of legal necessity, the process was, to my reading, already unstoppable. It remains that. Nobody I know on either side of the brokerage or advice aisles really wants to turn back. 

So, yes, I feel like all of us in the RIA business are living in an evolving microcosm that bodes well for what can happen on a broader societal scale. 

But what about all this bitter discourse?

In my holiday spirit I can look back at the movie, "Jerry Maguire" where the Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr. characters are yelling at each other.

Gooding finally makes a short declaration that punctuates the rancor:"You think we're fighting, and I think we're finally talking."

I am thankful, very thankful, that as our nation and business face down unwieldy problems, that our talking is animated by the energy of fighting. It is time for some emotions, hopefully the kind that energize a bigger, better level of discourse. See: What cheap lessons Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are teaching RIAs about the dangers of trying to institutionalize their practices

But until that time arrives, pass the gravy. Please. And I have my ticket for Maine booked for Christmas.

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