The Planning Profession is Leading Us to a Better World

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It’s rarely mentioned, but it’s stunning how often the financial planning profession has foreshadowed the evolution of our social environment.

For example? Some of us remember that the consumer revolution, which phased out salespeople and put the consumer in charge of selecting purchases based on price and quality, was very slow to enter the financial services world. The leading tip of the spear was the first fee-only financial planners, who publicly and even defiantly sat on the same side of the table with their clients. Instead of selling them whatever happened to be in their briefcase (or whatever they were ordered to sell through the squawk box), they became smart shoppers for investments on behalf of their clients. The idea of turning financial customers into clients was invented in the fee-only financial planning world.

The last holdout across the spectrum of American society was the insurance industry, which clung desperately to the idea that it would only sell its protective wares through commission-compensated insurance agents. Only in the last five years has the insurance industry started (cautiously) opening its distribution channels, and guess who it’s reaching out to? Not the consumer marketplace directly (that will come eventually), but to fee-compensated financial planners, who can explain the annuity products and assess the need for them, and who have been recommending insurance on a consumer-friendly basis for decades.