A respected member of the profession told me recently about some colleagues who didn't make it through the 2008 market debacle because their value proposition was too closely tied to investment returns. "Don't you think,'' he said to me, "a lot of people are returning to what financial planning was supposed to be all along?"

Our profession's history is a story of mass migration away from, and then back to, what we might call real planning. In the 1970s, giving away plans was the hot new way to sell life insurance. In the 1980s, planning experienced a brief resurgence before people discovered that the real money could be found selling tax shelters. After another resurgence in the 1990s, the profession drifted into the assets-under-management business model. There was a brief revival when the tech bubble burst, and we're in another one now.

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