There seems to be a lot of "energy" (and sometimes anger) around the idea that some people provide full-service financial planning and some people call themselves planners while actually selling products or managing assets for a living.  Jim Barnash of Capital Analysts, when he was president of the Financial Planning Association, reported to me that it became obvious that many FPA members who have been held up as the benchmark of the profession didn't do financial planning any more--and, he says, "those were often the ones who banged on 'those brokers and insurance guys' calling themselves financial planners.  His solution: if you don't follow the six-step process, then you shouldn't be able to call yourself a financial planner--period.  Otherwise, we are just muddying the waters around the issue.

But another advisor, who practices in Columbus, Ohio, isn't so sure.  Her plans, she says, have become more streamlined over the years; "more is often less," and the long, detailed financial plans can sometimes create confusion.  At the same time, she says, the written document provides a potential source for clarity, and a foundation for all recommendations, and a reference point for clients when they suddenly want to make changes in their portfolio. 

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