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It recently became obvious to me that my office was overdue fora thorough spring cleaning. After digging through mountains ofancient receipts and a potpourri of long-forgotten sticky notereminders (anyone else have trouble reading their ownhandwriting?), I started organizing several shelves of old issuesof the magazine dating back more than a decade.

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It was fascinating to see such a visual representation of themany shifts and trends that have shaped our industryduring that time. As you all know, fear of the unknown and uncertainty about the future have been presentin the industry for a long time, and this was reflected in much ofour industry coverage.

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Here's a sampling of a few headlines from what was unarguably ascary time for many brokers and advisors:

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Brokers face bigger problems than healthreform

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System failure

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Death of a salesman

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Pretty grim, huh? Now, to be fair, there was still plenty ofhope, even during the darkest years. Other covers from the sametimeframe featured defiant and optimistic messages, including oneof my favorites: “Not afraid.”

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Still, my little trip down memory lane provided an interestingperspective on where things stand now and how drastically themindset of many in the industry has changed.

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Related: Millennials are changing the (broker)world

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I can't tell you how many times consultants and other benefitsprofessionals have recently told me “there's never been a bettertime in this industry,” or “my job is finally fun again.”

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As Suzannah Gill puts it in this month's Face of Change, “I was talking to [a broker]the other day and she said, 'I get to be the hero.'” And as Gillnotes, health care reform and the many changes it brought to theindustry have been largely responsible for pushing innovations likeself-funding to the forefront.

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Billy Potter, our 2018 Broker of the Year, puts it another way:“There is a wedge between people who are progressively changing forthe better, actively not going with the flow, and those who havedecided to keep doing things the way they have been doing them fora long time.”

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Being a hero? Progress and change? Sounds pretty good, wouldn'tyou say?

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Yes, plenty of challenges remain and the future is still farfrom certain. Health care reform, the shadow of single-payer andplenty of other issues aren't going to just disappear. But for thefirst time in a long time, brokers and their clients are takingback control. And they're having a really good time doing it.

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Paul Wilson

Paul Wilson is the editor-in-chief of BenefitsPRO Magazine and BenefitsPRO.com. He has covered the insurance industry for more than a decade, including stints at Retirement Advisor Magazine and ProducersWeb.