The late Steve Jobs in 2008 photo. AP Photo: Paul Sakuma

Ten years ago we were in a real estate boom. Declining interest rates and a volatile stock market made owning a bigger, better home the investment du jour. But, what if instead of your house, you purchased Apple stock in 2002. Can you fathom that you’d be worth $10 million today? Noted stock analyst Jon Najarian looked back at various common assets purchased the past 10 years (e.g., a house), and priced them in Apple terms.

The typical American home cost $228,000 in 2002 (according to U.S. census data). With that money, you could have bought 18,704 shares of Apple at their price a decade ago of $12.19 a share. Today, that home is worth nearly $280,000, but that Apple purchase is worth $10 million.

Editor’s note: Today Apple announced it has a $100-billion cash stockpile and plans to issue a quarterly dividend of $2.65 per share.

Other examples Najarian used in his Apple exercise were on energy costs and tuition. Filling your tank for a year in 2002 cost $840 on average, (according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration). “But if you took the bus” as Najarian put it, and purchased 68 shares of Apple ($840/$12.19) instead, you would now own $36,244 worth of the iPhone/iPad maker todaya nice $35,000 profit and enough to buy new walking shoes for life.

Paying for college for junior? Annual room and board plus tuition for a private college was $31,000 in 2002, according to the Census Bureau. If you allow junior to pay his own way and instead bought 2,543 shares of Apple, that stock investment would now be worth $1.36 million today, according to Najarian’s calculations. Tuition now costs $39,000 on average.

“This extreme exercise is not to show people how ‘dumb’ they were, but rather to illustrate how people put too much into their home a decade ago and that maybe they should have diversified their wealth over more asset classes,” said Najarian. “Right now we should be asking ourselves, ‘What will be the most inflationary asset of the next decade? And how much money should I put toward it.’ ” And maybe as professionals we also need to diversify our product offering beyond insured products, like annuities, exclusively?

What was “hot” yesterday will be tomorrows “dog.” And in general the stock markets have gone nowhere the past 10 to 12 years. Considering that short-term interest rates yield virtually zero percent, eventually they will rise and inflation will rear its head like an angry dragon. And fixed income assets will get slaughtered when that era begins. Bill Gross, the manager of the largest amount of bonds in the entire world, concurs.

I am regularly asked by insurance sales folk, “Why do you talk so much about non-insured investments?” And that is a valid question. But times are changing and a colossal shift has already begun in our industry. Clients have very short memories and get “greedy” when the market climate changes and “everybody but them” are making big gains. You’ll need to adapt to remain adept and stay in business. The seismic industry change has already begun; the blurring of the lines between independent advisors and those who work for large banks or brokerage firms is already happening. “They” are coming for your clients. Learn a little about “their” business and look into getting licensed as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) or partner with someone who already licensed. When the stock market returns to its historic trend of being the single best investment to stay ahead of inflation you’ll be ready for the transition.