The introduction of the touchstone, a simple tablet of fieldstone, slate or other dark stone with a fine-grained surface, proved to be a game changer in the ancient world. Scraping the surface of a touchstone with gold or other precious metal left a visible trace of different colors that could quickly be assessed for quality and purity. This humble innovation led to the introduction of a monetary economy and stimulated trade from Greece to Persia.

The modern world is seeking a new kind of touchstone as it prepares to live for an extended period in retirement. Increasingly, financial advisors are being called on to assess their clients' financial readiness for retirement and help them determine whether they have the monetary wherewithal to set and sustain a comfortable standard of living through their so-called "Golden Years."

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