Tip of the Iceberg: America’s Soaring Debt

The Golden Age Of The Financial Advisor

Sal Mendoza Highlighted in Broker World Magazine

On April 12, 1912, the crew on the Titanic was slow to react to warnings of an iceberg ahead. By the time the captain called for a drastic course change and reversed one engine to turn the ship, it was too late.

You can think of financial planning in the exact same way. As financial professionals, we look past the short-term noise of inflation, interest rates, and market volatility to prepare clients for what this means for their money in the long term. We help Americans construct portfolios that have the potential to generate lifetime income, carving out a clear and safe path to retirement.

Talking about the journey to retirement reminds me of a boat story that puts this analogy to great use.

The year was 2010 and I was about to embark on a private 11-day yacht trip on the Empress from San Diego, California, to the Columbia River, which acts as a border between Washington and Oregon. This was my first-ever opportunity to explore the Pacific Northwest, just like Lewis and Clark in 1805. I couldn’t wait to set my eyes on Astoria, Oregon, the beautiful scenery, and all the other landmarks penned during the Voyage of Discovery. This was about to be the opportunity of a lifetime.

As someone who had never set foot on a boat before, I convinced the Empress’ captain, a seasoned skipper, to let me on board the 74-foot yacht. I expressed that I would be a great addition to the small crew despite not knowing a single thing about boats. A bow, stern, hull, starboard, and port were all foreign words to me back then. I was able to convince the captain that my kitchen skills and my ability to make a French press coffee or cappuccino would be a valuable addition on this journey. He agreed, as he sipped his first cup of coffee.

On the first night on the Empress, I was told that I would be guiding the yacht up the Pacific Ocean. The moment that I heard him say that my watch shift went until six o’clock the next morning was the moment my heart started pounding. How was somebody who had never driven a yacht be expected to keep it afloat throughout the night? I quickly learned that everything that I needed to be successful in the endeavor was already being done for me—we were on auto pilot. It turns out that my real job was to watch the radar, which seemed simple enough. The radar would identify any real dangers and give the crew enough time to prepare for incoming danger.

Well, it would be an understatement to say that the radar saved my life. Since I was set up for success with the autopilot feature, my first night of watch went perfectly. I was equipped with the tools I needed to have a great first night’s watch. This really makes me wonder how many more lives could have been saved if the Titanic had today’s radar technology and could have possibly had enough time to prepare for the iceberg and avoid hitting it altogether.

Today, I use the same radar skills that I acquired in 2010 to help financial advisors and their clients avoid potential icebergs. How are we using the information we have available at our fingertips right now to protect your client’s money in the future? A looming iceberg that has been on my radar for a while is the massive national debt that continues to pile up year after year after year. In fact, on January 30, 2022, the national debt reached $30,000,000,000, a figure that’s incomprehensible at the best of times.

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About Sal Mendoza

Sal Mendoza is the Vice President of Field Support at LifePro. He coaches hundreds of financial professionals on how to build effective financial strategies that achieve their clients' long term goals and helps them stay educated on the latest industry trends.