Warning signs: The importance of protecting your clients' retirement savingsArticle added by Joe Simonds on July 6, 2011
Joe Simonds

Joe Simonds

Atlanta, GA

Joined: January 24, 2011

I don't think any American would believe that our enormous debt and annual deficit won't come to haunt us at some point. It's just a matter of when. How much better will both you and your clients sleep at night if their retirement savings have some kind of guarantee in place?

This is one of the first Independence Day weekends I haven't been on vacation at a quaint island in Florida called Boca Grande. Now, before you start feeling bad for me, I do have to mention that we had the Boca Grande festivities earlier this year. After finding out my beautiful wife was pregnant in the fall, we decided to move the trip up. As I write this, we are down to the last nine days before we welcome our daughter into the world. I mention the Florida trip because I had an experience while traveling there which seemed perfectly analogous to what people must have felt like during Black Friday, the 2000 tech bubble, the 2008 collapse, and the flash crash.

As I arrived at the Houston Hobby Airport that Saturday morning (I went down there a day early to get things ready) it was much like any other trip. I checked my bag, went through the security line, and placed my shoes and several other belongings on the conveyor belt.

Suddenly, a piercing alarm went off that literally stopped everyone in their tracks. It wasn't just in the security area — you could hear it echoing throughout every concourse in the airport. Right then it occurred to me that it was May 21st, the day some people predicted the world was to end. I thought it might be a fake bomb scare or that someone had tripped the airport alarm as a joke.

However, after a full minute of silence, it was clear that nobody knew what was going on or what to do, including the airport workers and security officers. I realized this could be something more serious. There was a security officer to my immediate right, so I quietly leaned over and asked him what was going on. He responded, "I have no idea. We have had fire drills and things of that nature, but I have never seen this before."

Now as you can imagine, my heart was starting to beat a little bit faster. I looked around to see if anyone else was freaking out and wondered what was going to happen next. I grabbed my phone and texted my wife that some weird alarm was going off at the airport, not to worry and I loved her.
The alarm continued to sound for another four minutes. The entire airport was on lockdown and everyone was told not to move. The only two people moving were the chief of security (who seemed confused) and the gentleman who had been sitting in the lofted booth overlooking the security checkpoint. We were all anxiously awaiting a cue from these guys.

Finally, after what seemed like eternity, they told us to evacuate as quickly as possible and to stay away from the doors. You can imagine the looks of fear and panic on everyone’s faces as they were herded outside. Fire trucks, ambulances and more police arrived, and the crowd became a little more restless.

We wanted answers. Was it even safe to be here? Did someone have a bomb? Should we get in our cars and go home? Were we going to miss our flights? Twenty minutes passed before the head of security pulled out the loudspeaker and told us to return to the security checkpoint. There were still no answers.

Now here is why this entire experience is a perfect analogy to the huge financial crises of the past. I woke up that morning feeling great about my life. I had a beautiful wife, my first child was on the way, business had been great so far this year and I was about to go on vacation to my favorite island in Florida. Does this sound familiar when your investments are booming in the market? Things couldn’t have been better, and it seemed like nothing could ever go wrong. However, just two hours after waking up I literally feared for my life, was sending "I love you" text messages to my wife, and my life was in the hands of the head of security (Ben Bernanke).

Although the security guards were trying to do their job, they were clearly as confused and scared as I was when things weren’t going as planned. Sound like any financial planners you know?

We were all frozen dead in our tracks, and nobody knew what was going on or what to do. We were waiting for guidance from someone with a plan to bail us out. There was a feeling of fear and helplessness, much like what many people must have felt after seeing their retirement or brokerage accounts tank over such a short period of time.

Had we all had the foresight to see the impeding train crash that was to follow the Lehman announcement, we could have saved clients (and ourselves) hundreds of billions of dollars in the market. Guess what? We didn't. We froze in our tracks and trusted the government and bankers (who caused most of the mess) to bail us out and point us in the right direction.
So don't be left feeling helpless waiting for someone to bail you out when it comes to your client's retirement savings. Nobody is in a better position to prevent this than you as a safe money expert.

Countless economists from every background and political spectrum will tell you that we are in for more volatility. Moreover, Alan Greenspan, who helped enable some of the carefree rules which spawned the housing crisis and risky, unregulated derivatives, recently said the future is "gloomy.”

I don't think any American would believe that our enormous debt and annual deficit won't come to haunt us at some point. It's just a matter of when. How much better will both you and your clients sleep at night if their retirement savings have some kind of guarantee in place?

Many of you might be wondering what actually caused that alarm to go off and cause the ensuing panic that day at the Houston Hobby Airport. After I landed, I did some research of my own, and discovered that it had be

They planted people to act like they were picking up friends and family at the baggage claim, and they even planted a few “hostile” travelers. So, the great news is that my life was really not at stake that day, and I arrived in Boca Grande with nothing lost but time and temporarily, my peace of mind. Could you say the same about your clients' assets in the event of another financial crisis?
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