Those who read this column and attend my speeches know the consistent theme I deliver is that Americans must take responsibility for their own lives. Americans cannot continue to depend on institutions as they have in the past. Governments, corporations and unions, even if they want to, won’t be able to keep the promises they have made to us. Therein lies the challenge–and the opportunity.

A perfect financial storm is on the horizon. We are the only professionals who can ask the questions that inspire our prospects and clients to take action. We can then develop and execute strategies that allow our clients to stay in control of their financial futures. But this amazing opportunity is wasted if we don’t ask the right questions.

Here is a partial list of topics to discuss with your clients:

  • Entitlements: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid
  • National debt
  • Taxes: federal, state, local
  • Health care costs
  • Inflation and deflation
  • Unemployment
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
  • Infrastructure costs
  • Natural disaster costs
  • Pensions and how to fund them
  • Young people’s future tax burden
  • Stock and bond market dangers
  • Financial bubbles and “black swan” events
  • Derivatives–$1.5 quadrillion worth

Here is an example of how to trigger a great discussion. Each of us receives a statement from Social Security around our birthday. Schedule an appointment with your clients around their birthday to review it with them. According to that statement, the program was not supposed to have a negative cash flow until 2016. However, according to the newly released Social Security and Medicare Trustees report, it is already in negative cash flow this year and will be negative $41 billion next year.

Now, here are some of the questions. First, ask your clients what they think this means. Don’t just assume they know. Ask if they believe they will still get their Social Security. Reassure them they will. But, then, ask if that will require higher taxes or lower benefits or both. Ask if the government will need to print money to keep their promises. Ask what effect that will have on the economy.

Spectacular salespeople ask spectacular questions. The goal of every presentation is to illustrate taxes will be higher in the future and benefits will be lower. The government will have to print money and create inflation. You have the products to protect people from the financial fallout.