The Harbor Pilot Analogy: Your Role in Navigating the Waters of Retirement With Frank Maselli

Frank Maselli
Financial Industry Expert & Coach, 3x Best-Selling Author
February 8, 2023

This week's guest, a financial industry specialist, keynote speaker, and coach, Frank Maselli, shares the Harbor Pilot Paradigm — a memorable analogy he crafted that highlights an advisor’s role as a specialist guide for the retirement journey.

Analogies are a powerful tool that can be used to simplify and enhance your clients’ understanding of complex subjects.  

This week's guest, a financial industry specialist, keynote speaker, and coach, Frank Maselli, shares the Harbor Pilot Paradigm — a memorable analogy he crafted that highlights an advisor’s role as a specialist guide for the retirement journey.  

Listen in as Frank explains how the role of a harbor pilot, guiding ships through dangerous waters until they reach safe harbor, directly relates to the work financial advisors do for their clients. He provides a detailed overview of the analogy and resources for advisors looking to bring fresh and relatable perspectives to their clients and prospects.  

In this episode, Frank delves into:

  • The importance of using analogies to effectively communicate complex financial concepts to clients
  • The benefits of using the Harbor Pilot Analogy
  • Practical tips and tools for incorporating the Harbor Pilot Analogy into workshops, seminars, and one-on-one client meetings
  • The origin of his inspiration for this unique concept
  • .…And more!

Don't miss out on this valuable insight from Frank Maselli. Tune in now!


Connect with Frank Maselli:

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About our Guest:  

Frank Maselli is a 3X best-selling author, award-winning keynote speaker and coach in the financial services industry.

For over thirty years, Frank has helped thousands of financial professionals grow and enjoy their businesses with modern skills that resonate with today’s clients. His programs are founded on a deep expertise in human psychology, and he is renowned for his cutting-edge thinking and electrifying delivery.

Currently, Frank speaks nationally at every level, from branch offices to stadium-sized meetings. He also offers one-on-one customized coaching and serves as one of White Glove’s Premier Coaches.

Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the FAST Podcast, Financial Advisor Strategy Talks with Lara Galloway, SVP of Financial Education at White Glove. Lara provides advisors with an opportunity to hear from some of the best minds in the business, follow along to learn quick tips to help you grow your business. From gaining new leads, to keeping current clients engaged in everything in between.

Now onto the show.

Aric Johnson: Hello, and welcome to the FAST Podcast with your host Lara Galloway from White Glove. Lara, what is going on with you?  

Lara Galloway: Hey Aric, ready for another great podcast with you today.

Aric Johnson: Yeah, absolutely. I love sitting in on these conversations and when I say sitting in, I'm sitting in. You have a guest on the show today.

So for those that don't know, White Glove has a YouTube channel and some of these are on there, so you may be able to go and see them. But I see your guest, who'd you bring on the show?

Lara Galloway: Well with me today is a great friend of White Gloves. Actually a good friend of mine. I really count you as a friend, Frank, so happy to know you over these years.[00:01:00]  

We have the wonderful Frank Maselli.  

Let me tell you a little bit about Frank. He is a former US Army officer and 38 year veteran of the financial services industry. He's one of the nation's premier keynote speakers and coaches. And he's also one of White Gloves premier coaches. We send all of our hosts to him to get extra presentation, training and speaking training. And he's the author of three bestselling books that help advisors, wholesalers and managers in advanced communication and business development skills.

So welcome to the FAST podcast, Frank.  

Frank Maselli: Thank you. It's good to be with you.  

Lara Galloway: Yeah, we had the wonderful pleasure of having you here in our offices for some training the last couple of days. It was great to see you in person, and even though we're back here on Zoom, I love that this makes it possible for us to get your training and mentoring out to so many people in the little snippets of educational podcasts that we're trying to put out here.

So I am so excited because today I brought you [00:02:00] on to talk about one of the many tools you have created for advisors. We use a lot of your tools here, Frank. We have your books here. All of our hosts get to read them. Our sales team is trained on them. You've done so much and you keep creating new, great content, including one we're going to talk about today, which is the Harbor Pilot paradigm.

But Frank, before we get into that, I'd love for you just to share a little bit about your background in the work you do with us at White Glove and the work you do with all the advisors you've been working with for the last 30 plus years. Why did you come up with a tool like this? What is the purpose of it?

Frank Maselli: You know, the tools I've come up with, including the Harbor Pilot, all have one simple purpose, which is to help advisors succeed in helping more clients. And as you know, from all my training programs, I don't believe we're a sales profession anymore. I believe we're the greatest helper profession on the planet.

And I've been devoting my entire career [00:03:00] to helping advisors just be better at what they do. And this particular tool, it really hit me out of the blue one day and I said, oh my God, this is a great idea. And as I began to flesh it out and think more deeply about it, it just took on a life of its own.

And I think it really will help people differentiate themselves in the minds of clients who really don't know what the differences are between advisors from a client perspective, the average investor thinks we're all the same. I mean, they literally don't know the differences.

And there are some very big differences and very important ones that I think make a lot of sense for clients to understand. And it's just a great tool to help them do it so well, you are a classic and quintessential educator because you do take really complex ideas and make them simple enough for anybody to be able to explain it and understand it.

Lara Galloway: And I think that's part of the key, is getting these advisors [00:04:00] to learn how to actually explain what they do and how they're different and that's so beneficial. But okay, Harbor pilot. Frank, why do advisors need to talk about big boats and docks and how to get to them? Help me out.  

Frank Maselli: Well, it's a lot of fun.

I mean, it's such a rich analogy. For many years advisors have been using another analogy, the mountain climbing analogy. And they talk about going up the mountain in the accumulation phase and then coming down the mountain in the de accumulation phase where people are retired and now they've got to live on the money.

And so I said the mountain thing is good. It's not bad, it's not a bad analogy at all. But I just can't picture myself climbing a mountain. And I have no resonance with that particular imagery or that metaphor or that model. And so I said, there's got to be a better way to do this.

And without getting into too long winded a story, I remembered something [00:05:00] that my wife and I experienced many, many years ago. We had a house at Lake George. We had a boat, and we went out and bought this beautiful boat. It was a lot of fun. We're sailing the boat, we're motoring the boat on the lake. It came time to dock the boat and it was a catastrophe of enormous proportions.  

We had no idea how to dock a boat. We really had no clue. And we bumped into other boats and we banged into the dock and we did some insane stuff that caused all the other boat owners to come running down to try to save us. It was hysterical.  

Lara Galloway: You guys got lots of dinner invites right off the bat from all  your friends there, right?

Frank Maselli: They wanted us to stop hitting their boats is what they wanted. It was just so funny in hindsight, and it struck me. I said you know, docking a boat is a very difficult thing to do. And that was only a 26 foot boat. And then I thought more deeply about it and I said, you know what, what about a 1500 foot cargo ship to truncate this story?

Every harbor in the world [00:06:00] is very complicated. The harbor is complicated. By law, if you have a ship, you are required to bring aboard a harbor pilot to get your ship into that dock.  

And I grew up in New York City, within 20 miles of New York. You must have a harbor pilot on board your boat if the boat's over like a hundred feet long. So I said, oh, why is that? That's interesting. Well, the reason for that is the risks in the harbor are a hundred times greater than the risks on the open ocean.

I mean on the open ocean there's storms, there's an occasional rogue wave, there might be an iceberg if you're up north. But on balance, it's a pretty calm thing. And the analogy, the connection there is that during the accumulation phase, there's very little that can go wrong now.  

Now, [00:07:00] yes, there are market downturns. There's bear markets, there's all kinds of crazy stuff. But if you've got 30 years to invest your money, and time is your greatest ally as an investor during the accumulation phase. You lose that ally. When you get close to the harbor, there's no more time left. You're in retirement now. You can't make those mistakes anymore.

You can't recover from a bad decision. Anyway, to keep this tight, the analogy is pretty darn near perfect. And I helped advisors understand that they are the harbor pilot. When that client who's accumulated these giant, massive assets over their lifetime, whatever the size is, is immaterial, but it's an important amount of money.

When that client gets close to retirement, they need a specialist. They need an expert to come aboard the boat and to say, let me get you into the harbor. That's what the Harbor pilot's all about. And the analogy is extremely deep and there's lots of details and [00:08:00] nuances to this that you can go crazy with, but it's very powerful.

Lara Galloway: It's a very powerful metaphor. Well, I love what you've just illustrated there, Frank. Because not only are you explaining this analogy, this paradigm, here's this tool you can use. Use the Harbor Pilot paradigm to explain to your clients what you do, how you do it, why it's so necessary, how you're different.

But you also jumped straight into storytelling, which you do so beautifully. And you had me right at that hook. I'm thinking about you and your wife and I've got this visual going and I just want to say that that's one of the things that I have worked with you on for years, and I know that you teach a lot of our clients this.

What you did immediately with the storytelling is you already got me hooked and started building that rapport with me because I'm really listening and relating to you as a human. And I know that's one of the things that you teach. We're kind of going deep here, but that's one of the things that you've always taught some of the clients that you've coached for us. That’s your whole [00:09:00] job, right?

You said it's not a sales job. We're helpers but people have to know that we can help. They have to know how we can help. They have to trust that we can help them. And by building some of that trust up with that rapport right off the bats, telling a little story. You're telling a story about a ship.

And again, I love what you said about in comparison to the mountain climber, you can't really resonate with that. You don't climb mountains. That just doesn't really go for you. Maybe it's a really good analogy for some people who can use it, but for folks that that doesn't work. Have you been on a cruise?

Have you seen a yacht? Have you looked at a big boat? You can think about that and relate to it. And so Frank, I just kind of want to take it from there and say one of the things that I appreciate you do is you tell people, look, not everybody can do this shtick.

Not everybody's got my style. Not everybody's going to say things the way I say it. How can you help an advisor take this kind of a paradigm and make it their own?  

Frank Maselli: [00:10:00] Great question. First of all, the tool itself will help tremendously. It's a really nice pdf. They can read it, they can absorb it.

It's very easy to understand. I've also created a complete PowerPoint on this that they can bolt onto the back of any presentation they do. It's completely compliance neutral. There's no product in there at all. You know, we've made this very comfortable for an advisor to say, yeah, I like this analogy.

I'm going to incorporate it. And they don't have to think too much about it. It's all written up for them in excruciating detail. So we've fleshed out the tool quite vividly. And then there's some scripting, there's some audio that goes along with it. So, I've tried to create for advisors the most comprehensive tools that we can use.

It's up to them to internalize it though. And an advisor will take my stuff and they'll trim it down. They'll cut it up, they'll inject their own stories, which is exactly [00:11:00] what you want them to do. That's a hundred percent what they need to do is to make this their own world.

And that's what the audience buys into. But the meat is there. The mechanisms and the metaphor is so rich and so powerful that any advisor can use this and clients will immediately go, okay, yeah, I get it. You're a retirement expert. You are the person who's going to guide me now through the most difficult phase of my financial journey.

And we make that case very vehemently. I mean, when you think about it, retirement is a completely different time of life for so many reasons. There's so many things that could go wrong, and there's so many things that a client needs to think about that they didn't need to think about when they were 30 or 40 or even 50 years old.

Now they've got to think about it and they need an expert that can help them think about it. That's the whole point behind this. So it really works.  

Lara Galloway: I love it and I appreciate it. You just mentioned, [00:12:00] for those of you listening, Frank really has developed this as a complete tool. Five or six page PDF, lots of explaining, lots of telling, showing details, lots of ideas about how to make your own, even this PowerPoint that you can do at the beginning.

Love that, Frank. So we are talking about a literal tool, not just an idea. If you got the idea and you want to run with it, great. But if you want to actually see the tool, I do want you to share Frank in just a minute how people can find that and we'll also post it on the podcast page so people can find that as a resource that they can use.

I want you just to touch on though, Frank, where are some places that an advisor would use this analogy? Talking about at White Glove, we're doing presentations, we're doing workshops, but you've told me there are a lot of different places that an advisor might want to use this sort of analogy.

Any conversation with a client or a prospect, there comes a point in that conversation, particularly with prospects most of the prospects where you need to differentiate [00:13:00] yourself from your competition. How are you special? How are you different from my stock broker over at X, Y, Z?

Frank Maselli: I think that's where this becomes very useful. Now if I'm in a simple one-on-one conversation or a phone call, I'm not going to go into extreme detail on the Harbor Pilot analogy. But I am going to use elements of the story to say, you know what, let me explain what I do, because what I do is very different and what I do is exactly what you need now at this time of your life.

Now, not every advisor's going to be comfortable with this. Quite frankly, there are many out there who are very deep into the accumulation mode. They want to talk about the stock market. They want to talk about Bitcoin. They want to talk about ways to make more money. The vast majority of people today with significant money don't need that conversation anymore.

They need somebody to protect them from things that could go wrong, and that's where this becomes a [00:14:00] very powerful add-on to any discussion. Whether you're doing a seminar, whether you're on a phone call, webinar, any form like that, and you have to trim it, I'm not going to do a 30 minute presentation on the Harbor Pilot, but I might inject a few thoughts to say, hey look, you got to think differently about retirement now.  

Lara Galloway: So it can be trimmed down to any length that you want and it's useful in any environment. I think that's awesome. So, Frank, if people do want to reach out to you and find out more about it, and I will include these links too, but I just want you to share how they might actually reach out to you and get ahold of this resource.

Frank Maselli: Yeah, easiest is just to go to my website. It's masselligroup.com. Or shoot me an email, frankmasselligroup.com. Contact your White Glove coaches, your White Glove people, your marketing experts there. They can tap into any of my stuff and we have a truckload of tools.

I've created this entire mess of tools that would be very [00:15:00] useful for you. And they're all free. That's the best part about this, I'm just giving stuff away, so it's a lot of fun.

Lara Galloway: You're amazing. We appreciate it. You've got these content ideas coming out of your ears here, so we appreciate you sharing them with us.

I think this is a fabulous tool and a great way for advisors who are maybe looking for a way to reinvent, reignite, reconnect, like just some good ways to get themselves out there and really distinguish themselves from some other people that their prospects may be talking to. So I love, love, love the Harbor pilot.

Frank, before I let you go, I would love to end the podcast as we always do with asking you about your definition of success. So maybe this could be something for your personal or your professional life. Or something that you share with your clients when you're coaching them. I'd just love to hear something about how you define success.

Frank Maselli: That's interesting. The simplest definition I can think of success as doing something you love to do. [00:16:00] Getting really, really good at it and then hopefully turning that into a career in some way. I have not worked a day in my life since I graduated college. Because everything I've done in my life, I've absolutely been passionate about.

I've loved doing it. And fortunately, at some point I got paid to do it, so that was very useful. You want to get compensated too, but doing things you love to do and being really good at it. And I've tried to live that model my entire life.  

Lara Galloway: You have certainly helped us, and I can absolutely say you've achieved success by that standard for sure.

So thank you so much, Frank. We really appreciate you being with us today.

Frank Maselli: Thank you, Lara. You too.  

Aric Johnson: Take care, Frank. This has been fantastic. Thank you. This is such a pleasure to meet you. You've got an energy about you which is obviously why Lara brought you on the show, because this is great.

Frank Maselli: She's fun, I love working with her.  

Aric Johnson: Absolutely, Lara, thank you for what you do. Thank you for this podcast and bringing this to the audience. And of course, our last [00:17:00] thank you always goes to you, the audience. Again, thank you so much for tuning in and listening to the FAST podcast with Lara Galloway.

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Again, thanks for listening today. For everyone at White Glove, this is Aric Johnson reminding you to live your best day every day, and we'll see you next time. Thank you for listening to the FAST Podcast, Financial Advisor Strategy Talks with Lara Galloway, your go-to source designed to help you grow your business.

Have questions about the topics covered during the show? Visit our website at www.whiteglove.com or email us at info@whiteglove.com. Don't forget to click the follow button to be notified when new episodes become available. The information covered and posted represents the views and opinions of the guests and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of White Glove.

The content has been made available for informational and educational [00:18:00] purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional investing advice. Always seek the advice of your financial advisor or other qualified financial services providers with any questions you may have regarding your investment planning.

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