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Behind the Scenes: BFS Advisory Group President Debra Brennan Tagg Scales a Frozen Waterfall

Cresting a frozen waterfall taught the BFS Advisory Group’s president that turbulent and deafening waters never last.
| |Photography courtesy of Debra Brennan Tagg
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Behind the Scenes: BFS Advisory Group President Debra Brennan Tagg Scales a Frozen Waterfall

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A third of the way up a 50-foot frozen waterfall in Vail, Colorado, BFS Advisory Group President Debra Brennan Tagg was disoriented. There was a piece of ice jutting out from the side of the wall, blocking her upward view and she was also unable to see her feet beneath her.

“Our guide was below me, and he said, ‘You’re going to have to trust me, just lift your right leg as far as you can, dig it in with your crampons, and that’s going to be your shelf.’ And I told him, ‘No, it’s not going to work.’”

When Tagg embarked upon a self-declared “50th Year on the Planet” campaign, she began crossing exhilarating tasks off her bucket list—including soaring on a trapeze. One of the challenges was scaling a frozen waterfall.

“I kept avoiding it for all sorts of silly reasons,” she says. But a few weeks before spring break this year, someone asked her about her plans for the week. For reasons unbeknownst to her, she blurted out, “I’m going ice climbing in Colorado!”

The financial market was showing signs of disarray at the time. Silicon Valley Bank had just collapsed on the heels of a year filled with record-breaking inflation. But as Tagg scaled the quiet, solid wall of ice that was a deafening waterfall just a few months earlier, she realized that turbulent waters eventually calm.

“Part of our role as a financial adviser is to take the noise away and calm all that down into a distilled approach,” she says.

Looking ahead for BFS Advisory Group, Tagg says the firm is shedding its defensive posture  in light of the Fed indicating that its interest rate campaign is ending. “The asset classes we’re bullish on are warehouses, data centers, and multifamily housing, and it’s a great time to invest in bonds now that some of the carnage is behind us.”

Tagg trusted her guide’s advice. She dug her crampons into the ice and continued the climb. Once she crested the summit, she was blown away by the majesty of it all.

“Peeking up over the top was like climbing into a new world,” she says. “The beauty of the river and waterfall that rushes all summer long—but was completely still at the time—was profound.”  

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Ben Swanger

Ben Swanger

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Ben Swanger is the managing editor for D CEO, the business title for D Magazine. Ben manages the Dallas 500, monthly…
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