Wealth advisors are in a unique position to understand the life journeys of their professional athlete clients. While their clients’ financial well-being remains the primary focus, it is the relationship advisors have cultivated with these individuals and their families that provides the greatest insight into what is meaningful for them. The trusted bonds that wealth advisors develop with their athlete clients and the deeper understanding of the “whole” person they gain allows them to assist their athlete clients well beyond their financial needs.
Why are qualified wealth advisors in a unique position to support professional athletes in other areas of their lives?
Nina Mitchell: It is not by accident, but rather through years of well-planned actions and continuous conversations that an enduring bond forms between a professional athlete and his or her wealth advisor. While the primary goal is to help the client achieve lifelong financial security, there are many complexities, decisions and diversions that define each client’s experience and outcome. Like a trained coach, a qualified wealth advisor is an educator—an honest sounding board—who is not afraid to have challenging conversations. An advisor is also a protective gatekeeper when boundaries are needed; a friend to share milestones; and a proactive partner in building other important relationships that may be helpful to the athlete.
Through this trusting relationship, spanning multiple career and life phases, an advisor gains a rare 360-degree view of the athlete as a complete person, understands his or her longterm goals and family dimensions and values this individual’s unique skills, well beyond professional sports.
What are some of those areas of support during active playing years?
Craig Jones: The development of financial literacy and the establishment of family governance structures are two areas where athletes generally require additional support. Structuring a budget and cash flow plan is the foundation for a sustainable wealth strategy and provides the first tool for decision-making regarding abundance and scarcity of resources. Constructing a balance sheet promotes greater understanding of the athlete’s net worth. An advisor also teaches the basics of investing, the concepts of risk and reward and the impact of strategic tax planning.
Parents, spouses, children and siblings can often be financially and emotionally dependent upon young and wealthy athlete clients. Family governance structures provide a framework for determining priorities for wealth accumulation, preservation and the use of resources.
These structures empower the athlete—with guidance from a qualified wealth advisor—to define the goals, requirements and dreams for his or her money. The advisor can then lead more informed discussions about the athlete’s ability to provide financial gifts to family members and give to the community or to other charitable endeavors. With this information, the athlete is in a more powerful position to make decisions that balance immediate and family needs with the individual’s future goals and aspirations.
How does the relationship change as athletes approach the end of their active playing careers?
Ian Barclay: Athletes often turn to their advisor for non-financial concerns around their family relationships, health, environment, spirituality and second careers. One of the foremost concerns involves the stress of returning to the routines of a “normal life” for the athlete and his or her family members. Advisors can suggest ways that athletes can get to know and live with their spouses again after so many years of road travel and training camps, as well as enjoy daily activities with their children.
Choosing a second career should be carefully explored. Through years of listening to clients’ aspirations and appreciating their talents, wealth advisors are well positioned to help them consider career opportunities, connect them to others and, most importantly, protect them against seemingly exciting yet high-risk investment concepts that may not provide a monetary reward in the long run.
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