Working with Athletes – Wealth Scene:
Because of my experience working with athletes, I recently agreed to do a feature interview with “The Wealth Scene” (http://www.thewealthscene.com/interviews-entrepreneurs/andreas-johansson-ceo-of-berkovitz-development-group-belize-ltd/) a UK based magazine that focuses on entrepreneurs and real estate developers who have an interesting story to tell. The main topic of the interview was about working with athletes and celebrities, and how that differs from working with more traditional investors and clients.
This is actually a topic that I have been talking about quite extensively in the past, both in the media as well as with some of my consulting clients. The first rule you probably want to remember, is that while almost all athletes and celebrities love their fans and their admiration, they don’t want to have their “biggest fan” necessarily involved with their investments. Don’t get me wrong, I support “my” guys and I am a huge sports junkie, but you also need to show that you take your role as an advisor seriously, and that your biggest focus isn’t to get a signed jersey or some free tickets to the next game. Treat your clients with respect, and consider their special requirements (more on that below) but don’t ever be “star struck” by your own clients. I know it sounds weird, but I’ve seen it many times, where hanging out with the athletes becomes the main focus, not generating great returns.
Another thing to keep in mind is that while you have spent years and years learning your business, these guys were trained from a young age to become the very best they can at their craft. That means in many cases they’ve been through special “academies” (especially the European ones) where there was very little focus on traditional education and subjects.
This does not mean that athletes don’t understand investments and money management – far from it, but it does mean that some things that might be a given to you might be a new experience to them, and you might need to spend a lot of time going over numbers, risks, profiles etc… The other thing is that in almost all cases when working with athletes, you need to understand that for much of their lives they’ve had people around them to handle all matters related to their money, housing, credit cards, pretty much anything not directly related to the sport, so in many cases they might not be used to making these decisions on their own. In a lot of cases unfortunately, it also means they may have been burned in the past by some less than trustworthy advisors.
When working with athletes it’s also worth keeping in mind that in many cases they have amassed large earnings throughout their career, so there is often no need to chase the next unicorn startup or invest in anything risky – most of the time the best you can do is help them to preserve their wealth, and possibly set up trusts and other mechanisms to further protect the interests of your clients.
One final step where you can help, if possible, is to assist your client to keep earning money. Perhaps there are endorsement deals that can be done, or products that can be developed (by a third party) where the athlete’s name and likeness can be used for mutual benefits.
The most difficult time you might experience when working with athletes is right when they have reached retirement, as it’s often a difficult period on a personal level. For the first time they’re not playing in front of a sold out stadium anymore and the fan attention they’ve gotten used to (and sometimes can be taxing) is no longer there – this is the time where it does make sense to try to get involved with the things mentioned above, like an endorsement deal, corporate partnerships etc, both for monetary gain as well as having something to do while in transition.
Going from a life of excess and fame to everyday life can be a difficult time, but it’s also one that can be made a lot easier by making the right decisions financially, and this is where we can help out.