How I Built a Practice for Professional Athletes
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Advising professional athletes is an exciting and rewarding experience. It also presents unique challenges that require a different approach than working with more traditional clients.
To succeed in this niche, be prepared to meet the specific needs of these high-profile clients, build genuine relationships, and provide customized, comprehensive services. Here's a look at the critical components of building a successful practice catering to professional athletes.
Meeting the prospect
The first step is to establish a genuine relationship with the athlete and their decision-makers. This often involves meeting the athlete through a friend, family member, or coach rather than through their agent. By building a relationship separate from the agent, financial advisors can ensure proper checks and balances and demonstrate their loyalty to the client, not the agent.
Meeting a high-profile athlete is one thing. But meeting them in the proper setting to discuss business is another. Create a comfortable environment to discuss financial matters with the athlete and their decision-makers, rather than trying to pitch them on the fly as most people try to do.
Earning the business
Most professional athletes receive a significant amount of money at a young age, often without the knowledge or experience to manage it effectively. Part of your role is to educate these clients on long-term financial planning, asset protection and the importance of making wise decisions early in their careers.
Help your clients understand that they are being front-loaded with an entire career's earnings in a relatively short period. By emphasizing the importance of long-term goals and responsible financial planning, you can guide them toward making better decisions for their future.
Servicing the relationship
Working with professional athletes, especially those in the NBA, often requires a 24/7 commitment. Because these clients have demanding schedules and unique needs, be prepared to work around the clock to provide the necessary support.
A deep understanding of your client's schedules and lifestyle needs will help you proactively set them up for financial success rather than reacting to emergencies or last-minute requests. Minimize potential issues and help your clients maintain financial stability by thinking proactively.
Working with professional athletes often involves services beyond traditional financial advice. This can include helping clients review investment opportunities or business ideas, coordinating with legal teams to review contracts, or assisting with personal matters such as the best way to purchase real estate, luxury cars, and high-end jewelry without falling into the common traps.
Be the voice of reason for your clients. While they may be focused on their athletic abilities and potential earnings, help them stay disciplined and make sound financial decisions based on their current circumstances.
Planning for career transitions
Many professional athletes seek new career opportunities or business ventures after their careers end. You can play a vital role in helping clients plan for and navigate these transitions, ensuring their economic well-being throughout the process.
While most people retire in their 60s and need to plan for 20-30 years of retirement, professional athletes often retire much earlier and may need to plan for up to 70 years of life after sports. By educating your clients on the unique challenges of retirement planning for athletes, you can help them make informed decisions and prepare for a successful future.
Building a successful practice
Word of mouth is critical when working with professional athletes, and most business development in this niche comes from referrals. By providing exceptional service and building solid relationships with your clients, you can increase the likelihood of receiving referrals and growing your practice.
Attending events important to your clients' careers, such as games, award ceremonies or training camps helps you stay in touch with their lives and maintain a strong relationship. This continuous presence is essential for staying current with their financial needs and providing the personalized service they require.
Using a "listen-first" approach is crucial when working with professional athletes. By allowing your clients to identify and prioritize their goals, you will help them take ownership of their financial futures and develop a customized plan that meets their unique needs.
Success requires a deep understanding of this niche's unique challenges and opportunities. By building genuine relationships, providing customized services, and maintaining a commitment to education and long-term planning, you will help your clients achieve financial success and grow your practice in this exciting and rewarding field.
Heller Private Wealth is an independent wealth management firm serving affluent families, business leaders, and sports professionals. Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the firm guides clients to their financial and lifestyle goals through comprehensive financial advice, investment management, and goals-based planning strategies. Please visit hellerprivatewealth.com to learn more about Heller Private Wealth.