By Marianna Kazazi, The Sports Financial Literacy Academy
Solo-sport athletes are often compared to lone wolves, since they don’t have a team or in this case a pack to support them as athletes in team sports would. Therefore, it is crucial for them to create their own support system which should consist of professional advisors, among others.
Undoubtedly, some of the most famous and successful athletes we all know and love, have a number of advisors and mentors around them. In fact, some of these advisors are professional athletes who have the knowledge and expertise to teach solo-sport athletes, on the basis of their own experience in the field. An example indicating this, is Zina Garrison, a former professional tennis player, who played a significant role in the lives of Serena and Venus Williams, creating a lifelong bond with them, offering them advice and support, as a mentor and dear friend. Specifically, as stated by the Serena and Venus, Zina provided honest guidance and mentorship to both of them, from a young age, having a significant impact in their professional careers, contributing to their success in the world of tennis.
It is completely normal and very common for athletes to seek support from professionals who have insights into their challenging life in sport and who know the particularities of a solo-sport career in great depth. It is vital for solo-sport athletes to establish a good relationship with such professionals as they have a lot to give, given that they possess the necessary knowledge, experience and are a good-fit for the athlete. Athletes also need to seek for persons who are positive, and can boost their motivation, providing emotional and psychological support, whilst also remaining realistic and true to the values of the athlete in need of their advice and assistance.
While it is important to have psychological and mental support, it is also extremely important for athletes to have financial advisors in place, since they will come across numerous financial challenges during and after their career. Selecting the most suitable advisors requires the consideration of certain criteria. First of all, it is crucial to interview the advisors to check if they are trustworthy. Of course, it is important for athletes to see if they connect with them, not only on a professional but on a personal level as well. The athlete needs to feel that they can communicate effectively, as well as trust and rely on this person, for successful results. Communication is key when it comes to the athlete feeling safe.
In addition to that, athletes should choose a financial advisor who has extensive understanding and experience in the sports industry. The reason is that athletes have a specific way of life and should have a specific approach to financial planning, considering their income particularities which differentiate from year to year; they usually earn their highest-level income very early in their lives. This means that they need to use it wisely and take all the necessary steps to preserve it and make it last for the later stages in life when they will not be earning as much income.
Furthermore, athletes have a busy schedule and their advisors need to be able to adapt to it. It is also expected from their agents to possess deep knowledge regarding many disciplines such as contract laws, advocacy, advisory, knowing how to protect athletes and how to deal with agreements.
It is also worth mentioning, that some financial professionals usually work on commission and thus athletes should be suspicious if they are promised very high and unrealistic investment returns. This might indicate potentially fraudulent schemes that they should stay away from. Further to this, even though the athletes’ advisors may be heavily involved in the decision-making, the athlete should be the one that has the final say. Solo-sport athletes need to understand that no one will care about their future as much as themselves and it is essential for them to obtain basic knowledge regarding financial and business matters.
An ideal team of financial experts includes a business manager, a business/tax/ estate attorney, an accountant/tax advisor, a financial planner/money manager, and a specialist in insurance. During the evaluation of different advisors, athletes should consider specific traits such as trustworthiness, as already mentioned, communication, transparency, good reputation, accessibility, the size of their clientele and whether their values are aligned, among many other things. The key is to find advisors who feel like a good fit to them across many levels.
In conclusion, considering the short career span of solo-sport athletes, every choice they make counts and is critical for their future – especially when it comes to choosing their support circle which can make or break their career and success in terms of sports, financials, psychology and many different aspects of their lives. Therefore, athletes need to take the time to carefully evaluate and assess their potential advisors before making any serious decisions.
The Money Smart Athlete® Blog is established and run by the Sports Financial Literacy Academy® (SFLA). Through its education programs, the SFLA has the vision to financially educate and empower athletes of all ages to become better people, not just better athletes. For more information on our courses, our SFLA Approved Trainer Program®, and how they can benefit you and your clients, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.