How to advise professional sportspeople

  • Describe some of the unique financial challenges posed by sportspeople
  • Describe some of the steps to take when advising sportspeople, especially young footballers
  • Identify some financial planning iniatives to take
How to advise professional sportspeople

Professional sportspeople face challenges quite unlike the other clients we see at a wealth management firm.

While our ‘average’ client may use our expertise to address how to comfortably afford their retirement, or maybe even retire a couple of years early, those in sports will be facing these questions at a much younger age – sometimes before they turn 30.

Their pressing needs are less about helping their children buy a house or paying for a grandchild’s university fees and more about what the rest of their life holds for them.

Stereotypically, sportspeople, especially Premier League footballers, are extremely well-remunerated and therefore it may seem strange to think they may face financial hardship when their playing career is over, but according to sporting charity Xpro, 40 per cent face bankruptcy within the first five years of retirement and there are many stories in the press of former footballers being caught out by dodgy investment schemes, highlighting just how much this sector needs quality, tailored financial advice.

External challenges to sportspeople

To understand the differences between sportspeople and other clients, and why the need for dedicated advice is so high, we must look at the external challenges they face at the very beginning of their career when they are sometimes only just in their teens.

If we look specifically at footballers, once a club is interested in signing them they can receive financial benefits at a very early age and this obviously has an impact on their families as well.

This can very often happen before any kind of financial education has taken place as this is something not typically covered on the National Curriculum.

A young player and their family – who may not be from a socio-demographic background used to these large sums – can suddenly find themselves having to make the type of monetary and strategic decisions that a seasoned chief executive would take.

It is no wonder against this backdrop that the player’s finances can be completely mismanaged purely through a lack of education.

Sometimes parents choose to be the agent for their child but where they are not, the external agent becomes a point of trust for the whole family and is usually the one who introduces a financial adviser.

It must be said here that there are many sports agents who have nothing but the best intentions for their client, who only refer a trusted adviser who they know have expertise in advising this sector.

Due diligence

However, unfortunately there are also those who do little to no due diligence when introducing an adviser to the client and their family and there is no quality control over what service is provided to the player, whether the products being introduced are suitable or how much this advice or service costs.