Athletes make tough clients

'Like having kids' and keeping them out of trouble

Oct 26, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

By Dan Jamieson

Think pro athletes make good clients?

Think again.

The stories about big-spending client athletes too often are true, according to advisers who deal with them. And even athletes who follow the advice of advisers and set some cash aside for the future can be a handful.

“A lot of what we do is damage control,” said Jonathan Miller, a Phoenix-based certified public accountant and one of the founding members of the Sports Financial Advisors Association.

“It's like having kids” and keeping them out of trouble, he said.

Members of the association said getting late-night calls from athletes with some type of legal or family issue is not uncommon.

The group is concluding its annual meeting in San Diego today.

Money issues are only part of what young pro athletes must deal with. Their careers are extremely high-stress, and sports agents and financial advisers who work with them will be asked to deal with a variety of emotional issues.

“They've got to perform, and there's always someone ready to steal their job,” Mr. Miller said.

Understanding the counseling and other resources available at colleges and pro franchises is part of the job, SFAA members said.

Knowing how to keep young future clients out of trouble is important. At one session today, NCAA enforcement officials reminded SFAA members about the risks in dealing with college athletes.

Anything of value — even a cup of coffee — given to a college athlete can make him or her ineligible for competition until they complete a reinstatement process.

Those strict rules are designed to prevent shady dealings between agents and advisers, who have been known to extend credit to promising young athletes.

The athletes “are already thinking the lifestyle and how they can spend it” once they go pro, Mr. Mirkine said.

The SFAA was founded in 2005 by Mr. Miller; Andre Mirkine, a financial adviser with Wells Fargo Advisors; Michael Misner, a financial adviser with Ameriprise Financial Services Inc.; and Femi Shote, owner of Asset Harvest Group LLC.

The group remains small — just 42 members — mostly financial advisers but also accountants, attorneys, insurance professionals and money managers, Mr. Mirkine said.

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