Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones wants to be a financial planner. (Photo: AP)

NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Russell Wilson aren’t expected to announce a career shift into financial planning anytime soon.

But Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones, who helped his team win the national college championship and recently said he would finish school before joining the NFL, sees his second career in financial services.

“[For my] life after football, I want to be a financial planner,” said Jones, at a press conference covered by the Bleacher Report and other sources. “After I’m done with football, I still have my whole life to live. That’s where I think my education will come in handy.”

The Financial Planning Association has commended him on the decision to become a CFP, and several financial advisors who played in the NFL or worked with the organization insist these two career paths have more in common than the average sports fan, or investor, might think. 

These pros, who love to do a bit of armchair quarterbacking, have strong opinions on the two fields, which they recently shared with ThinkAdvisor, along with their views on Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Game Plans

“Fans don’t normally see it, but players have a plan to get ready for the season and conditioning. Each team has a plan, too, and there’s a plan for each week involving the team you are playing,” explained Scott Hunter, who was a quarterback with the Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions in the 1970s. He is now is a branch manager and independent advisor with the Gulf Coast Group, affiliated with Raymond James (RJF) in Mobile, Alabama.

“Having plans is paramount to being a good athlete and a good team. There’s always a plan going on,” said Hunter, a former quarterback at the University of Alabama under coach Bear Bryant. “It’s just like I tell clients who see a photo of me with Bryant telling me something on the sidelines.”

Also, just like coaches and players, advisors and clients have to stick with their game plan consistently over time.

“Is it guaranteed to work?” he asks. “No, but things are guaranteed not to work if you have no plan right now.”

Hard Work, Goals

“It takes a strong work ethic, on and off the field,” said Willie Thomas, who played for Penn State and the Seattle Seahawks and now leads the San Francisco wealth management complex for Merrill Lynch (BAC). “It’s the same in the financial industry.”

Thomas suggests that Jones take his laser-sharp focus on the field and apply to his studies in college and later to his work as a financial planner. In both arenas, you should have short-term goals to get to — and stay in — the big leagues.

“Clear, short-term goals also need to be [in place] for professional development and to underlie success — both personal and professional accomplishments. From high school to college and on to my professional careers, short-term success led to long-term success for me.” When it comes to coping with adversity, Jones has already experienced how team members can come together and rally around one another “despite the road blocks and distractions along the way,” he noted. (For Ohio State, the season involved relying on three quarterbacks.)

Being true to yourself has a role to play as well, according to Thomas. “Just as Cardale has set his own goals, an [advisor] keeps in mind the goals of clients as a CFP. It’s symbiotic.”

At Merrill Lynch, Thomas and others rely on goals-based wealth management. “The way you invest money should not deviate from your personal goals and your values in life,” he explained. “This helps advisors transcend a traditional investing approach to produce personally meaningful outcomes.” 

Making Adjustments

Other advisors point to the need — in both fields — to see the big picture and to adapt accordingly as circumstances change.

“You’re looking at the total picture and adjusting,” said Joe Geier of Winpoint Financial and its affiliated RIA. “In finance, that’s based on the economy, the markets and what they mean for portfolios.”

In the NFL, “You see coaches and players looking at tablets and adjusting their game, especially at halftime. Then, you can go on to win the game, which is the same with what we do in financial planning,” explained Geier, who worked for a sports agency for many years and now manages money for baseball stars like Cal Ripken Jr.

“Buy and hold is not necessarily best over time,” he said. “You’ve got to rebalance, tweak and make adjustments.”

As for Jones’ decision to stay at Ohio State and prepare for a career in finance, Geier says the quarterback is “smart to stay in school.”

“My daughter is at the University of Alabama,” he adds. (And since Ohio State defeated the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, it isn’t easy for him to be a cheerleader for the opposition, Geier notes).

“But he is very talented. And he only played three games last year,” Geier said. “He’s left his options open.”

Preparation, Personality and Patience

“Preparation is really important and is a a key part of strategic planning” in both finance and football, said Wayne Brumm, a branch manager with an independent group affiliated with Raymond James in Crown Point, Indiana.

“You also must have the personality to be rational when all else is unsettled, to be a rational decision-maker,” said Brumm, who played football for Colorado State and whose uncle, Don Brumm, had a long career with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Like football players, financial planners make decisions “based on facts and less on emotion,” he adds.

Being swept into the NFL draft is certainly emotionally enticing. “But Cardale had the rationale to stay at Ohio State, and that’s the rationale that a good planner has to have,” Brumm said.

This involves patience.

“You’ve got to have patience for [realizing] long-range plans, which should not be adjusted for short-term gratification,” the advisor explained. “Sure, you can adjust your goals for hot investment opportunities and … take shortcuts, but you don’t want to do that.”

Super Bowl Sunday

Expectations for the matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots are running high. “The coaches are very similar — to a degree,” explained Geier. “They are great at planning and preparation and will be incredibly well prepared.”

As for the personality the head coaches bring to the Super Bowl, Pete Carroll, who leads the Seahawks, “seems a bit more approachable from a player standpoint,” the advisor says. “Players with personalities like cornerback Richard Sherman are allowed to have the swagger about them.”

While Carroll “wears his personality on his sleeve,” according to Geier, New England head coach Bill Belichick “is more reserved and doesn’t give a lot of sound bites and information to the press.

“It’s going to be a fun, fun game to watch. I’m a Baltimore Ravens fan, and we’re trained to not to like Tom Brady,” Geier noted. “But I respect all he’s done, and I’d like to see him win another ring at age 37.”

Others agree on the attitude the coaches and their approach to the game.

“Look at the coaches. They are very well prepared and very different,” Brumm. “Belichick is more technical and a tremendous planner,” he stressed, “all the way down to taking air out of the ball — just a joke.”

Carroll, the advisor says, “also is a technical guy, but not as much as Belichick … It’s a battle of [two different] styles. And the game should be very entertaining with such great athletes.”

Still, Brumm admits, “I tend to like Pete Carrol’s approach and will probably cheer for [the Seahawks]. I am a Chicago Bears fan, and we tend to go to that side of that league.”

(Like the Bears, the Seahawks are part of the National Football Conference, while the Patriots are in the American Football Conference.)

“My expectations are that this is going to be a great matchup,” said Hunter, who adds that as a Packers fan he is “neutral” on the game.

“There is very little that separates the teams at this level.

“In the game, five or six plays will make the difference. As a player, you don’t know when those [key] plays are coming,” he stated. “Thus, you’ve got to execute well on every play and do your job.” 

Could Thomas, who was with the Seahawks as a cornerback from 1991 to 1993, possibly expect the Patriots to win? “I am in this for Seattle,” he admitted. “But this is going to be great, with future Hall of Famers Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.”

His prediction? Seattle wins 23-20. “The last game [the NFC championship game, in which the Seahaws came back to beat the Packers] signifies why I give them the edge — and the three points,” the former NFL player said.

— Check out 10 Super Super Bowl Numbers: 2015 on ThinkAdvisor.