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.
“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.”
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.”