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Industry Spotlight > Broker Dealers

How I Met My Client: Charles Barkley

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On a typical day in mid-March, when the market reacted to concerns over possible interest rate hikes, investors — including sports analyst and former NBA player Charles Barkley — called their advisors to check in.

Most days are busy,” said Glenn Guthrie, an independent advisor with the Birmingham Investment Group, in an interview. “It’s better than [just] sitting around … it’s good!”

Guthrie, whose group is affiliated with Raymond James (RJF) and based in Birmingham, Alabama, says he met Barkley more than 30 years ago.

“It happened over a period of time. When he was a senior in high school, I would go with a friend to basketball tournaments to see him play,” said Guthrie, who was an information-systems specialist before becoming an advisor.

“We were big fans,” he explained. “We knew [Barkley] was good. Though he wasn’t rated best in the state at the time, he would outplay the best in the state.”

Over time, Guthrie says, he got to know Barkley’s family, who lived only a few miles away from him. He also would go see Barkley play at Auburn University.

“I went to most of his college games for three years or so,” said the FA. “Then, he went professional [in 1984] and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.”

When Guthrie visited Philly on business, he would reach out to the basketball star, who would get him a ticket. “We’d have dinner,” the advisor said.

After Barkley had been with the NBA for several years, he asked Guthrie to look into some tax matters and related issues for him.

In ’89, Guthrie officially became his advisor. “And we’re still together,” the FA explained. (When Barkley was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in mid-February, he told CNBC, “I trust [Guthrie] with my life.”) 

The basketball star went on to play for the Phoenix Suns and the Houston Rockets, retiring in 2000. 

Regular Relationship

Guthrie says he speaks with Barkley a few times each year. “He called today,” the advisor explained, “but there’s no real schedule to when we talk.”

The former NBA player, who now appears on TNT’s “Inside the NBA,” often works out of Atlanta during basketball season.

“That’s about two hours from me, so I go over quite often when he’s there,” Guthrie said. “And we talk about the portfolio and [the financial holdings] he has outside of the Raymond James account.” As a sports-media personality, Barkley has a busy schedule. “But he stays up to date [on the portfolio] on a pretty constant basis,” the advisor explained. “I keep him updated.”

While the effervescent sports figure has ruffled some feathers during his time in the NBA and on TV, Guthrie says he has a very amicable relationship with his high-profile client.

“We have been together so long, and there’s no problem, really,” the FA stated. “If you want, you could say we are in sync or whatever you’d like to say.”

In addition, notes Guthrie, they’ve become “extremely close” over the years.

“It’s a great relationship. I respect him, and he respects me. He’s a quality person,” Guthrie said. “We have had times when we disagreed but worked things out.”

Does the advisor have other famous clients? “No, Charles is a special case,” he explained, though a couple of other clients came on board thanks to the relationship.

“He’s kind of special,” Guthrie said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

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