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Retired NHL Player Went From the Ice to Investments

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After he’d retired from professional hockey, Jason Platt decided his next career would be as a financial advisor when a close friend was killed by a deer he’d struck with his car, causing it to crash through the windshield.

The deceased was a newlywed who had just bought a home and had no financial plan. 

“The situation was absolutely horrendous,” Platt, an advisor and vice president at Ameriprise Financial Services, tells ThinkAdvisor in an interview.

At the time, an advisor told him: “Everybody thinks a financial advisor is strictly for investments. That’s a portion of it, but there’s a whole other world that we deal with, and these things come up,” Platt recalls.

An advisor for 13 years now and managing around $50 million in assets from Cranston, Rhode Island, he joined Ameriprise in November 2020 from Citizens Investment Services. Among other firms, he’d been with Merrill Lynch.

Platt played hockey for five years for teams including the Edmonton Oilers and Belmont (Ontario) Rangers. 

He maintains that his first and second careers have at least one definite similarity.

In hockey, “there are a lot of ups and downs. You have a lot of failures, and you need to learn from them and move on very quickly because there’s always something new [occurring].”

He continues: “The same goes for being an advisor. You’ve got to keep on a fairly even keel because something is always coming up” too.

In the interview, Platt, 41, discusses that “a meeting of minds” between client and advisor needs to exist on the level of risk a client is “willing to take on to meet their defined goals and objectives” in retirement.

A financial plan is critical for that, he says, and he uses it as “a blueprint” to put together an income strategy that aligns with those goals.

Platt asks five multiple-choice questions to encourage clients to open up about how much risk they’re willing to assume, then digs beyond those.

“Every client is different in terms of how they interpret risk,” he notes.

Born in San Francisco, Platt played hockey from ages 22 to 28. In his first year, he suffered a brutal injury in a fight that required a permanent metal plate to be inserted in his face after his opponent’s fist smashed his orbital bone, which protects the eyes.

He took off a couple of weeks while the plate “form[ed] into [his] face,” he recalls. Then he resumed playing; and “everything was fine from there,” the advisor adds.

In 2009, he retired and started work right away as an advisor with Baystate Financial.

ThinkAdvisor recently interviewed Platt, who was speaking by phone from Cranston.

It took his father, a retired finance and economics professor, a decade of his being an advisor to “trust [his son] to be his financial advisor,” Platt allows.

Now, “he’d be the first to say that one of the best decisions he made was turning his money over to me,” Platt says.

Here are highlights from our conversation:

THINKADVISOR: You played professional hockey for five years from ages 22 to 28. That’s such a rough game. Did you get badly injured?

JASON PLATT: I can promise you it’s very rough. I have a permanent plate in my face from a hockey fight: a fist ended up hitting me in the face and smashed my orbital bone during my first year of playing professionally.

I took a couple of weeks off because the metal plate needed to form into my face.

But then I started playing again, and everything was fine from there.

Jason Platt playing hockey Jason Platt playing hockey.

Why did you leave hockey?

It was a combination of injuries, and you only have so much time to try to stake a name for yourself — or else you get pushed out. 

I was very close but not quite there. It was time to move on to the next thing.

Has your career as a pro athlete helped you as a financial advisor?

Playing professional hockey, there are a lot of ups and downs. You have a lot of failures and you need to learn from them and move on very quickly because there‘s always something new [occurring], whether it’s a bad game, or whatever.

It’s the same being an advisor: You’re going to have tough days, based on market performance or a relationship with a client or simply making a mistake in terms of how you’re running your practice and getting money to a client on time. 

So you’ve got to keep on a fairly even keel because something is always coming up.

Hockey definitely prepped me for that.

Why did you choose financial advisory for your second career?

Originally, I was interviewing with PricewaterhouseCoopers. I thought I’d be in the accounting industry. But during the interview process, something happened: One of my best friends hit a deer while driving home one night. 

The deer went through the windshield and killed him on impact. It was horrible.

He and his wife, who were newly married, had just bought a house. They had no financial plan in place. The situation was absolutely horrendous.

My [late] friend’s wife’s cousin is an advisor and told me at the time: “Everybody thinks a financial advisor is strictly for investments. That’s a portion of it. But there’s a whole other world that we deal with, and these things come up.”

He started to go through them. It really hit me hard.

I did some research on what financial advisors can do. 

And I did a 180 in terms of my career because of [what happened to my friend] and went from accounting to becoming a financial advisor.

What differentiates your practice from others?

Over the years, as I was working my way up, I had the advantage of working under a few different senior advisors.

The approach that really worked for me was one I learned at Merrill Lynch: The advisors were adamant that every client that walked through the door needed to do some type of financial plan — ranging from basic to incredibly comprehensive. 

What’s the chief benefit to that?

It puts together a blueprint for the client and the advisor so that you’re able to align the client’s finances with their defined goals and objectives.

Not every advisor does that. Right?

No, they don’t. I’ve seen advisors that come in with some kind of product and put the client right in it, not thinking twice about it. 

But the advisors I worked under [at Merrill] were ensuring that the clients were appropriately positioned.

It’s a big step to make sure that each client actually goes through some type of planning process before implementing a solution.

You typically ask clients five multiple-choice questions about risk tolerance. They cover investment goals, expectations over time during normal market conditions, expectations in unusually poor markets over the next decade and their attitude about performance during the next three years as well as the next three months.

 How does that help you invest for clients?

We use those [Ameriprise-created] questions as an opener and then try to really dive deep. But how much in depth you ask about risk is on a case-by-case basis, because every client is different in how they interpret risk.

Most people just interpret risk as market risk. But risk is also: Are you concerned about the cost of living? Are you worried about interest rate risk?

There’s got to be a meeting of minds in terms of how much risk you’re willing to take on to meet those defined goals and objectives.

It comes down to what type of return do you need to meet those; and [how much] volatility are you willing to take on.

If they don’t want to take on any risk, we may need to reduce what their actual expenses are and increase ways to get growth.

What do you discuss with clients when it comes to retirement income strategies?

This goes back to the financial plan. If you ask clients what they want, everybody says “more.” But having “more” isn’t really a goal, which is what you actually need to supplement what you might be getting in Social Security or a pension and, if you’re really lucky, both.

You have [numerous] expenses during retirement, and you’re either going to have a surplus or a deficit. 

Most people run at a deficit, and that’s when their savings kicks in to supplement the difference between what they’re getting from either a pension or Social Security or both to meet their income needs.

Your father is a retired professor of finance and economics and was dean of the business school at San Francisco State University. Did he encourage you to be an FA?

It took almost 10 years of my being in the industry before he trusted me to be his financial advisor. He had a lot of doubt. He was definitely not sold on day one.

Now he’d be the first to say that one of the best decisions he made was turning his money over to me. He saw the benefits — whether with me or another advisor with a similar approach. 

What’s your outlook for the stock market and the economy?

There are a lot of different outcomes that can happen. You’ve got too many variables. There’s still a whole lot of pipeline issues. Till we get things sorted out, we’ll have those.

Also, anytime you have a very highly publicized war, you’re never going to have very good news during that time period.

That said, I can look at several wars where people were out of the market and missed out on a lot of opportunity.

One of the things I don’t overly focus on is whether we’re going to be in a recession or not.

I focus on what we need to do for each client based on what they’re trying to accomplish.


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