Financial advisors must take a different tack when it comes to managing wealth for professional athletes, including helping them prepare for long retirements, avoid scams and put away enough funds in case of injury, according to news reports.

Professional athletes earn substantial amounts of money when they’re still young and many retire after their sports careers, the Wall Street Journal writes. That means their retirement can last upward of four decades, which financial advisors say requires that their portfolios be structured differently than those of typical investors, according to the paper.

Typically, advisors allocate some of the money toward bonds to fund their pro athletes’ short-term spending, the Journal writes. To ensure adequate long-term wealth, meanwhile, advisors invest such clients’ assets in riskier products capable of delivering higher returns, including stocks as well as alternatives such as real estate, hedge funds and private equity, according to the paper.

Athletes have a unique advantage because their earnings can be compounded for decades longer than those of typical investors, Dan Goldie, a former pro tennis player who advises about 10 retired athletes at Buckingham Strategic Wealth in Palo Alto, Calif., tells the Journal. Goldie typically advises pro athletes to invest 70% to 75% in stocks and alternatives and the rest in bonds and cash, he tells the paper.

However, convincing young athletes who don’t come from a wealthy background to take a long-term view of their investments is another matter, the Journal writes.

“Some have an emotional misconception that stocks are bad,” Michael Haddix, son of the former NFL player of the same name and CEO of New York-based Empower3d, which provides financial education to athletes, including NBA and NFL players, tells the paper. “They think they need hard assets such as real estate or a McDonald’s.”

In addition, athletes’ celebrity status means they’re approached for direct investments in private companies, according to the Journal. Frank Zecca, managing director of McLean, Va.-based OFS, whose clients include more than 200 professional athletes, tells the paper it’s sometimes difficult to convince such clients to opt for investing professionally instead of in private equity or venture-capital funds. But one of the advisor’s jobs is to help pro athletes avoid unsound investments, such as restaurants, Karim Ahamed, a financial advisor at Cerity Partners in Chicago, which has about 10 active and retired pro athletes among its clients, tells the Journal.

Advisors must also consider that an injury could prevent athletes from continuing to earn substantial money, the paper writes. To that end, Ahamed says he recommends that athletes have 10% to 12% of their assets in cash, which is higher than the 5% allocation recommended for typical young clients, according to the Journal.

Do you have a news tip you’d like to share with FA-IQ? Email us at