CFL players: Next in line to buy your book?

A career-transition program implemented by the CFLA and Sun Life Financial is training retired CFL players to become financial advisors.

From football to financial advising – it’s a natural progression, according to the Canadian Football League Association (CFLA).

With the average CFL football career lasting just over 3 years – 3.2 to be exact (without considering careers cut short by injury) – players should have a ‘Plan B’ in place before the well runs dry.

“What we try and do is help our players to think about life after football before they get to that point,” explains Susan Gordon, CFLA’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Once you’ve been cut by a team or you’ve been injured and can’t return to play that’s a difficult time for a player to adjust. So, you don’t want that to be the first time you start thinking about ‘oh my gosh what am I going to do when I can’t play football anymore?’”

That’s why the CFLA, alongside partner Sun Life Financial, offers a fully financially compensated training program for Canadian players to pursue a career as a financial advisor under their career transition program. The course is legit, without cutting any corners. It begins with a general meeting with a Sun Life representative and all the CFL teams to introduce the program. From there, those players interested are individually assessed by Sun Life though the company’s Guide to Professional Selection program to determine if the player is a good fit. Player’s selected complete the standard career academy training program to become a Sun Life financial advisor, under which they can offer clients wealth accumulation, savings, health insurance and life insurance products.

“It’s a very intensive process for the players to qualify,” says Gordon. “It’s very expensive and very proven.” (continued.)


But how what does playing football have to do with plugging in numbers and strategizing investment portfolios? According to Gordon, there is a direct co-relation.

“One of the reasons we looked at the career as a financial advisor is because it seemed like a career in which players were quite well suited for,” Gordon says, adding that about 66 per cent CFL players have indicated they want to finish their post-secondary degrees. “The skill set a professional athlete requires in terms of being disciplined, in terms of being focused, goal-oriented, thriving under pressure, those are all skills that transition very well into the role of a professional financial advisor. You have to make decisions on the fly. You have to work with a team.”

Gordon also points out that CFL players aren’t as well paid as one might think, with many working second jobs. The average CFL salary in 2009 was about C$50,000 – with the highest salary reaching more than $150,000, according to the website Compare that to the average salary in the NFL, that same year, which sat at US$770,000 the same year and reached as high as $10-15 million for the top football players. Meanwhile, The average salary of a financial advisor which ranges between about C$48,000 to C$75,000, according to

“A number of our players have to hold down second jobs even in the season to make ends meet," says Gordon. "The compensation, should they become a financial advisor, is definitely more than what most are making as football players, so there is some appeal from a financial perspective, as well."

The program saw three football players become financial advisors in 2012 - the year it launched - and is awaiting results from 2013.