How to net elite athletes as clients

Young advisor explains how he is carving out a niche with NHL and CFL players

How to net elite athletes as clients

Locker room talk has opened up a potentially career-changing avenue for a Montreal advisor.

A keen sportsman who had boxed, played rugby and soccer, and practiced martial arts, Steven Furtado, 31, started leaving his card at a friend’s gym, which helps prepare players from different sports for combines.

He found he could communicate well with the athletes he was training alongside and, new to the finance industry, was able to get valuable face time and gain their trust.

Furtado, an investment advisor at Peak Securities, now has CFL players and an NHL player on his book, with two more players in line to sign on by the end of the year. Add in the sportspeople he splits with other advisors and the number exceeds 12.

He believes he has created his niche and, without tempting fare, is optimistic that next year he will add significantly to his roster.

“It’s not the same conversations you would have a with a business owner or the owner of a large corporations. Although their needs at a certain level are much alike, the discussions you have with a business owner versus the discussions you have with an athlete are two different things with the same general need. It’s just how you communicate that’s the differentiator.

“I don’t think you can have someone who is highly detailed in products and markets going in there because you are not going to have that connection - they are not going to relate to you.

“I feel people who have played competitive sports at a certain level understand how to make things understood and get the point across.”

While the CFL checks aren’t as “heavy”, entering the world of NHL has the potential to shape Furtado’s entire career – and he knows it. While earning the trust of an athlete is one thing, he’s discovered that the person you have to impress most when it comes to the actual financial planning is the agent.

He explained how exploring the unique needs of top-level sportspeople has been an eye-opener, from knowing when investment discussions can realistically take place to the complicated tax challenges.

He said: “Athletes can’t incorporate so that is quite a hurdle – so because of that we have a lot of tax manoeuvring and tax strategies that come into play so that’s one thing. Secondly, physicians and doctors are busy year-round whereas athletes are very busy for a portion of the season and after that there is an offseason and an ideal time to have open conversation with people.”

Furtado said you have to work around the fixture list and that there are times when players are unreachable. An advisor can fall off the radar for a whole year so you basically have one shot to make yourself invaluable.

“The last thing, especially important with the NHL, is that athletes are taxed on most states they play in – so it’s a big fiscal burden to have to declare income in every state that they’re playing in and it differs state to state and province to province.”

All these factors are opportunities for the advisor to prove value and, as Furtado sees it, position yourself as a strategist that will enable the client to keep as much of their money as possible. Showing an NHL player, who earns $10 million a year, for example, how they can retire at 35 and not outlive their money will get them chatting in the locker room, opening up the possibility of more clients.

Furtado said: “There’s a gap that needs to be filled. We’re tailoring to these guy and we have access, so we’re doing what we can and whatever it’s going to become, it’s going to become. A lot of the strategies that we are putting in place are similar for business owners or cross-border issues; a lot of it is the same but it’s how it’s packaged that is a bit different.”

Follow WP on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter