Sports stars need to start saving early or face the consequences.
To get to the heart of the financial issues affecting the modern footballer, we have conducted a series of in-depth interviews with key figures from the game. We spoke with international footballers past and present and Player Liaison Officers who care for the stars as well as the agents who help manage their careers. Using the results of the survey we’ve highlighted the key financial difficulties footballers face and offer practical solutions to help them to avoid the common pitfalls.
When we asked the industry what piece of financial information they wish they had known at the start of their career, three strong themes started to emerge:
- How to save for life after football;
- When to start saving; and
- How to pick the right adviser to help accomplish their goals.
“The total number of pay-slips a footballer will get over their career lasting, say, 18 years (if they are very lucky) is 216. Not a great deal. It is sobering and serves as a powerful reminder of how soon it is all over,” says Simon Bayliff, sports agent at Areté.
At Smith & Williamson, we recognise that the career of a footballer is relatively brief and encourage our clients to split their income into three pots: the first to cover living costs, such as mortgages or rent, transport and bills; another to help prepare for retirement through savings and investments; and a third to enjoy on things like holidays, jewellery and entertainment.
Crucially, Jack Francis, Head of Player Care for Chelsea Football Club, encourages all sports people not to ignore pot two, explaining “money most often makes money, if looked after correctly.”
Start saving early
“Young players need financial guidance,” states Maarten Stekelenburg, the respected Dutch international with over 40 caps and more than 250 top flight appearances. By getting into good financial habits early, players can concentrate on their career without the distraction of financial concerns.
In response to the growing demand for greater financial education at football clubs, Smith & Williamson has created an academy programme, which has been delivered to many of the top clubs in The Premier League and The Championship. The bespoke programme intends to empower the next generation of stars to make the right decisions with their money and to confidently manage their own financial future.
Our experienced, specialist team speaks directly to the players, whether it’s the young scholars or the first team. We prepare tailored workshops that can help any sportsperson, agent or team learn the basics of savings and investments. This can take place in either a classroom setting or on a one-to-one basis.
Seek a trusted adviser
Practical financial education delivered by our experts can help players get on top of the issues early before they snowball into larger ones.
Sean Ferguson, parent of Jadon Sancho, suggests: “Get a sports accountant in at the beginning and start a relationship before the money rolls in.” The development of trust between client and adviser, before the player becomes a household name, should not be underestimated.
Sean also mentions that there are other benefits of having a trusted adviser in place early as you can “take the accountant to the negotiation table so they can decide the best way to be paid from the club for a commercial deal.”
“Pay very close attention to who is investing your money and where they are investing it,” encourages Joleon Lescott, a former England international with over 500 top flight appearances. High rewards on paper may not necessarily come to fruition and, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
It is vital that players research the people offering them financial advice. All good financial advisers - whether they are offering tax, pension or investment advice - should be able to prove their qualifications as well as explaining where an individual can seek redress should an issue arise.
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Smith & Williamson Investment Management LLP is part of the Smith & Williamson group.
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.
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Note to editors
Smith & Williamson is an independently owned financial and professional services group. The firm is a leading provider of investment management, financial advisory and accountancy services to private clients, professional practices, entrepreneurs and mid-to-large corporates. The group’s c1,700 staff operate from a network of twelve offices: London, Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cheltenham, Dublin (City and Sandyford), Glasgow, Guildford, Jersey, Salisbury and Southampton.
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. This briefing does not constitute advice nor a recommendation relating to the acquisition or disposal of investments. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of writing.