How one advisor helped an Olympian make the most of his winnings
Every four years we get to enjoy "the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat" by watching the summer Olympic games. You don't have to be a women's cycling fan to ache for Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten as she crashed in the last leg of the woman's road race. Nor do you have to be a swimmer to appreciate the aquatic agility of American phenoms Michael Phelps or Simone Manuel or a runner to marvel at the the insane speed of Jamaican runner Usain Bolt.
With world records being broken by men and women from different countries, these athletes have an opportunity to capitalize on those medals with monies and sponsorship opportunities. But what they do with the money is the question. This is where advisors like Jeff Fishman come in. Fishman opened his wealth management practice, JSF Financial, in Los Angeles in 1996.
Fishman doesn't necessarily focus on Olympic athletes, but in 1998 a friend introduced him to his best friend, an aspiring Olympian backstroker, Lenny Krayzelburg. Krayzelburg moved to the U.S. from the Ukraine in 1989 and started training and competing for the United States. Fishman first met Krayzelburg while he was competing and trying to figure out what he wanted to do after his Olympic career.
He won four gold medals in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and knew he would have to do something beyond his Olympic sponsorships.
"You have a responsibility to yourself to plan for your future,” says Krayzelburg, who had seen many athletes enjoy the spotlight, spend the money and then run into difficulties when the money dried up.
Fishman listened to Krayzelburg, becoming not only his financial advisor and sounding board for his business endeavors, but also his friend. One of their best times together came when Fishman traveled to watch Krayzelburg compete in the 2004 Olympic trials. It was then that Krayzelburg realized that he wasn't just a client, but that Fishman "really cared for me" as a person, Krayzelburg says.
Not every advisor needs to befriend every client, but it is essential that they understand each client's needs and goals and parlay that understanding into a plan.
Fishman likes to say his practice is collaborative and focused on strategic financial planning. He was not unlike many of his younger clients in the entertainment business and professional sports who needed both guidance and a plan to secure their financial future. Such clients may be on the cusp of a bright economic future, and pre-planning can help them best deal with it. This is an area where Fishman feels most comfortable and where his passion for making a positive impact in his clients' lives shines.
The Olympian now lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two kids and owns a swim school franchise with the mission of making kids water safe. Fishman, he says, has provided invaluable advice to him over the years asking challenging questions and helping him to diversify his assets. Fishman, in turn, admires the way Krayzelburg has developed as an athlete to become an entrepreneur.
Understanding the needs of clients on an intimate level has been a cornerstone of how Fishman has succeeded. Target of the type of people with whom you want to work and help them see their upside potential and craft a plan. Not every client will have an Olympic story, but they do want their advisors to care about them and understand their needs, which makes for a mutually beneficial relationship.