Cardale Jones, the young Ohio State University quarterback who just helped lead his team to college football's national championship, wants to be a financial planner.

Jones, a 22 year old sophomore, announced last week that he's staying in school and not turning pro this year because he wants to graduate and become a planner when his football career is over.

Jones' football prospects are certainly bright. But what about his potential career as a financial planner? What does Jones bring to the table and what does he need to learn?


We asked a few planning pros to assess Jones' skills to determine his strength as a planner.

Experience: "He'll have a true understanding of what [other young athletes] are going through," says Joe Nolan, managing director for Robertson, Griege & Thoele, and the Dallas-based wealth management firm whose clients include professional athletes. "The world starts moving really fast after you go through something like he just did. If he's able to navigate that successfully, he'll be uniquely qualified to help others going through it to slow down to make well thought out, rational decisions, versus impulsive ones."

Empathy: "Someone of Jones' stature has the potential to establish trust with other high-level athletes and become part of their inner circle," says Nina Mitchell, principal of Bethesda, Md.-based Bridgewater Wealth & Financial Management, who advises professional athletes. "He can then play a valuable role, because it's very hard for young athletes making a lot of money for the first time to say 'no' to their families. A trusted advisor is the best person to say 'no' for them." Nolan agrees. "The biggest challenge young athletes face is the pressure they're under when they're publicly identified as making a lot of money," he explains. "They're confronted by the expectations of friends, family and those outside  the inner circle who feel they're entitled to a piece of the athlete's fortune. They can identify with another athlete who knows what it feels like."

Setting an example: "Jones can set a phenomenal example for other athletes about good money habits," says Ed Gjertsen, president of the FPA and vice president of Mack Investment Securities, the Northfield, Ill.-based firm that has participated in the National Football League's financial advisors program. "The average tenure in the NFL is only three years, and the players only get 16 paychecks a year. It's incredibly important to be able to save money and invest wisely. Someone with knowledge of financial planning can really influence the money personality of a locker room."

Here's what Jones needs to do next, the experts say:

Academics: The Fisher College of Business at Ohio State has programs for those pursuing a certified financial planning certification. The Financial Planning Association also sponsors student chapters across the country for students interested in the profession.

Apprentice: Jones " should learn the business from the ground floor up with an established planner or firm," says Nolan. "Put in the time, effort and training to really learn what it takes to be a CFP." Working with a successful business owner or entrepreneur would also be extremely helpful, suggests Mitchell. "It would broaden his horizons," she explains. "These are people who, like athletes, have worked very hard to become successful. And they are very serious about their money. That kind of focus can be a valuable lesson for athletes, especially those signing their second contract - which may be their last."

Network: Jones should check out the FPA's internship opportunities, offered on the student page of the organization's website, as well as the FPA's NextGen community, says Gjertsen. "NextGen is really ideally suited to help young people transition from college to practice," Gjertsen adds. "He'll find people who are engaged and passion about planning. It's a community that gets people like him excited about the profession."

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