Athlete Branding: Sustaining Financial Success in Post-Peak-Performance Years!

By Lazaros Ioannou, Business Development Director, APC Sports Consulting, Nicosia, Cyprus

For the third time in five years, Tom Brady led the New England Patriots to a championship title with a 13–3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. With this Super Bowl victory, Brady, at 41 years of age, became the oldest quarterback ever to win it.

The likes of Tom Brady or Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who won the championship with the Lakers twice after turning 40, and Roger Federer who last June was ranked No. 1 worldwide at the age of 37, are the exceptions to the rule that, in most sports, athletes reach their peak performance at a younger age.

The peak performance age or ‘’sweet spot’’, as many call it, is a period where athletes combine the highest physical strength, technical and mental abilities, and, in most sports, this sweet spot falls mostly between the mid-20s’ and early 30s’.

Athletes’ finances are correlated with their performance and the performance cycle of athletes affects their finances and income.

During their peak performance period, athletes usually enjoy the highest earnings of their careers in terms of sporting compensation, as well as sponsorships and endorsements. Most athletes experience an income decrease along with decreased athletic performance.

During their post-peak-performance years, athletes usually receive the lowest compensation for their athletic services. In addition, most athletes tend to have less income from sponsorships and endorsements in their later years, since brands prefer to utilize younger athletes at the peak of their performance, fame and recognition.

To maintain financial success during their post-peak-performance years, athletes need to plan ahead.

One way of doing that is by building their brand from day one.

Athletes’ brands can be built in such a way that the athlete can be transformed into a local or global signature brand, which can be leveraged to sell, endorse and make a profit.  Athletes can build and capitalize on their brand by creating proper personal marketing strategies, with well-defined branding activities, which are in line with their financial life plan.

Strategic building of athletes’ personal brands is crucial because it must be clear which values they bring to the marketplace, in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd. By building their brands, athletes have the opportunity to create and – and perhaps more importantly – sustain substantial income, which does not solely depend on their athletic performances.

Also, when athletes are at their peak and have substantial earnings, they should implement a sound saving strategy, which is the cornerstone of a financially secure lifestyle, accommodating any possible setbacks in their careers, irrespective of their athletic performances.

Setting money aside each month builds a foundation for establishing future wealth, which can be used in many ways including:

  • an emergency cushion;
  • for retirement as average life expectancy grows and government pensions are pretty volatile; and
  • for education purposes.

See “Saving while earning high’’ at http://moneysmartathlete.com/2018/01/31/saving-while-earning-high/ for more details on how to set up a personal saving strategy.

Last, but by no means least, money smart athletes should create sources of alternate/parallel income, which are not related to, nor correlated with their athletic performances.

This income may take the form of:

  • an investment portfolio;
  • a real estate portfolio; or
  • the setting up of their own business.

It is important for athletes to identify their goals and dreams outside sport, so that they start working on them during the early stages of their careers.

Before deciding on any of them, they should always seek the help of professional financial and business advisors, who will be able to help them navigate the difficult worlds of investments and entrepreneurship.

Whether investing in their personal brands, saving while earning high, setting up investments and businesses or a combination of all of them, athletes need to make sure that, in their post-peak-performance years, their financial success is not dependent on their athletic performances.

By creating a financial freedom plan during their early high-performance years, athletes will be able to financially sustain themselves throughout their lives!

 

Lazaros Ioannou may be contacted by e-mail at ‘lazaros@apc-sport.com’