New York -- Tales of professional athletes facing financial ruin are all too common. Whether it's squandering millions or getting swindled by shady business and investment consultants, some athletes find that their wealth can fall as quickly as it rises.

In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78 percent of National Football League players are bankrupt or facing financial stress within two years of ending their playing careers, and that among National Basketball Association players, 60 percent are "broke" within five years of retiring from the game.

But not all professional athletes experience such a devastating ending to their financial success. Willie Williams' story illustrates how financial advisors can help athletes avoid such perils.

Williams was drafted out of Western Carolina University by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993. After four seasons with the Steelers, Williams played six seasons for the Seattle Seahawks. He returned to the Steelers for the 2004 and 2005 seasons and was the only Steelers player to be on both the 1996 and 2006 Super Bowl rosters.

Early in his career, Williams ran into financial trouble. "I was a young athlete making a lot of money, never used to making that type of money, and I had a problem of wanting to help everyone," he said. "I did that for two years and the money was just dwindling."

Fortunately, through his agent, Williams found a financial advisor that he could trust. He has worked with the same advisor since 1994. "She sat me down and put me on a monthly budget and painted the picture for me of the things that could happen if you don't put money away," Williams said."That's how I decided to take grasp of the things that were important to me, and that was making a living for my family."

Without the help of an advisor, Williams explained, "I probably would have been in the same situation these other guys are in." — Samantha Allen



Contrary to what many assume, referrals do not automatically land advisors new clients. They're rather the first step investors take to initiate contact with one or more advisors, according to research group Cerulli Associates.

The firm notes in its latest quarterly issue of The Cerulli Edge -- Advisor Edition that investors use family and friends as sources in "the retail version of the request for proposal process common in institutional markets." With that in mind, Cerulli urges advisors to view that initial client meeting as such and use it as an opportunity to highlight their value.

Once they make the initial contact with an advisor, investors assess a variety of factors to determine whether the advisor would be a good match, including reputation, quality of service and fees.

According to Cerulli, only 11 percent of households cite referrals as the reason for beginning relationships with advisors. Investors place greater importance on reputation, with 13 percent of U.S. households citing it as the primary reason for initiating new advisory relationships. Reputation is especially important among investors over the age of 80 and among those in their thirties.



Target maturity funds picked up more than $13 billion in the fourth quarter of 2012, bringing the industry's total assets to some $485 billion, a 29 percent increase from a year ago, according to data from Ibbotson Associates.

The "big three" of Vanguard, Fidelity and T. Rowe Price continued to garner the majority of flows, capturing 69 percent of net flows during the quarter, according to the latest Ibbotson Target Maturity Report. Other target maturity fund providers that saw large inflows in the fourth quarter include Wells Fargo Advantage, John Hancock, TIAA-CREF, J.P. Morgan and American Funds.

During the period, roughly 75 percent of target maturity providers experienced positive flows into their funds. However, AllianceBernstein, Principal Funds and ING Retirement Funds experienced the largest outflows in the quarter, totaling $360 million.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access