One of the biggest off-court mental stressors for players is personal finance. Maybe no one understands this more than Financial Advisor and Financial Literacy Expert Rashad Bilal.
Rashad is a Partner at the Bilal Group LLC. His clientele consists of professionals athletes across the sporting spectrum. Rashad and business partner Troy Millings have recently launched the Earn Your Leisure podcast, which currently ranks as one of the top business podcasts on iTunes. Earn Your Leisure provides financial literacy across a wide range of financial topics.
Basketball Insiders caught up with Rashad to pick his brain about money management and the mental stressors that NBA and professional athletes oftentimes experience.
Jake Rauchbach: Rashad, thanks for joining us. How do you help professional players?
Rashad Bilal: We take a holistic approach to wealth management. We sit down and take a look at the total picture and see exactly what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense and educate individuals on different options and how things work. It is more of like a hands-on approach that our clients undergo.
JR: From your experience, what creates the most financial stress for the professional player?
RB: Being responsible for a family financially, for their friends, for their community a lot of times. There is a lot of pressure that comes with that, whenever somebody needs something or if someone has a business idea they turn to the person that has the money, the professional athlete. That comes with a lot of pressure.
If the player is not properly educated on money then they could potentially make a bad decision, and they are kind of nervous already. They don’t want to mismanage the money. But you kind of feel guilty if you don’t give money or help people out so that can kind of weigh on you as a player.
JR: Can you talk about financial literacy. How can a lack of financial education affect the player?
RB: Anytime that you are not properly educated on something that can lead to stress and uncertainty. Especially when you are extremely young and you have large sums of money and you have to either trust other people’s judgment or trust your judgment but you may not be properly educated to make sound decisions.
It is stressful from a lot of different standpoints. There are trust issues that come into play. You don’t know who to trust so you put your guards up on a lot of things because you’re not sure who is trying to take advantage of you.
If you are not financially educated it makes it worse because now you have to trust somebody, you kind of have to have faith because you can’t make the decision yourself.
Making decisions off of blood, faith and hope instead of fully vetting a person is an issue. You really can’t vet a person if you don’t know what questions to ask.
JR: Can you share an example about a player adversely affected by making a wrong money management decision?
RB: Al Harrington told his story on our Podcast, his first contract out of high school was a four-year deal for around $4 million. At the end of his fourth year, at the end of this rookie contract, he had $30,000 left to his name. One of the reasons that happened was that he wasn’t educated on money, he got drafted when he was 17-18 years old and his family wasn’t educated on money. They didn’t know anything about money.
He just trusted his financial advisor. The advisor didn’t take the time to educate him. The advisor was just telling him to just trust him and before you know it he pretty much ran through every dollar that he had.
Luckily for him, he was able to get a second contract. He started working with new people that began educating him. It was little stuff like how to properly buy a car, how to budget money and how to save money.
One of his teammates that he was rooming with on the road told him about paying taxes. He was educated on his taxes after he signed his million-dollar contract.
If you are a doctor or a lawyer you have some type of business expertise. You know fundamentals of life, you just don’t randomly become a millionaire in six-months.
For an NBA player or an NFL player or baseball player, they don’t have but maybe one year of college. Think about that, your 19 and 20 years old and have never worked a job ever in your life. Now you have to learn about how the tax system works.
Why did we explore mental stressors with a Financial Advisor? To bring balance to the players’ total experience, we need to understand some of their off-court stressors.
The mental and emotional stress relating to personal finance is one of the biggest areas of imbalance. The notion that unresolved financial issues do not influence on-court performance is an oversight. There is no compartmentalization when it comes to on-court play. Off-court issues affect on-court play.
This being said, Rashad brought up several key points. A limited background in personal finance, entrenchment in personal loyalties and unqualified support systems can wreak havoc.
For players like Al Harrington, making the wrong decision could mean millions of dollars lost. These decisions can weigh heavily on a player’s psyche.
Finding ways to bring balance to the player’s off-court life is crucial in helping to facilitate on-court improvement and overall wellbeing. Financial literacy programs, a trusted support system, and thoroughly vetted financial advisors will go a long way toward alleviating a player’s mental and emotional pain points.
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