Momentum is growing in the advice sector to tap into the sporting arena to find second careerists, as more firms and businesses are starting to bring sports’ finest to the industry.
The best way to show that it works is to highlight the success stories of sport stars-turned-financial advisers.
Ewan Dowes, now owner of St James’s Place (SJP) partner practice Dowes Wealth Management, was previously a rugby league player.
He spoke to International Adviser to talk about his path into the sector, working with current sports people and advice for second careerists.
Dowes’ journey into financial advice is long. He played for Super League sides Leeds Rhinos and Hull F.C.
Before he retired, Dowes studied for a sports science degree with the aim to become a coach, but it got cut short after he was released from his contract, and then denied a visa to become a coach in the US as he didn’t meet the education requirements.
Dowes went to Australia to play rugby and work, and planned to be a coal miner. He did all the training and was qualified, however the market shrunk in 2012 and they were making experienced people redundant.
He moved back to England and his family ended up moving in with his parents in Cumbria.
Dowes said: “I signed semi-professional at Workington, and an ex-player contacted me to say he was working for MetLife selling life, critical illness and injury insurance to rugby players. So, I gave that a go and became a self-employed consultant at MetLife. That allowed me to get my feet back on the ground again.
“I enjoyed that kind of face-to-face with clients, but I just didn’t see it as a long-term sustainable role for me. It was quite a transactional role. I had a bit of an opportune meeting with an SJP partner about my personal finances, and he spoke about the academy and I looked into it.
“I just jumped in headfirst, probably wasn’t in a financial position to do so, but I just went for it and just about six years later, I have got my own practice and life is good.”
Transferable skills and traits
Dowes’ journey highlights how sports people need direction after their first career, and the range of professions that he tried to take on also shows the wide range of skills that stars have.
“When you grow up, you’re in a professional environment and you’re blinkered,” Dowes said. “You look at ex-players and what they’re doing, and a lot of them have gone into work that they have had to, not because they planned it. They go into a job that pays to get the security of food on the table.
“But, as we all know, there’s so many different roles out there. And not in a million years, did I consider financial advice when I was playing professionally. I’m lucky to get to speak to a lot pro sports people and one of the things I speak about is how it is a job they should consider because they already have transferable skills.
“They are good with people, good at networking, they have trust and confidence, it’s a great job but it is just getting them aware of it. They’re setting goals every week, hugely driven and motivated to succeed.
“Transferring over those traits and attributes will help. When I started, I was very raw but I had to add those traits that and you can turn that into something very powerful as an employee. A lot of the guys, they’re not aware of kind of the transferable skills that they’ve got, and how they can use that to their advantage massively.”
Sports stars offering
Dowes is one of many stars that has made their way into the financial advice sector, as IA has reported over the last few months.
But why is there a fascination to bring ex-sports stars on board as advisers?
“A professional sportsperson will get to the end of their career with some qualifications under their belt but generally have no experience,” Dowes said. “But I think, with regards to potential, soon they may overtake the individual who is more experienced.
“I just think, as an employer, I’ll be tapping into this sports network and looking at potential future employees that could be great. There’s not there’s not one professional sports person that would go into the next job, just settling with second best. It’s bred into us that we want to be the best at whatever we do.
“And it’s that competitive nature that can transfer over into the life after sport.”
Switch the Play
Dowes and rugby union player James Grindal initiated SJP’s partnership with Switch the Play, a UK charity dedicated to supporting all sportspeople transition into life outside of sport.
SJP has renewed its contract for a second-year that will focus on extending relationships with various additional sporting groups – engaging athletes from women’s football, basketball, netball and rugby – and further development of the SJP financial education masterclasses offered to athletes.
Dowes provides masterclasses for rugby league players about financial advice, describing about the sector.
He added: “If you look at the advice gap, and the number of advisers that are in the UK at the minute, compared to what the was pre-financial crisis, it’s a huge dip from hundreds of thousands to around 25,000. Targeting the sporting sector as potential candidates and future employees, is a no brainer for me.
“I’ve been delivering the financial masterclass for rugby league more specifically. Unfortunately, before covid, the momentum was fantastic. We were just about ready to launch into netball and women’s football with a more generic masterclass.
“Hopefully, we’ll get covid out of the way, it’s been hugely frustrating and on a number of fronts, especially when obviously switch to play just launched as a charity prior to it all.
“But I’m sure you know, there’s a lot of good things happening behind the scenes now. Switch to play and SJP can help massively with a route into the sector.”
Demand to become an adviser
When sports stars understand what the financial adviser role contains, many people are keen, according to Dowes.
“I was delivering the financial wellbeing masterclass, but prior to that, I tell them my transition story and explain about the sector and it was never anything I looked at.
“We have a feedback form at the end of the masterclass and one of those questions is, would you be interested in a career in financial advice?
“I thought we’d have a handful across the whole of a Super League, but we had over 100 people who were interested in that role, just because I’ve given a brief outline of it.
“Rugby league is a quite small community and they’ve seen where I’ve come from and gone to. I think the whole face-to-face telling your story is the best way to get the sector out there.”
The former rugby league player also had words of wisdom for second careerists and potential financial advisers.
Dowes added: “The biggest thing for me transitioning from pro sport to financial advice is credibility.
“One of the mistakes I made when I first started was thinking that I would do well from day one because of my success in rugby league and my great network.But you’ve got to think, you’re managing people’s money and livelihoods, and I had not built up any credibility or respect.
“I always say you’ve got to earn your stripes, before you are flying and succeeding and I suppose, the advice is that opportunity is there, the earnings potential is massive.
“I’m in charge of my own destiny. If you want that flexibility of being able to work when you want and work incredibly hard to reap the benefits because of it, this industry and profession is for you.”