Maybe Clyde Simmons should have been taking his financial advice from Kailee Wong, the Houston Texans linebacker.
Then the former Eagles defense end might not have found himself on a list of football players who have lost hundreds of millions of dollars by investing in a hedge fund run by an Atlanta man who has suddenly disappeared. Simmons as well as a half dozen current or former Denver Broncos are among hundreds who invested in International Management Associates. The SEC has sued the firm and its owner, Kirk Wright, of fraud.
Wong, meanwhile is featured in Knowledge at Wharton podcast advising how to deal with becoming an instant millionaire. The audio file is a conversation with Ken Shropshire, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, and Wong, who attended a Wharton course for NFL players.
Wong, a Stanford alum, described the challenge:
We collect vast amounts of money immediately as soon as we sign in the NFL. We are 23, 24, 25 year olds who have a substantial net worth that generally speaking most people would build throughout their career, throughout their lifetime. We get all that at once when we are young and we don't develop the financial savvy that probably another business person might. That is probably the hardest thing for us as young adults to do. You literally feel as though you are by yourself ... there are not enough how-to manuals when you are 24 years old and you basically inherit three to four million dollars."
He says athletes are not well-coached when it comes to figuring out who should help with their finances. Wong says he knew he didn't want his agent also handling his money - that seemed like a conflict of interest. He started calling around and getting a feel for the different advisers. "I only wanted an financial adviser who was going to educate me."
That is not what ballplayers typically do, he said. Most have agent who manage their investments, their checkbooks, their real estate. Some are quite conservative. Others?
There are a lot of Bentleys in our parking lot. There are lot of houses for mothers and dad and all that other stuff.
After taking some course work at Penn, he says he realized that ballplayers aren't nearly as good negotiators as they should be. He's developed a healthy suspicion about deals and investments that sound too good to be true.
The course also prompted Wong to chase for his first autograph - that of Jeremy J. Siegal, the author Wharton finance professor, whom Wong describes as "a rock star."