The Importance of Saying No

Credit: Gregg Segal
Source: ESPN

There’s an interesting article today in ESPN the Magazine about Pittsburg Steeler’s all-star safety Troy Polamalu. Polamalu appears to be  unique in the world of professional athletes, because he may actually be on the road to true financial independence. We all know becoming a a successful athlete is one of the quickest ways to a high income. Unfortunately, all too often, it’s also one of the quickest ways to bankruptcy.

Here’s just a few reasons:

  • little financial education
  • little experience handling money
  • high exposure — everybody knows when an athlete “hits it big” in his career and his paycheck
  • temptation to live an expensive lifestyle
  • temptation to invest in surefire “can’t lose” investment opportunities

As the article explains in much more detail, Polamalu had enough wisdom to get advice…and not just advice from “yes-men.” Here are just a few traits that the financial people in his life exhibit:

  • backbone — Troys people can tell him no…or at least strongly suggest that something is a bad idea
  • experience
  • knowledge
  • alignment of interests

While the article disparages financial advisers in general (and I would agree with it, in many cases), a good, fee-only NAPFA financial adviser can be the next best thing for someone in Troy’s situation. (Not everyone has access to multi-family office arrangements!) The key is finding someone whose interests are aligned with yours, have your full financial picture, have enough knowledge and experience to have your respect, and can strongly point out when your decisions are taking you off course.