When defensive back Alan Ball started his nine-year NFL career with the Cowboys in 2007, he was better equipped than most young athletes to manage his finances. His parents had instilled in him the need to save. His mother, Cheryl, was an accountant at Ameritech Financial and belonged to an investment club.
Ball was careful choosing a financial consultant, ultimately working with Courtney Altemus, a private wealth management director at Lehman Brothers and then Barclays. Ball said he appreciated that Altemus “took her hour and genuinely cared about me as a person and my aim, as opposed to just what my fund could do for her and myself.” He described her as a friend and mentor just as much as an adviser.
Ball with the Chicago Bears in 2015.( Photo by Hannah Foslien/ Getty Images)
The two are now colleagues. Altemus has started her own independent firm, Team Altemus, that, instead of managing assets, helps pair clients with an appropriate consultant and gives presentations to college athletes to prepare them for a possible professional career. Ball operates his own real estate investment firm but also is a consultant and team leader helping Altemus in all areas of her company.
“For the longest time, I guessed if I could get to more athletes earlier, I was going to save the world, one professional athlete at the time, and assists them and everything was going to be great, ” Altemus said. “I realized that I was part of the challenge for them because it’s just so hard to tell who you can work with. As much as that’s true for anybody who’s trying to choose a financial adviser, professional athletes are unique because of all the things we know–the age that they’re signing these contracts, the shortness of their career, all of those factors.”
Choosing a trusted fiscal adviser earlier in their pro career is critical for an athlete, and Team Altemus’ unique offering is an AI-powered due diligence tool, DDIQ, that it licenses from financial risk management firm Exiger.
DDIQ scours the open web, premium databases, 125 global corporate registries, and social media to screen consultants for fiscal or reputational risks. DDIQ employs natural language processing in 60 speeches to find possible red flags.
“Especially in high-net worth investment, there is a lot of’ I know a guy who knows a guy, ’” said Exiger Tech president Brandon Daniels, who added: “They’ll think that that kind of colloquial, collegial nature of the investment community and the sports community is a good way to vet someone’s background, and it’s not.”
Young dudes in the league and coming. Question the crap out of anybody dealing with your money. ANYBODY !!!!!
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Daniels gave examples of hazards that had been flagged and problems that had been avoided, including one in which DDIQ identified a one-line remark someone posted on an investigative journalist’s blog that connected that person to an investor with a background of risky investments. Another period, DDIQ discovered that the articles of incorporation a startup had given to a bank were identical to ones found in an online clearinghouse. “I can’t remember the name of it, ” Daniels said with a giggle, “but it was something hilarious like StealMyCorporation.com .”
Traditional reports can take thousands of dollars and days of work. DDIQ can complete the task in as little as 15 minutes for a fraction of the cost.
“It be taking hours we don’t have, and if you’re really going to do a thorough undertaking, months, ” Altemus said. “And that’s only step one in moving on to the due diligence phase. Truly, the expertise and the value that I bring, that my partners bring, is so far beyond screening people.”
She started the business two and a half years ago but added the DDIQ tool in December. In addition to being able to Ball, her other partner is Rashad Campbell, a three-time All-Ivy League defensive back at Cornell who later ran at Franklin Square Capital Partners. His brother, Ibrahim, just completed his fourth NFL season( most recently with the Packers ). Rashad considered financial vultures circling around two brothers and wanted to be part of the solution.
Altemus said her firm advises mostly NFL players and a few in the NBA. Her own research found only two other objective third-party investor advocacy companies, and Team Altemus is the only one working with pro athletes. Her company organized and filmed a recent panel on fiscal literacy with Ryan Howard, DeMarco Murray, Carlos Boozer, Tracy Wolfson, and Seth Greenberg.
While there are numerous horror narratives about pro athletes going bankrupt soon after retirement, Altemus prefers to focus on positive outcomes. That starts with early education. Altemus, Ball, and Campbell have made about a half-dozen campus visits to give symposiums on financial planning, including to Clemson, Temple, and Tennessee-Chattanooga.
“The biggest thing for me is assuring someone get it before I did, ” Ball said, adding: “If I can give that to someone else and consider them use it and set themselves in a better situation than I am, to me, that’s all I want.”
— Clemson Compliance (@ Compliance_CU) February 7, 2019
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