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Swimming Superstar Katie Ledecky Decides To Go Pro – A conversation between financial planners

Joe:  Well Allison, it looks like we’re back at it.  Katie Ledecky has finally decided to turn pro just as I recommended a year and a half ago.

Allison:  Yes, Joe, I saw the news release.  Are you saying that you were right all along?

Joe:  Well…If you recall, I suggested that she maximize her earning potential and take advantage of the many sponsorship opportunities that would be available to her once she became a professional and renounced her amateur status.  I was concerned that she might get injured and not be able to maximize her earning potential.  I was focused on the freedom and flexibility that her multi-million-dollar sponsorship deals would provide her – I mean, she won’t be a professional swimmer forever.

Allison:  But Joe, there’s more to the story than that.  Katie Ledecky is only giving up competing for Stanford in NCAA competitions.  She’s going to continue to attend classes and pursue her degree.  And she’ll still be able to do some training with her teammates.  Turning pro will let her fine tune her own training and schedule so she can focus on the 2020 Olympics.

Joe:  That all makes sense.  I guess it’s not worth thinking about the money that she could have earned and all the good she could have done with that.

Allison:  She said at her press conference that she didn’t have any regrets about waiting to turn pro.  She’s still only 21 and has plenty of time to make money from her sponsorships.  What you’re forgetting is that maybe it was never entirely about the money for her.

Joe:  You said “entirely.”

Allison:  I know, and here’s what I mean: she wanted to be part of a team and attend a great university.  And swimming collegiately at Stanford allowed her to do that. I think she just wanted to be a normal college student.

Joe:  You said “normal” – she’s probably swam more miles in the pool in the last year than I put on my car.  She’s a superhuman elite athlete! I just wanted her to take full advantage of her abilities.

Allison:  Maybe that’s not what she wanted.  The endorsement money might be great, but I’m not worried about her having waited a few years to start collecting it.  By the way, she’s also got a 4.0 GPA, so if swimming doesn’t work out, she’ll probably be ok.

Joe:  Like I said, not normal…

So, I guess it isn’t always about maximizing wealth.

Allison:  Not always.

So, what have you learned from all this and how might it help you be a better financial planner?

Joe:  I’ve learned not to jump to conclusions.  I’ve learned to listen, to present options and to go over their pros and cons.

Allison:  And you’ve learned that we don’t always have to do what the numbers say to do.

Joe:  Right.  And that most financial planning matters are rarely an “all-or-nothing” circumstance.  That there’s room for compromises and a combination of different strategies.

Allison:  Well thanks, Joe.  I guess that wraps things up.  I’m looking forward to our next chat and the lessons we’ll learn to help us become better planners for our clients.


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