What an Elite Athlete and Wealth Planning Have in Common

Two-time Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion US soccer player Carli Lloyd’s “ah ha” moment came early on in her career—when she was cut from the US national team. Although being dismissed was “devastating” to her, James Gelanis, her personal coach, had a different take. “I think it was great she got cut…it made her realize she’s not the greatest and if she wants to be the greatest, she’s got to roll up her sleeves and work hard.” Since that time, she’s learned the power of hard work, preparation, and perseverance.

At Bernstein, we don’t normally examine the career progression of an elite athlete, but we think there are many parallels that can be drawn from Lloyd’s career to life in general, and wealth planning in particular. Here we highlight three traits of her professional career that are also important when planning for your financial future.

It’s the Journey

Lloyd often talks about her career as a journey. In her early days, she relied solely on her talent, which compensated for, as she describes, her lazy attitude and “uncoachable” demeanor; now a decade and a half later, Lloyd is hailed as the prototype for putting in the physical work.

Wealth planning is about the journey as well. Strategizing for financial health needs a specific plan which considers time horizon and objectives. Setting long-term goals—not just around a dollar amount—but for lifestyle, philanthropy, and legacy are important components to determining an appropriate asset allocation. Part of that journey is learning to stay the course—believing in the arduous work and rigor that goes into establishing the plan, and having patience, especially when markets are volatile, to stick with the strategy. Winning is not just a single moment—it’s years of practice and patience; and realizing your financial plan is the same.

Unmatched Focus

Studying the game is an integral component of preparing for an opponent. It goes beyond the physical readiness—doing your homework and mental preparedness create tactical smartness and a winning game plan. Lloyd is considered one of the best at mental preparation. Especially as her career has moved into its later stages, Lloyd has needed to rely on playing tactically smart, and not depend only on her physical abilities to give her an edge.

Strategizing and planning wealth requires the same unmatched focus. Making a well-thought-out financial plan necessitates due diligence—research and analysis—to ensure it is right for you. It starts with understanding risk tolerance—time horizon and spending needs, among others—to set an appropriate asset allocation. In doing the homework, strong knowledge will guide decisions, especially those made when the game is on the line.

Reevaluating Strategy

Lloyd, as she’s entered the final stages of her career, has had to adapt her game to compensate for playing against younger, more physically advantaged players. “Obviously with age you’ve got to change some things…I’m not the Carli Lloyd from five years ago that’s just going to get the ball and start running towards the goal. I’ve got to be able to play smarter...”

Just as Lloyd has had to modify her play, wealth strategy needs to adjust for different life stages. Reexamining that plan every few years to ensure it still makes sense is crucial. Part of that evaluation is knowing what’s important to you. While passing money on to the next generation may be a goal for someone else, philanthropy may be what matters to you. It’s important to tailor your financial plan to your needs and wants. Just like not every player prepares like Lloyd, not every wealth plan is right for all.

Measures of Success

Anytime you plan for your future—whether it’s for your career or your finances—these tenets of hard work and preparation, practice, patience, and the willingness to stay the course, but adapt as needed, ring true. Success is measured differently by everyone—it’s about what’s important to you that drives victory.

For more tips on becoming financially engaged, explore Women & Wealth, a new Bernstein podcast series designed to educate, empower, and inspire female investors, and for additional thought leadership, check out the related blogs here.

Beata Kirr
Co-Head—Investment & Wealth Strategies

The views expressed herein do not constitute research, investment advice or trade recommendations and do not necessarily represent the views of all AB portfolio-management teams.

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