3 Pieces of Money Advice for Women Pro Athletes

By Ellevest Team

Getting paid to do what you love is the dream. (We on the Ellevest team know this first-hand.) For professional athletes, who put in the epitome of hard work and dedication to earn one of very few spots at the top, it’s the ultimate dream. 

An illustration that shows a cross between a sports field and a $50 bill.

But even (perhaps especially) in sports, the pay gap is very real. Thankfully, a lot of pro women’s teams and leagues have made good progress on that front recently, but there’s more work to be done.

But while we work and wait for that change to be realized, we also have to take charge of our financial futures. That’s what drives so many of Ellevest’s Private Wealth clients — athletes and non-athletes alike — today.

So if you’re an athlete who’s climbing the ranks — or if you’re looking at a complex financial situation and want to make sure you’re taking control — we have three pieces of advice for you. 

Invest like your future depends on it (it does)

No matter where you are in your career, you have the power to invest for your future. We should (and will) continue fighting for equal pay, but one thing you can do to fight for gender parity right now is to put more of your money toward investing. 

On average, women keep 71% of their assets in cash. (For men, that number is only 60%, and they invest the rest.) Considering how powerful compound returns can be, this is a huge missed opportunity. In fact, this “gender investing gap” can cost women hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars over the course of their lifetimes. 

All this is especially important for professional athletes, because the power of investing is your best defensive bet against a finite playing career. The earlier you invest, the more time your money has to potentially grow, given the kinds of returns that have been seen historically in the markets

Once you’re at or near the salary cap, it might be time to think about more nuanced investing strategies. Your lifestyle, income, and specific needs will affect your tax situation, the account types that are right for you, and other, more complex things to consider. This is where your financial advisor comes in — they’re there to help you make sure you’re doing everything you can to set yourself up for the future you really want.

Build an all-star team

As you know, there’s a difference between a good team and a great team. You can’t win games or matches (let alone championships) without the people who bring specific expertise to the field all working together. You probably have experience hiring a small team for yourself, too — business managers or agents, for example.

You also need a team of independent money advisors. Not just a financial advisor, although that’s a really big one. You’re also going to want an accountant, an estate planning attorney, and probably an insurance broker. Your money advisors should be looking out for your interests — always. Here are 15 questions to ask your financial advisor (and other money pros every year so you can feel confident your team is on your side.

In order to best help you manage your money, these pros should be working together. They also need to be aligned with you, your values, and what you’re trying to achieve. So pick these people carefully. Ask them whether they’re willing to communicate with one another. And make sure their values line up with yours and that they’re going to put your best interests first.

Make an impact

So many athletes, from Megan Rapinoe to Serena Williams, speak out on issues they really care about. It’s refreshing to see athletes use their public platforms to make an impact — but not many people realize that another way to make a lasting impact on society is through the money you invest. 

Every dollar you invest has an impact, whether or not you know what it is. You have the choice to invest more intentionally. To us at Ellevest, that primarily means investing to make the world better for women. And we’re not alone — one of our Private Wealth clients once said something that really rang true for us: She was tired of putting her money toward companies where she wouldn’t want her daughter to work.

In fact, we created Ellevest Intentional Impact Portfolios — custom equity portfolios that let you choose to invest your money in companies that meet our criteria for doing the right things by women, and stop investing in companies with products, policies, and practices that may harm them — for this purpose exactly.

Investing intentionally could also mean investing to protect the environment, or to reduce gun violence, or invest to support LGBTQ justice. Whatever your values are, your financial advisor should be able to help. 

If wealth management sounds right for you, get started today by connecting with one of Ellevest’s financial advisors.

Click here to contact an Ellevest financial advisor in your area.


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Ellevest Team

Ellevest helps women build and manage their wealth through goal-based investing, financial planning, and wealth management. Our mission is to get more money in the hands of women.