Chris Moynes is an IIROC advisor with Aligned Capital Partners Inc. in Toronto. About 95% of his clients are NHL players, agents and coaches. The remaining 5% are in the entertainment industry, including actors and directors.
A client wanted to build a luxurious new home for him and his wife. He approached his advisor, Chris Moynes, to ask if he could afford it.
But it was July 2012, this client was an NHL player, and there was a collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHL Players’ Association. When the contract comes due, explains Moynes, if both parties don’t agree on the terms there can be a lockout or strike. If there’s a lockout, his client doesn’t get paid.
Moynes, an IIROC advisor with Aligned Capital Partners Inc., suggested the couple wait a year. They agreed. That turned out to be a good idea: there was a half-season lockout from Oct. 2012 to Jan. 2013.
Because they’d taken his advice, they were able to better manage their finances. Moynes notes he “hoarded a lot more of their money in money markets, so they’d have access to capital.” As a result, they didn’t have to make any sacrifices.
“Also, they were able to finish the house the way they wanted to a year later, without any financial st ress,” he says. “And they didn’t have to deal with a shoestring budget.”
For Moynes, these types of discussions are typical—95% of his book is NHL players, coaches and agents. He often has clients who want to purchase an expensive car or boat on a whim. His goal is to help clients understand if they can afford it, and shed light on the right financial decision.
Still, he’ll leave money for fun purchases. “We’ll always have an amount that’s liquid, and that number depends on the individual,” he says. “For some, it’s $50,000. For others, it’s $500,000.” The amount depends on what important life events the client expects in the next year, such as an engagement proposal or wedding.
There have been instances where clients haven’t listened and bought items they couldn’t afford. “Sometimes, [advising them against] it is not what they want to hear and, ultimately, it’s their dollar,” says Moynes, adding he’s never fired a client as a result of a splurge. Instead, he’ll rework the plan and continue to remind him that big paycheques won’t always come in.
In fact, players’ careers are short—the average is 5.5 years, he says, and they’ll earn an annual salary of about $2.4 million, for a total of $13.2 million [see “Advising (really) early retirees”].
“If you don’t plan properly then, unfortunately, five years after their career is over, about 70% of players are bankrupt or in financial distress,” he notes.
Moynes breaks down their plans into seven categories, which he outlines in his book, The Pro’s Process. This includes: banking (e.g., credit card debt and mortgages); money market high-yield funds (which are liquid investments); pension; other investments; insurance; real estate; and estate issues. The amount that’s in any given category depends on each player’s goals. For instance, only about 20% of his clients invest in real estate outside of their homes. Again, it comes down to affordability, explains Moynes.
“Some of the property they’re buying, taxes are $20,000 to $50,000,” he says. “Even if they pay off the property by the time they’re finished playing, they’ll still need income to continue to pay taxes. If there’s no income, the option is selling and adding that chunk of money to the portfolio.”
There are many variables. If the player hasn’t signed a contract with the team, or his deal is short-term, he could be traded. In these cases, Moynes suggests renting.
“I’ve seen it too many times where a guy is sitting on a property that’s in a different city than where he’s playing, and he can’t get rid of the property because there’s no market for it,” he says. “If you’re signed to a one-year deal, don’t buy a house.”
These clients are also at high risk of injury. Though any injuries sustained while practicing are covered within their contracts, Moynes still includes disability insurance as part of their plans. Premiums can be anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on the coverage. For instance, off-ice insurance is usually cheaper, and covers the player for any injuries they sustain while off the ice. Meanwhile, 24-hour coverage is more expensive, but covers the player for every second of every day.
Also, whole life (WL) insurance is equally important to mitigate risk. “There are two components,” says Moynes. “We can have large sum deposits that earn money while they’re young and spin off income down the road, and also the insurance part to protect their families.”
His research has shown this is a better option compared to universal life (UL) policies, which “got beat up in 2008.” He adds, “I prefer WL because, behind the scenes, the investments are being chosen for us. It’s not market-driven and has more certainty compared to UL.”
Once clients are done playing, some go into other lines of work, including coaching, sales or broadcasting. But the goal, he says, is they shouldn’t have to work unless they want to.
For instance, retired NHL player Aki Berg is one of his clients. A few years ago, a reporter in Berg’s native Finland tweeted that, after playing for a local team, TPS, he’d taken a job as an assistant trainer. Moynes called Berg to confirm he was only working because he wanted to. Berg said his goal post-NHL was always to be part of TPS.
“It’s something that’s augmenting his income,” says Moynes. “But, more importantly, he’s doing it because he wants to be a part of hockey and a team.”
Moynes entered the business 20 years ago, joining his dad’s practice at what is now Assante Wealth Management. By the early 2000s, the firm had acquired several clients in the sports industry. Moynes, who played hockey and tennis in his teens, wanted to combine his two passions, sports and finance, so he took on a few of those clients.
In 2004, he faced a decision—take over his dad’s book, which included families and retirees, or branch out on his own. He picked the latter because he wanted to focus on building a sports entertainment practice. He made the move to RBC and took three hockey player clients with him: Berg, Cory Cross and Shaun Van Allen. And, after spending a decade at RBC, he joined Aligned Capital Partners Inc. in Sept. 2014.
Moynes has grown his practice to $100 million in AUM. He serves 125 families, half of whom prefer a fee-based platform.
One of the best ways to find clients, he says, is by attending the annual NHL draft each summer. He’s able to meet young players who likely don’t have an advisor yet.
Typically, Moynes introduces himself to the prospect’s parents. “It’s about talking to their families and congratulating them on the success they’ve had to date.” He’ll also briefly mention the financial challenges the player could face moving forward, including running out of money, and then tell them he’s available to talk about planning when they’re ready.
He adds, “You’re not signing guys at these events.”
Moynes also talks to agents. “They carry a lot of power from the standpoint of what some hockey players do.”
Since agents can manage anywhere from as few as two players to more than 15, it’s hard to gauge how many prospects he speaks to, or clients he gets, as a result.
And when meeting players, he doesn’t act like a fan.
“You can’t ask for autographs or be star-struck. I’ve seen advisors act in that fan-crazed manner, and these clients aren’t interested because they want to have their accounts looked after in a professional manner.”
Suzanne Yar Khan is a Toronto-based financial writer.