Hines World: Entry 4

Hines' World is a new segment chronicling the life of professional basketball player, Kyle Hines. Hines discusses his life both on and off the court as well as the financial tidbits he's learned along the way. In this entry, in honor of financial literacy month he talks about the importance of financial literacy. He had the opportunity to interview Stephen Ashworth , a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley.

Welcome back everyone to the another edition of Hines World. Throughout my career, I have found the best way to learn is through the guidance and examples of others. I thought for this season’s segment of “Hines World,” I would interview people who have helped athletes achieve financial success or athletes themselves that can be used as examples that have chosen to live a frugal lifestyle and take control of their financial outlook. 

One of the most critical parts of any professional athlete’s team is a Financial Advisor. The Financial Advisor is the quarterback of every athlete's financial team. They help guide the athletes financial playbook, give the athlete advice and guidance to help the athlete secure their financial future. 


My first interview is with Stephen Ashworth who is currently a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley. The former high school soccer All American has been a financial advisor for 20 years. He originally grew up in West Virginia, but currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Xavier University alum has a diverse client list but specializes in working with professional athletes and coaches. He has advised and worked with clients in all the major sports including Basketball, Baseball, Golf, Soccer, and Football.     

 The goal of this interview is for athletes to gain a better understanding of what a Financial Advisor is and how having an experienced and reputable advisor on your team can help benefit your financial outlook. 

Q: What made you want to get into the field of providing financial advice?  Any specific stories or situations that caused you to want to focus on advising professional athletes?

A: Growing up, my father was an owning partner of a successful CPA firm in my hometown.  Working at his office during the summers provided me with a first-hand view of the finance world.  When I made the transition from working in professional auto racing, the opportunity to move into this industry was of great interest to me.  I feel that as an advisor, it gives me the opportunity to work with many types of clients, including professional athletes and college coaches.  The strong relationship I build with my athletes enables me to watch them grow as people as well as professionals. This relationship also provides me the ability to assist them in working towards achieving their long-term dreams and goals.  The biggest satisfaction to me is when one of my athletes tells me that our in-depth planning and attention to details has allowed them to feel as though their family is protected for many years in the future. The proverbial "Thank you, Steve, that really helped my family and I" is the best compliment I can receive.

Q: As a Financial Advisor, what are some of the services you provide for your clients? For the athletes or people that don’t know, how would you describe your job?  

A: I serve my clients by helping them review, plan and watch over their short and long-term financial and retirement goals.  I assist my clients by helping them develop a sound budget, a savings and investing plan and also assist them in ensuring their financial household is in order.  If one component (such as estate or tax planning) is not being serviced properly, I can assist by building out a team that can work together with them and their family to achieve their goals in a way that adheres to their specific needs, wants and desires.

Q: When looking for a Financial Advisor, what are some of the traits or skills that an athlete should focus on?  

A: I feel that an athlete needs to focus on finding someone that they can build a long-term relationship with from day 1.  An advisor is part of the athletes "team" and needs to have a defined role or position on this team to help ensure the "team" is successful.  As the advisor to my current and future athletes, I strive to help them keep a long-term vision when it comes to savings and investing. This allows them to focus more on their sport, while knowing they have a professional that is looking out for their best interest at all times.

 The strong relationship I build with my athletes enables me to watch them grow as people as well as professionals.

Q: What advice would you give to a young athlete about their financial planning?  

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A: The biggest advice I would give to any athlete is to be smart with your decisions.  When it comes to an athlete, their career (and high earnings potential) can be shorter than an average person.  Given this potential shorter time frame, an athlete needs to make smart decisions on what they spend their money on as well as how they save and invest it.  An investment can mean many things but helping them make an informed and emotionless decision is very valuable. I have never had a client say they saved too much; however, I have seen many who feel they didn’t save enough!

Q: In your experience, what are some of the "Do's" and "Don't" that you have seen athletes do during your time working directly with them?  

A: In my career, the biggest things that I have seen athletes struggle with is "what is a good investment?"  These individuals are suddenly thrust into a new "world" that brings with it many benefits and challenges. With this comes many options brought to them by family, friends, and outsiders.  If they have someone they can consult to help strip out the emotion and help them see the potential investment as something real, it can help them make a sound, thorough decision that they are comfortable making.  The biggest "Do" that I would suggest is to start your savings and investing plan as early as possible. Tomorrow is potentially too late. Start now, even if small, so that you have as much time as possible to watch it grow.  The one big thing that I can not enhance or replace is time. Take advantage of the time you have! As for a "Don’t" I would have to say-don’t jump at the opportunities presented to you without talking it out with someone you trust.  Many investors (including athletes) allow emotion to clog up their decision-making process. Ensure you are making an investment that is good for your in terms of risk being taken, time horizon before any potential "return" and also that you can afford.  I am here to help my athletes make sound decisions but ultimately I am only able to provide advice and counsel. If you make smart, well-informed decisions from the start, your potential for success, in the long run, is much easier to predict.

Q: What does "Living Frugal" mean to you?

A: Living "frugal" to me means living within your means.  If you don’t have it to spend, don’t spend it! Athletes are accustomed to "game plans." If your game plan is long-term, focused on tomorrow not today and one with you have a strong advisor, your chances of winning go up!  It’s a straightforward, yet important concept!

Stephen Ashworth is a Senior Portfolio Manager and Financial Planning Specialist for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. You can reach out to him via email at Stephen.Ashworth@MorganStanley.com