New York Knicks: Mark Doman

Inside the world of Fields' financial adviser

July, 18, 2011
7/18/11
2:45
PM ET
When Mark Doman was 15 years old, he interned for a prominent basketball agent, Curtis Polk, who told him, "Whatever you do, kid, don’t count on working in sports with athletes. Get a real job, get a real education -- but if you get to work with athletes, that’s icing on the cake." Doman followed that advice to a tee. More than 10 years later, after interning for other agents, a major agency (Octagon), the Boston Celtics, the NCAA legislative body and NFL Players Association, he landed a position at a private wealth management firm in midtown Manhattan, where he advised pro athletes on their investment portfolios. Since January 2010, Doman, 33, has served as a Senior Vice President of True Capital Management, a firm that specializes in investment advice and financial planning for high-net-worth individuals, entertainers and approximately 150 NBA, NFL and MLB players, including the Knicks' Landry Fields. Doman, along with his team in New York, handles the day-to-day services of about 50 of those 150 clients.

Doman took time out of his busy day at True Capital's New York office (the firm's headquarters are in San Francisco) to provide ESPNNewYork.com with an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into his work with local pro athletes.

10 Things You Should Know About My Job
  1. What are we really talking about when we're managing money for pro athletes? What they really are is the equivalent to identifiable lottery winners. What I mean by that is when you talk about somebody who's won the lottery, we're talking about instant wealth; not accumulated through years in the business world. The only difference is that we can identify athletes at an early age. What's so different about managing money for a pro athlete versus a regular high-net-worth individual is that your typical millionaire is in their 40s, 50s, 60s. Pro athletes are in their early 20s. I’ll give you my saying: These pro athletes have the earning power of someone who's in their 50s or 60s, they have the retirement concerns of someone who's typically in their 60s or 70s, but they're in their early 20s. So the financial planning is almost more important early on than the investing.
  2. The key with my job is really about teaching them perspective. It's very hard to explain to a 23-year-old with a $1 million in their bank that buying 10 flat-screen TVs might not make the most sense, if that million has to last them the next 50 years. Their perspective can be distorted. I'll give you two ways that there's a lack of perspective. One is a lack of perspective as it relates to the amount of money they have versus how long it'll last him. Two, further distorting their perspective is that they compare themselves against the other guys in their locker room; not against other people outside of sports. The minute they walk through that player's parking lot and they see the proverbial car show going on, they lose all perspective on what is "normal."
  3. So what do I do day to day? First, I want to make it clear that without my team, my work would be impossible. Every day, I'm responsible for handling the day-to-day financial needs of my clients, which requires constant communication with the entire team. Every day, we review their investment portfolios and make sure we understand what's going on in the financial market. We believe in preparing for the long-term, not trying to make a quick buck. The next step is we spend a lot of time doing financial planning for them and showing them different ways of gaining perspective on their money. We show them how purchasing decisions affect their long-term outlook. By handling their bill paying when requested, we help them better identify what they need versus what they want. For the rookies, we go in long before they get their first paycheck and we create a financial plan around what their projected income is during the life of their rookie contract and we do a cost-of-living analysis based on the respective city they're living. We handle housing, cars, family obligations. We build a financial plan around that and then we're constantly adjusting and refining that plan based on reality. With all of these responsibilities, you can see how important a team approach really is.
  4. I work hand-in-hand with agents to make sure our clients are financial secure during their entire lifetime. An agent, or contract adviser, is an integral part of an athlete's life. My goals are the same as theirs in the sense that I want the athletes to have money for their entire lifetime. I step in and help with their long-term financial planning; agents must think more short-term to maximize the athlete's earning power. That's why I decided to do what I do. Their athletic abilities is what gives the athletes the opportunities to earn this money, but they need guidance for life after sports. Sports can be three to 10 years of their life, but then their post-athletic career is typically 40 to 60 years. It's that part of their life that I'm really concerned about planning for.
  5. I've used this lockout as an opportunity as a catalyst for getting guys to say, "What am I going to do after sports?" Some of them have gone back to college to finish their degrees; some of them have gotten internships in real estate, financial planning and insurance planning. One of my clients, the Broncos' David Bruton, is substitute teaching in Ohio. In terms of the financial planning for the lockout, over the last year we required every client to create a separated savings account entitled "lockout savings." We required each client, based on their personal budget, to put away up to one year of living expenses. We created a budget that would allow them to have the liquidity if the lockout was prolonged without interfering with their investments. Although you hear about a lot of guys who are going broke, my clients are so well prepared for the lockout that not one of them is concerned about making it through it. However, the rookies are in a tough spot. Essentially they have to continue living like college kids until they get that first check. Some of them had to move back home with their parents. Only the top-tier rookies are being taken care of well by their agents and earning off-field money by the way of signing autographs for the card companies, doing appearances and things of that nature.
  6. Players are all very well aware of how many go broke after retirement, but it's amazing that despite their awareness of it, only a few of them take the steps necessary to protect themselves. So the question is, why do three out of four NFL players go broke within two years of retirement, and three out of five NBA players go broke within five years of retirement? There are a variety of reasons. The first two reasons relate to perspective, which I mentioned earlier, and then the third reason relates to athletes' being overly generous by helping some of the people who helped them get to this point. I'm very supportive of them helping their family, but the key is to manage the process effectively to ensure their loved ones’ well-being as well as their own. Our job at my company is to show them how to balance their expenses, which includes taking care of their loved ones to ensure their lifestyle is financially secure beyond their athletic career. You'd be surprised, a lot of guys who end up going broke, it's not because they're out at the club popping bottles. Providing support to their family is not a bad thing, but it cannot be done piecemeal; they must have a plan in place for how to best help their loved ones. We manage the families as well depending on the circumstances.
  7. Our fees are very competitive and standard across the industry. We charge a percentage on assets we manage and a fee for financial planning. If you want me to just buy and sell your stocks and bonds, it's one fee. If you want me to buy and sell your stocks and bonds, and you want me to find an apartment and buy a car for you and pay your bills and find what the best TV is for your money, those are separate fees.
  8. All of our new clients come from word of mouth and referrals. You'd be surprised, we spend very little time doing any recruiting or business development. It literally boils down to, "Hey, you should meet my teammate." The locker room is a small place; everyone knows each other. That's how it builds. I don't constantly ask these guys, "Hey, do you have anyone you can recruit for me?" It's always been, "Hey, what do you think about them as a person? Do we want this person to be a part of this family?" I really look at the group of young men that I work with as a family because that's the only way, frankly, that I can do all the extra stuff that isn't in my job description and dedicate the hours that I dedicate to guys like Landry. I put in 13 to 15 hours a day with my clients. If I'm dealing with a guy who's a troublemaker, that inevitably takes away time from my clients who deserve it. For me, the only way I really make this a profitable business if I work with these guys for 10, 20, 30 years. Of that 30-year relationship, they're a pro athlete for only a fraction of that time. So what does it mean? It means that I better like these people as human beings; not just as athletes.
  9. I'm hoping in the future that I'm one of the guys who the leagues invite to speak to the rookies. While the rookie transition programs in the NBA and NFL do a pretty good job of educating these guys, they typically don't invite in folks from the private side to talk at those events. I actually spend a lot of time with my clients before those transition programs, so when they attend they're already familiar with the messages discussed there.
  10. The biggest perk of my job is that no two days are alike. Every single day brings a lot of new challenges to me and the team at True Capital. Also, I become personally and emotionally invested in each client because I'm intimately involved in every detail of their life off the field or off the court. When you get to that point, you really start to care about these folks. And the other thing I love is because I become so personally and emotionally invested in it, it makes me work harder. We look at our clients like family because they depend on us to steer them into their life after sports. It's a huge responsibility and we all become very close. The challenge is to make sure with all this hard work that I'm not neglecting my own family. My wife, Laura, has the patience of a saint; she understands what we're building at TCM and the effort involved. One of the more humbling moments of my job was when I told my clients that I got engaged in March 2010 to be married. I think I told them on a Wednesday and by Friday, almost 20 active NFL players that I work with flew to New York to surprise me for an impromptu engagement party. That was just unbelievable. They all, through me, have gotten to know each other better. I constantly refer to my clients, my business partners and administrative staff as family.
For more about how Doman worked with Fields to prepare him for the lockout, click here.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

Fields Interview, Part 2: Financial advising

July, 14, 2011
7/14/11
4:14
PM ET
"It's a business. You can be here one day and gone the next."

That's what Landry Fields shared with me last week, describing his motivation to prepare for this upcoming season as if there won't be a lockout. But as it turns out, that's been Fields' motivation all along, including off the court, ever since he was drafted by the Knicks in the second round last summer.

Not only did Fields realize he wasn't going to make millions in his first year like a first-round pick, he knew there was a threat of a work stoppage the following year. Fields wanted to be prepared financially, so a week after the Knicks called his name he enlisted the services of a prominent financial adviser, Mark Doman of True Capital Management, who represents approximately 50 NBA, NFL and MLB players.

After Fields' parents, Steve and Janice, and his agent, Chris Emens, had several conversations with Doman, he was officially on board. About 10 months ago, they started working together even before Fields moved to New York. The first question Doman asked Fields was, "Do you want to spend your offseason here if you don’t have the Knicks facility to go to?" Doman not only took into consideration the potential lockout, but that Fields' contract was only for one year guaranteed with a team option for the second. Fields told Doman that he didn't want to work out at a local gym, such as 24 Hour Fitness; instead, he wanted to train back home in the Los Angeles area where he had prepared for the NBA draft.

That's when Doman went to work. He made sure that Fields wouldn't have anything tying him down financially in New York once the season ended in April. Doman helped Fields find an apartment rental in White Plains, N.Y. -- "Rookie season, you just want to be able to roll out of bed and go right to work," Doman says -- arrange his rental furniture and vehicle (Mercedes), and evaluate price comparisons for other purchases to make sure he got the best bang for his buck. After Fields' roughly one-year lease ended, Doman shipped Fields' car out to LA, where he's currently renting a place near where he works out. Now he has zero New York-related payments to worry about, even storage facility costs.

"The real key," Doman says, "was that, even as a rookie, with his first paycheck, we were already figuring out how much we needed to put away for the lockout. So from his first paycheck to now, we’ve been preparing him for this lockout. So he is more than ready to go if this thing goes for a sustained period of time."

Once the labor dispute comes closer to a resolution, Doman will go apartment hunting for Fields in New York City's Upper West Side neighborhood. In the meantime, Doman is stressing to Fields to take advantage of every off-court opportunity, especially given the possibility of a prolonged lockout during which he'll receive no income from the Knicks.

"As a popular New York athlete, he gets lots of opportunities to do appearances through his agent," Doman says, "so we’re emphasizing the importance of taking those opportunities. So far this summer, he's made about five appearances. Right now, if he’s able to do an appearance or two per month, it basically covers his living expenses for that respective month, so he doesn’t have to dip into his savings. Currently, he's a Nike athlete and there's also other large endorsement deals coming up for him, which will help preserve his proverbial nest egg during this work stoppage. The key right now is preserving his assets."

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Fields talked about his involvement with Doman exclusively for ESPNNewYork.com.

Zwerling: Tell me about how you first met Mark and what attracted you to his services. What did you feel like you needed help with regarding money management?
Fields: I first met Mark last summer during the Vegas Summer League. At that time, I hadn't had a financial adviser yet. My buddy on the team, Andy Rautins, introduced me to Mark. It felt like a relationship; we just hit it off right away. He's a great guy. Everything he was telling me was stuff that appealed to me. I knew going into this next season I wasn't going to make Amare money or anything like that. I really wanted somebody who I could trust to help me with my whole plan regarding my money and how I would do stuff towards the lockout. It was a natural fit. We clicked on all levels.

JZ: Unfortunately when you look at the numbers, an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are broke within five years of retirement. When did you first think about the financial advising side of pro sports? When did it first hit you that this might help you in your career?
LF: It actually came more so when I started speaking with Mark. I wanted to learn the business side of everything. I understood that the NBA is not going to last forever. I have to get into something after I'm done playing. He's kind of been bringing me along with different things, teaching me a few things. It's been great so far. What he does is pretty tedious. I've gotta say he's got a tough job because I know he spends hours upon hours in the office. But it's still an art that I want to learn.

JZ: During your rookie season, did you hear any horror stories that made you want to jump on financial advising more quickly?
LF:
There are always stories about guys who are having financial difficulties, but I'm one of those people that look at other situations that can be bad and learn from that, rather than go through it myself and then learn. With Mark, it's been great. He's been on top with me about all financial obligations. I understand what I need to do. I understand the whole lockout as well. We might not be playing basketball for a while, so I need to save, especially with the kind of contract I had. It's not necessarily one where I can just sit here and blow money.

JZ: What have you learned the most as far as financial investments? What's important for you in setting up your future?
LF: It's not necessarily one thing. I want to understand what's going on with my money. I don't want to just say, "Here Mark, here's all my money, invest it, do what you want with it. Don't fill me in." It's not like that at all. When we talk -- when we have our monthly meetings, our annual meetings -- about what's been going on, I want to understand exactly what he's been doing with my money about where it's been pushed, how I can have better income coming in. With me, it's just more of I don't want to be in the dark about my money.

JZ: Have you encouraged your teammates or other pro athletes to consult with Mark? Have you spread the word that seeking out a financial adviser is critical?
LF: Yeah, definitely. I know with Mark, he's been great. I know he's helped me out a lot this year. He and my agent have worked side by side. I try to help out Mark a lot with the whole recruiting thing because I understand what he does, his services, that he provides for me is a lot more than what I'm paying for. Hopefully one day, I'll be able to compensate fully for all the stuff that he does for me because he does a whole lot of stuff behind the scenes that doesn't necessarily get all recognition that he deserves.

With the recruiting stuff, when I have a private moment with a player who I think could benefit from Mark's services, I'll find out about what kind of person he is, how he'll fit in with this whole group that Mark has. Because it's important for Mark that he works with players who are really committed to doing well for themselves off the court. If a player is not the right fit for him, he goes in a different direction. Essentially, Mark takes it very personally when a player doesn't succeed off the court. It's a more personal connection than any other service I’ve been a part of because he and the athlete will be working together for years beyond sports. Even the players themselves grow very close through their involvement with Mark.

Overall, I'll give him my honest opinion about guys. It's definitely a relationship that goes beyond business because in order for him to like to work with guys and to do those extra little things that aren't in his job description, I feel like you have to have that bond. It's something that he prides himself on and each guy he has from now on fits the mold.

For a more comprehensive look at Doman's work with pro athletes, click here.

You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Carmelo Anthony
PTS AST STL MIN
27.4 3.1 1.2 38.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsC. Anthony 8.1
AssistsP. Prigioni 3.5
StealsI. Shumpert 1.2
BlocksA. Bargnani 1.2