Former NFL Player Adewale Ogunleye Is Helping Athletes and Entertainers Build Wealth
Athletes and entertainers are often quickly thrown into the spotlight with every part of their lives on display, including their finances. Adewale Ogunleye, a former defensive end in the NFL, wants to change the narrative around money in the sports and entertainment industry and create financial legacies for Black athletes and entertainers.
Ogunleye is head of the UBS Global Wealth Management’s Athletes and Entertainers segment and says his time in the NFL gave him a unique perspective on wealth and enabled him to add his personal experience as an athlete to his role in the financial industry.
“As a young African American male coming into a bit of wealth quickly, I experienced the pitfalls and dangerous things that come of that. My goal is to ensure our athletes and entertainers have a legacy to fall back on,” he said.
Athletes and entertainers share similar lifestyles, but one thing that differs is their upbringing and demographics, said Ogunleye. These factors combine to create a psychology of money and determine how a person spends, saves, and invests.
“Did a person grow up in a traditional two-parent household or a single-parent household? Were they raised in an inner-city or rural America? These are all outside factors that determine how you deal with money,” he said.
“We see that many of our entertainers and athletes become lottery winners. One day they’re working hard at their craft and the next day, they’re signing a huge contract for millions of dollars. That comes with a lot of stress,” said Ogunleye.
Large sums of money can lead to a high level of survivor’s guilt, especially if an athlete or entertainer needs to care for their family and communities. They often feel obligated to try to fix many of the problems their loved one encounters, leading to financial trouble. Learning to manage the feelings that come with large amounts of money is critical to sustaining wealth. Ogunleye and UBS created a series of white papers called “Sudden Wealth” that help explain the psychology of money.
“Many young men and women need to understand that we can’t fix every problem. Black family communities are vast and it’s too much for one person to bear,” he said.
Ogunleye also stresses that everyone will not have the same career as LeBron or Beyonce. There’s only a brief period that athletes and entertainers have to make money, which needs to last. “Even someone like me who played in the NFL for 11 years, that’s a short period. I had to make sure I could pivot into a different field,” he said.
At the beginning of their careers, thinking about legacy could benefit many athletes and entertainers. Ogunleye defines legacy as generational wealth, teaching families and communities to build and grow businesses and become entrepreneurs. “We can’t blow these contracts; we should save as much as we can now. I understand getting a big payday and you want to buy your mom a new house and car, but throwing money at problems early on creates a disadvantage. Our community should have a little more patience to give athletes and entertainers the breathing room to save as much as they can,” he said.
Ogunleye provided three significant tips for wealth building that he feels everyone should know:
1. Educate yourself about finance: You don’t have to go to school for finance or be a financial professional, but learning about financial dialogue and definitions can be advantageous.
2. Find a reputable firm: Too many people look to one another for advice. Going to a respected financial professional is the best course of action. “Just because someone has money or is good at making money does not mean they are good at saving money. Stop dealing with your homeboys and homegirls and deal with a reputable company,” said Ogunleye.
3. Make time for your finances: People feel like they don’t have time to handle their money, especially athletes or entertainers who have busy schedules filled with games or tours. Ogunleye says it’s important to be hands-on with your money, even if it’s just one hour a week. Utilize off-seasons or breaks from tours and performances to comb through your finances.