American football player in a haze and rain on black background. Portrait. Athlete dissecting white smoke and water drops. Sportsman shines in the rays of light By Jasmine Browley ·Updated February 16, 2024 < />
In 2015, Sports Illustrated reported that around 80% of retired NFL players go broke in their first three years out of the League. Back then, the income in the NFL was about $750,000, yet many footballers found themselves in dire financial straights, and often seeking refuge in bankruptcy protection filings.
Michael Ledo doesn’t want the current generation of players to face the same fate.
He was inspired to launch his business consulting firm Rise Advisors, after watching his high-powered NFL agent uncle, Eugene Parker, shape the careers of seven Hall of Famers including Deion Sanders, Emmett Smith and Rod Woodson among others.
“I got to see Black excellence in close proximity that me know a career doing what I love the most, helping people build wealth, is possible,” Ledo tells ESSENCE.
Although he didn’t think he’d be doing what he’s doing right now, his uncle gave me an entrepreneurial identity. Now, his firm is managing a client portfolio worth $100M+ that includes the likes of Jessie Bates III, Matt Judon, Jaylon Smith, and Blake Fisher, who is expected to be the 2nd overall pick in the NFL.
Rise Advisors plays the role of a fairy godparent, so to speak, for its clients. Not only does the team identify fitting business opportunities, it brokers, oversees, and manages them alongside its clients. It also provides agents, managers, publicists and a myriad of other pros that the player may need in their quest for financial viability.
“Our success depends on the success of our clients,” Ledo says. He explains that as opposed to his firm taking a commission from every successful project they broker, the firm is paid bottom line of its clients’ net worth, “not off of their pay.”
He gives the example of an agent getting paid 3% of a $100 million contract they helped broker on behalf of a client.
“We get paid on the bottom line of what they’re worth in investments,” he says. “So, how much do you have in real estate? How much do you have in equities and stock and bonds? How much do you have in venture? How much do you have sitting in the bank? We aim to grow that worth because if it grows, our pay grows.”
Ledo says he created this compensation structure for the company because many athletes, particularly Black athletes, aren’t given guidance to properly allocate a new influx of cash. But most importantly, he provides mentorship when it’s needed the most, When asked if he feels like he also takes on a paternal role in addition to consultant he responds in the affirmative.
“I do,” he says. “I take a strong responsibility in protecting them and educating them. I don’t ever desire to control them because I don’t want to be controlled, but that’s very much true. That’s very much true. And it feels good to know I have a part in helping their futures remain bright.”
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